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A recent Chinese Education Ministry order that obliges the China’s elementary schools to increase calligraphy classes has triggered widespread discussion, amid extensive concern that keyboard use has cramped children’s penmanship. Younger students should have classes every week specifically in writing Chinese characters, the education ministry said. Older students will be offered optional lessons and after-school activities.
Calligraphy comes from the Greek for “beautiful writing”. In Chinese it is “shufa” – the law, or method, of writing. And as the name suggests, there is a lot to learn.
Twelve strokes of the pen or brush are needed to write the Chinese character meaning “thank you”. That is just one character, one syllable in Chinese.
Every flick and swish and dot has a name: they must be written in the right order. At its most proficient, teachers say, Chinese calligraphy is a fusion of energy and motion, a simple brush loaded with black ink producing a work of art.
East Asian calligraphy is a form of calligraphy widely practiced and revered in the Sinosphere. This most often includes China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. The East Asian calligraphic tradition originated and developed from China. There is a general standardization of the various styles of calligraphy in this tradition. East Asian calligraphy and ink and wash painting are closely related, since accomplished using similar tools and techniques. Chinese painting and calligraphy distinguishes themselves from another culture’s arts by their emphasis on motion, and their charge with dynamic life. According to Stanley-Baker: “Calligraphy is sheer life experienced through energy in motion that is registered as traces on silk or paper, with time and rhythm in shifting space its main ingredients”. Calligraphy has also led to the development of many forms of art in East Asia, including seal carving, ornate paperweights, and inkstones.