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Chinese Calligraphy Quotes

    Below is a section of quotes on Chinese calligraphy.

    Quotes about Chinese calligraphy

    Affection for the written word is instilled from childhood in the Chinese heart. We are taught never to tear up a sheet of writing, nor to misuse any paper with writing upon it, even if it is of no practical use. In every district of a Chinese city, and even in the smallest village, there is a little pagoda built for the burning of waste paper bearing writing. This we call Hsi-Tzǔ-T’a (习字塔) – Pagoda of Compassionating the Characters.

    – Chiang Yee, Chinese Calligraphy: An introduction to Its Aesthetic and Technique (3rd Edition: 1973), p. 5

    In China, anything which can claim to be a work of art has some connexion, obvious or subtle, with calligraphy. 

    – Chiang Yee, Chinese Calligraphy: An introduction to Its Aesthetic and Technique (3rd Edition: 1973), p. 239

    But we [Chinese people] do not regard calligraphy as merely, or even primarily, an embellishment for other arts. We consider it to be itself the chief of all the arts. Without an appreciative knowledge of it no real understanding is possible of the Chinese aesthetic.

    – Chiang Yee, Chinese Calligraphy: An introduction to Its Aesthetic and Technique (3rd Edition: 1973), p. 239

    In China, only two arts are considered fine arts – calligraphy and painting- and the only tool employed by these sister arts is the Chinese brush, whose scope is truly unlimited.

    Kwo Da-wei, Chinese Brushwork in Calligraphy and Painting: Its History, Aesthetics, and Techniques, p.183

    Of course – Chinese calligraphy is nothing but abstract painting. A piece of calligraphy possesses all the elements of a painting – form, space, lines, color, texture, movement, composition, etc.

    Kwo Da-wei, Chinese Brushwork in Calligraphy and Painting: Its History, Aesthetics, and Techniques, p.183

    The art of communicating ideas by writing, which should be plain and simple, is with them [the Chinese] a task of the utmost difficulty. Every word is represented under a different character; and he is deemed the most learned, who knows the greatest number of characters.

    – Voltaire, Ancient and Modern history, volxxiv collected works, ed. John Morley p. 29

    What a want of invention in the great, and what miserable refinement in trifles, are displayed in contriving for this language, the vast number of eighty thousand compound characters from a few rude hieroglyphics, six or more different modes of writing, which distinguish the Chinese from every other nation upon earth.

    – Johann Gottfried Herder, Outlines of a Philosophy of the History of Man (London, 1800), p. 293

    书画同源 [Calligraphy and painting have the same source]

    – Chinese proverb

    Calligraphy and painting are skills, but they embody the great Dao… The ancients achieved immortality through their calligraphy and painting.

    – Lu Shihua

    If the heart is right, then the brush will be right.

    – Lu Shihua

    Like painting (which, born from the same brush, is its younger brother rather than twin), Chinese calligraphy addresses the eye and is an art of space; like music, it enfolds in time; like dance, it develops a dynamic sequence of movements, pulsating in rhythm. 

    – Simon Leys, ‘One More Art’ (1996)
    Simon leys quote on calligraphy

    [Calligraphy] is the most elite of all arts – it was practice d by emperors, aesthetes, monks an poets – but it is also the most popular.

    – Simon Leys, ‘One More Art’ (1996)

    善笔力者多骨,不善笔力者多肉,多肉微肉者谓之筋书,多肉微骨者谓之黑猪。多力丰筋者圣,无力无筋者病。
    Good writers’ brushstrokes are like bone, bad writers’ brush strokes are like meat; writing that’s meaty without much bone is ‘fleshy’, writing that’s boney without much meat is ‘piggy’. Powerful writing is divine, weak writing is like a sick person.

    Wei Shuo (272 AD – 349 AD) , quoted from Bizhen