A Brief History of Calligraphic Art
(before 1300)

    Art of China has been a highly underestimated and very looked over form of expression. In my opinion, it is one of the most powerful, most vivid, and most challenging work of all. The calligraphy alone has started from the basic pictographs (similar to the heiroglyphs of Egypt) and evolved into the many different characters we see and read today. The paintings and sculptures have gone from Buddhism depictions, to other religious scenes, nature scenes, architecture, and much more.

    Chinese Calligraphy has evolved over thousands of years, and the style of Chinese calligraphy has evolved continually as well. Between 213 B.C.and the present, there are five major styles of calligraphy that were formed:


    It is remarkable that after two thousand years, all five styles of writings are still in use today.  A few selected works of the master calligraphers are presented on the Selected Artists page. The thing that is *very* remarkable is that even though there are so many different dialects of Chinese and the people may not understand each other verbally, but if written, all dialects of Chinese are the same and universal in meaning.

    It is during the Shang civilization that writing first appears. While most of the written records have disappeard (quite a few documents were on strips of bamboo which has given way to weathering and passage of time) there have been inscriptions on pottery, bones, and miscellaneous art pieces that have withstood the test of time and weather. Calligraphy began as the pictographs, meaning the word for "sun" looked very much like a picture of the sun. However, through the years of useage and modifications, the picture turned into the more traditional Chinese writing we recognize today - it does still bear some representation to the original pictographs however. Chinese writing is one of the only contemporary writing systems that still prominently bears traces of its pictographic origins.

    About 213 B.C.E. (the Zhou Dynasty), under the famous Chin Shih Huang Ti, who perpetrated the 'burning of the books', the Prime Minister Li Szu drew up an official index of characters and unified the written form for the use of scholars. It is here that calligraphy began to take it's fast route and many branches, and gradually became the beautiful calligraphy we all know today.

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