Thursday 18th January 2018,
The Transcript

Students learn calligraphy, culture

Chinese calligraphy dates back 5000 years. On Saturday, students had the chance to learn and practice the art one stroke at a time.
The Chinese program hosted a three-hour workshop, led by Chinese calligrapher Bangji Lin, that taught students the history and art of Chinese calligraphy. It detailed the four treasures of calligraphy: the ink brush, the ink, the paper, and the ink stone.
Ching-Hsuan Wu, assistant professor of modern foreign languages, said calligraphy is a staple in Chinese culture and studying the Chinese culture is just as important as studying the linguistics of the language.
“Learning Chinese is more than just being able to understand the language,” Wu said. “Learning about the culture is just as important. It’s hard to learn about the culture without studying the art of calligraphy.”
Wu said calligraphy has existed in Chinese culture for thousands of years. She said it was the primary way people wrote before pens and pencils existed.
“Today, calligraphy is more about culture and art,” Wu said. “It’s more than just simply drawing a character. The sequence of strokes matters.
“I was hoping to bring students’ attention to the importance of the sequence of each stroke.”
Sophomore Austin Viny said he has had some prior experience with Chinese calligraphy and was able to get more practice at the workshop.
“I was surprised at the extreme amount of technique required to use the calligraphy brush properly,” Viny said. “But so much history and art can be portrayed through calligraphy.”
Sophomore Alvince Pongos said he was amazed at how rich the history of calligraphy is and its artistic importance in Chinese culture.
“It is important to study the art of calligraphy for the same reasons why it is important to study any art,” Pongos said. “To learn art is to learn about self.”
Wu said when she was in school, students were required by the government to learn calligraphy.
“The state required us to keep journals at school,” Wu said. “Each week we practiced calligraphy in our journals to be sure we were familiar with the art.”
Wu said calligraphy brushes can range in size. Some look like paint brushes, whereas others can be the size of a person.
The biggest brushes were used on huge canvases that people would hang on the walls of their house, Wu said.
There are also a variety of materials used for the bristles, according to Wu. Many are made with horse, lamb or pig hair, Wu said.
“Some brushes are even made with newborn baby hair,” Wu said. “When a baby is born, we wait to cut his/her hair until it is a few inches long. We then make souvenir calligraphy brushes out of it.
“That’s how important this art is in the Chinese culture.”
Wu said last year she taught calligraphy in class on three separate days. This year she wanted to combine it into one day, Wu said.

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