Q & A from Session One

Last Tuesday’s Chinese Calligraphy for Beginners course saw eight of the twelve enrolled students turn up for class.  One absentee, I was told, is still in Hong Kong.

As usual for the first session, we ran out of time, but there’s always next week.

One of the new students had studied Japanese and was therefore educated in recognising Chinese characters.  She was puzzled to see that one of the characters that she’d learnt was written differently in the sample I supplied.

The offending character was (tall)which in my sample, was expressed as below:



The reason is simple:  the script that we are studying came from the Tang Dynasty and our language has changed over time.  Just as Shakespeare’s sonnets would still be recited today as in Elizabethan times, students of Ouyang Xun would copy his work the way he wrote it in the year 632.

I had a similar query from another student last term.  The character in question was 明, and she made a face at the Tang Dynasty version:


I have seen many books in which the word ‘bright’ was explained as a combination of the words ‘sun’ 日 and ‘moon’ 月。In fact, the word evolved from a graphic depiction of a window and a moon:


明 in Seal Script



This entry was posted in Chinese Calligraphy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Q & A from Session One

  1. Sabine says:

    I have no clue about any of the Chinese letters, it´s like a closed book to me, sadly. How lucky are your students to have such a great teacher who can answer questions and pass on her knowledge about the evolution of these amazingly beautiful characters I wish I could decipher.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. angela1313 says:

    I like the Tang version, Mary. When I started learning Japanese I found three small books on Kanji that turned out to have the history of the characters as they developed in China and the Chinese pronunciations as well as the Japanese. The author went back to the oracle bone style in some examples. I love those books.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. angela1313 says:

    When I started learning Japanese I found a lovely series of three books on kanji by an Andrew Dyskstra. They gave the history of the characters and illustrations of the styles over time much like your seal script example. They turned out to be more helpful for my Chinese than my Japanese, really. And I like the Tang version.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The analogy with Shakespeare is so apt

    Liked by 1 person

  5. taphian says:

    that’s really interesting, Mary

    Liked by 1 person

Have your say here:

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.