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Styles of Calligraphy

Five Styles of Classical Chinese Calligraphy


Seal Script Calligraphy of Dung Nguyen, Hite Art Institute
(click on image to enlarge)

Seal Script

Although Chinese civilization and language are thousands of years old, China was not united until 221 BC under the Qin Dynasty. The style of calligraphy standardized by the Qin is called seal script. Seal script is long and angular. It evokes the primitive writing of China’s Neolithic and Bronze ages. Seal script is used primarily for seals such as name chops and decorative engravings.

Clerical Script Calligraphy of Laurie Doctor, Hite Art Institute
(click on image to enlarge)


Clerical Script

Clerical script was popularized and became dominant during China’s second Imperial dynasty, the Han dynasty. Clerical script is characteristically squat, square and wide, with heavy, precise brush strokes.

Regular Script Calligraphy of Anna Murphy, Hite Art Institute
(click on image to enlarge)

Regular Script

Regular script reached maturity during the Tang dynasty (7th century C.E.). Regular script is the most recognizable Chinese script and the basis for contemporary Traditional (Taiwan, Hong Kong) and Simplified (Mainland China) characters.

Running Script Calligraphy of Professor Delin Lai, Hite Art Institute
(click on image to enlarge)


Running Script

Running script, also known as semi-cursive, is a fluid, abbreviated script. The brush rarely leaves the paper, so the strokes are fluidly linked. Brush strokes are quick and the spacing within a character is tight.

Cursive Script Calligraphy of Laurie Doctor, Hite Art Institute
(click on image to enlarge)


Cursive Script

Cursive script, also known as Grass script, expresses energy and emotion through very quick brush strokes. Cursive may not necessarily be legible to readers of Chinese because strokes are often omitted, abbreviated or combined.
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