Chinese Calligraphy - Styles
There are literally thousands of styles of Chinese calligraphy. Basically,
they can be categorized into the following scripts: JiaGuWen, Zhuan Shu (JinWen included),
Li Shu, Kai Shu, Xing Shu, and Cao Shu. The following table shows the different scripts,
the historical period when they were first known to become popular. I have included also
examples of each.
|Jia Gu Wen
(2000 BC- ?)
(770 BC-221 BC)
(221 BC - 220 AD)
YiShan Bei 繹山碑
(Da Zhuan, Qin dynasty)
||East Han dynasty
||grass style, "swift style"
(about 48 BC)
|Kai Shu, Zhen Shu
While JiaGuWen and Jin Wen are no more useful and few people recognize
them, the other scripts persist through the past 2000 years. The most popular for printing
is Kai Shu , but the most useful for daily use is Xing Shu. While Cao Shu may be much too
simplified and personalized to be recognized by most people in common utility, only
certain commonly Cao characters are used. Zhuan Shu is almost limited to seal carving. To
the surprise of most people, Cao Shu was developed about the same time as Kai
Shu, and may
be even earlier. Certain Cao characters appeared as early as Han dynasty when Kai Shu was
not well developed. Han dynasty should be called thegolden era for script development.
While Zhuan is still in use, there was a rapid transition to Xing Shu to cope with the
social development of commerce and military engagements. Cao Shu first evolved from Li Shu
to become Zhang Cao (formal "Grass" style with no linking of characters). Kai
Shu actually was a product of further standardization of Zhang Cao.