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Asian Calligraphy

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Asian Calligraphy
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First, look at these Chinese good luck characters.



These Chinese characters are used in many Asian languages, including Japanese and Korean.
The general rule of stroke order:  start from the upper left, and work your way down, line by line, to the lower right.  The student in the photo is about to write the final stroke of ETERNITY (see diagram above for all 8 strokes).


Here is the stroke order for HEART. 
But before you try that, let's start with the basics.
*You will need a bamboo brush, a bottle of India ink, and newsprint or rice paper to get started.*


Sit upright, and hold the brush like a pen.  Dip only the tip of the brush into the ink.  -If the brush is stiff, the tip can be soaked in cold water for 5 minutes to get rid of the manufacturer's glue.  But don't soak the whole thing, or you will have a limp, useless lump of hair!-
Now, practice just using the tip.  Hold the brush upright to make thin lines, both vertical and horizontal.  You will have to dip the brush in the ink every 3 or 4 strokes.  Then, practice using the side of the brush.  -By now, the ink has soaked up the hairs, filling up about half of the brush tip.-
Instead of holding the brush upright, let it fall to the side, as if you were writing with a pen.  Practice making broad strokes, with the tip and heel of the brush touching the paper.  You will have to not only dip the brush in the ink, but also re-sharpen the tip by pulling it towards you, across the mouth of the ink bottle.  -You can make the tip pointy again with your fingers, but this is very messy!-
Sometimes when you are writing characters, you will start with the brush held sideways for a broad stroke, but then slowly turn it upright and pull the brush away from the paper to make a fat stroke that ends with a sharp tip.  -See the stroke order for HEART again to see what I mean.-
Now try to copy the chart of good luck characters, using broad and thin strokes.  Have fun!
The diagram below shows the evolution of Chinese characters, from pictures scratched on shells, stone or pottery, to the modern forms written on rice paper with a flexible hair brush.
Click on the picture to enlarge.


Questions? Email Susan at