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Art of calligraphy


Japanese characters are based on "kanji" characters introduced from China around the 5th century.

These characters has been written with ink-filled brush since then.
Of course, these are common in Japan and China.
(South Korea has abandoned kanji characters since 1970s.)

To write characters is a practical work.
But to write beautifully also has developed.
It is the art of calligraphy.

There are several thousand kanji characters which are commonly used.
Each kanji character has any meaning.
Therefore, the form of each kanji character is the subject of art.

Kanji characters are basically written vertically.
So, many artworks of calligraphy are written vertically, but some artworks are written horizontally on paper that is wider than it is high.

Some artworks are written many characters in a sheet, but some works are written only one character.

Some works are written in standard style of character, but some works are written in cursive style.
We can find some modern works like abstract picture.

Tools for calligraphy

Making sumiMaking sumi

  • Inkstone : It's a black stone on which sumi-ink is made, and is called "suzuri" in Japanese.
    Most inkstones have a flat surface and a dent on an edge.
    A little water is put into the dent, and sumi-ink are made by grinding an sumi (ink-cake) with the water on the flat surface.
  • Sumi (Ink-cake) : Sumi makes black ink on a inkstone.
    Sumi is like a very solid crayon, and it is produced by solidifying soot with glue.
  • Ink brush : It's a brush to write characters.
    It has mostly tapered brush.
    In Japanese, it is called "fude"

Calligraphy in daily life of the Japanese people

Writing of Calligraphy

Japanese people learn and exercise the calligraphy at the second half of elementary school and junior high school.

Of course, not all students can write beautifully.
It is a grounding as Japanese people.

Usually, we are enough to write with pencil, mechanical pencil or ballpoint pen.
But when we attend a wedding or funarel, we write our name with sumi-ink on the envelope filled with contribution or condolence money out of politeness.

Some people write a letter with sumi-ink.

Of course, several people use the sumi-ink made on an inkstone.

Recently covenient "Fudepen" also are widely used. "Fude" means "brush".
It is an ink brush containing sumi-ink, and we can use it like ballpoint pen.

Seeing art of calligraphy

Performance CalligraphyPerformance Calligraphy

In main museums of art, we can find few works of calligraphy.
Instead, we can find old works in many museums of history.

Usually modern works are sometimes exhibited for a limited time only in several galleries.

Recently, "Performance Calligraphy" is sometimes held as an event.

It is the performance that the performers write charcters on a huge paper with several meters on the floor using big brush.
The performers are commonly the young members of calligraphy club in high school or university.

The complete artwork is huge but beautiful.

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