Calligraphy is understood in China as the art of writing a good hand with the brush or the study of the rules and techniques of this art. As such, it is peculiar to China and the few countries influenced by ancient Chinese culture.
In the history of Chinese art, calligraphy has always been held in equal importance to painting. Great attention is also paid today to its development by holding exhibitions of ancient and contemporary works and by organizing competitions among youngsters and people from various walks of life. Sharing of experience in this field often makes a feature in Sino-Japanese cultural exchange.
Chinese calligraphy, like the script itself began with the hieroglyphs and over the long ages of evolution, has developed various styles and schools making up an important component of our national culture.
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Chinese scripts are generally divided into five categories : the seal character (zhuan), the official or clerical script (li), the regular script (kai), the running hand (xing) and the cursive hand (coo).
1) The zhuan script or seal character was the earliest form of writing after the oracle inscriptions which must have caused great inconvenience because they lacked uniformity. The first effort toward unification in writing is said, to have taken place during the reign of King Xuan (827-782 B.C.) of the Western Zhou Dynasty when his taishi (grand historian) Shi Zhou compiled a lexicon of 15 chapters, standardizing Chinese writing under a script called zhuan. It is also known as zhonwen after the name of the author. This script, often used in seals, is translated into English as the seal character, or as the "curly script" after the shape of its strokes.