The Art of Chinese Calligraphy presents an overview of the historical origins of the art, evolution of various scripts, and adaption of individual styles. While introducing important calligraphic works, artists, styles, and schools, this work outlines the major trends in the history and development of Chinese calligraphy. From this general introduction, we are able to understand the basic process of how the art was transmitted over millennia and how the appeal of the art accrued cultural value and expanded through innovation.
Abounding with global significance, calligraphy is one of China's defining traditional arts and a major subject of East Asian artistic studies. Since each Chinese character possesses a distinct form, the study of the evolution of the written form has long been the focus of historical inquiry. The form of a character is imbued with aesthetic functions, and art historians have studied the development of these forms and the diversity of their written styles. Furthermore, Chinese calligraphy is known for an emphasis on artistic technique. Although a well-established system of conventions exists, the art has a high tolerance for variation. The abundance of the possibilities of brushstrokes has allowed the art to continuously enter vivid realms of expression.
Additionally, Chinese calligraphy allows us a glimpse into the minds of the ancestors of the modern Chinese. By experiencing the contrasting aesthetics of passive and active elements (yinyang) through the juxtaposition of hard and soft and the delineation of form with black on white, we are able to see reciprocal transformations as philosophical and religious schools of thought evolved alongside calligraphy throughout Chinese history. With an understanding of how Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism influenced calligraphers, we more fully appreciate the continuity and advancement of the traditional art within the context of Chinese customs.