Sunday, August 26, 2007

The History of Chinese Calligraphy-Qin Dynasty 221 - 207 BC

The History of Chinese Calligraphy

Qin Dynasty 221 - 207 BC

In 256 BC, the last king of Zhou surrendered to a powerful state Qin, from which the name China is derived. By 221 BC, a series of wars enabled the Qin rulers to conquer the whole of China and ruled it as one state - the political chaos that lasted for five centuries was temporarily halted.

Small seal script. The early years of Qin saw many stern measures toward reorganization. Among them was mandatory writing system reform. As part of an attempt to unify culturally diverse feudal states which had preceded it, the Qin standardized the writing forms then in use, thereby creating one of the most enduring of all ancient scripts, the small seal script. This script was based on many regional variants and contained nearly 12,000 characters, on which later scripts were based. Small seal simplified big seal script by fixing character components placement and reducing their stroke number. It is very regular, with each character the same size and brushstroke the same thickness, regardless of complexity.

The reform of character me.

big seal script

small seal script

Edict, 221 BC
Ink rubbing on rice paper.
Edict of Standard Measurement, c. 221 BC
Li Si ( - 208 BC)
Stone Inscription of Mt Yi, 219 BC

Stone Inscription of Mt. Tai, 219 BC
Eaves-tile ornament

Clerical script. With greatly increased clerical work, literate bondmen were assigned to help, and their hastily folk style was named clerical script, the second scriptural style of Chinese calligraphy. Clerical script simplified seal script by making up new character components and stretching its pictographic winding strokes straight. Individual strokes vary in width, with considerable contrast between the thick and thin parts of a single stroke, and certain characters have stressed strokes, especially the powerful right-falling stroke, the hallmark of clerical script, which runs diagonally towards the lower fight-hand corner. This script was fully developed in Han, and has been remaining in use to the present day.

Official documents of Yunmeng Town, 217 BC
ink on wood slips
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