Chinese calligraphy is a unique visual art based on Chinese characters. It boasts a long history and a good variety of styles, which are divided into the seal script, official script, cursive script, running script and regular script in general terms.
The seal script was used before the Han Dynasty (206 B.C – 220 A.D). Since the Han Dynasty, it has been predominantly used in seals for its smooth and elegant looking. The official script was created during the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B.C – 200 A.D). In the official script, the line characteristics of the seal script were replaced by the dot, endowing Chinese characters distinct strokes. The Han Dynasty witnessed the maturity of the official script.
The regular script took shape later than the official script and has become the standard style of handwriting since the Sui and Tang Dynasties (581-907) up to date. A complete set of stroke shapes was formed in the regular script.
The cursive script that emerged in the Han Dynasty is another common script in addition to the three scripts mentioned above. It is written in a scrawny way at a rapid speed. In the later Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220), a new style called the running script came into being. It is subject to no strict writing rules. The neatly and carefully written running characters look similar to the regular script, while those hastily written ones are more like the cursive script. Written at a faster speed than the regular script and being less illegible than the cursive script, the running script is much loved by Chinese people. Nowadays, it is the most frequently used script in the daily life of Chinese people and in their work and study.
Submitted by Xin Ru Pan
Professor Fu, Towson University
Liu, Xun. New Practical Chinese Reader 3: Workbook. Beijing: Beijing Language and Culture UP, 2004. Print.