While these scripts serve as a means to communicate through writing, calligraphy is an important art in its own right. Seal script, clerical script, standard script, and cursive are all script-forms used in calligraphy as well. In addition there is "wild cursive" or "kuangcao," in which parts of the characters are exaggerated, and the writing appears to have been executed freely and rapidly.

How the brush is held creates different kinds of lines. In seal script, the brush is kept the same distance from the paper, and this results in a line of even thickness. By contrast the narrow and wide lines in clerical script (and others) are produced by varying the distance between the brush and the paper. The varying thickness of the line, the intersection of lines, and the spacing of characters are elements that give calligraphy emotion and drama. The brushwork techniques of calligraphy are often employed in painting.

In mastering calligraphy, the student is expected to master the tradition by imitating great calligraphers of the past. The student may copy exactly a well-known work, or execute a more free imitation which aims to capture the spirit of the master calligrapher. These copies of famous works are often important works in their own right.


the written vs. the spoken
history of written forms


seal script

cursive script

wild cursive