Tang dynasty (唐朝, Chinese: Táng cháo, 618 – 907 C.E.)
One of the most significant periods in the history of Chinese calligraphy, often referred to as the Golden Age of Chinese culture. During that time calligraphy flourishes and its importance grows, eventually to become one of only six subjects at the National Academy, and a tool for discovering talent and evaluating people, laying the foundations for the modern science of graphology, leading further to the development of studying human psychology and behavior analysis or prediction through handwriting analysis. The Tang dynasty’s regular script (楷書, かいしょ, kaisho) was technically accurate, and calligraphers paid utmost attention to firm strokes and balanced characters. There were a few famous masters of calligraphy who lived during the Tang dynasty: 歐陽詢 (Chinese: Oūyáng Xún, 557 - 641), 虞世南 (Chinese: Yú Shìnán, 558 - 638), 褚遂良 (Chinese: Chǔ Sùliáng, 596 - 658), 薛稷 (Chinese: Xuē Jì649 - 713), 顏真卿 (Yán Zēnqīng, 709 - 785), 柳公權 (Chinese: Liǔ Gōngquán, 778 - 865), 張旭 (Zhāng Xù, unfortunately, the exact dates of his birth and death are unknown), and懷素 (Huái Sù, 737 – 799). The last two were also known “Mad Zhang and Crazy Monk” (張顛狂僧, Chinese: Zhāng diān kuáng sēng). They both were famous for their passion for calligraphy and wine.
張旭 (Zhāng Xù) created a style of cursive hand known in Chinese as “mad draft” (狂草, Chinese: kuáng cǎo). Even today, kuáng cǎo is the most complex form of cursive script in existence, both in terms of reading and writing. No calligrapher has ever surpassed Zhāng Xù’s kuáng cǎo.
After the fall of the Tang dynasty, calligraphy would never be so magnificent, and its prestige and importance as an art has declined dramatically (perhaps with the exception of the few individuals, such as 米黻 (Chinese: Mǐ Fú, 1051–1107), from the Song dynasty (宋朝, 960 - 1279). The least important period for the art of calligraphy is considered to be the Ming dynasty (明朝, 1368 - 1644). Please click here to read more about the history of Chinese calligraphy.
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