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Eight Principles of The Character “永 (えい, ei, i.e “eternity”)”; (永字八法, えいじ はっぽうeiji happō)

This calligraphic theory, set forth by a Sui dynasty (隋朝, pinyin: Suí cháo, 581 – 618 C.E.) calligrapher named Zhi Yong (智永, pinyin: Zhì Yǒng, birth and death dates unknown), defines eight out of a total of 37 basic strokes of the standard script (楷書, かいしょ, kaisho). These are:

1. 側 (そく, soku) lit. “vicinity”. It is also referred to as 点 (てん, ten) – “a dot”, or 怪石 (かいせき, kaiseki) – “oddly shaped stone” (from its appearance of a rounded rock).

2. 勒 (ろく, roku)”a halter”, also referred to as “jade table” (玉案, ぎょくずき, gyokuzuki) of smooth and even surface.

3. 努 (ど, do)means “to exert”. This vertical stroke is also known as 鉄柱 (てっちゅう, tetchū) – “iron pole”, from its solid and rigid appearance.

4. 趯 (てき, teki)suggests “lifting”, or “a hook”, also referred to as 蟹爪 (かいそう, kaisō, i.e. “crab pincer”).

5. 策 (さく, saku, i.e. “a horsewhip”), or虎牙 (こが, koga, i.e. “tiger fang”).

6. 掠 (りゃく, ryaku). One of the meanings is ‘to graze”, like the non-lethal cut of an expert swordsman. Another name for this stroke is 犀角 (さいかく, saikaku, i.e. “rhinoceros horn”).

7. 啄 (たく, taku, i.e. “a peck”)or “bird’s peck” (鳥啄, ちょうたく, chōtaku).

8. 磔 (たく, taku, i.e. “dismemberment”), also known as 金刀 (きんとう, kintō, i.e. “golden Dao sword”).

More detailed information regarding standard script is to be found here.

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Page last modified on December 19, 2011, at 02:28 PM