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Fei bai (飛白, Chinese: fēi bái)

Fei bai (or “kasuri (かすり)” in Japanese) is a very characteristic calligraphy style, whose creation is attributed to the famous calligrapher 蔡邕 (Cài Yōng, 132 – 192) of the late Han dynasty (後漢, 29 B.C. – 219 C.E.), who was an incredibly innovative artist. One day he has observed a painter renovating a sign mounted on a gate by means of flat painting brushes and was intrigued by the characteristic patterns formed by the drying out paint. He immediately tried to apply it in calligraphy and was quite pleased with the effect. The kanji 飛白 mean “to fly” and “white”, respectively. “Flying white” is a reference to the impetus (moving force) of the brush (飛) and abundance of 掠れ (かすれ, kasure), i.e. the streaks of white (paper surface) within strokes (白). Fei bai is not classified as one of the major styles, and there are a few reasons for this. First, it ought to be written with a flat painting brush (although it is not imperative), and second it can be utilized through virtually any of the five major styles in sho (書, しょ, i.e. “calligraphy”). “Flying white” is not a very commonly used technique today.

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Page last modified on October 27, 2011, at 06:50 PM