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Goose tail (雁尾, がん お gan-o)

Name for a characteristic brush stroke technique used during writing a horizontal line in clerical script (隷書, れいしょ, reisho). Certain horizontal strokes in reisho may consist of what is known as “silkworm head” and “goose tail” (蠶頭雁尾, さんとう がんお, santō gan-o). Such lines involves five brush movements executed in a single stroke, where the brush tip does not lose contact with the paper (please see diagram below). It engages the whole body and mind of the calligrapher in a writing ritual. Each character of mature clerical script usually consists of one line that has both elements: “silk worm head” and “goose tail”. It is not random where within the character such stroke is being incorporated. There are also rare exceptions where more than one is allowed. This rule is known as 一字一波 (いちじ いっぱ, ichiji ippa) i.e. “one character, one wave”, from the wavy movement of the hand during the finishing stroke. It is commonly accepted between calligraphers that once this technique is mastered, one has learned the basics of clerical script.

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Page last modified on October 22, 2011, at 06:57 AM