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Shōsō (章草, しょうそう, lit. “draft (governed by) rules”)

The embryo of sōsho (草書, そうしょ, cursive script) is known in the calligraphy world as shōsō (章草), which literally means “a draft (governed by) rules”. Another name for shōsō is sōrei (草隷, そうれい, cursive clerical). Shōsō was a transitional phase between reisho (隷書, れいしょclerical script) and sōsho (草書), for which reason it still bore visible elements of reisho, although it was much smoother and curvier. Eventually, shōsō developed into what we know today as cursive script. At the time shōsō was developed (early Han dynasty (前漢, 206 – 8 B.C.) i.e. 2nd century B.C.), it was meant mainly for daily use, whereas reisho was the preferred form for writing on 木簡 (もっかん, mokkan, i.e. “long narrow bamboo (or wooden) slips”), carving texts on stalae, or preparing official documents. First book in shōsō script was 急就章 (Chinese: Jí jiù zhāng), an elementary book for children that explained meanings of various words, written by史游 (Shǐ Yóu) during the reigns of the early Han dynasty emperor, the Emperor Yuan of Han (元帝, Chiense: Yuán Dì, 75 B.C. - 33 B.C.).

Elements of shōsō can be still observed as late as the 4th century C.E., especially in letters of famous 王羲之 (Wáng Xīzhī, 303 – 361) who lived during the Jin dynasty (晉朝, 265 – 420 C.E.). Please click here to read more about cursive script.

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Page last modified on November 14, 2011, at 01:50 AM