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Silkworm head (蠶頭, さんとう, santō)

The name of 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 does not lose contact with the paper (please see the 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”. The location where such stroke is incorporated is not random. 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 hand during finishing a stroke. It is common knowledge that once this technique is mastered, one has learned basics of clerical script. Please click here to read more about clerical script.

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Page last modified on November 15, 2011, at 03:36 AM