Free English Translation in PDF Format (176 pages, 29 MB)
Due to its size, the manual has been split into two separate PDFs, based on the structure of the original. Section I contains detailed instructional materials, while Section II consists of a number of brief example texts, many of which are written in a style that is somewhat more cursive than the style that is taught in Section I.
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Download the Section II PDF
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This is a translation of an instruction manual that teaches how to write a semi-cursive style of Chinese characters (行書) using a pen or pencil (硬筆), rather than the traditional Chinese writing brush. The author of the original manual is Huang Zhuhe (黃柱河), who is a well respected calligrapher in Hong Kong. In addition to having a long career as a calligrapher, he has worked hard to promote calligraphy as an important Chinese cultural activity, writing books, teaching classes, and serving in many calligraphy-related organizations.
Although there are many Chinese "calligraphy manuals" available, the great majority consist of nothing more than good examples. Such manuals are probably quite sufficient for those who have already received some degree of instruction in school, but they do not offer the level of detail that most foreign students need. Also, it can be rather boring to try copying long lists of characters with no deep understanding of how each character should be approached.
In contrast, this manual includes a great deal of detail, regarding both the production of individual strokes and the assembling of those strokes into characters. This makes the learning process much more interesting, while increasing the student's understanding of how basic strokes and basic principles can be combined to produce attractive handwriting.
The PDF is completely free. It is rather large, due to the large number of embedded images, so it can be a bit slow to open in a browser. Downloading it can also be slow, but only has to be done once.
If you find this manual useful, please spread the word of its availability.
Why Pen Calligraphy?
Although the greatest development of Chinese characters as
an art form has involved the use of the hair brush
(毛筆), brush calligraphy requires a certain amount of
equipment in addition to the brush -- normally an ink
stone, an ink stick, and special paper. These are not
items that the average person carries about in their
pocket or purse. For beginners at least, it also requires
a place to set up -- ideally including a felt pad placed
beneath the paper.
Why Semi-Cursive Calligraphy?
On one hand, regular characters (楷書) are the foundation
for learning to write Chinese characters. Only with
regular characters is the character structure revealed.
This is essential for any advanced study of Chinese
writing. Also, there are situations where only regular
characters are appropriate. The disadvantage is that they
can be a bit slow to write, and falling into clumsiness is
easy, so making them beautiful can be a bit difficult.