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East Asian calligraphy facts for kids

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East Asian calligraphy
East Asian calligraphy
The traditional Chinese character for "writing" or "book".
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 書法
Simplified Chinese 书法
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese Thư Pháp
Hán-Nôm 書法
Korean name
Hangul 서예
Hanja 書藝
Japanese name
Kanji 書道
Hiragana しょどう (modern)
しよだう (historical)

The East Asian tradition of calligraphy originated and developed in China. The countries that use East Asian calligraphy are China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.


In calligraphy, paper, ink, brush, ink stone, paperweight, and a desk pad are used.


The special paper used for calligraphy, is made of rice, paper mulberries, bamboo, hemp, etc.


The ink is made from soot and binders. It comes in sticks, and must be rubbed with water on an ink stone. Pre-mixed bottle inks are now available. Pre-mixed bottle inks are for practicing.


The body of the brush can be made of bamboo, or rare materials like red sandalwood, glass, ivory, silver and gold. The head of the brush is made of the hair of animals, like the wolf, rabbit, deer, chicken, duck, goat, pig and tiger, etc.

Ink stone

The ink stone is used to rub the solid ink stick into liquid ink.


They are used to weigh down paper. Paperweights come in several types, and they are collectible works of art.

Desk pad

The desk pad is a pad made out of felt. Students use these desk pads, which are printed with grids on both sides. When placed under the paper, the grid helps to make the words the right size, and ensures correct placement.

Notable calligraphers

Almost all traditionally educated men (and sometimes women) in East Asia are good in calligraphy. The most famous are:


Koku Saitcho shounin
Cry for noble Saichō (哭最澄上人), written by Emperor Saga for Saichō's death
  • Mi Fei
  • Wei Shuo 衛鑠 衛夫人
  • Wang Xizhi 王羲之
  • Wang Xianzhi 王獻之
  • Huai Su 怀素 (懷素)
  • Qigong (启功)
  • Yu Shinan 虞世南
  • Zhang Xu 張旭
  • Yan Zhenqing 顏真卿
  • Liu Gongquan 柳公權
  • Ouyang Xun 歐陽詢
  • Su Shi 蘇軾
  • Huang Tingjian 黄庭堅
  • Emperor Huizong of Song Dynasty 宋徽宗 趙佶
  • Zhao Mengfu 趙孟頫
  • Liu Bingsen 劉炳森
  • Mao Zedong 毛澤東
  • Chiang Kai-Shek 蔣中正
  • Kang Youwei (possibly considered one)
  • Zheng Banqiao 鄭板橋
  • Huang Ruheng
  • Shi Kefa 史可法

See also [1]


  • Kūkai 空海
  • Emperor Saga 嵯峨天皇
  • Tachibana no Hayanari 橘逸勢
  • Ono Michikaze 小野道風
  • Fujiwara no Sukemasa 藤原佐理
  • Fujiwara no Yukinari 藤原行成
  • Hon'ami Kōetsu 本阿弥光悦
  • Konoe Nobutada 近衛信尹
  • Shokado Shojo 松花堂昭乗
  • Ryōkan 良寛
  • Yamaoka Tesshu 山岡鉄舟
  • Igaki Hokujo 井垣北城


Buiseonrando, which was written and painted by Kim Jeonghee


There are several word styles in calligraphy. Some of them are; Seal Script (often called small seal script), Clerical Script (sometimes called official, draft or scribal script), Semi-cursive Script (also called running script), Cursive Script (sometimes called grass script), Regular Script (often called ‘standard script’), Edomoji, Munjado, and Kao.

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