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Chinese Characters – Cursive script

Cursive script is broad and narrow. In a broad sense, regardless of age, all scribbled characters are counted as a cursive script. In a narrow sense, as a specific typeface,  was formed in the Han Dynasty and evolved on the basis of the official script for ease of writing.


It started around the Eastern Jin Dynasty, in order to distinguish it from the new cursive script of the time. Call the cursive script of Han Dynasty Zhang Cao. The new cursive script is relatively called Jintao, which is divided into big grass (also called crazy grass ) and small grass, which feels graceful in frenzy. As Li Zhimin said: “Let’s be in the pool, be judged by reason, learn from things, get from the heart, understand from the image, and then begin to enter the cursive wonderland.”


Since the cursive font is too simple, easily confused with each other, it is not like the official script replaces Zhuanwen to replace the official script as the main font.

Cursive script



“Shuo Wen Jie Zi,” said: “Han Xing has a cursive script.” The cursive script began in the early Han Dynasty, and its characteristics are the outline of keeping the characters, the detriment of the rules of the official, the rush to go quickly, because of the original meaning of the cursive script. Peking University professor, introduced into the grass monument pioneer Li Zhimin commented: ” Zhang Chi created the first seat peak since the advent of cursive, mastery wonderful, Kim Shin chapter now.”


There are rules and regulations to follow for the change of Zhangcao strokes and provinces, such as the Songjiang version of the Three Kingdoms Wu Huangxiang ” Anxious Chapter “. Jintao does not adhere to the rules and regulations, and the gestures are smooth. Representative works such as Wang Xizhi of the Jin Dynasty, “The First Moon” and “De Shi”. Cursive appeared in the Tang Dynasty, to Zhang Xu, Huai Su, represented by unrestrained gesture, become completely divorced from the practical art, from cursive just copy calligrapher Zhang Cao, this grass, Cursive calligraphy works. The masterpieces of Crazy Grass, such as Zhang Xu’s “Stomach Pain” in the Tang Dynasty, and Huai Su’s ” Self-reporting Posts ” are both extant treasures.

Cursive script history


Development of

From the point of view of the development of cursive: cursive development can be divided into early, Zhang Cao and this grass three stages.


The early cursive script was parallel to the official script, generally called the official script, but actually mixed with some seal-grass forms.


The initial cursive script was a sloppy way of breaking the strict rules of the official script. Called ” Zhang Cao “. Zhang Cao is an elegant cursive style that blends early limited cursive script and Han Li, with sharp waves, and the strokes and hooks are in a “wave” shape, the characters are independent, the characters are all over, and the strokes are horizontal. Zhang Cao was most popular during the Han and Wei dynasties, and later revived in the Yuan Dynasty and transformed into the Ming Dynasty.


At the end of the Han Dynasty, Zhang Cao further “cursively”, stripped off the official script strokes, the gestures between the upper and lower characters are connected, and the radicals are simplified and borrowed, called “Jintao”. The modern cursive style evolved from Zhang Cao’s exhausting efforts. The modern cursive style has been popular since the Wei and Jin Dynasties. In the Tang Dynasty, modern cursive writing was more indulgent, with continuous strokes and odd shapes of characters, called “crazy grass”, also known as big grass.


In modern times, the aesthetic value of cursive script far exceeds its practical value. In the cursive script, the dots and ligatures of the characters are ligated according to a certain rule, the structure is simplified, and the radicals are used as partials. They are not written randomly. One of the main features of cursive symbols is the strokes with hooks, including upper and lower hooks and left and right hooks. The horizontal tendency of Lihua brushwork provides a basis for the cursiveness of left and right hooks. The Zhangcao brushwork uses the “one” shape, and the Jincao brushwork uses the “s” shape. This is the fundamental difference between the two. Indulgent brushwork and messy stippling are also called big grass or crazy grass.

development of


Concept division

Cursive script

It refers to the cursive typeface. It includes two situations: one is that in the ancient times when the characters were not unified, there would naturally not be a unified and standardized cursive script. The scribbled characters that appeared at that time belonged to the broad sense of cursive script; the second was after the unification of the characters, in emergency situations. When writing manuscripts, or when recording other people’s conversations, the pen is fast, the strokes are combined, omitted, and the letters are irregular and scribbled. Such scribbles are difficult to communicate with, and even write after a long time. It is also difficult for people to recognize, this kind of scribbled characters belong to cursive script in a broad sense.


Cursive writing

In order to facilitate writing, after a long process of customizing, especially in the period when seal script was transformed into the official script, the number of popular cursive characters gradually increased, and the writing method gradually unified. After the process of changing from quantity to quality, a cursive script with legal authority was finally produced. That was Zhang Cao, and then it further developed into Jin Cao. The narrowly defined cursive script is Zhi Zhang Cao and Jin Cao.


Since Zhangcao’s draft law on the basic form, the grass convention method has both normative testimonies but also has great flexibility, the basic content includes the following three aspects: First, cursive strokes are omitted, the simple structure of the book block. The second is that cursive script uses stippling as the basic symbol to replace certain parts of radicals and characters. It is the most symbolic script. Third cursive strokes each other echo joint between words is to facilitate quick and easy to write the book’s emotional expression of the book block.

concept division


Brief history and characteristics

Any book style has requirements for simplicity and ease of writing in use, and there is a tendency to save simple strokes and scribbles. This trend is the main reason for the evolution of the text. Whenever the period of social change and cultural development, the characters are frequently used, and individuals are easy to simplify, and the speed of the appearance of variants increases. In order to make the characters more conducive to the application, it is necessary to correct them. There are traces of cursive writing during the Oracle period. “Zhou Xuan Wang Tai Shi as Zhou book”, ” Lisi as Xiaozhuan “, ” Cheng Miao made official script” and Yong to eight written Shijing, are for two weeks, Qin, Han each be standardized on the then-popular word and the new book body issued the standards set by the words, but also has become recognized as the traditional characters beginning.


But the trend toward simplicity does not stop there. As early as the Shang Dynasty oracle bone inscriptions and Zhou Dynasty bronze inscriptions that recorded the emperor’s affairs, there were simple scripts and scribbles. In the historical records, ” Qu Yuan belongs to Cao Gao” and ” Dong Zhongshu Gao Shu is not listed”, which shows that the ancient writings of the Warring States Period and the official script of the Western Han Dynasty are fast The writing is also non- traditional. According to the records of the Wei and Jin Dynasties, Liu Mu, the king of Beihai in the Eastern Han Dynasty, “is good at history books, and the world thinks it is a regular rule.” Before Liu Mu died, the Ming emperor sent a stage horse to “10 cursive slips.” In the reign of Emperor Zhang, Qi Xiang Du Du was good at making a model for writing characters, and Emperor Zhang once ordered Du Du to play in cursive script. It can be seen that since the middle of the 1st century AD, cursive characters have been cherished and imitated not only because of hasty writing. From the Han bamboo slips unearthed in modern times, it can be seen that the official script of the provincial bamboo slips in the time of Emperor Wu of the Western Han Dynasty has already prevailed. In the Xinyang period, there were more provinces and letters. In the 22nd year of Emperor Guangwu of the Eastern Han Dynasty ( AD 46 ), the bamboo slips were completely cursive. But from the Zhou Dynasty to the Xinmang period, the cursive script was not listed as a kind of script.


” Shuowenjiezi ” was written in the 12th year of Emperor He (AD 100). Xu Shen [6] said in “Xu” that “Han Xing had the cursive script”, which started with the cursive script. At the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty, Zhang Zhiqi and later Zhong Yao and other famous artists came out in large numbers, each forming a genre. At that time, Zhao Yi had the article “Non-cursive”, and Cai Yong had a similar argument to maintain the status of orthodox script, which reflects that cursive script has been flourishing for a while. From the end of the Han Dynasty to the Tang Dynasty, cursive script developed from Zhang Cao with the intent of official script to modern grass with beautiful rhyme, and even unrestrained and powerful wild grass.


Zhang Cao originated in the Western Han Dynasty and flourished in the Eastern Han Dynasty. The font is in the form of an official script, and the characters are different and not intertwined; the name of Zhang Cao has been explained differently in the past. In view since the late Han Dynasty “ hasty ” grass writing this but said Zhang Cao for “rushed” chapter named after the word, the most ridiculous. It is speculation that Emperor Zhang likes cursive script or once ordered to use cursive script for memorials, and even said that Emperor Zhang created cursive script. There to tricks chapter of the Prospectus, Zhang Kai Zhang synonymous with the facts eighth save a little early cursive document intended, the word and the word is not implicated, have become the province of strokes tricks to follow, many letters this neighbor said.


When did the present grass originate? There are two sayings about Zhang Zhi in the late Han Dynasty and Wang Xizhi and Wang Qi in the Eastern Jin Dynasty. Handed down from the table, posts and Han bamboo slips unearthed Han brick look, with eight books in the late Han Dynasty to the traditional characters at the same time, there has been an approximately true book written in. The cursive script will also mutate accordingly. Slightly later than Zhang Zhi cursive home Cui Yuan as ” cursive potential ” of cursive is “seemed remarks, absolutely not leave,” “swan income potential, the remaining cap tassel entangled”, “head no tail hanging,” “MICRO is wonderful The description of “Temporary Congyi” shows that the cursive style of the late Han Dynasty was smooth and not restricted to the composition. There was no clear division in the evolution of the book. To say that the grass originated from Zhang Zhi is from the budding of the new body; to say that the grass originated from the second king is to focus on the formation of a typical. Since the Tang Dynasty, real books have followed the modern era.


Cursive appeared in the Tang Dynasty to Zhang Xu, Huai Su, represented by Cursive, become completely divorced from the practical art. Cursive, also known as large grass, pens bold, sweeping body potentials, such as the Tang Dynasty, Zhang Xu, “Thousand Character Classic Duanbei” ” poetry four, ” Huai Su monk” Autobiography “and so, Zhang Xu Shicheng” Caosheng ” Sun before the court,” Shu Pu “every word difference, not connected, and the document intended lively, Suki. “Big grass” and “small grass” are symmetrical. The big grass is purely using the grass method, which is difficult to identify. Zhang Xu and Huai Su are good at this, and their words are formed by one stroke, sometimes not connected, but the blood is continuous. Feng Ban in the Qing Dynasty talks about learning cursive calligraphy: Xiaocao xianzhi, big grass xizhi , Zhang Xu is not as good as Huaisu. Huai Su’s cursive characters are easy to recognize, the handwriting is thin and visible, and the joints of the characters are also clear and easy to come by. Zhang Xu’s font changes variously, often a number, and the momentum between the lines is constant, which is difficult to identify, forming a unique style. Han Yu’s ” Preface of Sending Gaoxian Master ” mentioned Zhang Xu’s cursive script as “happy, angry, embarrassed, poor, worried Sadness and loss, resentment, yearning, drunkenness, boredom, and injustice, but if you are moved by your heart, you will have nothing to do with cursive script”, so it is difficult to learn from Zhang Xu.


Throughout the 20th-century calligraphy world, there are no more famous cursive scripts than You Ren, Mao Runzhi, Lin Sanzhi, Li Zhimin, and others. However, the cursive scripts of Yu Youren and Lin Sanzhi belong to the category of small grass and have not entered the realm of wild grass. Although the cursive style of Mao-style has a mad cursive aura, it is mixed with more regular script forms, which is not pure cursive. Li Zhimin took the “pure grass” route, creating a unique calligraphy style for leading monuments into cursive, and filling the gap in a century of crazy cursive history. Even though the pen handouts he used in law teaching were all written in cursive characters, his small cursive letters to his friends also showed the pattern of big and cursive characters everywhere. Li Zhimin creatively developed the technique of “dry strokes continuous” and pushed it to the realm of freedom. His dry strokes are not scattered, continuous, and not weak in the continuous center twist. As the powerful calligrapher, Korkerang pointed out: “Li Zhimin’s’dry pen continuous’ is the best in ancient and modern times, and it is rarely touched by calligraphers of the past.” [7]  If Lin Sanzhi is elegant and beautiful in contemporary cursive practice, then Li Zhimin is For the beauty of the boundlessness, the two styles are different, and the rigidity and softness complement each other, highlighting the double-peak game of ” South Forest and North Li “.

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