Calligraphy class, a way to learn traditional Korean culture and refinement
In this class, students study and learn to write the teachings of renowned scholars using calligraphy brushes.
It’s long been said, ‘one's writing reflects oneself.’
Through calligraphy, we can acquire refinement and character.
Calligraphy is usually referred to as a form of art that expresses thoughts and emotions through letters.
From where did it originate?
How Did Letters Become Art?
Chinese characters, the root of calligraphy, originated from pictures.
The shapes of things became pictographs and slowly evolved into characters with meanings.
Calligraphy developed into an art from with the appearance of Wang Xizhi in the 4thcentury.
The history of Calligraphy in Korea began when Chinese characters were introduced to the Korean peninsula.
There are 5 major forms of Calligraphy handed down from ancient times. These are called the 5 styles of writing.
Seal Script : First style to be formed, similar to the original hieroglyphics in shape
Clerical Script : Second to be formed, characterized by a clean-cut writing style using simple and straight dots and strokes
Regular Script : Used as the standard style in the Tang Dynasty because of the strokes and well-composed letters
Semi-cursive Script : Intermediate form between Regular and Full-cursive Script, frequently used in daily life being easy to read and write
Full-cursive Script : A script form created with simple dots and strokes for faster writing
In addition, certain styles of Calligraphy also gained popularity from time to time. These styles were created by contemporary calligraphers after prolonged research and effort. They presented different interpretations of the 5 basic styles and even created new styles.
Calligraphy is about more than just writing letters. It is a stylish and meaningful form of art.
The artistry of calligraphy is maximized by the use of brushes and ink sticks.
The beauty of the characters are expressed by the changes in the strokes, the size of the characters, as well as the concentration of ink.
“The moment you take up the brush and write, your personality, knowledge and feelings become evoked through your writing. Thus, you can almost say one’s writing is oneself. It is unique compared to other forms or art because it is an art of strokes rather than an art of lines. Strokes are living and breathing things. Calligraphy is a form of art that harmonizes with any type of art such as music, dance, or videos. I’m sure young people would come to appreciate calligraphy if only they would understand this.”
Kim Byeong-gi / Professor, Dept. of Chinese Literature, Chonbuk National University
In the Hanok Village, Korean traditions are alive and breathing.
It is a unique place where we can learn about Korean history and culture.
Everywhere you look, you can see writings in creative and distinctive styles.
In this day and age, calligraphy is noticed and regarded as a form of design. Such uniqueness holds significance in the history of calligraphy in Korea. What exactly is this splendid heritage?
Creativity Brings Life to Calligraphy
The Goguryeo Dynasty, the largest empire in Korean history, the Stele of King Gwanggaeto was erected in AD 414.
The style of calligraphy of the stele’s engraving, detailing the foundation myth and achievements of the Goguryeo Dynasty, is noteworthy.
Overall the stele’s calligraphy is in clerical script.
However, the characters also show some characteristics of cursive and regular as well as seal script in how the strokes are made according to the shape of the character.
In order to emphasize overall harmonic beauty, the characteristics of various styles of calligraphy are employed in the Stele of King Gwanggae the Great! Its likeness cannot be found in the history of calligraphy in East Asia.
Since ancient times, many calligraphers appeared in Korea who advanced the art of calligraphy.
They developed their own styles by giving variations to strokes and showing depth in their interpretations, while others copied popular calligraphy styles of the period.
We call those who demonstrated unique calligraphy styles all their own, master calligraphers.
Kim Jeong-hui was the artist who created the most unique form in the history of Korean calligraphy.
He established his reputation with his Autumn Writing Script.
He believed that a person must have the contents of over 10,000 books in their heart for the knowledge to shine through in their paintings and calligraphy.
He delved deeply into such subjects as epigraphy and documental archaeology.
He also researched many styles of calligraphy, including lost styles from ancient times.
During his more than 8 years of exile on Jejudo Island, Kim focused more on hisscholarly pursuits, ideology, and calligraphic styles.
He finally created his own style, Autumn Writing Script, through hard work.
It was the result of a lifetime of effort, in the course of which he wore out 10 inkstones and 1,000 brushes.
One of the writings that showcases the Autumn Writing Script is the signboard on the House of Dasan, the one that says Bamboo Brazier Room.
Writing strokes with extreme variation in thickness and exceptional aesthetic beauty!
Letters written as if drawn to vividly portray the essence of bamboo!
It was the birth of a new style of letters.
Korean (Hangeul) calligraphy begins with the Hunminjeongeum.
The Hunminjeongeum, the Correct Sounds for the Instruction of the People, is regarded as the world’s most rational and ideal alphabet. The consonants are shaped to resemble the phonatory organs where the sounds are produced and the vowels represent heaven, earth, and man.
Woodblock-based Script refers to the writing style used at the promulgation of the Hunminjeongeum. It refers to the letters engraved on woodblocks.
It is characterized by squared forms and straight lines, different from Chinese Calligraphy styles.
With an increase in the use of Hangeul, handwriting styles were introduced and a new calligraphy style appeared.
Court style is characterized by neat, clear, and straight lines.
This beautiful yet convenient style was created by the court ladies who were professional writers for the king’s written directives and the queen’s private letters.
The kings wrote their personal letters in Hangeul in the palaceand Hangeul writing styles diversified with the popularity of novels written in Hangeul.
In this way, the writers and the objectives for writing created the history of calligraphy.
Must-Know Facts on Culture and Art in Korean History
1. Calligraphy is an art in which one's mind and thoughts are expressed in letters
2. The Stele of King Gwanggaeto the Great is engraved with the foundation myth and achievements of the Goguryeo Dynasty in a unique calligraphic style
3. Autumn Writing Script is the fruit of Kim Jeong-hui’s profound knowledge and artistic soul
4. Court Style is a Korean calligraphy style developed by the court ladies