Carrying forward the Calligraphy Culture of Chinese Characters and Consolidating the Sense of Community for the Chinese Nation

Yang Zhaojun 

Wu Chuke


President Xi Jinping pointed out: “Culture is the soul of a nation, and cultural identity is the root of national unity.” Chinese characters have been the basic tools for ideological and cultural exchanges among all ethnic groups in China since their emergence. In the long-term practical process, the ancient sages of the Chinese nation have continuously created their forms and structures according to their needs, and evolved from Oracle Bone Inscriptions and Jinwen into Dazhuan, Xiaozhuan and Lishu, and then finalized into cursive script, regular script and running script in Eastern Han, Wei and Jin Dynasties. It relies on pictographic Chinese characters and uses unique writing tools. The pictographic picture simulation was gradually changed into pure and abstract lines and structures, whose own life modality and aesthetic experience were integrated into it, thus creating a unique art in the world-Chinese calligraphy. After thousands of years of development and precipitation, Chinese calligraphy has become an important part of Chinese excellent traditional culture and a common spiritual home of the Chinese nation. Carrying forward Chinese calligraphy is conducive to the popularization and development of Chinese excellent culture, the popularization of the national common language and writing, and the casting of  Sense of Community for the Chinese Nation.

2. Chinese Calligraphy Is A Typical Example of Chinese Excellent Traditional Culture

Chinese traditional culture refers to the Chinese culture created, inherited and continuously developed by all ethnic groups living in China since the Yan and Huang period. It is the overall representation of various ideological cultures and concepts in the history of the Chinese nation, the crystallization of the Millennium civilization of the Chinese nation and the concentrated expression of the basic values of the Chinese nation. Its contents include the vast literature and art works in the history of the Chinese nation, including the material culture and spiritual culture jointly created by all Chinese nations in various historical periods. Excellent Chinese traditional culture refers to the spiritual and material cultural resources in Chinese traditional culture that meet the requirements of the new era, conform to the socialist core values, and are conducive to building the Chinese nation’s community consciousness and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Undoubtedly, among all Chinese traditional cultures, Chinese calligraphy is typical and most representative, thus being called “the core of Chinese culture”.

In the process of the development and evolution of human history, there are probably thousands of characters, but most of them only stay in the symbolic expression stage or only emphasize their practical functions. At the early stage of creation, Chinese characters have the dual functions of practicality and artistic beauty. As Li Zehou, a famous aesthetician, said, “Like music extracting music from the sound world, according to its own laws, it is independently developed into melody and harmony. Purified lines, with their free development of breaking away from and surpassing the strokes of physical simulation, construct one by one intricately interwoven and rich and varied music and dance on paper for lyricism and expression. It is not the formal beauty of neat, uniform, balanced and symmetrical lines, but the free beauty that is far more diverse and flowing. Flowing clouds, keeping track of the wind, having softness and rigidity, and having moderate square round. Every word, article and picture of it can be creative, innovative and even individual, without mechanical repetition and rigid specification. It is both figurative and lyrical, and has two factors and components: modeling and expression, and in its long development journey, the latter takes the lead and advantage. In the long process of historical development, Chinese calligraphy, with its unique abstract dots, lines and strokes, makes us feel the bones, tendons, flesh and blood in the object image from emotion and imagination to enlighten the content and significance of human life.

Among all the nations in the world, only Chinese calligraphy can develop practical writing into an art juxtaposed with painting, music, dance, sculpture and literature. In this sense, it is not only a cultural treasure of the Chinese nation, but also a precious treasure in the treasure house of world culture and art. In 2008, he was listed as the representative of national intangible cultural heritage. Up to now, Chinese calligraphy is the Chinese art with the longest history, the largest audience, the widest popularity, the richest vitality and the richest Chinese characteristics. Therefore, it is called the artistic crystallization of Chinese civilization, the artistic expression of Chinese thinking mode, and the “core of Chinese culture”.

3. Chinese Calligraphy Is the Common Creation of the Chinese Nation

The flame of civilization is eternal, and the long river of civilization is endless. Backed by the profound accumulation of Chinese civilization for 5,000 years, Chinese calligraphy is endless. The reason why it has become a pearl in the art palace of the Chinese nation and even human beings lies in its distinctive features: it is the crystallization of the common wisdom and the common spiritual home of all ethnic groups in China. As President Xi Jinping said: “Our splendid culture is jointly created by all ethnic groups, and Chinese culture is a collection of cultures of all ethnic groups.” Chinese calligraphy art is a model of this kind of “co-creation” and “integration”, which shows the long-lasting Chinese culture and the cultural confidence of the Chinese nation, and is the concentrated expression of the Chinese nation’s persistent pursuit of beauty and outstanding creative ability.

In the history of China, many people from all ethnic groups have been proficient in Chinese and studied Chinese characters carefully. There have been many famous politicians, scientists and artists, including calligraphers, who, together with other people of all ethnic groups, have created a colorful calligraphy culture of Chinese characters. Kanmaner, a Uygur poet in Xinjiang, once recorded the efforts of their grandparents and grandchildren to learn calligraphy for three generations: “Han people have been my teachers since ancient times, and they are not tired of learning Chinese characters for others”. Mi Fei, who is well-known in the history of Chinese calligraphy, is an outstanding representative of Hui calligraphers. His calligraphy is “stable, dangerous, old and not fat”. His pen is ups and downs, strange and smart, bold and heavy, hearty and far-reaching, and has been called “Mi Zi” by later generations. Known as “the most important minority calligrapher in the history of Chinese calligraphy art”, Kang Lixun is a famous Mongolian calligraphy master in Yuan Dynasty. His calligraphy was innovative at that time, connecting the preceding with the following, and had far-reaching influence. Mr Qigong, the most famous Manchu calligrapher in contemporary China, is well-known in China and Kyushu. Under the influence of Chinese calligraphy, all ethnic groups in China have also brought the brushwork, rhyme, posture and aesthetics of Chinese calligraphy into the artistic creation of their own languages. Mongolian calligraphy, Naxi calligraphy, Uighur calligraphy, Xixia calligraphy and Tibetan calligraphy have emerged, which together with Chinese calligraphy have become an important part of the treasure house of Chinese calligraphy art, profoundly affecting the Chinese nation’s thinking mode, values and aesthetic consciousness, and conveying the unique personality style and temperament of Chinese people.

To sum up, Chinese calligraphy, which embodies the Chinese nation’s thinking mode, values and aesthetic consciousness, and conveys Chinese people’s unique personality style and temperament, is the common creation and spiritual home of the Chinese nation, as well as a typical example of Chinese excellent traditional culture. Therefore, to carry forward the Chinese calligraphy culture is to “correctly understand the excellent traditional Chinese culture and build the cultural foundation recognized by the Chinese nation community”, to dig deep into the excellent traditional Chinese culture formed by the integration and mutual learning of all Chinese nations, and to offer wisdom for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

(Yang Zhaojun is Ph. D. Candidate from School of Ethnology and Sociology, MinZu University of China).

(Wu Chuke is Professor at School of Ethnology and Sociology, MinZu University of China).

 Edited by: Muhammad Zamir Assadi