Time for some Chinese culture – Our calligraphy lesson in Zhuhai
Here in Zhuhai we are taking part in a lot of fun activities and trips to special places around the Pearl River Delta. We have also had many opportunities to learn more about the Chinese people and their culture.
This time we went to visit a very traditional cultural house, a former local style house of Zhuhai. At this place there was an exhibition of pictures from a very famous painter. This painter was actually there to teach us calligraphy. But more about this later.
First, I would like to explain a bit about Chinese Calligraphy. As a discipline, calligraphy is at the basic level, a pursuit focused on writing well －書法 Chinese: shūfǎ, “the rules of writing Han characters”. Students aim to obtain the writing characteristics of exemplary pieces of writing. Elementary school students practice calligraphy in this way, as do elders without aspiring to artistic creation.
Calligraphy is also considered an art which in Chinese can be known as 藝術/艺术 Chinese: yìshù, a relatively recent word meaning “art”, where the works are appreciated more or only for their aesthetic qualities.
The English word “calligraphy” refers to that which is “beautiful writing”, thus including both aspects.
We started with a tour around the house and they told us more about the amazing paintings, the different types of paper used and the techniques used for drawing.
After the tour, whilst the painter was painting we got to observe over his shoulder. It was fascinating how he simply uses one brush and only one colour (black) to draw and create a beautiful Chinese landscape. It was then our turn to see how creative we are.
We began with some simple Chinese characters and I can really say it is not as easy as it looks. You have to hold the brush in a special way and guide the brush movements of the wrist. For some of us, this made it a big challenge. But the teacher was really patient and took time with every one of us and explained how to do it the right way.
We also got our names painted in Chinese characters and when I told the painter my name, he just laughed out loud. It was then that I found out my name “Pia” when spoken in an aggressive way means “bullshit” in Chinese (I actually kind of liked my name before, especially as it means “love” in Hindi) . The painter found other ways of pronouncing name and then decided on similar sounding characters and now it is “pei er”, which has no meaning. Much better that way!
As you may be able to imagine, we had a lot of fun learning to write Chinese characters. If you want to learn more about the Chinese culture and the meaning of your name apply now.