The Art of Calligraphy in Asia

Calligraphy, the art of beautiful writing, was long considered the supreme art form in China, Japan, and Korea. This elevated status reflects the importance of the written word in East Asian cultures. In ancient China, early emperors asserted their power by engraving edicts or pronouncements on stone in their own calligraphic script. The elite members of society were scholar­officials, whose status was attained by their command of the written word. In addition to the central role played by writing in Chinese culture, the visual form of the language also contributed to the distinctiveness of the calligraphic tradition. The vast number and complexity of the characters that make up the Chinese script presented artists with a unique platform on which to explore the creative possibilities of design. 
The writing of Chinese characters-which was then widely adopted in Korea around the fourth century and in Japan in the mid-sixth century-was thought to be the purest visual manifestation of the writer's inner character and level of cultivation. It was the medium through which a person's thoughts, feelings, and artistry were best conveyed. In looking at a piece of calligraphy, we may admire the way a calligrapher manipulated the brush to create an object of beauty in which rhythmic energy is conveyed through strokes and dots done with ink. Changes in ink gradation, the relationship between characters, and the elegance of a single line can entice viewers regardless of the legibility of the text. The calligraphy on display in this installation, dating from the fourth century to the present day, demonstrates the written language's lasting appeal as a vehicle for creating highly individualized works of art. 

  • 61873
    Chinese, Qing dynasty, 1644–1912
    Gao Fenghan 高鳳翰, 1683–1748/49
    Flowers and Calligraphy (Hua niao za hua ce 花鳥雜畫冊), 1738
    y1977-15 k
  • 61874
    Chinese, Qing dynasty, 1644–1912
    Gao Fenghan 高鳳翰, 1683–1748/49
    Flowers and Calligraphy (Hua niao za hua ce 花鳥雜畫冊), 1738
    y1977-15 l
  • 42733
    Chinese, Qing dynasty, 1644–1912
    Weng Tonghe 翁同龢, 1830–1904
    One-stroke Tiger, early morning (3:00–5:00 a.m.), February 24, 1902
    2006-26
  • 55338
    Chinese, Modern period, 1912–present
    Cui Fei 崔斐,, born 1970
    Tracing the Origin -001, 2006
    2008-73
  • 55339
    Chinese, Modern period, 1912–present
    Cui Fei 崔斐,, born 1970
    Tracing the Origin -002, 2006
    2008-74
  • 128738
    Qiu Zhijie 邱志杰, born 1969
    In the Deep of Reality - The Lake, 2004
    L.2017.1.7
  • 84975
    Japanese, Nara period, 710–794
    Sumidera Heart Sutra (Sumidera shingyō 隅寺心経), 8th century
    2012-99
  • 28405
    Japanese, Heian period, 794–1185
    Divisions of Vowed Morality Sutra (J: Konponsetsu issai ubu binya; Skt: Mūlasarvāstivada nikaya vinaya sūtra), from Jingoji Temple , ca. 1150
    y1959-121
  • 29435
    Japanese, Edo period, 1600–1868, Kan'ei era, 1624–1644
    Messenger Delivering a Letter (Fumitsukai byōbu-e 文使い屏風絵)
    y1964-50
  • 23174
    Japanese, Edo period, 1600–1868
    Ganku 岸駒, 1749 or 1756–1839
    Calligrapher and Attendants
    y1946-85
  • 57118
    Japanese, Edo period, 1600–1868
    Yamaguchi Shidō 山口志道, 1765–1842
    Mount Fuji of Poems (Hyakushu Fuji 百首富士), 1842
    2009-78
  • 14443
    Japanese, Edo period, 1600–1868
    Keisai Eisen, 1790–1848
    A View of Yoshiwara
    x1985-127
  • 55167
    Japanese, Edo period, 1600–1868
    Suzuki Harunobu 鈴木春信, 1725?–1770
    Lighting a Lamp-Sunset Glow (Andōn no sekishō), ca. 1766
    2007-162
  • 60805
    Japanese, Edo period, 1600–1868
    Utagawa Kunisada 歌川国貞, 1786–1865
    Published by Hiranoya Shinzō
    Iwai Kumesaburō III as Princess Wakana raising a large spider through incantation, 1861
    2011-57
  • 42179
    Egyptian
    Page of calligraphy, 9th century AD
    y1958-110
  • 54849
    Persian
    Page of calligraphy from the Koran, late 19th century
    y1980-48
  • 69005
    Persian
    Two pages of calligraphy from the Koran, 18th century
    ui.2012.1638