Chapter VII The stately regular script
Section I   An overview of Regular Script
Regular script (楷书 in Chinese that reads Kǎi Shū) evolved from Li Shu. Its structure is of squareness, strokes are even or straight. It took its primitive form in the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), prospered in the Western, Eastern Jin and Southern and Northern Dynasties (265-589) with Wang Xizhi (王羲之 in Chinese that reads Wáng Xízhī,303-361) as its representative, and came to its zenith in the Tang Dynasty (618-709) with Yan Zhenqing (颜真卿 in Chinese that reads Yán Zhénqíng 709-785) and Liu Gongquan (柳公权 in Chinese that reads Lǐu Gōngquán 778-865) as its representatives. Regular script has been in popular use until today.
It is also said regular script was invented by Zhong You (钟繇 in Chinese that reads Zhóng Yóu, 151-230), a famous calligrapher in the Kingdom of Wei in the three-Kingdoms period.


A sample of Zhong You’s regular script            

A portrait of Zhong You


By the time of Jin, Wang Xizhi further developed Zhong You’s way of writing.
When it came to the Southern and Northern Dynasties, regular script was widely used on stele carvings, the most representative is 《Zhang Menglong Stele》 (张猛龙 in Chinese that reads zháng Měnglóng), which was erected in 522 to record the head of the Prefecture Zhang Menglong’s deeds in opening up schools. It is now being kept at the Confucius Temple at Qufu. The ends of horizontal strokes of this kind of regular script are not round, the pen is often used sideways. Such a style is referred to as “Wei Stele Style”, because it prospered in the Northern Wei period and were mostly used in carving steles.

Part of ZhangMenglong
             Regular script totally matured in the Tand Dynasty. A great number of master emerged, the most famous one are: Ouyang Xun, Yushinan, Chu Suiliang, Yan Zhenqing, Liu Gongquan and Li Yong. Among them Yan Zhenqing (颜真卿 in Chinese that reads Yán Zhēnqíng 709-785) and Liu Gongquan (柳公权 in Chinese that reads Liǔ Gōngquán) have been most influential.


                     Let’s look at Yan’s 《Yan Qinli Stele》, which was written when he was 71 years old to memorize his great grandfather. It was excavated in 1922 and is now being kept at the Stele Forest in Xian.
                     This piece of work as shown on the left below is full of strength and has been used as a model for generation in teaching.


       The one on upper right is 《An Eulogy of the Rising of the State》

written by Yan when he was 63 on cliffside at Qiyang County of Hunan
Province, which still stand intact dispite of erosion in the last thousand
of years, because of the fine quality of the rock.
Liu Gongquan began his calligraphy by imitating Yan, but gradually he
Developed his own style. 《Stele of Xuanmi Pagoda》was written when
he was 64, the characters are slimer and their “bones and muscles”
are exposed. The stele was erected in 841 and is now being kept at
Xian Stele Forest. 《Stele of Imperial Garrison》 was written when he
was 66 and has been regarded as his best.




 Part of Stele of Xuanmi Pagoda       Part of Stele of Imperial Garrison
Section II Structure of Kai Shu
Regular script characters are in rectangle shape, their structure is Structure is tighter than Li Shu; It is more agile than Li Shu as well.For a character without a radical, the center of gravity should be well placed. For a character with a radical, the radical should never take up most space. For a upper and lower compound, the lower part is always bigger. For a compound of three parts, the writer should use his common sense to judge if the middle part should be bigger or the parts on the two sides should be bigger, all depends on how the character would like nice.
Extensive reading (5)
Liu Gongquan began to practice calligraphy when he was very small. One day he was writing characters onto a bowl when a peddler of beancurd soup came. Liu showed his writing to the peddler expecting some good words. To his surprise, the peddler said the characters were as soft as the beancurd soup and asked Liu to go to town to watch how an armless man did his calligraphy. Liu went into town the next day and saw a man with no arms was writing with his foot, and his writing was so beautiful. Liu was ashamed of himself for feeling complacent. He then asked the man for advice, and was told to use up at least eight jars of water in making ink. He then practised even harder and finally became a master.


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