Monday, August 25, 2008

Heaven is round, Earth is square

The shapes presented here by the moving printing blocks - round, square, ying yang, and calligraphical character He (和, meaning 'unity, harmony')...embrace many traditional ideas...
ancestors believed that the heaven is round...they observed the moon the sun, which come and go and come - universe must be like a closed circle, repeating itself to eternity. this round celestial order was used in many architecture, for example, the temple of heaven (天坛), where emperors worshiped in the aim to connect themselves to heaven...
the earth (terrestrial order) was believed to be square, steady and solid, carrying all living things including us. so the ordinary people's home was often structured in a square layout, called Si He Yuan (四合院).
heaven is yang, earth is ying...I often think the connection between ancient philosophy and marxism (which is much more than just communism) to chinese is perhaps between ying yang and dialectics (辩证法) -
everything is made out of opposing forces/opposing sides.
gradual changes lead to turning points, where one force overcomes the other.
change moves in spirals not circles. (negation of the negation)
- so far, my life experience cannot refute it.
calligraphy is a very broad topic. it's an arts and also the history of chinese the language. the script styles changes along time, leaving us varieties. for example, attached is the development of the word Ma (horse) written chronologically in: oracle, bronze, big seal, small seal, clerical, regular traditional, regular simplified, semi-cursive, cursive script, etc.
to understand calligraphy, a very interesting start is the word Mi (rice). it's one of the most simple characters, but defines the spacial relationships of all the 8 voids on paper. for example, space 1 and 2 are normally smaller than 3 and 4, which are smaller than 5 and 6, which in turn are smaller than 7 and 8, etc. this rice theory was summarized by Qigong (启功, chinese calligrapher/artist/sinologist, 1912-2005). I thought it's a very elegant - the rules of the most complicated phenomenons are often hidden in the simplest form, like universe to a cell...
share a young chinese artist/calligrapher Xu Bing (徐冰)'s work the book from the sky (天书) and the book from the earth (地书). - a more academic contemporary chinese artist.
(to be continued.)
A big fan

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