Bad writing : cursive calligraphy and the ethics of orthography in the Eastern Han dynasty

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Abstract

This chapter is a study of the essay “Against Cursive Calligraphy” (Fei caoshu 非草書‎) by Zhao Yi Yi 趙壹‎ (ca. 130-185). In this rare polemic against the art of cursive calligraphy, Zhao Yi accused his Eastern Han contemporaries for their grave misunderstanding of this new orthography and its negative relationship to achieving sagehood and understanding antiquity. By contextualizing Zhao Yi’s essay within the voices of his contemporaries, most notably the effusive praises of cursive calligraphy in the “Configuration of Cursive Calligraphy” (Caoshu shi 草書勢‎) by Cui Yuan 崔瑗‎ (78-143), this chapter argues for a debate over the ethics of orthography in the late Eastern Han dynasty.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBehaving Badly in Early and Medieval China
EditorsN. Harry ROTHSCHILD, Leslie V. WALLACE
PublisherUniversity of Hawaii Press
Chapter6`
Pages106-121
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9780824867812
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Eastern Han
  • Orthography
  • cursive script
  • cursive calligraphy
  • antiquity
  • sagehood
  • Zhao Yi Yi 趙壹
  • Cui Yuan 崔瑗

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