What is Calligraphy, Exactly?

Calligraphy is far from new. The origins of calligraphy date back to ancient China during the Shang dynasty. Back then, the writing was often carved on turtle shells or animal bones.

According to www.prosperforpurpose.com/blog/calligraphy-communication-ages, official calligraphy script was incorporated into Chinese writing in the 3rd century BC. This lead to the earliest form of cursive script.

So what is ‘Calligraphy’ exactly?

One website I found describes Calligraphy as ‘ Writing in calligraphy involves using a dip pen with a nib and ink to create thick and thin lines using varying degrees of pressure, all in a single stroke. Downstrokes are thick, while upstrokes are kept thin, light and airy’.  The author then goes on to describe hand lettering as “faux calligraphy,”  and states that ‘it uses the sames principles of thick downstrokes and light upstrokes, but is written with a pen of some kind rather than a nib and ink’.

I don’t totally agree. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of Calligraphy is ‘aristic, stylised or elegant handwriting or lettering’. 

I, personally, believe Calligraphy is simply the art of beautiful handwriting.

There are many different forms around these days – we have come a long way from only using dip pens and ink to write in perfect Copperplate. Along with the old traditional favourites like Italic and Blackletter (old English) hand, we have brush lettering and other modern styles – and I think that’s brilliant. As with all art forms, I don’t think definitions really matter. I’m just overjoyed that a skill that used to be commonplace and looked like disappearing is making a resurgence.

Here’s to beautiful handwriting – may it never die.


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