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Chinese calligraphy

Updated: 2014-12-08 13:25:43

( Chinaculture.org )

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In 2009, Chinese calligraphy was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO.


Chinese calligraphy has always been more than simply a tool for communication, incorporating as it does the element of artistry for which the practice is still valued in an age of ballpoint pens and computers. Indeed, calligraphy is no longer the basic tool of intellectuals and officials but has become the preserve of professional artisans and amateur enthusiasts. Whether they are recording information or simply creating beautiful forms, calligraphers’ brushes are used to ink five different styles of script, known as ‘seal’, ‘official’, ‘cursive’, ‘running’ and ‘regular’. The art may appear on any writing surface – even the rocky walls of cliffs – but it is especially common on letters, scrolls, works of literature and fan coverings. Today, in addition to traditional master-apprentice instruction, calligraphy is also taught at school. Many ceremonies that mark national celebrations and religious rituals incorporate the practice and calligraphy has itself proved influential on modern art, architecture and design. In its distinctive Chinese form, calligraphy offers an important channel for the appreciation of traditional culture and for arts education. It is also a source of pride and pleasure for the Chinese people and embodies important aspects of the country’s intellectual and artistic heritage.


Nomination form: English|French

Consent of communities: English

Decision 4.COM 13.08

The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List, as follows:

R1: The art of Chinese calligraphy is recognized by its practitioners as a symbol of their identity and is passed on from generation to generation;

R2: Inscription of the element on the Representative List would contribute to the visibility of intangible cultural heritage and promote respect for cultural diversity and creativity, expressed in the richness of the symbols used in Chinese calligraphy;

R3: Various safeguarding measures have already been implemented and a range of measures are proposed, including educational, promotional and research activities;

R4: The practitioners of calligraphy participated in the nomination process through joint meetings of the two main practitioner associations;

R5: The element is inscribed on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage administered by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture.


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