Yi kai court


Kai Shu (also called Zeng Shu. 真書 ) was initiated by Wang Ts-Zhong ( 王次仲 ) toward the end of the Han Dynasty according to the legend. During the Wei and Jin Dynasties, Zhong Yao (151-230) and Wang Hsi-Chih (303-363) initiated a new way of writing that allowed Kai Shu and Li Shu to separate and form two systems.

It is said Kai Shu was matured by Zhong Yao ( 鍾繇 ) in the Wei Dynasty. It’s a more standardized form of writing than Hsin Shu.

Zhong Yao’s mixture of Kai Shu and Hsin Shu

Wang Hsi-Chih learned Zhong Yao’s Kai Shu from Madame Wei ( 衛夫人 ) and his uncle Wang Yi ( 王廙 ). He also obtained the original manuscripts of Zhong Yao from his uncle Wang Dao ( 王導 ). Thus, Wang Hsi-Chih was considered the lineage holder of Zhong Yao’s Hsin and Kai Styles of calligraphy. Many of Wang Hsi-Chih’s small-scale calligraphy works like Ye Yi Luan ( 樂毅論 ) and Huang Ting Jing ( 黃庭經 ) were resembling some of the characteristics of Zhong Yao's Kai Shu.

Madame Wei’s small-scale Kai Shu

There was another lineage of Kai Shu handed down by Shu Yi-Guan ( 師宜官 ), Liang Hu ( 粱鵠 ) and Han-Dan Tsuen ( 邯鄲淳 ) to the Wei family (Wei Bo-Ru  衛伯儒. Wei Guan

衛瓘 and Wei Heng 衛恆 ) and the Tsui family (Tsui Yeh, Tsui Chian, Tsui Hong, and Tsui Hou.) Some of them were teaching calligraphy in government departments and in the upper society. Many of the tablets of the Northern Dynasties unearthed recently were believed to be from this lineage, even though most of works were anonymous. However, they share some common characteristics:

Their brush strokes retained Li Shu characteristics.
  • There were alternative and incorrect ways of writing some characters.
  • Some writings were even mixed with Zuan, Li, and Kai Styles together.
  • Many tablets were excellent Kai Style calligraphy works.

  • However, most of those tablets were buried under the ground during the Sui and Tang Dynasties and were not available for study.

    During the Tang Dynasty, there were a few prominent Kai Style calligraphers like Yu Shu-Nan ( 虞世南 ), Oh-Yang Sheun ( 歐陽詢 ), Chu Sui-Liang ( 褚遂良 ) and etc. In the middle Tang era, Yen Jen-Ching ( 顏真卿 ) changed significantly the styles of the earlier calligraphy of the Tang Dynasty. His works look solemn, dignified, and majestic. Liu Gong-Chuan ( 柳公權 ) after Yen Jen-Ching created a thinner style compared to Yen’s yet still full of energy. Yen’s calligraphy was considered sinewy and Liu’s was bony.

    Category: Kai

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