January 26, 2023

The Story of Chinese Writing:
a Visual Journey

with Paul Tong and Siu-ching Lui

7:00 - 8:30pm EST

online via Zoom

$10 is suggested but any amount is appreciated.

Donations support these events, leaders, musicians, and the Folk Arts Center.

Download resources here.

About the Program

Chinese writing is the oldest continuously used writing system in the world. A feature of the Chinese written language is that it is separate from the spoken language, so that the written word can be appreciated in its own right. Over three millennia, its use by countless people has contributed to its form, meaning and aesthetics. In a sense, each character is a work of graphic folk art design.

This talk will focus on the visual form of the Chinese written characters. Through a visual walk-through of various common characters, it will touch upon how to read its structure, how the components come together to provide meaning, and how the original pictorial form evolves into the current script. The historical stages of script evolution, and calligraphy as art form will also be discussed.

We shall present some artifacts, such as traditional Chinese books, seal-carvings, rubbings from calligraphy stelae and antique roof tile. We shall explore the connection between Chinese painting and calligraphy. There will be a live demo of how to write Chinese characters with a brush. The audience is encouraged to try out the writing with pencil/brush and paper.

About Paul and Siu-ching

Paul and Siu-ching have been practicing Chinese Watercolor Brush Painting for over 20 years, having studied under renowned artist Hsu Dan in New Jersey. While both of their professional backgrounds are in engineering, they were attracted to the imaginative, spiritual and atmospheric perspective of Chinese brush painting, which is closely connected to Chinese calligraphy. Indeed, calligraphy exercise is an integral part of their painting practice.

Paul currently serves as president of the New Jersey Sumi-e group which just came off a successful painting exhibition in the fall of 2022. The Chinese character is itself an art form both in its design and its calligraphic execution. Paul is especially fascinated by the structure of Chinese characters and how each character came about. For both, practicing Chinese calligraphy has become a weekly routine not only to improve the quality of their writing but also to enjoy a moment of meditation from the writing process.

Another important part of their life is international folk dancing. They dance regularly with several recreational folk dance groups in New Jersey, and share their favorite dances by teaching.