草书 – Chinese philosophy and culture

cǎoshū 草书

Cursive Script

汉字发展演变中的一种书体。按发展历程可分为草隶、章草、今草、狂草等阶段。它始于汉代,主要是为了书写便捷,提高效率,当时通行的是草隶,后书家损益笔法,逐渐发展为章草。传至汉末,相传张芝(?—192?)摆脱了章草中所保留的隶书形迹,上下字之间的笔势牵连相通,并省减偏旁、相互假借,形成为今草(即今天俗称的草书)。发展到唐代,张旭、怀素(725-785,一说737-799)等草书大家相继产生,他们抒发性情、解放怀抱,将草书写得更为自由纵放,笔势绵延环绕,章法跌宕起伏,结字大胆奇诡,形态变化多端,成为“狂草”。后人又称狂草为“大草”,称今草为“小草”。

Cursive script, also known as running hand, is a particular style of Chinese calligraphy. It went through four stages of development: cursive clerical, semicursive, regular cursive and wild cursive. It began in the Han Dynasty, aiming to facilitate handwriting and increase efficiency. The first popular form of cursive script was cursive clerical. Later, calligraphers added or subtracted the number of strokes to turn the cursive clerical into semi-cursive. Toward the end of the Han Dynasty, Zhang Zhi (?-192?) allegedly rid semi-cursive script of cursive clerical vestiges, linking the final strokes of the character above with the beginning stroke of the following character, eliminating certain radicals and borrowing strokes from neighboring parts to form regular cursive script (commonly known as “cursive hand” today). During the Tang Dynasty, Zhang Xu and Huai Su (725-785, or maybe 737-799), regarded as master calligraphers of the cursive style, gave full expression of their feelings and thoughts, and wrote their characters in a freer and more uninhibited manner. Their execution of strokes featured continuous stretches, gracefully circular movement, flowing contours, amazingly bold combinations of characters and a wide variety of patterns, leading to the emergence of “wild” cursive script. People of later generations also called the latter “great cursive” as opposed to “small cursive,” which in fact referred to regular cursive.

引例 Citations:

◎往时张旭善草书,不治他技。喜怒窘穷,忧悲、愉佚、怨恨、思慕、酣醉、无聊、不平,有动于心,必于草书焉发之。(韩愈《送高闲上人序》)

(从前张旭善于写草书,无心于其他技艺。遇有欣喜、愤怒、窘迫、困穷,忧伤、悲愤、愉悦、怨恨、思慕、大醉、无聊、不平等,每有心动,都会通过草书发泄出来。)

Zhang Xu is a master of cursive-hand calligraphy with no other interests. Whenever he experienced heart-stirring joy, anger, awkwardness, poverty, sorrow, grief, pleasure, resentment, yearning, drunkenness, boredom, or injustice, he would unleash his feelings through cursive script. (Han Yu: A Few Words in Farewell to Gaoxian, an Eminent Monk)

◎张丞相好草书而不工。当时流辈皆讥笑之,丞相自若也。一日得句,索笔疾书,满纸龙蛇飞动,使侄录之。当波险处,侄罔然而止,执所书问曰:“此何字也?”丞相熟视久之,亦自不识,诟其侄曰:“胡不早问?致予忘之!”(释惠洪《冷斋夜话》卷九)

(张[商英]丞相喜欢写草书,但是很不精通。当时的人都讥笑他,他却不以为意。一天,他忽然得到佳句,赶忙索要笔墨奋笔疾书,写了满纸,字迹龙飞凤舞。他让侄儿把诗句抄录出来。侄儿抄到笔画怪异的地方,感到疑惑,便停下笔来,拿着丞相所写的字向他询问是什么字。张丞相反复辨认了很久,也没认出来自己写的是什么字,于是就责骂侄儿说:“你怎么不早一点问我,以致我也忘了写的是什么!”)

Although Prime Minister Zhang (Shangying) loved writing in cursive style, he was never truly good at it. Many laughed at him, but he didn’t mind much. One day, a few poetic lines occurred to his mind, so he asked for his brush and ink and started to write in a lively and vigorous flourish. Then he asked his nephew to copy down those lines for him. Puzzled by some characters with strangelooking strokes, the young man paused and asked what they meant. The Prime Minister studied them carefully, but they were unintelligible to him as well. So he scolded the boy: “Why hadn’t you asked me earlier, before I’d forgotten what those characters were?” (Shi Huihong: Evening Talks at Lengzhai)

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