Sunday, November 1, 2009

How to Write Kanji

DNA: Lifestyle: Strokes of elegance
How to write kanji | NihongoUp
How to write kanji

Posted on October 31st, 2009 by seifip in Design, Language |

When a student is taught kanji, one of the first thing that is explained to him is the concept of stroke order—the one and only correct way of writing kanji characters. Unfortunately, the reason behind it as well as the main rules are often left undiscussed. Most students are left wondering about why they are supposed to learn one more characteristic for each of the already complicated character, and some of them decide not to follow any of the well established rules at all. In this article I’ll try to explain why it generally is important to use correct stroke order and what are the basic rules that should cover the majority of the kanji characters.
Why is kanji stroke order important? Lean the art of Calligraphy

First of all, unlike the Latin alphabet (or Cyrillic, for that matter) the Chinese characters and their Japanese deviations are always monospaced—each character occupies the same amount of space. When you combine this typographic rule with the often incredible amount of strokes involved, it becomes clear, why writing nicely looking characters may be so difficult. Shodō (書道, Japanese calligraphy) is an art that was practiced for centuries in Japan and thus, the proper way of writing kanji is a very well researched topic. You may not believe it at first, but try writing the same kanji with different stroke orders and you’ll see the difference. Moreover, in Japan, an opinion about you may be formed based on your calligraphy. In the same way as by speaking improperly, your bad handwriting may make a bad impression on the others.

Windows 7 TIP Japanese - Handwriting recognition

Secondly, stroke order is a great learning aid. Especially for some of the more complicated characters, one may forget how precisely a it character look, yet remember how to write it by following the correct order. This phenomenon is called motor memory and you probably already experience it in your every day life. Actually, neuromuscular facilitation is involved even in basic task like speech—one doesn’t think about complex tongue, lips, and other movements—and is the primary cause of accents.

At last, traditional paper kanji dictionaries are often organized by stroke order, and even if one decides to use computer handwriting recognition—be it a Tablet PC, a smartphone, or a dedicated denshi jisho (電子辞書, electronic dictionary)—it will work best if you use the correct stroke order.

Posted on October 31st, 2009 by seifip in Design, Language

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Calligraphy Strokes of Elegance

DNA: Lifestyle: Strokes of elegance
Mumbai: You've seen those beautifully handwritten scripts inscribed on stone monuments or in religious manuscripts written on palm leaves. Now see scripts come alive through calligraphy on T-shirts, CD covers, wedding cards, mugs, books, fashion wear and even as body art.

The aesthetics of calligraphy, i.e. the art of beautiful handwriting, has transcended into the commercial realm rather than being just confined to sophisticated use.

Achyut Palav, a celebrated city-based calligrapher and alumni of J.J. School of Art has a studio stocked with various products done in calligraphy. Ranging from mugs, glass items to T-shirts and books, the items are worth a buy. Palav is credited to having presented calligraphic prints in a fashion show, designing logos, body painting, home interiors, event invites, wallpapers and book covers etc. "Calligraphy can be done using different techniques and in different media. I have travelled all over India and have noticed that there still exists a lacuna in the execution and utility of calligraphy" he says, adding further that he has plans to open a calligraphy school very soon.

Says Santosh Kshirsagar, 49, professor at theJ.J. School of Art who has been in the field of calligraphy and typography for 20 years now, the key to popularising calligraphy lies in interacting with the youth and making them not only appreciate calligraphy but also motivate them to take up calligraphy in the indigenous Indian scripts. "Calligraphy is not just about acquiring the skill but it is equally about expressing yourself and adding your interpretation to the art work," he says.

Kshirsagar also insists that introduction of calligraphy at the school level is vital.
At present though, J.J. School of Art runs a four year degree course in Applied Art with specialisation in photography, typography and illustration among other subjects. Calligraphy is part of the typography course. Calligraphy artists feel the scope for students learning calligraphy nowadays is varied and well paying. Since the demand has grown and commercial requirements are manifold, a student can choose to be part of the professional world in areas like jewellery designing, body art, fashion, advertising and films and begin earning a minimum salary of Rs15,000.

While western calligraphy takes its root from the Roman alphabets, Chinese and Japanese calligraphy are still deeply entrenched in their day-to-day local tradition in the form of artefacts and gifts. Nepalese, Tibetan, Iranian calligraphy have also stood the test of the time. With 10 scripts existing in India, when it comes to Indian calligraphy, there is scope for a lot more work.

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Wooden Doll Does Calligraphy

Robots: Karakuri Ningyo carries out Calligraphy

Karakuri Ningyo carries out Calligraphy

Having seen autoportrait-robot-painter now, here is Japanese wooden doll Robot that performs Calligraphy.

This doll looks sweet and charming and looks more like a sculpture than a robot. It is a formation by Hisashige Tanaka the founder of Toshiba. In Japanese such dolls are called Karakuri Ningyo and were mechanized in Japan from the 18th century to 19th century. Karakuri means puppet while Ningyo means person and shape.

Read the rest of the story and watch the Calligraphy doll video

Sunday, January 18, 2009

3D Calligraphy Explores the Meaning of Words

The Korea Herald : The Nation's No.1 English Newspaper
A black and red sculpture stands in the middle of the main street in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul. Curvy and fluid, the three-meter tall sculpture evokes a pair of graceful red-crested cranes spreading out their wings. It is "Poe," by sculptor Lee Jae-ok.

One will be surprised to find out that it was also intended to be shaped like the Chinese letter "Poe," which means to spread out. It is Lee's style to transform two-dimensional calligraphy into a three-dimensional sculpture.

Lee's solo exhibition is currently running at Juliana Gallery in Cheongdam-dong. The first floor of the gallery is packed with the artist's colorful calligraphy-originated sculptures.

"When I make the letters into sculptures, both its indicative and figurative charms are brought to light," Lee told The Korea Herald.

Her method is possible because Chinese letters are pictographic. But she does not simply stick to expressing the letters' original meanings. Instead, Lee translates the lines and shapes of each letter in her own way and creates new figures.

For example, Lee turned the Chinese letter "lak," which means to enjoy, into a yellow flower. Not only does the shape resemble the letter, but the vivid color and the bouncy lines itself are very joyful. Naturally, she titled the work "Pleasure."

"An-yang" resembles a couple dancing the waltz. The turquoise figure, which seems to be the male, leads the dance and the yellow figure follows in tiptoes like the female dancer. Dancing peacefully is what came to Lee's mind when she thought of the word "An-yang," which means to relax.

Lee Jae Ok's work is better acclaimed overseas than in Korea. "These were showcased in many art fairs such as Art Cologne or Art Chicago and received a great applause," said Juliana Park, director of Juliana Gallery, to The Korea Herald.

"Foreigners found them very unique because it is a totally different type of sculpture from what they used to see. They are fascinated at the fact that calligraphy can be turned into sculptures, and at the works' oriental beauty."

The colorful works now on display are Lee's third version of the series. She had first made them in a more simple tone with bronze and nickel.

"More creative and fancier versions will be coming up next," Lee said.

The exhibition runs through Jan. 31 at Juliana Gallery in southern Seoul. For more information, call (02) 514-4266.

By Park Min-young

Power in the Word of Calligraphy

Words, says a Chinese calligrapher, have the potential of becoming more powerful than any weapon invented by man.

ASK Tony Yong what’s in a word and this 50-year-old Chinese
calligrapher will tell you that this is where the entire knowledge of
universe is housed.

Wording it right: Yong opines that Chinese calligraphy is a bit like kung fu.

Words, opines this father of three, have the potential of becoming more powerful than any weapon invented by man.

is this realisation that makes this former amateur jockey take his work
very seriously, more so during the Lunar New Year season when the
Chinese embark on a massive campaign of sorts to ensure they start the
New Year with a positive frame of mind.

And speaking of words,
one of Yong’s favourite phrases is, “We must be grateful for the number
of years that heaven has bestowed upon us.”

shine: Yong grinding an ink stick on an ink stone. Characters written
with this type of ink has a glossier and longer-lasting effect.

“This is very fitting for the new year season as it reminds us that we should never be apprehensive about growing older.

is why I like Alan Tam’s (popular Hong Kong singer) attitude where he
maintains he will always be 25 years old. One need not be afraid of
growing old as long as one remains young at heart,” said Yong who jogs
and does yoga every morning to keep fit.

Of course it does make one wonder why such an active character like Yong had opted for a desk job.

Prized work : An excerpt from one of Li Bai’s (ancient Chinese scholar) novels carved on wood.

“Do you know that doing Chinese calligraphy is a bit like kung fu?” Yong disclosed.

According to this self-taught artist, the process of writing each character requires a high level of consciousness.

each stroke that is executed, the artist has to know the amount of
pressure to exert, the type of hand movement to employ and the amount
of ink can be loaded onto the brush.

Even the length of time the tip is in contact with the scroll is taken into consideration.

Yong would affirm that it is the peace he experiences during the
process which has made him stay in the profession for the past seven

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