Renowned Calligrapher Currently On “Ivy League Lecture Series”
Last weekend, as part of a worldwide effort to teach and promote traditional Chinese calligraphy, the renowned calligrapher Pang Zhonghua (庞中华) delivered an instructive lecture entitled “Infinite Variety Under the Stroke” at Columbia University’s Teachers College in New York City. Jing Daily, along with other media outlets including China’s Xinhua News Agency, attended the event at the invitation of Columbia University organizers.
Widely recognized as a pioneer of “hard-nib calligraphy” (硬笔), a form of the writing art done with fountain pens rather than soft brushes, Pang Zhonghua achieved celebrity status in China in the 1980s promoting his distinctive script. Over the past three decades, over 400 volumes of Pang’s textbooks, collections of calligraphic theory, poems and prose have been published, with a total print run of well over 150 million copies. In addition to his contribution to the art of hard-nib calligraphy, Pang is also a highly innovative educator. He has developed his own calligraphic pedagogy, likening the strokes, lines and pauses of a whole piece of calligraphy to the tone, pitch, and melody of a symphonic piece.
As Pang said in his lecture at Columbia University, hard-nib calligraphy is an important artistic category, and in his view, promoting communication through the calligraphic arts can enhance understanding among China, the US and other countries.
Delving into the history of Chinese calligraphy, Pang then demonstrated traditional scripts seen over the course of several thousand years, beginning with oracle bone script (Jiǎgǔwén, 甲骨文) and small seal script (Xiǎozhuàn, 小篆) from Qin Dynasty, then up through famous ancient Chinese calligraphers like Wang Xizhi and Yan Zhenqin.
Pang then demonstrated the flexibility of his own calligraphic style, writing in several languages, such as English, Korean and Tibetan. Pang then explained his theories on the relationship between calligraphy and music, playing a demonstrative piece on an accordion. Wrapping up his lecture, Pang showed audience members how to write the phrase “US-China Friendship” (Měi zhōng yǒuhǎo, 美中友好) in an ancient script, inviting an American student up to the stage to try her hand at it on a blackboard.
As the first stop on his “Ivy League Lecture Series,” from New York Pang will continue on to Yale, Harvard and other leading American universities on his promotional tour of traditional Chinese calligraphy.