The Culture of Calligraphy Between Malaysia and Japan



Calligraphy is considered as artistic writing, a type of visual art related to writing and also a unique oriental art of expression and a branch of learning or discipline as well. Over the thousands of years, the style of calligraphy has evolved continually and developed within multi-cultural countries. Both Malaysia Chinese and Japanese calligraphy are originated and developed from China. Chinese has had a major influence upon Japanese culture and language, and over 60% of all Japanese words are drawn from Chinese (Tanaka, 1985, p. 7).

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The local name for calligraphy in Malaysia Chinese society is called Shufa while as Shodo in Japan which both of them carry almost the same meanings as”the way/ method/ law of writing”. There is a way of calligraphy, a way of writing Shodo where Sho means the calligraphy, do means the way (“The japanese calligraphy”, n. d. , “Hieroglyphs of happiness”). Since they actually share the same roots with Chinese calligraphy hence many of their principles and techniques as well as the tools used are very similar in some particular ways.

In order to complete calligraphic works, basic tools like brush, paper, ink stone, ink and ink stick, seal and seal pad are definitely essential. For Japanese calligraphy, a specific paper called Washi made up from several materials such as mulberry paper (Broussonetiapapyrifera), bamboo, rice, or wheat is used when writing calligraphy (“Japanese Calligraphy: Tools”, n. d. , para. 2). It is the most frequently used paper compared with the others because of its soft texture.

Identically, in Chinese calligraphy, Xuanzhi which is also made out of the paper mulberry, as well as other materials including Tatar Wingceltis (Pteroceltis Tatarianovii), rice, bamboo and hemp is undoubtedly the preferred type of paper used when working on calligraphic works. Basically, skills and techniques are critical factors for a calligrapher to complete a quality calligraphic work. In both Malaysia Chinese and Japanese calligraphy, the shape, size, stretch and type of brush, the colour and density of the ink, as well as the surface texture of the paper are the main reasons influencing the final result.

The art of calligraphy gifts the appreciators or readers the aesthetic enjoyment and the charming rhythm in the lightness and press of the brush to absolutely show the calligraphers’ personal tastes, self-education and self-cultivation (“China Calligraphy”, n. d. , “Calligraphy of Today”). The writing speed and strength of calligrapher can be the key to determine success or failure of a calligraphic work as well.

Since everyone is an independent individual hence calligraphers with different characteristics and personalities have their own styles of writing and this can result in the varieties of calligraphic works. This ensures that the development and room for improvement in the field of calligraphy. Calligraphy is considered one of the most valuable cultural heritages in the world hence greater attention should be given to this significant culture and in the hopes of continuing it in the future.


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