Friday, November 23, 2012

Dishu: Chinese Water Calligraphy



In China cosmogony, the square or ‹di› represents the earth and the circle
represents the sky; ‹shu› signifies book, writing by association. The expression ‹dishu› literally means square calligraphy, i.e. earth calligraphy: practicing ephemeral calligraphy on the ground, using clear water as ink. 
Very popular nowadays, this recent phenomenon appeared in the beginning of the 1990s in a park in the north of Beijing before spreading in most of major Chinese cities. Thousands of anonymous street calligraphers operate daily in parks and streets, the different pavements becoming a large paper surface. Displaying literature, poetry or aphorisms, these monumental letterings, ranging from static regular to highly cursive styles, convoke the whole body in a spontaneous dance and infinite formal renewals. The calligraphic practice corresponds to a research of self accomplishment or improvement, this improvement modifying our perception of the world.*  

This non-abrasive, temporary and perhaps more beautiful form of expression is an interesting counterpart to Western graffiti, which is often damaging to property and offensive to aesthetic sensibilities.










Calligraphers use hand-made brushes of sticks and foam sponges:



Videos of Dishu Calligraphy can be found HERE.

Read more HERE.


*Opening statements on this post credited to Francois Chastenet, who created a  photographic and video documentary on the subject of Chinese ground calligraphy in Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, and Shenyang in 2011.  To learn more, visit his website HERE.





2 comments:

  1. Wondering who wrote the western text and what they used as a 'pen'??

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    1. I just looked that up too! They use handcut foam, check https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YrhDfI9lP8

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