In China calligraphy occupies a distinguished position in the field of traditional art. It is not only a means of communication, but also a means of expressing a person's inner world in an aesthetic sense.
Ancient people paid great attention to calligraphy. It was the essential whereby a candidate could manifest his literary talent in the Imperial Examination, for it gave a first impression to the examiners. Children of high officials had to learn and try to write a good hand; even emperors themselves were good at calligraphy, for example, the versatile Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911) has left us many examples of his handwriting on steles in temples and palaces.
To practise calligraphy requires the basic tools of 'four treasures of study' (writing brush, ink stick, paper, and ink slab) as well as much concentration on guiding the soft writing brush charged with fluid ink, and writing on the paper where the ink will diffuse quickly. Once the brush movement hesitates, a black mark is created, so speed, strength and agility is the essence of fine artwork. When writing, many calligraphers will forget all worries and even themselves, combining all thoughts in the beauty of their art. Thus it can be compared with Qigong, which also can mould and improve a person's temper and promote well being.
Calligraphy, like a mirror, is a silent reflection of the soul. It is believed to have verve, of optimism, moderateness, or pessimism. Su Dongpo, one of the four litterateurs in the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279), composed many bold and unconstrained ci (a form of poetry that flourished in the Song Dynasty), also could write handsome characters in good taste.
Today, although various modern ways have been substituted for the original calligraphy, especially which created with a writing brush, people still love the ancient form and practise it untiringly. During the traditional festivals, propitious couplets are always indispensable decorations each written in a beautiful style.