A Brief Introduction to Chinese Characters and Calligraphy

If you’re planning on learning Chinese calligraphy, the idea might feel daunting at first. However, there are a few things that you might find helpful if you’re just starting out learning Chinese calligraphy. Calligraphy is a significant and traditional portion of the Chinese written language.

Do you know how to remember more words while you’re reading and writing? How much does the weight of the pen matter when you’re trying to figure out how to learn Chinese? Does the order of the strokes matter? If you’d like to learn how to learn Chinese calligraphy, you’re in a great place to start.

What Are Root Words?

In the Chinese written language, there are root words. But what does this mean? If you want to know how to learn Chinese calligraphy, learning about root words will be extremely helpful in learning how to read and write more quickly. One of the words you are likely to learn early on is the Chinese calligraphy symbol for “man.” However, in addition to being a word or symbol on its own, there is also a small marking that can be added to some words to indicate that the writer is talking about another human.

The same can be said for other basic words. For example, there is also a root to denote “water,” as well as a symbol that translates to water on its own. If you see the Chinese denotation for water in one of the calligraphy symbols, this might indicate that the author is describing a body of water or something with a water-like quality. This might even mean that something has a flow somewhat akin to water, for instance.

If you want to know how to learn Chinese, learning about the root system early on may be very helpful for those aiming to read or write. This might help you learn more words far more quickly, improving your reading and writing ability quickly from the start. This might help you understand more words, especially if you’re learning to read or write on your own. This could even include some of those words you wouldn’t normally understand because you haven’t seen them before.

Does Pen Weight Matter for Calligraphy?

When discussing pen weight, I don’t mean the gravitational pull of the pen you might be using for learning to write calligraphy. What I do mean is the amount of pressure you’re applying to the pen while you’re writing. By pushing down more firmly on the pen, you are more likely to create a thicker line. This might imply a downward stroke, allowing a reader to more clearly understand what symbol you’re trying to create while you’re writing.

There are actually several calligraphic symbols in Chinese that look extremely similar to each other. The weight you apply to the pen may mean you’re writing a completely different word with a very different meaning. Therefore, it’s important to learn how to accurately apply pressure to your pen while you’re first learning to write.

You don’t need to do anything complicated to learn this, but this will certainly require some practice. It might be useful to set aside a couple of hours just to practice the weight of your pen, slowly transitioning from very light to heavier pressure. Obtaining control over this skill will make it far easier for you to discern how to learn Chinese calligraphy down the line.

Once you get the hang of applying appropriate pressure to your calligraphy pen, you might want to start practicing some of the simpler characters. With downstrokes, try to make your lines heavier as this will aid any instructors or teachers you might be working with, as well as make it far easier for you to refer to your notes later on in your learning.

Is There Any Significance in Learning Stroke Order?

Learning stroke order for Chinese calligraphy might not seem significant to your studies, at least at the very beginning of your learning. However, some characters have several line strokes, and putting these strokes down in the correct order will help you in writing quickly and accurately. This is especially helpful for those who are just beginning to learn Chinese calligraphy.

In the same way, you get used to writing each of your English letters in a particular order, it may be helpful to learn a set order for each of your Chinese symbols. For the most part, this is meant to be helpful when it comes to writing quickly and efficiently. However, there are some Chinese symbols that have a set stroke order just so you can establish the correct framework for the remaining strokes.

For example, if you know you’re meant to have four strokes underneath a large bar in a Chinese symbol, it might be helpful for you to get into the habit of writing out the bar first. This way, your hand will be far more likely to automatically fill in the remaining strokes underneath. Because this is the case, it may be helpful for you to follow the stroke order described by your textbook, workbook, or Chinese instructor. This may give you adequate guidance and help you with long-term memorization.


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