April 13, 2012

Book 101 - Calligraphy

Oh to write! Oh to write beautifully!
Calligraphy is often called the art of fancy lettering. The word "calligraphy" itself is derived from the Greek words "killi" and "graphos", which means "beautiful writing".

Combining aestethics with technical skills, a calligrapher strives to express harmony and emotion through the forms of letters. Even if you do not understand the actual translation of the calligraphic word, you are instantly drawn to the beautiful art of the letter forms. This art certainly has never been exclusive to just one geographical region, and you may find historical documents/books/etc where calligraphy has been used everywhere from Asia to the Islamic World and of course also in European countries. I don't intend to bore you with all the history of the many regions but take a look at the present day.

The first thing that might come to mind for most is how calligraphy has now developed into a hobby while centuries ago it was certainly seen as art form. Of course it is still art, as much as watercolor paintings are, though it seems that only few put calligraphy onto the same level as far as art is concerned. Either way, calligraphy still continues to flourish, be it in the forms of wedding and event invitations and original hand-lettered logo design, or religious art and memorial documents.

Copyright by Ken Fraser

Typically you'll think of the good old times whenever you lay eyes on a book that has calligraphy in it, but the charm of this "beautiful writing" is hardly lost in "new" documents. Obviously many are drawn to the aesthetic beauty of it, no matter whether they gingerly browse through an old time from the 17th century or hold a wedding invitation from a cousin in their hands. Personally I think this is such a lovely art and tradition too, and it's good to see that it didn't get lost through the centuries, despite now being more a pastime than a serious art form.

Anyone out there who's tried themselves on calligraphy? With my own horrible scrawl I admittedly shudder at the thought. Fear of failing, I guess. Then again, who says a painter needs to have perfect handwriting? And this is (almost) the same thing. Or maybe not.

Anyway, if you've tried yourself on it or maybe studied the history of calligraphy or even own some old books with calligraphy in it, feel free to share!

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