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Joseph Scheier-Dolberg

Joseph Scheier-Dolberg is an assistant curator in the Department of Asian Art.

Now at the Met

Decoding Chinese Calligraphy

Joseph Scheier-Dolberg, Assistant Curator, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014

In the year 1561, the scholar, painter, and calligrapher Wen Peng sat down at his desk to write out the Thousand-Character Classic, a sixth-century poem often used by Chinese calligraphers to build or maintain their brush skills. The sixty-three-year-old Wen Peng was no stranger to the Thousand-Character Classic—he had likely written it several hundred times during his life, and no doubt knew the text by heart. But this time he did something unusual: He transcribed the text in a form of writing known as "clerical script," an archaic script used primarily for commemorative purposes; and he wrote the characters larger than normal, filling oversized sheets of paper with just twelve characters each.

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