Cursive Calligraphy and the Ethics of Orthography in the Eastern Han Dynasty
This chapter is a study of the essay “Against Cursive Calligraphy” (Fei caoshu 非草書) by Zhao Yi Yi 趙壹 (ca. 130-185). In this rare polemic against the art of cursive calligraphy, Zhao Yi accused his Eastern Han contemporaries for their grave misunderstanding of this new orthography and its negative relationship to achieving sagehood and understanding antiquity. By contextualizing Zhao Yi’s essay within the voices of his contemporaries, most notably the effusive praises of cursive calligraphy in the “Configuration of Cursive Calligraphy” (Caoshu shi 草書勢) by Cui Yuan 崔瑗 (78-143), this chapter argues for a debate over the ethics of orthography in the late Eastern Han dynasty.
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