Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Evie. Evie Wonders, “What is calligraphy?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Evie!
What’s your favorite class in school? For some, it might be language arts. It can be so much fun to tell stories and express yourself in writing. For others, it might be art. Who doesn’t love drawing pictures and making crafts? Did you know that you can also combine writing and art?
Many agree that writers create works of art with their words. But some people make the written word a form of art in and of itself! Their works can be beautiful art that’s made of nothing more than words.
If you’re a fan of older books, especially fairy tales, you may have seen one form of word art. For example, a fairy tale that starts out “Once upon a time,” might begin with an “O” that is large, intricate, and ornate. This is called an initial capital. You might find some modern books with initial capitals, but you’re more likely to see them in older books.
Calligraphy is another form of writing as art that you might know about. What is calligraphy? In its simplest sense, it is very fancy handwriting. The letters are typically in a cursive style and drawn with a brush or a pen. They’re also often marked by decorative swashes and flourishes.
Over the centuries, many cultures have developed their own styles of calligraphy. For example, in East Asia, this type of word art is highly regarded. The words for calligraphy in Mandarin (shufa), Japanese (shodo), and Korean (seoye) all translate to “the way of writing.”
India, Nepal, and Tibet also have long histories of calligraphy. For centuries, it was a very common way to copy manuscripts. After all, the printing press wasn’t invented until 1444. Before that, all documents were written and copied by hand. Calligraphy offered a way to make each new writing its own work of art.
Calligraphy has also long had a place in religion. For example, Islamic calligraphy is a popular art form among Muslim people all over the world. Many inscribe passages from the Koran in calligraphy to decorate their homes and mosques.
Today’s Western calligraphy developed from the ancient Romans. It’s also connected to the history of Christianity. Monks who worked as scribes in the churches of the Middle Ages copied religious texts by hand. They often used calligraphy to make their work more beautiful.
The popularity of calligraphy waned over time with the invention of the printing press. However, it became more personal in nature. You may see the art form used most often in letters written between friends and family in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Eventually, calligraphy was revived by British poet and artist William Morris. He was interested in the beauty that could be found in elegant penmanship. Morris also reintroduced the flat-edged pen that remains popular in calligraphy to this day.
Have you ever seen beautiful calligraphy? Maybe you’ve tried your own hand at this art form! It can be a fun way to add a personal touch to letters and artwork today.
Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.7, CCRA.W.4