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Categories of calligraphy

Home > Guidance to exhibitions > Calligraphy museum of Korea > Categories of calligraphy
Categories of calligraphy
Due to the innate nature of characters, they all have practical jspects in order for everyone to use them conveniently. Characters have undergone diverse changes and modifications due to the aesthetic demand for appreciation of artistic beauty of harmony and blending of each and every one of characters. Therefore, with regards to the expressive method of characters, diverse range of calligraphic styles were created and progressed in accordance with the flow of time. Some of these became highly popular overnight but disappeared immediately.
The calligraphic styles of Chinese characters are divided large into 5 categories, namely, Jeonseo, Yeseo, Haeseo, Haengseo and Choseo. In the case of Korean characters, there are Panbonche, which is the early print form and Gungche, which was developed as hand written form used mostly by the women in the palace in the early days of usage. You would be able to appreciate the beauty of calligraphy more abundantly if you have understanding and interest in the historical background of various categories and expressive methods of calligraphic styles.

Jeonseo

Wiegyeongseung Gangru – Oh Se Change
Wiegyeongseung Gangru – Oh Se Change
Jeonseo is the writing style used widely along with the Yeseo until the era of Jinhan Dynasty, and has various types including Gomun, Daejeon and Sojeon. Fortune telling was prevalent in order to forecast the outcome of numerous affairs in the ancient times and the resulting divination signs of such fortune telling were engraved on the tortoise shells or cow’s bones. The writings on such media are referred to as the Gapgolmun. In addition, the letters written and engraved on metallic objects such as pots or bell are called Jongjungmun. Such writing styles are deemed to belong to the category of Gomun (old text). In addition, the usage of Jeonseo was simplified or consolidated. Among these, systematic consolidation of Sojeon was accomplished during the Jin Dynasty and this consolidated form has since been deemed as the typical form of Jeonseo. Seoche, which is the last written style stage in the history of Jeonseo, is a writing style with substantive and stable feelings. Jeonseo was traditionally used in the Dujeon (head section0 of tombstone, and is also used widely not during the past but also even today when engraving personal and official seals because Jeonseo has profoundness and authoritative ambience. Such Jeonseo, along with Yeseo, has been used for decorative and ceremonial purposes following introduction of writing styles such as Choseo, Haengseo and Haeseo, which are more convenient to write, and failed to be further developed.

Yeseo

Juhee Dajo – Yoo Han Ji
Juhee Dajo – Yoo Han Ji
This is a writing style that was created by eliminating the complexity of Jeonseo, which was prevalent during the Jin Dynasty, and was highly and widely popular during the Han Dynasty. The name Yeseo is said to be from the meaning that it is a secondary style under the umbrella of Jeonse, which was the standard writing style at the time. Yeseo is characterized by strong stroke of brush such as Pasye, Galgori and Paim that wavers like wave. In particular, the Yeseo during the Donghan Dynasty was given separate name of ‘Palbun’. Moreover, the Yeseo during Seohan Dynasty, characterized by significantly remnant stroke intention of Jeonseo, is also known by its popular name of Goyeo. In addition, there is Bibaek, which is one of writing style in ancient time related to Yeseo. Bibaek is one of writing styles of Yeseo in lightly writing the characters as if they were being fluttered, and is said to have been created by Chaeong during the reign of Youngje of Donghan Dynasty as he watched a craftman writing characters with flattened brush used in painting China clay. This style was used mainly when writing the tablets attached on the palace buildings, and used widely as decorative style until the era of Dang Dynasty. One can find the traces of Haengseo or Haeseo when the penmanship of Bibaek during Dang Dynasty. This is deemed to be due to naming of the technique in accordance with the application rather than as the naming as a writing style.

Haeseo

Seogyeongdeok - Hanho
Seogyeongdeok - Hanho
Seogyeongdeok - Hanho
Haeseo, along various writing styles, is a writing style that has been consolidated until the most recent era. It began to be used at the end of Han Dynasty and developed through the era of Wie, Jin and South and North Cho, and was completed during Soo Dynasty and in the early years of Dang Dynasty. Yeseo type structure in which the characters are horizontally elongated and flattened is gradually modified into square shape, and Pase, Galgori and Paim gradually became more upright, and Haeseo was consolidated as normative brush stroke with erect configuration. Among the Haeseo style, the style that fully displays upright framework of Bangpil the square stoke and illustrates broad-minded and vigorous appearance was frequently referred to as Yookjoche. As such style also had characteristics of the era of North Wie Dynasty, it is also referred to as ‘Bukwieseo’ in the literatures on calligraphic history.

Haengseo

Guyangsu Poongrakjunggi – Yoon Soon
Guyangsu Poongrakjunggi – Yoon Soon
Haengseo is the writing style in which the characters are written in a manner similar to that of Haeseo but slightly slanted and continuously. However, Haengseo has its roots in Yeseo, as are the Haeseo or Choseo, and was developed into an independent writing style since the Han Dynasty. In fact, it is a writing style consolidated ahead of Haeseo. Since Haengseo, in comparison to Jeonseo or Yeseo, is more liberal and non-formal, it played, along with Choseo, key role in broadening the artistic domain of writing. Jongyo of Wie Dynasty and Wangheeji of Dongjin Dynasty during the period of Three Dynasties of China. Wangheonjin was considered to be typical example in the history of calligraphy for a long period of time. Their Haengseo, along with their Haeseo, has been considered as highly valuable as the core of old techniques by the representative fundamentalistic calligraphers of era of Won and Myung Dynasty.

Choseo

Samagwant Hoeisoseo – Cho Yoon Hyung
Samagwant Hoeisoseo – Cho Yoon Hyung
Choseo is a writing style that accomplished the ultimate height through the process of modification of various writing styles. Although there are various theories on the origin of Choseo, examination of archaeological relics reveal that it has been consolidated during the Wie, Jin and South and North Jin Dynasty after having begun at the end of Jin or early Han Dynasty. Choseo underwent changes in the order of Jangcho, Geumcho and Gwangcho. Jangcho stems from Yeseo, which was the writing style used widely during Han Dynasty, by consolidating the Yeseo through shortening or linking dots and strokes, and making the Woonpil quicker and simplified. Choseo illustrates Woonpil of broadened stroke as in Pase of Yeseo in some of the characters. Geumcho was consolidated approximately at the end of Donghan Dynasty or during the era of Three States in China through gradual changes in Jangcho and was formalized by Wang Hee Ji, etc, and is the Choseo as we know of today. In this style, expressions are made with cautiously consolidated Woonpil method that has more tension than characteristics of Jangcho with simplified and repetitive Woonil that emphasizes the infrequent connection between the characters and dots. In addition, it places importance on the connection and flow between the dots and strokes as well as progress in the methods of connecting more than 2 characters. Gwangcho refers to Choseo style in which the breadth of the changes in Jangbeop, structure and stroke method is highly dissolute. It is Choseo with highly degree of diversity and variety in writing method such as after having written several characters on a single like repeatedly, elicit changes occasionally with 4 characters, and either deal with the space of 2 lines at the end with 3 characters or deal with spaces of 3 lines only with 2 characters, as well as writing each column straight or crookedly.

Panbonche

This refers to the writing style used in the xylographic books such as 《Hoonminjungeum》, 《Yongbieocheonga》, 《Wolincheongangjigok》 and 《Seokbosangjeol》, which were published immediately following creation of the Korean characters. It is also referred to as the Goche, meaning old writing style, or ‘Jungeumche’, meaning that it is writing that mimics the writings in Hoonminjungeum. It is characterized by uniform, powerful and majestic feeling of the strokes.

Honseoche

Samagwant Hoeisoseo – Cho Yoon Hyung
Samagwant Hoeisoseo – Cho Yoon Hyung
Honseche is referred to as the handwriting style as Korean and Chinese characters are used mixedly, and is the modified style of Panbonche, whose strokes and structure of characters are strict and schematic, in order to write the characters more naturally. This style was used in 《Wolinseokbo》 and 《Dusieonhae》.

Gungche

Calligraphic style developed by the court ladies who lived in palace. The writings are characterized by straight, lucid and graceful lines of the characters. It was used mainly in the letters of Queen Myungsung and hand written copies of Korean novels.

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