Delight in One Thousand Characters

Book Cover: Delight in One Thousand Characters

A beautifully curated presentation of the Thousand Character Essay, a masterpiece of Chinese calligraphy that has served as the art form's classic manual for over 1,400 years.

Sung to infants as a lullaby, used to teach reading and writing, and employed as library index codes, the Thousand Character Essay is China's most widely used and beloved calligraphy textbook. Composed by the literary giant Zhou Xingsi and handwritten by sixth-century Buddhist monk Zhiyong, this masterful work has endured for centuries as the standard guide for brush writing both in formal and cursive scripts.

Delight in One Thousand Characters brings this sublime body of art-as-text to English-speaking readers through its translation and explanation by calligraphers and artists Kazuaki Tanahashi and Susan O'Leary. Preserving the renowned beauty of monk Zhiyong's only extant handwriting, the book visually depicts the traditional script through extensive imagery, including a full, one-hundred-strip edition of Zhiyong's calligraphy. All images also have corresponding commentary explaining the meaning of each character.

Essays and appendices by Tanahashi and O'Leary detail the fascinating history, geographic range, and aesthetic nuance of the essay and of Zhiyong's rendering--essential material to be familiar with the history, thought, literature, and art of East Asian civilization. For calligraphers, Delight in One Thousand Characters can serve as an advanced primer for practicing both formal and cursive Chinese calligraphy.

Publisher: 2023