Yesterday some of us went to have a bash at character forming with Mr Linlin.
we were introduced to the 32 basic strokes which in their thousands of combinations make up the fascinating and visually enchanting world of Chinese Written language.
Of course the brush hold, the filling of the brush with ink, the dipping in water for easy consistency are skills in themselves let alone making precise marks on our page.
The character for people, mouth, door and open, combine to give ‘entrance’. . . and so on.
We had squared paper so that we could place our marks to west, east, North or south of centre.
Then we were shown an alphabet and introduced to the four tones.
Flat, rising, fall and rise, and falling. . . Thus a simple word ‘ma’ for example, could have 4 distinct meanings
I came away with a bursting brain, black ink on my wrists and an untidy collection of marks plus a few attempts at ‘people open door mouth’
Today I ventured back to see Mr. Linlin for a lesson on bamboo. He was born in 1956, so as a lad was sent to the countryside to work on the land ‘it was very hard’ he said.
‘Clean wind bright join ‘ are the Chinese characters to represent bamboo.
The bamboo is modest, but its leaves filter the wind to produce clean air. The joints are hard and bright. . in other words, strength is in the light, not the dark.
Insist, overcome/conquer your difficulties. Your spirit is strong and will not break. Bamboo does not break at the join. The leaves are graceful in the wind as they catch the dust.
If you have an idea, stick to it. . this as he explained the final stages of the painting, putting Chinese characters at the side.
Yes, perhaps the Chinese character is close to bamboo and takes its personality from those qualities.
Endurance, modesty, strength,flexibility. The ability to bend in the wind but not break and to continue to grow and send off many shoots and fresh leaves.
A lump in my throat as I attempt to define and contain something of this extraordinary opportunity to witness a culture that has been through so much and is now brimming with hope on the cusp of such rapid change.
I have some bamboo in my garden. I will view it with even more affection now when it catches the breeze and sings its gentle song.
Jiaoiou. Good luck. Thank you.