Without character and soul, no one would be able to appreciate the art of calligraphy.— Jameson Yap
Somewhere along the way, what started out as an ancient art form became a vital element in Chinese academic institutions, either as an elective or a core subject. Shū fà, which is Mandarin for Chinese calligraphy, is a visual and literary art form with a millennia’s worth of history and is one of China’s many cultural treasures.
Using only four tools, brush, ink, paper and inkstone, Chinese calligraphy could be found on scrolls, paintings, or inscribed on the plaques of statues as well as the tablets in temples. The aforementioned tools were dubbed the Four Treasures of the Study, which is an epithet that, according to an archived Mandarin site called the International Daily News, seems to have been coined during the period of the Northern and Southern dynasties (420–589 AD).
There are five main categories of traditional Chinese calligraphy: seal script (zhuàn shū), clerical script (lì shū), regular script (kai shū), running script (xíng shū), and cursive script (cao shū).
According to Huiwen Li and Yueming Yu’s Chinese Calligraphy and Culture, however, calligraphy wasn’t simply judged based on the precision of the technique used nor its aesthetic, but rather defining characteristics such as “dynamics, rhythm, emotion and even the calligrapher’s personality” that were a crucial part as to what made Chinese calligraphy such a highly- lauded art form even among Western societies.
Said characteristics were the ethos of Chinese calligrapher Jameson Yap’s River stroke, dubbed 'liú shū' in mandarin—a sixth style of script that emphasised the fluidity of calligraphy.