Friday, November 7, 2014

Mao Zedong's Calligraphic Art

Although everyone knows that Mao Zedong was the founder of the People's Republic of China, few people in the Western world are aware that he was also a great poet and calligrapher. Throughout his life, Mao used brush and ink to draft the majority of his letters, party documents and to compose his famous poems. His calligraphy, characterized by its uniqueness, versatility and broadness of mind, has been established as "Mao style" (毛体) and is highly regarded by the Chinese people and especially by professional artists in China.

Over many decades of his life, Mao studied a variety of classical calligraphy styles, and constantly explored, experimented and perfected his technique, establishing his distinctive cursive style.

Rauner Library recently purchased a rare edition of The Twenty-Four Histories with Mao Zedong’s annotation毛泽东评点二十四史. During the last twenty years of his life, Mao read the 850 volumes of Twenty-Four Histories several times and made extensive commentaries with his stylish calligraphy in the margins. On October 23rd, the Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures Department at Dartmouth hosted a public event on Mao’s calligraphy and manuscript art. The guest speaker, Professor Chen Chuanxi, a chair professor at Renmin University of China and a well-known art critic and art historian, shared his insights on the subject. In Professor Chan's opinion, Mao was the greatest cursive style calligrapher during the last three hundred years. Chan also said that Mao's commentaries on the Twenty-Four Histories reflected his in-depth understanding of Chinese history and exemplified his long term strategy of making the past serve the present.

To see it ask for Mao's Twenty-Four Histories DS735.A2 E65 1996.

Posted for Nien Lin Xie

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