Calligraphy allowed the ancient Chinese to
use kanji characters in many artistic forms. The art also was adopted in Japan.
Alex Kerr, an Oxford/Yale educated American author and artist, has become a
master of this art. His book Lost Japan is a classic written by someone with over 30 years
of experience of living and studying in Japan. Alex Kerr is fluent in spoken and
written Chinese and Japanese to a level that he is a native speaker. He is the
right person to bring the essence of Japanese art, literature and culture to the
outside world. One impressive way of accomplishing this task has been through
his writing and calligraphy. In Lost Japan, Kerr writes: “Traditionally,
calligraphy was the highest of the arts. The T’ang-dynasty emperor Tai-tsung
loved the calligraphy of Wang His-chih so much he odered that his copy of Wang
His-chih’s ‘Orchid Terrace Preface’ be buried with him in his tomb…Calligraphy
held the highest rank because it was believed to capture the soul of the writer.
There is an ancient Chinese saying, ‘Calligraphy is a portrait of the
Here is an example of Alex Kerr’s calligraphy that I am
particularly fond of owning. For other strikingly vivid, playful, creative
images have a look at his calligraphy website.