Fair weather script

Just to remind all you northerners, as you stamp the slush off your boots and wait in your traffic jams, that only a few weeks ago, actually prior to the unprophetically-named Spring Festival, you could have stumbled across this in your xiǎo qū (小区 = apartment complex):

water painting on tiles

For those outside of China, using plain water and a brush to script away the hours is as common a park activity as frisbee in the US. This was my first sighting this year, and I was struck by the clarity and durability of the characters visible even with a cell phone camera and an incompetent photographer. Unfortunately, my brain doesn’t do handwriting unless it’s of the second-grade variety, so I’ll offer Sinoglot subscription extensions to the first commenter to elucidate the text itself.

UPDATE: Prize has been claimed! Thanks, Ahkow, for the text from 千字文, and for the warning that you have to read from left to right.

8 responses to “Fair weather script”

  1. Aaron Posehn says:

    I always thought the writing on the sidewalks was very beautiful. Makes me want to learn calligraphy now.

  2. ahkow says:

    It’s from the 千字文 in the “grass” script (草書), written not quite in order:

    Line 1 (left column, top-down): 天地玄黃,宇(宙)
    Line 2 (center column)鳴鳳在樹,白駒食……
    Line 3 (right column) 云騰至雨,露變爲……


    The calligraphy is average, IMHO.

  3. Syz says:

    @Ahkow: You’ll soon be contacted by Sinoglot lawyers for discussions about the terms and conditions pertaining to your blog subscription extension.

    Really, thanks and I’ll take your word for it. I suppose I could learn grass script some day, but if it’s to be learned in this life it’s going to need a big push up the priority list. Incidentally, any idea why he’d write left to right?

    I’ll put it up into the post too.

  4. ahkow says:

    @Syz: Thanks. I’m still waiting to hear from your legal department.

    He’s not really writing left to right – I think he’s sticking to the traditional writing direction, writing top-down from the top right corner with 雲. This would explain why he’s shown starting on the character on the bottom left. The question that we should ask is, why is he not sticking to the original text? That’s probably a question you can answer – my guess is that he’s got parts of the text in his head and he’s just writing out whatever that comes to his mind. It’s a bit like trying to write out Hamlet without memorizing it.

  5. Syz says:

    @Ahkow: Legal says they’ve engaged outside counsel. They assure me an offer is in the works. In the meantime, I realize he’s writing top-to-bottom; what I meant is he’s writing top-to-bottom, left-to-right (instead of right-to-left as would be traditional). Or am I crazy?

  6. ahkow says:

    @Syz: No – he’s writing right-to-left, not left-to-right. That’s why he’s ended up at the bottom-left of the picture. How is it that he’s writing from left to right?

  7. Syz says:

    Doh. Of course now that I open my eyes I can see he’s working on the left column. So he’s writing it right to left. Yet, yet (still trying to maintain head is not utterly muddled) the first line of the poem is on the left side, i.e. the column he’s working on right now. Oh well, maybe that was all in your original point, that it’s kind of a random selection of parts from 千字文.

  8. Randy Alexander says:

    FWIW, “grass script”, although a popular translation of 草书, is not really accurate. 草 here means “wild”. This calligraphy style has nothing to do with grass.

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