Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Women writing

From Learn World Calligraphy, page 25
Women have been writing calligraphy for centuries, though they have generally been limited to special scripts and formats.  In Christendom they were valued as teachers of writing and occasionally as copyists; in some Islamic countries they actually copied the Koran, and in China and Japan their social value in marriage was tied to the refinement of their handwriting. 

European calligraphers at first, though, were mainly male, with roots in the monastery, print shop, and type foundry. The Arts and Crafts Movement changed that; women were among the most influential students of Edward Johnston in England.  While early 20th-century calligraphers in the US came from signpainting and typography, the popularity of calligraphy as a hobby and as an adjunct of fiber arts, book arts, and printmaking brought hundreds of capable women into the field.

It's been centuries since anyone could pooh-pooh a writing style by describing it as a "girls' script," as the entrenched bureaucracy did in 16th-century Korea.  The phonetic style they denigrated has grown to become Korea's National Treasure #70. 

There's a good chapter about women writing in A History of Writing, by Albertine Garr of the British Museum.  

From Learn World Calligraphy, p 145,  photo courtesy Gary Westergren. 

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