Monday, August 29, 2011

The best of both worlds

    East meets West when calligraphers render each other’s script with their own tools, or borrow each other’s techniques to re-imagine their own script. Nowhere has this cross-fertilization turned out so well as in Vietnam, where the brush strokes of classical Chinese are employed to write the Roman alphabet.
    “Hieu Hoc” means "Study hard!"  Written in Roman letters using Chinese red brocade paper and brush techniques, this message is a common New Year’s gift in Vietnam.  It offers good advice at the beginning of the academic year, too. 
   The Vietnamese language was transliterated from Chinese-based characters into Roman letters as early as 1720 by French and Portuguese missionaries.  As in many other countries throughout history, writing became a political issue, with Quốc Ngữ script reaching full flower in the 20th century as both a symbol of national identity and a weapon in its struggle.  Trained in both traditions, today’s Vietnamese calligraphers now provide the world with calligraphy of the highest standard--expert brushwork applied to the shapes of the ABC’s.  
       I plan a return trip to Hue and Hanoi the first two weeks of 2012 with artist David Thomas of Indochina Arts Partnership, to meet more calligraphers and gather more research about this unique script.  


  1. I am interested in knowing how to write " Le Hanoi" in calligraphy, any help?

    Thank you

  2. Realizing this is your job also, I am willing to pay before :)...