Eight Formulas
By Ouyang Xun

  1. Dot stroke - in the shape of a falling rock.
  2. Vertical curved hook stroke - in the shape of crescent moon.
  3. Horizontal stroke - in the shape of stretching cirrus.
  4. Vertical stroke - in the shape of an age-old rattan.
  5. Right-falling hook stroke - in the shape of hanging pine branch.
  6. Horizontal folding hook stroke - in the shape of fully-drawn crossbow.
  7. Left-falling stroke - in the shape of ivory or rhinoceros horn.
  8. Right-falling stroke - in the shape wave.

Be peaceful and at ease, so imagination and aspiration can flash. With the fist hollow and the wrist level, the fingers firm and the palm void, start to write if idea appears. Space out and align characters evenly. Thin ink downgrades the expression, whereas thick ink obstructs the brush movement. A fat stroke produces blunt impression, while a thin stroke produces bony impression. Feeble brushwork weakens an expression; however, don't pretend to be vigorous with affected fury. Write characters square and strokes in proper length and moderate thickness. Don't make characters top-heavy, or lopsided. Keep in mind that the strokes that at the top are the weight, that at the bottom are the support, that at the left are the starter, and that at the right are the response.

Ouyang Xun (557 - 641)
The Spring, 632
Ink rubbing on rice paper, Song dynasty

Ouyang, one of Four Tang Masters, had several treatises on handwriting. This one shows his promotion of conventional regular script.

Essays on Chinese calligraphy

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