simplified:草书, erroneously translated as Grass script,
is a style of Chinese calligraphy
. The name Cǎoshū is actually an abbreviation for 草率书
(cǎoshuài shū), meaning "sloppy script". Cursive script is faster to write than other styles, but also harder to read. It is quite often the case that persons who are capable of reading printed Chinese find themselves completely illiterate when confronted with this particular style of writing.
Cursive script originated in China during the Han dynasty
through Jin Dynasty
period, in two phases. First, an early form of cursive developed as a cursory way to write the popular and not yet mature clerical script
. Faster ways to write characters developed through four mechanisms: omitting part of a graph, merging strokes together, replacing portions with abbreviated forms (such as one stroke to replace four dots), or modifying stroke styles. This evolution can best be seen on extant bamboo
and wooden slats from the period, on which the use of early cursive and immature clerical forms is intermingled. This early form of cursive script, based on clerical script, is now called zhāngcǎo (章草), and variously also termed ancient cursive, draft cursive or clerical cursive in English, to differentiate it from modern cursive (今草 jīncǎo). Modern cursive evolved from this older cursive in the Wei Kingdom
to Jin dynasty with influence from the semi-cursive and standard styles.
Beside zhāngcǎo and the "modern cursive", there is the "wild cursive" (Japanese kyōsō
) which is even more cursive and illegible. It was developed by Zhang Xu
and Huai Su
in Tang dynasty
, they were being called Dian Zhang Zui Su
(the crazy Zhang and the drunk Su, 颠张醉素).
Cursive scripts can be divided into the unconnected style (Chinese (S) and Japanese 独草, Chinese (T) 獨草, pinyin dúcǎo, romaji dokusō) where each character is separate, and the connected style (Chinese (S) 连绵, Chinese (T) 連綿, Japanese 連綿体, pinyin liánmián, romaji renmentai) where each character is connected to the succeeding one.
Many of the simplified Chinese characters
are modeled on the printed forms of the cursive forms of the corresponding characters ().
Cursive script forms of Chinese characters are also the origin of the Japanese hiragana script, which developed from cursive forms of the man'yōgana script. In Japan, cursive script was considered to be suitable for women, and was called , whereas the clerical style was considered to be suitable for men, and was called .
- The Art of Japanese Calligraphy, 1973, author Yujiro Nakata, publisher Weatherhill/Heibonsha, ISBN 0-8348-1013-1.
- Qiú Xīguī (裘錫圭) Chinese Writing (2000). Translation of 文字學概要 by Gilbert L. Mattos and Jerry Norman. Early China Special Monograph Series No. 4. Berkeley: The Society for the Study of Early China and the Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley. ISBN 1-55729-071-7.