Chinese Calligraphy in Five Major Styles

Basically, there are five major styles in Chinese calligraphy - Zuan, Li, Tsao, Hsin, and Kai. Each style has gone through changes and evolutions throughout Chinese history in terms of their character form and artistic styles and structures.
(Chinese characters are not symbols, alphabets, or letters. They are composed of strokes, section headers, and radicals.)  At first, each style was created for writing rather than for art. Chinese calligraphy masters and practitioners in each dynasty enriched the styles and structures of the characters with their insight, emotion, and artistic creativity.

      篆書   隸書   草書   行書   楷書


書法字體 Calligraphy Styles


Other English Translations Pinyin

Zuan Style (Seal Style)

Zuan Shu, Zhuan Shu, Seal Script



Li Style (Clerical Style)

Li Shu, Official Script, Clerical Script



Tsao Style (Running Style)

Tsao Shu, Cao Shu, Grass Script, Cursive Script



Hsin Style (Walking Style)

Hsin Shu, Hsing Shu, Semi-Cursive Script



Kai Style (Standard Style)

Kai Shu, Regular Script, Block Script, Standard Script


The styles are presented generally in the orders of their historical developments, i.e., from the earliest to the more recent.


The WebPages introduce the five major styles of Chinese characters in terms of their historical background, artistic development, and principles and guidelines for practicing calligraphy. Video demonstrations of each style will eventually be added. The contents will be updated and added to bring the readers in-depth knowledge and appreciation of the Art of Chinese Calligraphy.



A dictionary with various styles of Chinese characters


For more understanding of the development of styles, please also refer to their respective time periods in the "History of Chinese Calligraphy" WebPages.




Free Chinese Calligraphy Dictionary -

Input a Chinese character, and view various styles of Chinese calligraphy



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