UN urged to do more to preserve calligraphy

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Children write the word chun (spring) in Dalian, Liaoning province, to celebrate this year's Spring Festival in February. [Photo by LIU DEBIN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

The global village should work together to preserve and develop cultural traditions like Chinese calligraphy on the United Nations platform, in order to make the world a better place to live, a renowned Chinese calligrapher says.

"Chinese calligraphy is a unique cultural symbol for this ancient country (China) to share with the rest of the world its vast and extensive culture," says Sun Xiaoyun, vice-chairperson of the China Calligraphers Association.

Sun made the remarks as she attended a calligraphy and paintings exhibition titled In Pursuit of Peace held at the UN headquarters in New York, in celebration of the annual UN Chinese Language Day on April 20.

"Chinese calligraphy appears to be simple with only the combination of dots and strokes, but behind this 'simple combination', there exists infinite cultural profoundness and richness," says Sun.

Calligraphy was "not only about writing, but it was also a way for ancient Chinese people to learn about the world," explains Sun, who began practicing calligraphy at the age of just 3 years old.

"The complexity, structural plasticity and the diversity of dots and strokes of Chinese calligraphy scripts can, in some ways, inspire people from different cultural backgrounds to cultivate a special interest in Chinese culture, even though they don't understand Chinese," she adds.

On Sept 30, 2009, Chinese calligraphy was inscribed on the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

In the eyes of Sun, the UN, as "an important platform for diverse cultures to interact with and complement each other," needs to "shoulder the responsibility of promoting and sharing the fine traditional cultures of all nations and let them learn from each other and make the world a harmonious place to live".

"Former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon had a special liking for Chinese calligraphy, and showcased the integration of Chinese calligraphy with various other cultures on this platform," says Sun.

In this era of computers and the internet, Sun says she feels a strong sense of responsibility to help preserve and develop cultural traditions like Chinese calligraphy together with the UN.

"That is the main reason why I attended this exhibition at the United Nations," she says.

Over the years, Sun has helped organize calligraphy exhibitions, lectures and exchange activities with countries such as Japan, South Korea, the United States, Italy, France and Russia.

Sun says she hopes that more and more people, in China and from other parts of the world, can join her in the endeavor of sharing and advancing this special art form, which she thinks can contribute to building a better world.

"Practicing this art form helps people keep both their mind and body fit, which is of special importance to this world with so many wars and conflicts," she says.

"With a smile, you play with the brush and ink, and sickness becomes lighter," Sun says, citing Lu You, a poet of China's Song Dynasty (960-1279).

"It is vital for the entire human race to really understand the essence of Chinese calligraphy," she says.

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