Culture Culture

25/01/2020 - 20:59

Preserving the spirit of Tet with calligraphy 

Not as so busy as the flower market, but the calligraphy fair still attracts many visitors on Tet holiday (Lunar New Year holiday). Tet calligraphy is pinned with many special values; and to many fans, besides using these pieces of art as decoration for their living places, they see it as a way to rediscover cultural connections.

Master Truong Thi Cuc wrote calligraphy on a day before Tet

Tet calligraphy

On the afternoon of the 28th Lunar December, Truong Thi Cuc, the female calligrapher, who has decades of experience in calligraphy was still working hard on her production. The owner of the once-famous Tram Hoa Vang calligraphy shop shared: “I have to prepare the letters to serve my guests on the 3rd  and 4th  of the Lunar New Year at Thanh Tan Hot Spring Resort following the company’s invitation”.

Currently, the number of people exploring their interest in calligraphy during Tet holiday has increased compared to the normal days. Bui Xuan An (pseudonym as Thien An), one of the young people who has more than 5 years in the profession, said that on Tet holiday, the number of people who come to order letters usually increases by 50%. People come to buy not only for themselves, but also to gift them to their acquaintances or friends as a meaningful token of care and love for Tet. Notably, some businesses also order calligraphic works to present to their customers or partners.

Different from the normal days, when decent poems and idioms or inspirational sayings in books are sought by calligraphers, Tet calligraphy are words of spring greetings, parallel sentences or feng shui words, which convey good wishes for the new year such as happiness - fortune - life, success, peace or prosperity.

In addition, calligraphic material and design also take special forms during this unusual time of the year. As both writers and word-seekers prefer, everything would be dyed in bright colors, and letters would be painted in yellow instead of black. In addition, not only writing on ordinary paper, but many people also use silk or Xuyen (Shuen) papers with red silk border or red background to perform their arts.

“The bright, striking colors of the calligraphy strips light up the interior spaces. Especially, as everyone likes new and bright things in Tet, the material has to offer some differences”, explained Ms. Truong Thi Cuc.

Preserving traditional values

Not only the old but also the young are passionate about being a “calligraphy master”

Mr. Nguyen Tuan, Chairman of Hue Calligraphy Club, said that for a long time, calligraphy has become a traditional beauty and for many years, the movement of calligraphy collecting on Tet holiday has developed quite strongly from north to south. Regardless of the birth of many competing decorations, calligraphy is still an elegant hobby that inspires many people. That is why the poetic saying “Ta còn nghèo, phố chật nhà gianh / Nhưng cũng đủ vài tranh treo Tết” (I'm still poor, the streets are narrow and the house is made of leaves / Though I do have some pictures to show up for Tet) has still been recalled by many people until today.

Nowadays, calligraphy in Vietnam consists of two main lines, namely Chinese - Nôm calligraphy and Vietnamese calligraphy. However, many people choose the latter as it offers linguistic familiarity in their favor. According to calligraphy enthusiasts, in the “words” lie always the “meanings”. Indeed, in parallel with the artistic value of the written words, every verse and wish in every Tet calligraphy reflect dreams, hopes and prayers for a happy and fruitful new year.

“People like to hang calligraphy on their walls on Tet holiday because each one conveys a good message. Not only old people have the habit of collecting calligraphy, but also young people now fall for it,” said Mr. Nguyen Tuan.

Nguyen Anh Thu, a student from Quang Nam province at Hue University, shared, “When life is full, people tend to rediscover traditional values ​​and calligraphy is one of them. Every year before I go back home, I buy some calligraphy letters in Hue. Each calligraphy work does not cost much but it is filled with elegant significances. Therefore, they are a very suitable gift on this special occasion”.

As for those who are considered as “master”, although writing calligraphy is not a "money-making" job, when spring comes, they opt for working hard on their brushes until the first day of the new year knocks on the door. For, writing calligraphy not only fills its artists and fans but also is a great way to summon and sustain traditional cultural values ​​and keep them alive during the Tet holiday.

Story & photos: Huu Phuc