Simplifying certain radicals in cursive hand carries dangers. Left-hand side radicals such as 言 (gen, i.e. “word”), 氵 (sanzui, i.e. “water radical”), and 冫 (ni sui, i.e. “ice radical”), can be written in the exact same way. Therefore, the only way of deciphering the meaning of the given text will be either studying the right-hand side of the character, or guessing it from the context, which by the way will be quite intuitive in cursive script. On the other hand, one radical can be written in various manners. If we take 言 as an example then it can appear in one of the forms shown in the picture (left).
Chinese calligraphy in cursive script is, or ought to be, written without thinking or planning. Any pondering or hesitation will ruin the flow of precious energy. Thus, there is no time for deciding how to write given character. It happens automatically. And since some characters have repeating radicals, it is the calligrapher’s mastery level of the art that will determine how rich in various forms the text will be.
None of the Chinese scripts is rule free. Cursive hand is no exception here. These are:
1. Merging strokes that are separated in standard form
2. Changing the starting point of a following stroke
3. Dots merged in one single line
4. Straight lines are represented by curved lines, sharp corners by loops
5. Reduction of total number of strokes
6. Long lines are shortened or symbolised by dots
7. Complex radicals are significantly simplified
8. There is a change in a positioning of given stroke
9. Stroke order is altered
10. Starting point of an initial stroke is changed
This does not exhaust the subject of cursive script. Its another very characteristic feature is so called “unbroken line” (連綿体i). This technique is also essential in Japanese kana script, which was based on cursive forms of Chinese characters, or more precisely, manyōgana (万葉仮名, lit. "kana of ten thousand leaves [words]"). The “unbroken line” is the connection, be it visible or not, between the characters. In other words, an instance where two or more Chinese characters are literally or metaphysically combined into one flow.
If a calligrapher was to stop after each Chinese character, and think how or where to write the next one, the flow would be broken. The secret of the rhythm and beauty of cursive hand lies in both well balanced forms of the characters, as well as the natural appearance of the composition, that allows the eye of the reader to glide with ease down the row of Chinese characters. “Unbroken line” seeks its way through a page of paper as a mountain creek searches for the shortest way to the sea. The undisturbed flow of energy (行氣) is the beating heart of cursive hand.
Ponte Ryuurui (品天龍涙)