Yin and Yang (陰陽), the complementary forces (and not opposing, as many people erroneously believe) of the Universe we roam within, be it dead or alive. Yin and Yang should not be compared to the Western concept of good and evil, although both concepts are based on the idea of balance.
Yin-Yang theory is ancient. Its origins go back to the 15th century B.C.E., during the Shang dynasty (1600 – 1046 B.C.E.). It had a global impact on so many disciplines of the Chinese, including medicine, martial arts, literature, politics, and so on. We find its traces in the Book of Changes (易經; Yi Jing, or I Ching) of which hexagrams that originated around the 3rd millennium B.C.E., were to be the cradle of Chinese writing system, as some sources incorrectly assume.
Yin-Yang was in close relation to nature, which is not surprising at all. Virtually any ancient Chinese art or philosophy has similar background. That includes Chinese calligraphy, of which many brush strokes, for instance, were based on a falling rock, rapid creek, moves of a female dancer, or even the way geese turn their necks. In the 42nd chapter of Daodejing (道德經) by Laozi (老子, c. 6 or 5 century B.C.E.), we read:
“The way begets one;
One begets two;
Two begets three;
Three begets the myriad creatures.
The myriad creatures carry on their backs the yin and embrace in their arms the yang and are the blending of the generative forces of the two.”
Yin cannot exist without Yang, and vice versa. Those forces are so closely related, that one becomes the part of another. If the Yang gets stronger the Yin gets weaker. In calligraphy, the Yang can the paper, white, bright and absorbing the light. The Yin can be the ink, shiny, dark and supple. The relation between those two elements will have an impact on the final work, and the skill of maintaining the balance between those two is more intuitive rather than a solid knowledge than can be put down in books.
Yin and Yang exist in everything. They cannot be defined, but only sensed. They cannot be measured, but can be subconsciously influenced. They cannot be fully mastered, but can be studied and meditated upon. And this is exactly how I would define the art of Chinese calligraphy.
The work above reads Yang-Yin (read from right to left, as traditionally it should be). Written with a very soft, long and thin brush. Work is in stylised seal script (篆書), a script which stared to emerge in the last century of the Xia Dynasty (夏朝, 2070 – 1600 B.E.C.), even though its origins go back way back to the New Stone Age.
To see this work in larger format, please visit my gallery, here
Ponte Ryuurui (品天龍涙)