|The First Art Newspaper on the Net
||Established in 1996
|| Thursday, February 22, 2018
|Taiwan Craftsman Seeks to Save Millennium-Old World of Chinese Lead Type|
Visitors look at traditional Chinese character type casts at Ri Xing Type Foundry in Taipei, Taiwan. In the nearly extinct world of movable type, crowded out by digital printing, Chang Chieh-kuan's foundry is one of the last making traditional Chinese characters the old way, a craft that dates back almost a millennium. While time consuming and labor intensive, Chang said it brings out the grandeur of the characters. AP Photo/Diana Jou.
By: Diana Jou, Associated Press Writer
TAIPEI (AP).- Hunched over a metal casting machine, Chang Chieh-kuan carefully guides a tiny copper mold into a hydraulic press. Seconds later he extracts a piece of lead type with the Chinese character for "happiness."
That's one down, thousands more to go in a last-ditch effort by this 58-year-old craftsman to rescue the millennium-old world of Chinese lead type from the advance of the digital age.
Chang's foundry is one of the last making traditional Chinese characters the old way. It's time-consuming and labor-intensive, but Chang says it brings out the grandeur of the characters.
"Lead type makes an impression on paper that digital printing cannot," he said. "It allows people to feel the weight and power of the character."
In an age when Chinese can text and tweet in their native script, and at a time when China has just surpassed Japan to become the world's second biggest economy, Chang's labor of love is a reminder of a much older China, one that invented movable type 400 years before it reached Europe.
Chinese script has no alphabet. Instead it consists of words made up of one or two characters, some of which can consist of up to 25 strokes. To read a newspaper requires memorizing some 2,500 characters, a novel about 4,000.
Handwritten Chinese, using brush and paper, is considered an art form and an indicator of its practitioner's scholarship and aesthetic sensibility.
In communist China, many characters have been replaced by simplified forms to promote literacy, but purists say they lack the heft and balance of the originals.
Taiwan, an island of 23 million people 100 miles (160 kilometers) off the Chinese coast, still uses the traditional versions, regarding them as the heart and soul of Chinese culture. The older characters are also in use in Hong Kong, though no movable-type foundries exist there.
And everywhere, word processing is threatening to make the old skills extinct.
Chang, a bespectacled perfectionist with a salt-and-pepper crewcut and a friendly smile, is out to save the family legacy and its 2 million pieces of lead type crammed in his workshop.
To do so, he is fighting fire with fire digitizing 150,000 characters and enlarging them on a computer screen to help him perfect their lead-type versions and create a museum of printing where visitors can buy character molds as gifts.
When Ri Xing Type Foundry was established in 1969, one of the partners was an uncle in the family who had worked for a newspaper printer for so long that he was able to write almost all the Chinese characters with a calligraphy brush. He didn't need a dictionary, Chang said. "In fact, he was the dictionary."
Back then, Taipei had 5,000 printing shops. Forty years later, only 30 old-style establishments remain and Ri Xing is the last print foundry in the capital. It hasn't turned a profit in 10 years, and to pay the bills, Chang sold the home he inherited from his father.
His determination has attracted a dozen spirited volunteers, many of whom had previously never seen lead type.
The copper molds he is making are in a font called Kaishu that dates from the Qing Dynasty, China's last imperial rulers, who were overthrown in 1911.
"If I can't save this business ... it would be a big loss for Taiwan," Chang said. "As for humanity, the Chinese-character movable letterpress is a huge cultural asset and could very well disappear."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
August 22, 2010
Faulty Alarms Blamed for Van Gogh Theft at Mahmoud Khalil Museum in Egypt
Park Avenue Armory Welcomes Yoshitomo Nara + YNG for Open Studio
Taiwan Craftsman Seeks to Save Millennium-Old World of Chinese Lead Type
European Masterpieces from Leonardo to Schiele Opening Soon at the Royal Academy of Arts
National Galleries of Scotland to Celebrate the Work of William McTaggart
The Morgan to Show Black-and-White Drawings by Roy Lichtenstein
Keith Haring and Andy Warhol to Star in American Pop Art Show
National Portrait Gallery Presents The John Partridge Sketchbook, 1823-27
Exhibition of North African Jewelry and Photography Announced in Philadelphia
James McNeill Whistler Prints on View at the University of Michigan
National Portrait Gallery to Commemorate the 60th Anniversary of "Peanuts" Debut
German Artist and Director Christoph Schlingensief Dies at Age 49
Five Local-Born Artists in UK's Largest Painting Prize
Bonhams Scottish Sale Defies the Recession to Make £1,800,000
Kunsthaus Zürich to Show "Karl Moser: Art and Architecture"
Per Kirkeby Creates Specific Work for Beulas Foundation's Art and Nature Center
Chinese Ceramics, Culture and Commerce on View at the Norton Museum of Art
Arkansas Arts Center Presents Bigger, Better, More: The Art of Viola Frey
Dundee Contemporary Arts Presents New Works by Mary Redmond and Sara MacKillop in Two Solo Exhibitions
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- The Morgan explores the Medieval world's fascinating approach to the passage of time
2.- Experts discover hidden ancient Maya structures in Guatemala
3.- Egyptian archaeologists unveil tomb of Old Kingdom priestess Hetpet
4.- The Speed Art Museum and Italian Ministry reach loan agreement on ancient calyx-krater
5.- Major exhibition features artistic masterpieces from the glorious Church of the Gesù
6.- From Beowulf to Chaucer, the British Library makes 1,000 years of rich literary history freely available online
7.- Truck damages Peru's ancient Nazca lines
8.- Trish Duebber is new Coordinator of Youth Programs at Boca Raton Museum Art School
9.- Exhibition examines the way art, like language, was used to articulate a rhetoric of exclusion
10.- The Dallas Museum of Art announces gift of three major European works
Craftsman Seeks to Save Millennium-Old World of Chinese Lead Type
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.