Calligraphy legend brings distinctive script to US

Updated: 2014-08-04 11:04

By Li Ang in New York (China Daily USA)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Driven to teach and promote traditional Chinese calligraphy, Chinese calligrapher Pang Zhonghua, a pioneer of hard-nib calligraphy, brought his art and unique style of instruction to the Vision & Innovation Forum in New York on Aug 2.

Playing "Happy New Year" with an accordion while writing traditional Chinese characters at the forum at the New York University, Pang's "happy-teaching" approach was invented a long time ago, but got popular when he taught people from outside of China about writing traditional Chinese characters.

Invited by the United Nations in 2012, he came to teach UN officials. "That was the most challenging task ever in my life with the officials from 18 countries without any knowledge of Chinese. I adapted my traditional methods to make them more interested in writing in Chinese," Pang said.

Hard-nib calligraphy is a form of the writing art done with fountain pens rather than soft brushes.

The key to his happy teaching is that he performs music while doing calligraphy and uses music and images to help people understand and write better Chinese characters. "I'm always dripping with sweat when I teach," Pang said. To overcome the cultural barriers, he plays various ethnic songs. The happy- teaching classes have been to Japan, Germany, Moscow and now the US.

"I like the personality of this nation (US), people here are really open to learn about Chinese culture and they appreciate talent. Therefore, I want to spread Chinese culture to the world from here, I have great confidence," Pang said.

At the August 2 forum, he performed "Happy New Year" to show the US audience where the strength should be put and he used a different edition of the song to interpret different Chinese script forms such as the seal character, official script, regular script and running script. His vivid performance won the audience's laughter and an ovation.

Born and raised in the mountainous area in Dazhou city, Sichuan province in China, Pang later worked for a geologic prospecting team. He taught himself calligraphy and brought hard-pen calligraphy into the open in the 1980s.

He said that he's currently working on his biography and giving instruction to Chinese language teachers in the US. "I'm going back to China soon to offer lessons to principals from elementary and junior-high schools. My time is really limited as a 70-year-old, so I figure out training Chinese teachers abroad might be the most efficient way."

Comparing his UN students with Chinese students, he commented: "Nowadays, Chinese people always want to take the short-cut while foreign people put more effort and work hard and my foreign students are actually better."

After the forum, parents from New Jersey inquired about Pang's Internet calligraphy classes and expressed their worries that their kids can't write in Chinese, according to Pang's assistant.

"It's really sad that more Chinese Americans are becoming bananas, not knowing their own language or culture even they still have Chinese face," said Pang.

The Vision & Innovation Forum is organized by the North America Chinese Associate of Science, Technology & Commerce. The forum aims to promote the exchange and development of education, culture, technology, economy and trade between China and the US.

Contact the writer at

For China Daily

Calligraphy legend brings distinctive script to US

Chinese calligrapher Pang Zhonghua (left) shows audience his way of teaching calligraphy through music during the Vision & Innovation Forum at New York University on Aug 2 in New York. Li Ang / for China Daily

(China Daily USA 08/04/2014 page2)