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Tradition / Video

Mongolian calligraphy: the art and soul of a nationality

By Niu Jingjing

December 19

As a Mongolian, Chao has engaged in Mongolian calligraphy for more than 40 years. He became interested in writing Mongolian characters when he was a student. “I seemed to pay much more attention to the characters at school than others did,” Chao said.

As a Mongolian, Chao has engaged in Mongolian calligraphy for more than 40 years. He became interested in writing Mongolian characters when he was a student. “I seemed to pay much more attention to the characters at school than others did,” Chao said.

“It’s valuable in both the practical and artistic senses. Their language is the soul of the Mongolians,” said Chao Luomeng about Mongolian calligraphy.

As a Mongolian, Chao has engaged in Mongolian calligraphy for more than 40 years. He became interested in writing Mongolian characters when he was a student. “I seemed to pay much more attention to the characters at school than others did,” Chao said.

Chao Luomeng introduces Mongolian calligraphy at a global promotion event of China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in Beijing, July 21, 2017. [Image Credit: Chao Luomeng]
He started practicing Mongolian calligraphy in 1977, the year that marked the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region’s 30th Anniversary. When he visited the museum and found many signs and introductions to cultural relics written in Mongolian calligraphy, he was struck by its beauty and decided to study the art form.

“At that time, there were no copies of the text, so I had to visit the museum every day to memorize the strokes of the characters,” Chao recalled. Although his jobs have never been related to calligraphy, Chao still persisted in it for years because of his love for those characters as well as the calligraphic art.

Eight hundred years ago, the Mongolian language was created and its characters were written with both brush and bamboo pens, as is shown by the cultural relics from the Genghis Khan Period.

While Mongolian calligraphy does not have a history as long as that of Chinese, it also features abstract lines and a vibrant rhythm. Mongolian is a phonetic language written vertically. That is different from Chinese characters, which are logograms and can be written horizontally.

One of Chao’s Mongolian calligraphy works says “magnificent Inner Mongolia.” [Image Credit: Niu Jingjing]
Mongolian calligraphy was inscribed on China’s national intangible cultural heritage list in 2014.

Chao believes that Mongolian calligraphy is one of the great ways to pass on the Mongolian language from generation to generation.

“Nowadays, it is more popular than before. There are Mongolian calligrapher associations in every banner, league and city. More and more people, especially parents, encourage their children to learn Mongolian and its calligraphy,” he said.

Chao retired at the end of last year and now devotes himself to the study and education of Mongolian calligraphy and seal cutting. He plans to publish a collection of Mongolian calligraphy next year and hopes to teach at Ulaanbaatar University, which cooperates with the Inner Mongolia Mongolian Art of Painting and Calligraphy College to promote the Mongolian language.

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