Dedicated pair is letter perfect

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2006, 12:00am

By toiling with a writing brush, Form Two student Lam Wai-in and Form Four student Wong Pou-ieng believe they are inheriting a wonderful school tradition and honouring China.

The duo beat more than 2,000 opponents to win joint first prize in a traditional Chinese calligraphy contest for students across Macau.

Their schoolmates from Kao Yip School also netted more than half of all the prizes in the 25th Pan-Macau Student Calligraphy Contest this year.

'It's relaxing and rewarding to play around with the brush,' said Wai-in, who devotes two hours a day to practising calligraphy. 'It gives me a sense of achievement to write a nice piece.'

Calligraphy requires considerable patience and concentration, as you must sit straight, hold the brush correctly, and handle every stroke with care. You also need to control the amount of ink on the brush by dipping and squeezing the tip regularly.

'You have to be extra careful handling the brush to avoid making mistakes,' said Pou-ieng, 'It helps develop my patience in doing many other things.'

For more than two decades, Kao Yip students have dominated the annual competition of traditional Chinese calligraphy among Macau students.

The secret to their success is a long-held deference for Confucianism and traditional Chinese culture, said Sit Chak-u, calligraphy teacher of the school for 28 years.

'Calligraphy is a traditional Chinese art form that we treasure,' said the 67-year-old teacher. 'Our school was named Confucianism School when first founded in 1910, and we still honour Confucius and his beliefs.'

Calligraphy is so valued at Kao Yip that it accounts for 10 per cent of the Chinese language grade.

The school's director Van Kuan-lok is a dedicated calligraphist himself. Pou-ieng said the director could tell what calligraphic style a student should follow by reading his or her brushwork.

For example, Mr Van instructed Pou-ieng to follow the style of an ancient calligrapher of the North Weih dynasty (AD386-532), which she said led to her success in the contest.

Both Wai-in and Pou-ieng grew up in a family of calligraphy enthusiasts and started learning the art form at a young age.

'My grandpa, dad and sister all write very well,' said Wai-in. 'My sister started winning calligraphic awards when she was quite young - that encouraged me a lot.'