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Chinese Language Week: It's more than just language

26 Sept 2021

Opinion: Chinese calligraphy is not as easy as it looks!

The way you hold the brush, the amount of paint on the brush, the pressure you apply and the rhythm of the stroke are all very precise.

I imagine it would be very relaxing and satisfying though once you got the hang of it. It has a flow and rhythm, much like the beautiful Lotus dance the Chinese ladies perform.

I was privileged to experience both when the Chinese community in Blenheim invited me to join them in some of their activities on Saturday.

Although they were unable to go ahead with festivities due to Covid restrictions, they wanted an opportunity to share some of their rich culture.

There is a great pride in the preservation of culture, tradition and language, and it's evident in the involvement of the entire community in the activities on offer.

They range in age from 5 to 86, Nelson-Marlborough Chinese Association president Xuemei Zhang told me, and every one of them is involved in some way.

Throughout almost all of these activities, I learn that symbolism is deeply-veined.

The Chinese characters I attempted to form are not just random strokes, calligraphy teacher Eva Au-Yeung tells me – each character carries a deep meaning.

The graceful, flowing movements of the dancers have great significance too, as do their costumes.

The Lotus dance is a really traditional classical Chinese dance, dance instructor Tina Chen tells me. It comes from a poem describing the quaint, graceful beauty of the lotus flower.

The flower is significant in Chinese culture and symbolises purity of heart and mind, she explains.

It is her hope that when the dance is watched it will promote a feeling of peace and positivity, particularly following the impact the virus has had on people's lives.

Unfortunately, due to lockdown, they were unable to practice their dragon dance the ladies tell me, which was to have been an important part of the planned celebration.


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