Calligraphy and painting are regarded as two treasures in China. Together with Qin, the ancient Zheng, and Qi, the chess, they formed the four skills for a learned and elegant scholar to pursue in ancient times. They were also held as a good exercise to cultivate one's temperament.
Chinese calligraphy or shufa, the art of writing Chinese Characters, boasts a long history. Masters take the characters as the carrier of their thought, so there is no need to understand Chinese characters to appreciate the beauty, as people must to appreciate Western abstract painting.
Traditional Chinese Painting is famous all over the world for its original style and distinctive national features. Over the centuries, the works of countless artists evolved it into an art subdivided into a multitude of schools with some traits in common.
In terms of mode of expression, traditional Chinese painting mainly falls into two schools. The Xieyi School, literally 'painting the feeling', marked by exaggeration of form and liberal use of ink; another school called Gongbi, meaning meticulous brushwork, characterized by strict and detailed representation of the subject. The interesting thing is the symbolism used in the painting that often puzzles the westerners' eye.