Huai-su (fl. ca. 730s-770s), T'ang Dynasty (618-907)
In this work, Huai-su used a fine brush to write out quite large characters. The strokes are rounded and dashing, almost as if they were steel wires curled and bent. The tip of the brush is exposed where it lifts from the paper, leaving a distinctive hook--hence the description "steel strokes and silver hooks" for his calligraphy. A continuous cursive force permeates the entire piece. The brush skirts up, down, left, and right as it speeds across the paper. The crescendos of the brush, as if it were a sword, reveal varying speeds. The calligraphy also appears heavy and light in places. In other words, this work appears very much like a symphony with distinct rhythms, harmonies and sections where the instruments are all wonderfully orchestrated for an overall sense of feeling and depth. In addition to the strokes, the dots suggest breaks for the flowing strokes. In the relentless force of the brushwork, the centered brush swirled and danced to create character after character and line after line, only to be punctuated by the impeccably placed dots. Despite this piece being an example of "wild" cursive script, it also has a sense of regularity. Thus, this handscroll represents the ultimate in cursive script-control with freedom and spirit with restraint.