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F1980.10 detail, example of Cursive Script

Detail from Poem by Cui Shu, in cursive script View full.

Cursive script (草書)

Cursive script (caoshu), sometimes known as "grass" script, developed around the end of the Han dynasty (220 CE). Although the basic elements of cursive script matured in the third and fourth centuries, important innovations continued until the middle of the Tang dynasty (618-907). In cursive script, individual strokes within a character are drastically simplified and abbreviated, often becoming a single continuous movement of the writer's brush. Since the number and structure of strokes significantly changed, both the ability to read and write cursive script requires special training and study.
comparison of cursive script and standard script

The word chrysanthemum (juhua), which consists of two characters (twenty strokes) in standard script (shown on the right), is written with one sweeping stroke in great artistic style by the artist Wen Peng on Poem by Cui Shu (left).


As renovation work continues in the Freer Gallery, the Sackler Gallery also will close on July 10, 2017. This museum-wide closure will allow us to completely reinstall our exhibitions and revitalize features to improve your visit. Both spaces will reopen on October 14, 2017, when we will welcome the public back to the Freer|Sackler: two galleries, one destination. For your safety, all visitors will have their bags checked. See the complete list of restricted items and bag sizes.