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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).

We are excited to reopen the Freer in October 2017, following a renovation to allow us to better present our art and serve our visitors. The Sackler remains open, with a full lineup of exhibitions and events both in the museum and around DC. For your safety, all visitors will have their bags checked. See the complete list of restricted items and bag sizes.