Calligraphy lesson / Prophylactic self-isolation series. Day 345th.

From one exhibition in Athens, March 2020

The goose is associated with the calligrapher Wàng Xīshī (303-361 AD). According to legend, he spent many hours observing the movement of a goose’s neck, finding later that he could create artful calligraphy by moving his wrist in a similar way. Thus the goose became indirectly linked to calligraphy (1).

Objects such as this from the Passas Collection were placed on the desks of Chinese scholars. The small removable vase on the goose’s back was likely a container for water, used for diluting the calligrapher’s dry inkstick. Material: Hawk’s eye, 20th c. AD

About Hawk’s eye

Hawk’s eye is a blue-gray to blue-green opaque gemstone variety of fibrous quartz. More specifically, it is a variety of macrocrystalline quartz. Hawk’s eye is actually a pseudomorph of quartz. A pseudomorph is one mineral that changes into another mineral over time. Tiger’s eye is actually formed from hawk’s eye (2).

Chinese roots of Japanese calligraphy

The Chinese roots of Japanese calligraphy go back to the twenty-eighth century BC. Japanese calligraphy was influenced by, and influenced, Zen thought. For any particular piece of paper, the calligrapher has but one chance to create with the brush. The brush strokes cannot be corrected, and even a lack of confidence shows up in the work. The calligrapher must concentrate and be fluid in execution (3).

Practicing Japanese calligraphy, September 2019

Ready for the lesson
Practicing some common strokes
Words SUN (day) on the left and RIVER on the right

Japan in Japanese is Nihon

The first character is 日 (に / ni). This character literally means ‘sun’.

The next character is 本 (ほん / hon): This character means ‘origin’. The character 本 (ほん / hon) is supposed to be a tree, 木, with its root marked with a line: 本. Hence it’s the ‘root’ or ‘origin’ of something.

So literally 日本 (Japan) is ‘sun origin’, which you sometimes see in English as… ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ (4).


  1. KOBA, K., et al. Antibacterial Activities of the Buds Essential Oil of Syzygium Aromaticum (L.) Merr. & Perry from Togo. Journal of Biologically Active Products from Nature, 2011, vol. 1, no. 1. pp. 42-51.
  2. How Drinking Grapefruit Juice Could Increase Your Cervical Mucus by Lindsay Meisel, 2017, online source:
  3. How to Increase Your Fertility by Janet Stephens, book’s online source:

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