方圆 – Chinese philosophy and culture

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fāngyuán 方圆

Squareness and Roundness

方形和圆形。“方圆”连用,指事物的形状或性状,亦指使事物“方”或“圆”的方法、规则。古人认为天圆地方,天有旋转、圆通、圆融等特性,地有安静、刚直、方正等特性,主张做人行事应当效法天地的特性,外圆内方,既不放弃内心的坚守,又有适度的融通。在文艺创作特别是书法创作中,古人认为楷书要方,草书要圆,但无论哪种书体都应做到方圆之间的相互依存与和谐统一。

“Squareness,” used in collocation with “roundness,” refers to the shapes and properties of things, or sometimes to the methods and rules of making things square or round. Ancient Chinese believed that heaven is round and earth is square. Heaven revolves, accommodates, and harmonizes. Earth, in contrast, is still, firm, and straightforward. They argued that humans should conduct themselves in imitation of the ways heaven and earth operate, and be “round” on the outside and “square” within, meaning that people should be suitably flexible but firm on issues of principle. In artistic and literary creation, especially in calligraphic creations, ancient Chinese held that regular script should be “square” whereas cursive script should be “round.” However, no matter which type of script is adopted, squareness and roundness should be applied in harmony with each other.

引例 Citations:

◎离娄之明、公输子之巧,不以规矩,不能成方圆;师旷之聪,不以六律,不能正五音;尧舜之道,不以仁政,不能平治天下。(《孟子·离娄上》)

(即使有离娄的好视力、公输般的高超技巧,如果不用圆规和曲尺,也不能画出方形和圆形;即使有师旷的辨音能力,如果不用六律,也不能校正五音;即使有尧舜的方法,如果不施行仁政,也不能治理好天下。)

Even with Li Lou’s keen vision and Gongshu Ban’s skillfulness, they cannot draw either a square or a round shape without using compasses or a ruler. Even with Shi Kuang’s sharp ear for music, he cannot adjust the five notes without using the six pitch-pipes. Even with Yao and Shun’s enlightened methods, they cannot run a country well without practicing benevolent governance. (Mencius)

◎文有圆有方,韩文多圆,柳文多方,苏文方者亦少,圆者多。(李耆卿《文章精义》)

(文章有的写得圆通,有的写得方正,韩愈的文章大多圆通,柳宗元的文章大多方正,苏轼的文章方正的少而圆通的多。)

The writings of some authors can be round or delicately nuanced, whereas others can be square, or straightforward. Many of Han Yu’s essays are round, and many of Liu Zongyuan’s are square, while Su Shi’s writing is more round than square. (Li Qiqing: The Essentials of Writings)

◎方圆者,真草之体用。真贵方,草贵圆。方者参之以圆,圆者参之以方,斯为妙矣。(姜夔《续书谱·方圆》)

(对楷书和草书来说,方圆既是书体又是运用上的一种变化。楷书贵在方正,草书贵在圆通。方正的书体要参照圆通的技巧,圆通的书体要参照方正的技巧,如此才能达到绝妙的水平。)

Squareness and roundness are the core essence and useful complement of regular script and cursive script. The merit of regular script is squareness whereas the merit of cursive script is roundness. Only when squareness is complemented by roundness and roundness is complemented by squareness can true calligraphic excellence be achieved. (Jiang Kui: Subsequent Commentaries on Calligraphy)

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