Thin and Strong
As employed in traditional Chinese art and literature, “thin” here means bony or not plump; it is used in collocation with “strong,” emphasizing a work’s strong structural force. Used in poetic composition, the term refers to a layout devoid of elaborate writing, flowery wording or excessively subtle description. Instead, amazingly new metrical patterns and bold, concise phrases and sentences are preferred to achieve a “thin and strong” style. When used in painting and calligraphy, it refers to thin but vigorous strokes executed to highlight a quality of unbending rigidity, unlike other more robust styles.
Calligraphy, only when performed with thin and strong strokes, will be truly remarkable. (Du Fu: Ode to Li Chao’s Modified Lesser Seal Script)
Song Qi’s ci poetry reflects the style of the early years of the Song Dynasty, whereas Zhang Xian was the first to create the “thin and strong” ci style. Although the two poets praised each other, they differed in artistic taste and pursuit. (Liu Xizai: Overview of Literary Theories)