A Beginner's Guide to Uncial Calligraphy with Janet Takahashi

T11his ability to pass on suggestions to us across generations, give instructions to reveal, interact suggestions throughout the void of area and time has actually made it feasible to make excellent strides in our understanding of the world, shared understanding as well as self-understanding.

To understand how writing began, we must go to ancient Sumer, where writing first began to be used extensively. Yes, you see potters and merchants.

You see the streets and gardens. These temples play a big role in why writing began.

Not hundreds of people or thousands of people, but together tens of thousands. And as cities grew, so did the temples for the gods.

These massive, vast temple complexes they did not serve only as tabernacles.

Do you see those men bringing jugs full of grain here? These temples also served as huge warehouses.

Look next to the men who carry the grain. Do you see a man watching them?

Keep in mind that whenever they bring a jug of grain, he will make a tiny mark on his clay table.

With such an economic climate, with great deals of supplies, moving to and from the temple daily, they needed to maintain records in some way. And also that’s exactly what he does. That table will certainly be conserved later, so that the clergymans may know specifically what they have at hand in their huge holy place storehouse. But even though brands have their area in the initial writing, there is something much extra interesting for us on this wet item of clay that he holds.

Scribes were looking for faster and easier ways to record commodities, they did not laboriously draw every sub-item brought to the temple, but instead they came to a mutually agreed set of more symbolic representations for goods flowing into holy places. And you can see how someone could happen, that these symbols need not only represent the concept of something, but also the word itself.

Which’s specifically what happened.

The symbol for the cow was understood not only as a representative of the animal, but also as a word cow. Do you see the people at the temple talking to each other?

It would sound like everyone was saying the same thing over and over again if you could hear them. Because Sumerian is a language where most words are just syllables and where the terms are composed of word composition, this is. Both of these factors are necessary since when several of your words are monosyllabic, it is simple not to think about a sign as a word, but as a sound for that word. Stop thinking of an icon suggesting a word as well as start to consider the basic significance of its audio, which can show more specific things. When you do this, you will not attract images for each and every word in the language.

Now you begin to think about images as sounds as well as incorporating sounds with each other enables you to develop various words.

And also when you incorporate that with that said in Sumerian a number of terms were based on straightforward words, for instance, a sickle plus grain might indicate a harvest, so there is a quantum of what you can do with ideas as well as audios, which represent countless images. Yet we’re refrained yet. Since just how the scribes created has transformed the method we compose in Western nations today. Do you bear in mind how our friend in the temple includes grain?

See how he writes from top to bottom, just as you would write a list. And if you accidentally rest your hand while writing from top to bottom, you can easily delete the entire column you just typed.

This risk is reduced if you start writing from left to. It was easier for scribes, but other literate people, who had to read it learned from top to bottom, so they didn’t like this sideways writing.

Soon individuals read characters created sideways from entrusted to right. Yet because they were upside-down, they were a lot more abstract now. A lot more different from the things and pictures they used to represent. This writing system was then taken on by the bordering Akkad and Elamites, that generalized it a lot more. Variables or small characters have likewise been included to determine which component of the speech was which, to stay clear of uncertainty.

And currently you have a genuine composing system.

Which means instead of a handful of nouns to be written to stock lists here we have a writing system that can give us lyrical and abstract things like the Epic of Gilgamesh or Enum elish. Funny thing about clay: When a place burns down and all your records are on clay, instead of being destroyed, they remain and harden.

Let’s praise scribes like this and the wonderful city of Sumer for what they gave us. Writing.

It will later develop independently in Mesoamerica and was almost certainly developed independently in China. There is a great deal of controversy over whether it has developed independently in the Indus Valley and Egypt. From what we have read, which is far from enough for a layman’s opinion, I believe that both groups have inherited the basic concept from Sumer. If you liked this attempt and you are interested in the history of ideas as well as the history of people and companies, let us know in the comments. We’ll try to do it sometimes if so.


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Take this comprehensive lesson with artist and calligrapher Janet Takahashi. Janet will teach you basic Uncial Calligraphy using Pigma Calligrapher pens. This round open wide letterform uses a broad edge nib.

In this introduction to the series (1 of 3) Janet will show you the supplies you need, characteristics of the Uncial alphabet, and how to set up your guidelines and body heights. She also reviews ascending and descending letters, pen angle, millimeter size, classification of letters, and other tips.

– Pigma Calligrapher pen
– XS12 Mechanical pencil
– SumoGrip Eraser
– Paper
– Ruler
– pad of paper
– hand guard (folded piece of paper)
– quality writing paper

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