Dis/re-appearance of vernacular Chinese letterform of Beiwei Kaishu in Hong Kong

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review


The forms of Chinese characters have been evolving continually throughout millennia, and their writing is not only a means to communicate, but also an expression of visual aesthetics. The discourse surrounding letterforms, therefore, goes beyond text itself and delves deep into application, media, and the merging of aesthetics and function.

The historic calligraphy style BeiWei KaiShu dominated Hong Kong store signs during the 1950’s and 60’s, though its prevalence has gradually diminished amidst rapid urban development. Today, the style is re-emerging as Zansyu, a locally designed and much discussed digital font that is not a straightforward imitation of its 3rd century ancestor, but a modern re-interpretation applied in commercial design. This paper looks into the differences between BeiWei KaiShu and Zansyu, and explores how the calligraphy style has found its way transforming from ancient stone carving into contemporary commercial design.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of Typography Day 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
EventTypography Day 2019 -
Duration: 2 Mar 20194 Mar 2019


CompetitionTypography Day 2019


  • Chinese letterform, streetscape, vernacular culture, Beiwei Kaishu, Hong Kong


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