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Kwong Yem Han

Chinese painting and calligraphy
Pepin, WI


Accomplished: (sounds like, a-KOM-plished) skilled; expert
(sounds like, ANN-ses-ters) Earlier generations of a family.
(sounds like, ANN-cess-tree) Earlier generations of a family
(sounds like ka-LIG-rah-fer) An artist who does calligraphy.
Calligraphy: (sounds like ka-LIG-rah-fee) The art of beautiful handwriting.
Chop: A Chinese signature seal.
Communicate: To express oneself; to tell other people.
Communist: The political party that has controlled Chinese government since 1949.
Descent: (sounds like de-SENT) How someone comes down through the generations related to an ancestor.
Dynasty: (sounds like, DIE-na-stee) A family that is in power for several generations.
Eight Basic Strokes: These are a horizontal line, vertical line, dot, downward to the left, downward to the right, hook, down slant, and up slant.
Elite: (sounds like, e-LEET) A small group with superior status.
Eternity: (sounds like, e-TUR-ni-tee) All of time with no beginning or end.
Excess: More than what is needed.
Feudal: (sounds like, FEW-dull) An economic and political system that in China lasted about 2,500 years until the 19th century.
Fibrous: (sounds like, FI-brus) Made from fibers.
Goatee: The small chin beard on men named after the beard of a goat.
Immigrants: People who move from one country or region to another.
Lamp Black: Soot left from burning oils.
Lineage: (sounds like, LIN-e-ij) Descent from an ancestor.
Mao Tse-tung: The powerful political leader who was Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party from 1949 until his death in 1976.
Order: Arrangement.
Oriental: (sounds like, or-e-EN-til) From Eastern Asia
Philosophy: (sounds like, fi-LOS-oh-fee) A system of values to live by.
Rosemaling: Decorative painting from Norway that uses flowing lines, flower designs and subtle colors.
Simplicity: (sounds like, sim-PLI-si-tee) Being simple, minimal, not fancy or complex.
Soot: The black powdery material left over from burning carbon-based fuel without enough oxygen.
Studio: The workspace of an artist. 
Women's Conference: The United Nations' Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China in September 1995. Yem Han attended as a delegate from Wisconsin.

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Journal Questions

QuestionWhat different names do you have? When do you use them?

QuestionWhat is Chinese calligraphy and how does Yem Han do it?

QuestionWhat kinds of fibers are in the paper you use?

QuestionWhy does Yem Han have so many brushes?

QuestionWhat do you look at to find peace within yourself?

Question Who is your cultural role model?

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Resources For Teachers

Web ResourceThe Chop, Relief Print and Ink Drawing is a 4-5 day lesson plan for 8th grade by Sue Lindemulder. 

Web ResourceChinese Scroll Painting is a one day lesson plan for 6th grade by Sue Lindemulder.

Web ResourceLearning Chinese Online is a portal website to endless resources for learning the language. Look through the “Characters” section especially for on-line games your students can do.

Web ResourceA Window into Asian Art: Chinese Calligraphy is a course for teachers through UW-Platteville taught by Madison-based Chinese calligrapher Yong Pu.

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Resources For Students

Web ResourceEight Kinds of Brush Strokes gives lots of good details on each of the eight basic strokes in Chinese calligraphy.

Web ResourceReal Chinese has ten fun lessons on Mandarin Chinese. Hear pronunciations and see slide shows of people in China too. 

Web ResourceHow to Write Chinese Characters is rich with animations of each Chinese character.

Web ResourceChinese Calligraphy. Scroll down this page to the “Practice Makes Perfect” section to get detailed instruction on the eight basic strokes in Chinese calligraphy. On the way, look at six different styles of Chinese writing.

Listen to Yem Han's story of deciding to stay with writing the traditional Chinese characters instead of switching to the simplified style. You can read along here.

Web ResourceWant to take a class? Chinese Language and Chinese Calligraphy with Pu Yong is a profile of a Madison-based Chinese calligrapher who teaches a course at MATC.

Web ResourceChina the Beautiful lets you explore Chinese calligraphy, poetry, words, sayings and more, and lets you listen too. 

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Text written by Nicole Saylor, edited by Anne Pryor.

Sources consulted include audio recorded interviews with Kwong Yem Han by Nicole Saylor (9/20/03) with materials housed at the Wisconsin Arts Board, “Soo Yuen Benevolent Association” with transcription by James Louie (8/1968), “Chinese Characters: Their Origin, Etymology, History, Classification and Signification” by L. Wieger (1965), “Chinese Written Characters: Their Wit and Wisdom” by Rose Quong (1968), “Analysis of Chinese Characters” by G.D. Wilder and J.H. Ingram (1964), Examples of Chinese Characters, and Wikipedia: Simplified Chinese Characters.

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