Appreciation of the calligraphy and the philosophy

Chinese appreciates calligraphy, the well-educated person writes some words with the wisdom they like and hang them on the wall to share with friends and act as a reminder for oneself.


I also put one on my wall, it is from Laozi老子, when facing difficulties and making some decisions, I reminded myself of what Laozi said.

Laozi (also Lao-Tzu or Lao-Tze) was a philosopher and a poet of ancient China, period of the 5th or 4th century BCE. He is the founder of philosophical Taoism.

I like his words “知白守黑”, it reads from right 右to left左 in the below calligraphy, the words literally mean knowing 知 the white 白 (日is sun, a dot on the sun is white), staying 守 in the dark 黑, it has a deep meaning, you can imagine the picture “yin-yang”, there is always a white dot in the black, or a black dot in the white — you can’t be fully white, and you can’t be fully black, but you have to know what is white what is black, what is right and what is wrong.
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modern format of calligraphy
unnamed (2)
modern format of calligraphy with a little bit of styling
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the old format of calligraphy for the same words


Laozi believed “knowing the white, staying in the dark” is our life, it is the common situation happened in life and it is also a philosophy of life. Knowing the white, knowing the right and wrong, and staying in the dark is necessary…like knowing what is right and what is wrong, you have a bright heart but the world is still unavoidably dark, black, you still have to keep some / stay in some darkness. There is still hope out there.
What you can do is to wait in the dark for a better future, the little dot of white will soon come. That is also one aspect of “yin-yang” meaning.


Chinese culture is long, the wisdom almost reached its peak before the birth of Christ and til several hundreds of years afterwards, that we can see that Japan and Korea were greatly influenced by Tang dynasty. However, a culture that is too long also creates burdens and misbehaviors. Unfortunately, the culture revolutions almost destroyed a great deal of the Chinese virtues and traditions. I just finished a book written by a well-educated lady (master graduate from LSE in the 1940s) imprisoned during the culture revolutions, she clearly depicted the changes before and after the culture revolutions, culturally how people change after the revolutions, explaining why China/ some Chinese people were so corrupted and this change has been continuing to influence nowadays.