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Semi-cursive script, also known as running hand script, is a style of calligraphy which emerged in China during the Han dynasty. The style is used to write Chinese characters and is abbreviated slightly where a character’s strokes are permitted to be visibly connected as the writer writes, but not to the extent of the cursive style. This makes the style easily readable by readers who can read regular script and quickly writable by calligraphers who require ideas to be written down quickly. Chinese calligraphy is written using the Four Treasure of the Study, the writing brush, ink, ink stone and paper. Though the semi-cursive style is not taught to students officially, it is a popular style used in modern handwriting. In order to produce legible work using the semi-cursive style, a series of writing conventions are followed, including the linking of the strokes, simplification and merging strokes, adjustments to stroke order and the distribution of text of the work.
|Han Dynasty to present|
|Languages||Old Chinese, Middle Chinese, Modern Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean|
|4E00–9FFF, 3400–4DBF, 20000–2A6DF, 2A700–2B734, 2F00–2FDF, F900–FAFF|
|Literal meaning||walking/running script|
|Vietnamese alphabet||hành thư|
One of the most notable calligraphers who used this style was Wang Xizhi, known for his work Preface to the Orchid Pavilion Collection (Lantingji Xu), produced in 353 CE. This work remains highly influential in China, as well as outside of China where calligraphy using Chinese characters are still in practice, such as Japan and Korea. Although the original work is long lost, the work has been copied multiple times, even the mistakes within the work due to its high regard. 
Due to the decrease of calligraphy practitioners in response to the introduction of alternative writing instruments such as pens and pencils (instead of the writing brush) and computer typing technologies, there have been efforts aiming to preserve the methods of handwriting with the writing brush through the use of a robotic arm. Another method proposed is the “track and point set” method, using multiple sets of coordinates to obtain a pathway of the Chinese character and the location of “hairsprings”, the subtle ink smear produced by the ink and brush when transitioning between strokes. 
The Chinese writing system has been borrowed and used in East Asian countries, including Japan, Korea and Vietnam for thousands of years. Due to similarities in cultures, beliefs and vocabulary, Chinese writing was able to assimilate into these areas. China’s extensive culture, technology and large territory at the time influenced the emergence of calligraphy culture and its various styles.
The semi-cursive style was developed in the late-Eastern Han Dynasty. It is said that the style was derived from the clerical script by Liu Desheng due to the need for a faster way to write. The style was further developed by notable calligrapher Wang Xizhi and his son Wang Xianzhi, also a calligrapher. Script in this style is written in a more curvaceous style than the regular script, however not as illegible as the cursive script.
One of the most notable calligraphers to produce work using the semi-cursive style is Wang Xizhi, where his work, Preface to the Orchid Pavilion Collection was written in 353 AD. The work included the character 之 (zhi), a possessive particle, twenty-one times all in different forms. The difference in form was generated by Wang under the influence of having alcohol with his acquaintances. He had wanted to reproduce the work again since it was in his liking, but to no avail. Preface to the Orchid Pavilion Collection is still included in the some of the world’s most notable calligraphy works and remains highly influential in the calligraphy world.
Calligraphy culture from China was introduced to Japan in around 600 CE and have been practiced till today. Although Japan originally used Chinese characters (kanji) to represent words of the spoken language, there were still parts of the spoken language that could not be written using Chinese characters. The phonetic writing systems, hiragana and katakana were developed as a result of the semi-cursive and cursive styles. During the Heian Period, a large amount of calligraphy works was written in the semi-cursive style because the roundedness of the style allowed for a natural flow between Chinese characters (kanji) and hiragana.
Chinese calligraphy appeared in Korea at around 2nd or 3rd century CE. Korea also used Chinese characters (hanja) until the invention of the Korean alphabet, hangul, in 1443. Even then, many calligraphers did not choose to use the newly created hangul writing system and continued to write calligraphy and its various styles using Chinese characters.
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