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The "National Taiwan University" Calligraphy Inscription

Prof. Jing-Nong Tai, Dept. of Chinese Literature

The six Chinese characters of the "National Taiwan University" inscription were adopted from a calligraphy collection by Jing-Nong Tai (臺靜農), a renowned writer, literary historian, and 20-year professor of the Department of Chinese Literature at National Taiwan University. Professor Tai (1903-1990) self-studied Chinese calligraphy as a pastime hobby, describing the it as a "personal means to stay calm and relieve myself of distraught in the after hours of teaching." However, it was not until his retirement did Professor Tai's calligraphy reach its peak. Professor Tai was proficient in a wide array of calligraphic styles and genres, with a focus on seal, clerical, cursive, semi-cursive, and regular scripts; he was also accomplished in the art of Chinese painting and seal carving. Tai published a self-entitled calligraphy collection as well as several novels and essays before he passed away in 1990.

Influenced by a variety of styles and genres, Professor Tai ultimately transcended his many influences into creating his own unique calligraphic style. As can be seen in the “National Taiwan University” inscription, his style was unconventional in that it was not limited to a specific genre; a combination of the various influences, Professor Tai’s calligraphy is in and of itself an archetype which has been hailed as the Tai Semi-cursive script.

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