HuangYao Web-site
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Huang Yao's wenzi hua development involves the combination of etymology of the Chinese characters, ‘shufa’ or calligraphy, painting and Chinese classics. Through his research into the origin of Chinese characters, their relationship to Chinese classics, he was able to come to an understanding of how our Chinese ancestors may have lived. His mastery of the oracle bone inscriptions, bronze scripts and pictographs are some of the foundation pillars for the creation of his wenzi hua. The following shows the process of his research and development of wenzi hua, from the accumulation and systematic cataloguing of different ancient forms of writing Chinese characters to using and combining them to form art.

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Huang Yao compiled the many different ways of writing the same single Chinese character, from pictograph to oracle bone inscriptions and bronze scripts. Below every character, he noted the source in ‘caoshu’. There are a total of 74 pages.

In this example there are 3 Chinese characters, the furthest left is ‘ce’, which the ancient form representing, the meaning, ‘book’. The pictorial is a visual description of one of the earliest forms of a book. i.e. strips of bamboo tied together with a piece of string. Huang Yao was likely to have started this process in the 1960's.
>>> list of Collection of single characters

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The 'book/dictionary' has a total of 586 pages. Each page is for one character only. A few different ways of writing that character in oracle bone inscription, bronze script, ‘zhuan’, ‘li’ and ‘kai’ are included. There is also a description of the origin of the character and how it's shape, sound and meaning has changed over time. The sources for these descriptions were from classical Chinese reference materials.

In this example, we have the character ‘guang’, which mean light, bright, open hearted, glory, smooth, nothing left, alone etc. Huang Yao traced the shapes, sounds and meanings of this character through the recorded Chinese literary history. This voluminous research of Chinese characters was likely to have been carried out in the 1960's or even into early 1970's.
>>> list of Xi zi jian shou / Dictionary

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A set of 32 pages, similar to Item 1 but now the characters are grouped into phrases. These phrases are of auspicious sayings, idioms, Buddhist sayings or parts of poems. Using the example of ‘wansiang-gengxin’ or ‘everything takes a new look’, is similar to examples in Item1 but with four characters forming a phrase. The character ‘xiang’ can mean shape, form, image or elephant, hence the pictographs of an elephant are present.

This collection of phrases was likely done in the 1960's to early1970's.
>>> list of Collection of phrases

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Each sketch can be of a single character or a phrase of multiple characters. There are a total of 1,611 pages. For this example, Huang Yao chose 3 goats to represent the phrase ‘sanyang-kaitai’; ‘sanyang’ means 3 suns, but the sound yang can also mean goat, hence the choice. This set of sketches seems to have been done in different stages, judging from the different sizes and colors of the paper. They were also kept in different envelopes. Estimated dates are 1960's to early 1970's.
>>> list of Calligraphic sketches of Chinese characters


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This set consists of 24 sketches. Huang Yao had progressed from single word to phrases and now to a group of words, from Tang poems, Buddhist poem and even classical literature. The first page for each 'poem' has the characters of the poem written in a column on the left-hand side of the page.° Next to each of the Chinese character are different ancient ways of writing that character. The pages that follow are some possible combinations of the characters in the poem. As each Chinese poem usually has 4 sentences. They were arranged vertically, horizontally, in clutters or diagonally, which later became mixed and finally appears to be in free form. An example of a Zen poem, highlighting two methods of arranging the same sentence is illustrated below. Estimated date of work done is early 1970s.
>>> list of Calligraphic sketches of ' poems '

 
Zen poem by Huineng
Zen poem by Huineng

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Similar to Item 2, the ‘Diary’ consists of many more different pictographs that has been diligently collected for each Chinese character. This time, only a brief explanation of the character was recorded in the “Diary’. There are a total of 81 characters, divided into 3 groupings of “sky, on earth and of human”, i.e. ‘tian’, ‘di’, ‘ren’. Apparently, Huang Yao prepared this ‘Diary’ as further research before for he began painting wenzi hua.
 
These works were found in a commercially printed diary of the year 1972, hence nicknamed the ‘Diary’. A list of the characters and an example of a page is given below. The ‘Diary” was likely worked on between 1972 -1973.
>>> list of the ' Diary '

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Huang Yao chose to use his favorite phrases, a total of 51 sketches were produced, a single page per phrase. These phrases are of auspicious Chinese sayings, idioms, or parts of poems. For each phrase, different ways of writing each character in the phrase were listed.
 
The number of different ways to write a single Chinese character was less than the list in Item 5. It is likely that Huang Yao was now more familiar with the suitable pictographs and he selected only his favorite ones. He used human or animal figures in the pictograph form to express the meaning of the phrase.
 
The example chosen here is ‘bainian-haohe’ or ‘a good union of a hundred years’. This phrase is usually used for weddings. The character ‘hao’ is a combination of a woman and a man, and Huang Yao emphasized this character to express the meaning of the phrase. Likely date of completion of the sketches is 1973-1974.
>>> list of sketches for paintings

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A set of 51 drawings of single Chinese characters and phrases. These were done on thin white paper-cardboard. It appears that the ‘Drawings’ were first done with pencil, going over the same line many times and finally with a thick stroke in blue felt tip pen bringing out the final picture. This time, instead of ancient Chinese pictograph, Huang Yao had beautified the characters. An example, instead of a pictograph for mouth, Huang Yao drew a real-looking beautiful mouth with full upper and lower lips.
 
This example is part of a popular Tang poem, ‘only in the hills deep among the clouds’. This work was done when he lived in Kuala Lumpur, likely in the late 1970's or even early 1980's.
>>> list of the ' Drawings '

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