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  Largest calligraphy lesson-world record set by Taipei
 TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou joined 12,902 citizens, aged from three to 93
in a calligraphy lesson of the 5th Chinese Character Festival-setting the world record for the Largest calligraphy lesson.

   Photo: A Taiwanese girl writes traditional Chinese calligraphy with a hair pencil during the 5th Chinese Character Festival, in Taipei, Taiwan. AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying (enlarge photo)

  Led by Ma and 15 other political, cultural and educational leaders, who each wrote a character that produced the couplet“ Genesis of strokes shed grace on the people; Culture and legacy of character spread across oceans,”12,902 citizens gathered at the Huashan Cultural and Creative Park Thursday to practice calligraphy.

"This is really a touching moment, as over 10,000 people writing at the same time one of the most ancient written languages in human history -- traditional Chinese characters,”Ma said.   

He said only by being able to read traditional Chinese characters can one appreciate Chinese ancient books, scriptures and culture. Urging all Chinese to learn to read traditional Chinese characters, Ma went as far as saying that by doing so, differences between mainland China and Taiwan can be also be reduced.

The event was brought to its highlight when 93-year-old Chao Chia-li and 3-year-old Cheng Pei-chieh, both celebrated their birthdays on Jan. 1. They received from Ma on behalf of all participants "wisdom brushes" and the "Chinese Characters Promoters" certificates.

President Ma Ying-jeou wrote the Chinese character for "safe", "hoping it would bring safety to the country and people while stabilising the mind of people", the official said.

   "Chaos" was picked last month by the Taiwanese as the character for 2008 after a turbulent year marred by high-profile corruption scandals implicating former president Chen Shui-bian and top officials.

   Among the 61,600 people who took part in a telephone poll, nearly 8,000 voted for the Chinese character "luan" (chaos), followed by "pian" (lie) and "tsang" (miserable), said the United Daily News, a co-organiser of the survey.

   Also on the list of the top 10 annual characters were "corrupt", "depressed" and "love" - the only positive character to make the list.

 Witnessed by a lawyer, the event successfully set a world record as the largest calligraphy lesson to celebrate the Chinese legacy of calligraphy and signify a blessing for Taiwan in the New Year.

    Among the 12,000 participants, Chen-Yeh A-mei drew much attention because although she is illiterate, the 98-year-old still took part in practicing calligraphy to give blessing to the country and the next generation. Her 4 year-old American-born great grandson also joined her at the event, symbolizing cultural inheritance.

   The Chinese Character Festival, which was initiated when Ma was Taipei mayor in 2005, is the first festival in the world dedicated to the promotion and celebration of Chinese characters.

    Other weighty representatives and celebrities who joined the calligraphy lesson led by Ma included Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin, Council of Cultural Affairs Minister Huang Pi-twan, Dharma Drum Mountain Master Kuo Tung, pop music songwriter Fang Wen-shan.

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  Thursday, January 1, 2009  

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