Eight Principles of Yong

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The character , yǒng, "forever", "permanence"
Stroke order animated (left)
and in color gradation from black to red (right)
Yong's skeleton.png
The strokes numbered
Where there are multiple numbers in an area, the strokes
overlap briefly and continue from the previous number to the next.
The eight strokes
The strokes together, and separated
Sequence numbers and stroke directions in red
Eight Principles of Yong

The Eight Principles of Yong (Chinese: 永字八法; pinyin: Yǒngzì Bā Fǎ; Japanese: 永字八法/えいじはっぽう, eiji happō; Korean: 영자팔법/永字八法, Yeongjapalbeop; Vietnamese: Vĩnh tự bát pháp) explain how to write eight common strokes in regular script which are found all in the one character, (pinyin: yǒng, "forever", "permanence"). It was traditionally believed that the frequent practice of these principles as a beginning calligrapher could ensure beauty in one's writing.

The Eight Principles are influenced by the earlier Seven Powers (七勢) by Lady Wei Shuo (衛鑠) of Eastern Jin. Publications on the Principles include:

  • The Praise to the Eight Principles of "Yong" (永字八法頌) by Liu Zongyuan (柳宗元) of the Tang Dynasty.
  • Explanations to the Eight Principles of "Yong" (永字八法解) by Li Puguang (李溥光) of the Yuan Dynasty. Lǐ provided two-character metaphorical names.

Table of naming usages[edit]

List of Yǒngzì principles (by stroke order)
Stroke Name[citation needed]
(pinyin, trad./simp.)
CJK stroke name Lǐ's name Additional description
1 D black.png , (/) "Sideway" Diǎn, (/) "Dot" Guài Shí, (怪石) "Strange stone" Tiny dash, speck.
2 H black.png , () "Bridle" Héng, (/) "Horizontal" Yù Àn, (玉案) "Jade table" Rightward stroke.
3 S black.png , (), "Crossbow";
, () "Strive"
Shù, (豎/竪/) "Erect";
Tiěchǔ, (鐵杵/铁杵) "Iron staff"[citation needed]
Tiězhù, (鐵柱/铁柱) "Iron pillar" Downward stroke.
4 G black.png , () "Jump" Gōu, (鉤/鈎/) "Hook" Xièzhuǎ, (蟹爪) "Pincer of a crab" Appended to other strokes, suddenly going down or going left only.
5 T black.png , () "Horsewhip" , () "Raise";
Tiāo, () "Lifting off"[citation needed]
Hǔyá, (虎牙) "Tiger's tooth" Flick up and rightwards.
6 W black.png Lüè, () "Passing lightly" Wān, (/) "Bend, curve" Xījiǎo, (犀角) "Horn of rhinoceros" A tapering thinning curve, usually concave left (convex outward right) and with fast speed as if skimming.
7 P black.png Zhuó, () "Pecking" Piě, () "Throw away, slant";
Duǎn Piě (短撇) "Short slant"[citation needed]
Niǎo Zhuó, (鳥啄/鸟啄) "Bird pecking" Falling leftwards (with slight curve).
8 N black.png Zhé, () "Dismemberment" , () "Pressing forcefully";
, () "Wave"[citation needed]
Jīndāo, (金刀) "Golden dao (knife)" Falling rightwards (fattening at the bottom), where the end point is "as sharp as a knife" (hence the name "Dismemberment").

Note: XG-black.pngXié is sometimes added to the 's strokes. It is a concave Shù falling right, always ended by a Gōu, visible on this image.

CJK strokes[edit]

In addition to these eight common strokes in , there are at least two dozen strokes of combinations which enter in the composition of CJK strokes and by inclusion the CJK characters themselves.

See also[edit]