Students draw inspiration from free calligraphy classes

Students draw inspiration from free calligraphy classes

In a classroom filled with the scent of lotus tea, students use brushes to write an ancient script. Some are teenagers; others, like Nguyen Huu Dong, the oldest student in the class, are in their late 70s.

"People might think that doing calligraphy in a pagoda is only for the elderly, but many of my classmates are young," said Dong, who discovered the class when he came to the pagoda to help the monks clean, and has been faithfully attending ever since.

"Meeting them makes hoary old age less boring."

Calligrapher Le Trung Kien from the Centre for Religious Cultural Heritage Preservation long hoped to share his passion for calligraphy by offering free classes.

Finally, two years ago, he received support from Nhan My Pagoda to offer a nom (Vietnamese ideographic script derived from Chinese) calligraphy training programme on weekends, in which he and five other instructors share their knowledge with the eager students.

"A lot of historical information is written in old script on stone steles at pagodas and temples," Kien said. "Through the training course, I want to preserve this cultural and linguistic heritage."

The programme is open to people of all ages, free of charge. Participants are required to supply their own paper, brushes and ink and to follow certain rules: dressing appropriately, respecting the monks and teachers, and maintaining the tranquillity of the pagoda.

When the class was publicised on social networks, many calligraphy afficionados registered immediately.

With about 50 students aged from 13 to 78, who come from all different backgrounds, the class was like a microcosm of society, Kien said.


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