Zhang Zhi

This article is about the calligrapher Zhang Zhi. For Zhang Ji, the poet from Jiangnan, see Zhang Ji (poet from Jiangnan). For Zhang Ji, poet from Hubei, see Zhang Ji (poet from Hubei).

Zhang Zhi (simplified Chinese: 张芝; traditional Chinese: 張芝; pinyin: Zhāng Zhī; Wade–Giles: Chang Chih, died 192), courtesy name Boying (伯英), was a Chinese calligrapher during the Han Dynasty. Born in Jiuquan, Gansu, he was a pioneer of the modern cursive script, and was traditionally honored as the Sage of Cursive Script (草聖).


Despite the great fame he enjoyed in ancient times, no veritable works of Zhang Zhi's have survived. A catchphrase is attributed to him: "Too busy to write cursively" (匆匆不暇草書),[1] which shows that the execution of cursive script, though originally invented for the sake of time-saving, requires a tranquil frame of mind.


  1. There is a similar Chinese proverb: "Too hasty to write in cursive script; too impoverished to prepare a vegetarian meal." (信速不及草書,家貧難辦素食) Compare the well-known quote by Pascal: "Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte." (in Lettres provinciales)
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