The second Chinese Character Festival began in Taipei yesterday with Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and 1,000 students writing Chinese characters together.
Flanked by his chief education and culture officials, the mayor wrote a big "han (漢)" meaning "Chinese," followed by some other students, who wrote characters of the same size to make a Chinese couplet reading "Chinese shake the universe and characters turn it around (漢動天地,字轉乾坤)."
The mayor and other officials then unveiled a scroll written by Sun Kuo-ting (孫過廷), a famous Chinese calligrapher from the Tang dynasty, which reads "A thousand people writing calligraphy simultaneously, every one enjoys the pleasure of calligraphy (千人齊揮毫,萬眾樂陶陶)."
Meanwhile, other students at the ceremony, held at the Poai Elementary School, wrote characters on ceramic plates that were later to be fired and given to them as souvenirs.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ma lauded Chinese characters as valuable human assets owned not only by Chinese but also by many other Asian nations.
Citing examples, Ma said that when he visited South Korea many years ago, his South Korean host gave him a briefing written in Chinese rather than English.
Ma said the two examples show the far-reaching influence of Chinese characters and added that Taiwan enjoys the advantage as the final bastion of this cultural treasure.
In addition to yesterday's gathering, the festival will also feature six seminars and a forum to discuss traditional and simplified Chinese characters on May 26-27.