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Interview: Calligrapher Du Yijun

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Du Yijun at work
Du Yijun at work

The area around Wenmiao Zhi Jie (文庙直街) is one of the few remaining areas in Kunming where one can experience the wooden architecture and plant-covered tile roofs of old Kunming.

Hidden just south of print shop-lined Wenmiao Zhi Jie is Wenming Jie (文明街), where Du Yijun (杜宜俊) sells his calligraphy. The 69-year-old native of Guang'an in central Sichuan Province has been enamored with calligraphy since childhood. When the weather is good he sets up a table outside his shop, giving passersby an opportunity to watch the decades of skill channeled through his steady, ink-stained hands.

"When I was a child I found the traditional 'Chineseness' of calligraphy fascinating, it felt like I was connecting to another time," Du said.

Du said he moved to Kunming from Guang'an because Kunming had better climate than Sichuan and it had more clients to offer - with more money to spend. His clients are generally middle-class Kunming residents looking to decorate a room or commemorate a special occasion. Du said that there is high demand for calligraphy in Kunming but few people able to satisfy the demand.

"Almost all Chinese love and appreciate calligraphy," he said, "but very few Chinese are actively practicing calligraphy these days."

Du Yijun's store Du Shu Zi (杜书字) is located at 42 Wenming Jie and is open daily. Du doesn't speak English but he has samples of his work on site. Rates depend on the number and size of characters, with most pieces running at least 200 to 300 yuan.

Du Shu Zi
杜书字
42 Wenming Jie
文明街42
Tel: 13888988223

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