Calligraphy painting by C. C. Wang. Calligraphy is one of China’s earliest and most revered art forms, a symbol of culture, education, self-discipline, and erudition. The quality of one’s calligraphy was thought to provide insight into one’s moral character. Calligraphic writing on paintings, a means for imparting wisdom or advice, was often integral to the composition of the images. PHOTO BY JOAN LEBOLD COHEN.