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Summer Online Book Club Explores Chinese Culture (August 10th, 2023)

Session(s) date

Session(s) date: 
Thursday, August 10, 2023 - 4:00pm

The book, Eighteen Vats of Water, welcomes readers to the world of Chinese calligraphy while emphasizing the importance of determination and creativity. Despite calligraphy's potential waning popularity in the age of modern technology, the art form still possesses unique and inspiring charms.

Over the course of Chinese civilization, calligraphy has become a distinctive treasure of the nation's culture. It is not only used to communicate on paper but also serves as a representation of Chinese culture's ideological wisdom and spirituality. Chinese calligraphy is renowned for its ornamental quality, which is derived from the structure of the characters and the tools used to write them. The calligraphic tradition has been passed down for thousands of years, which places Chinese calligraphy in a special place in the world.

Eighteen Vats of Water is a story about Chinese calligraphy and the power of determination and practices. Written by Chinese American author Ji Li Jiang, the book tells the story of a famous calligrapher named Xianzhi Wang, who learned calligraphy from his father at the age of seven. Xianzhi Wang's father challenged him to fill all eighteen large water jars in their house with water in order to write decently. Despite initially thinking he had mastered the craft, Xianzhi Wang spent years practicing and eventually finished the eighteen vats of water, significantly improving his writing.

The book goes beyond the story of Xianzhi Wang. It also introduces us to Chinese calligraphy's cultural significance. Through the book, readers can gain an appreciation for the skills and discipline required to master calligraphy. Additionally, the book highlights the importance of perseverance and hard work in achieving one's goals. In today's world, where technology is ubiquitous, it is easy to forget the value of traditional art forms such as calligraphy. However, Eighteen Vats of Water reminds us of the cultural and personal benefits of pursuing such art forms and others alike.


Eighteen Vats of Water is a heartwarming tale that extols the virtues of calligraphy, as well as the enduring power of wisdom and perseverance. The story revolves around a young protagonist who is deeply passionate about calligraphy and aspires to become a master in calligraphy. Through a series of events, the protagonist learns that true mastery requires more than just talent and skill; it also requires a steadfast commitment and practice. Through it all, the story underscores the importance of combining one's talents and efforts in order to achieve one's dreams.

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