Huai Su (懷素, 怀素, 737–799), courtesy name Zangzhen (藏真), was a Buddhist monk and calligrapher of the Tang Dynasty, famous for his cursive calligraphy. Less than ten pieces of his works have survived. He was born in modern Changsha, Hunan. Not much is known of his early life. His secular surname might be Qian (錢), and he might be a nephew of the poet Qian Qi (錢起). He became a monk in his childhood, apparently out of poverty.
Legend has it that he planted banana trees (or any genus of trees under Musaceae) in the courtyard of the temple he lived, and used the leaves as paper to practice his art. He made his national fame in his early thirties when he came to Chang'an, which was then the capital of China. Famous poets of his time spoke highly of his works, including Li Bai. Like Li Bai, he was fond of alcohol.
Traditionally Huai Su is paired with the older Zhang Xu (張旭) as the two greatest cursive calligraphers of the Tang Dynasty. The duo is affectionately referred to as "the crazy Zhang and the drunk Su" (顛張醉素).
An example of his "wild cursive calligraphy"
Dois dos exemplos mais fascinantes de "escrita ilegível" (para ficar com a expressão de Roland Barthes) sãos os monges calígrafos da Dinastia Tang, na China, Zhang Xu e Huai Su, conhecidos como "O louco Xu e o bêbado Su".
Muito vinho e escrita cursiva talvez não sejam uma boa combinação, se a ideia for inteligibilidade. Dizem que ao acordar dos seus porres, "drunk Su" muitas vezes já não era capaz de entender o que ele mesmo tinha escrito. Algo que poderia acontecer a todos nós, embora estejamos longe de ser um dos maiores calígrafos da história da China.
Os dois chineses que levaram a arte da caligrafia à ilegibilidade são referências importantes dos artistas que, a partir da década de 1990, se reuniram em torno da prática de "asemic writing".