Chinese Character

Chinese Character

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Chinese Character

The origins of Chinese script are shrouded in mystery, and various legends exist to explain its creation. According to legend, the historian under China’s founder invented Chinese characters about 4500 years ago. Archeological research indicates that possible precursors of Chinese characters appeared as early as 8000 years ago and that Chinese Characters formed a complete system of writing by about 3500 years ago. Among the Writing system in use that time, only Chinese characters are still used

The past several thousands of years have witnessed the evolution of Chinese characters, of which the main forms are as follows:

Oracle Bone Inscriptions

As the earliest form of the Chinese written language, Jia Gu Wen refers to the writings inscribed on the carapaces of tortoises and on mammal bones during the Shang Dynasty (16th – 11th century BC). The inscribed oracle bones were first discovered in the Yin ruins (the capital ruins from the end of Shang Dynasty, now the Xiaotun Village, Anyang County, Henan Province). In the early Zhou Dynasty (11th century – 256 BC) some oracle bones were already unearthed.

Chinese CharacterThe questions were often asked of ancestors, whom the ancient Chinese revered and worshipped. Oracle bones offer some of the earliest examples of Chinese writing. Their use as a method of divination in China dates back to the middle of the Shang Dynasty, probably in the reign of Pangeng, around 1350 BCE when the Shang capital was moved to Yin. The site at Anyang is believed to be the site of this ancient capital.

Oracle bones found in the 1970s have been dated to the Zhou period, with some dating to the Spring and Autumn period of the later Zhou Dynasty.

They were also called dragon bones on account of their discovered use by Chinese scholar when they were found being sold in Chinese medicinal centers either whole or crushed for the healing of various ailments that Jung hoped to use to cure his then-mysterious malaria, which western doctors could not diagnose

Chinese CharacterNew oracle bone sites continue to be found in China. The most recent discovery was announced on 8 April 2003. This excavation area is located south-east of the Daxinzhuang Shang ruins, where 30 "tanfang" (artificial pits measuring 10x10 meters or 5x5 meters) were found. Professor Fang Hui of the Archaeological Department of Shandong University is in charge of the excavation work

Eight pieces carrying oracle bone script have been sorted out, four of them formed one whole piece, with 25 characters. Through the shape of bones, character and grammar, it has been determined that these belong to the same group of inscriptions unearthed at the original site in Anyang City.

 

 

 

 

Bronze Inscriptions

Chinese CharacterFollowing Gia Gu Wen were inscriptions cast or carved on ancient bronze objects of the Shang and Zhou Dynasties. They are called “Jin Wen 金文” (literally, script on metal) and, as ancient bronzes are generally referred to as “zhong ding, 鐘鼎” (bells and tripods), it is also called Bronze Inscriptions (Zhong Ding Wen 鐘鼎文 ). The earliest was similar to the oracle bone inscriptions, some in the form of the early pictographs.

 

Chinese Character

The bells and tripods became a ritual object and a sign of power, and the owning of such tripods was a status symbol of the Shang slave-owning aristocrats. At the beginning only the names of the owners were cast or engraved on the tripods. Later the tripods and other bronzes began to carry longer inscriptions stating the uses they were put to and the dates they were cast. The contents might include wars, treaties, agriculture, and history. Thus the inscriptions on bronze objects grew longer, from a few characters to a few hundred, from simple phrases or pictures to detailed statements and treaties and thus the varieties of calligraphy styles increased.

 

 

Small Seal Characters

Chinese CharacterThis characters is also known as Qin Zhuan, Qin Dynasty characters (221 – 207 BC). Following the conquest and unification of the country, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty simplified and unified the written language. This process changed the strokes of earlier Chinese characters from having many turns to being well-regulated and convenient for hand-writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Official Script

As a formal written language in the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), this form began to be used at the end of the Qin Dynasty, and lasted to Three Kingdoms Period (220 – 280 AD). Official script symbolized a turning point in the evolution history of Chinese characters. Since that time, Chinese characters moved from an ancient to a modern stage of development.

Official Script

As a formal written language in the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), this form began to be used at the end of the Qin Dynasty, and lasted to Three Kingdoms Period (220 – 280 AD). Official script symbolized a turning point in the evolution history of Chinese characters. Since that time, Chinese characters moved from an ancient to a modern stage of development.

Cursive Writing or Gras Stroke Characters

Chinese CharacterAppearing first at the beginning of Han Dynasty, Cao Shu was actually a much earlier form than Kai Shu. Since the end of the Han Dynasty, the strokes became slightly linked and the radicals mutually interchangeable, with the traces retained in the cursive seal characters no longer visible

 

 

 

 

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