Thursday, January 8, 2009

The First Chinese Written Characters 原始汉字

At a range of Neolithic sites in China, small numbers of symbols of either pictorial or simple geometric nature have been unearthed which were incised into or drawn or painted on artifacts, mostly on pottery but in some instances on turtle shells, animal bones or artifacts made from bone or jade. The question of whether such symbols are writing, primitive or proto-writing, or merely non-writing symbols or signs for other purposes such as identification is a highly controversial one, and the debate still continues today.
Inscription-bearing artifacts from the Dawenkou culture in Shandong, dating to 2800 – 2500BC, have drawn a great deal of interest amongst researchers, in part because the Dawenkou culture is believed to be directly ancestral to the Shang, where the first undisputed Chinese writing appears.
There is clear similarity in style between these signs and pictographic Shang and early Zhou symbols. Both types of symbols also have multiple components, reminiscent of the compounding of elements in the Chinese script, thus eliciting claims of a relationship.
The pictograph shown here resembles the sun and a crescent moon above a cloud or fire or a mountain. It is said to be the Chinese character for ‘dawn’, 旦 dan, or for ‘bright’, 炅 jiong, and so on.
This symbol is significant to the Chinese calligraphers because it has all the elements that are needed to make Chinese word structurally beautiful. The lines that form the graph are symmetrically arranged so as to give one a sense of good balance, fine proportion and harmony. An imaginary line is at the centre which vertically divides the graph into two halfs.
The Dawenkou pictographs undoubtedly can be viewed as the forerunners of Chinese primitive writing.
这些记号与象形与商朝及汉初符号有明显相同之处。两种符号都有多元成分,犹如汉字的 多元组合,导致它们之间关系的说法。

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