Friday, January 20, 2012

The Qin Clerical Script 秦隶

The inscription on bamboo slips in the Qin and Han dynasties was a transitional form between ancient and modern Chinese characters. In its early stage, there were more ancient characters, and in its later stage, the characters were closer those used in clerical script, cursive scripts and regular script which are popular today. Although those inscriptions were not as abstruse as ancient characters, there were unique in their own way.

Many of the inscriptions on wooden or bamboo slips or silk in the Qin dynasty are in clerical script. Qin Shihuang acknowledged small seal as the standard script but clerical script would be used as well. Bamboo slips of the Qin dynasty unearthed in Shuihudi near Yunmeng in Hubei province showed the Qin’s way of writing. It is believed that those inscriptions are real Qin clerical acript with its origin in the Zhou dynasty. In the time of Qin Shihuang, both seal script and clerical script were used and it is difficult to tell which is official and which is not in that period.

Qin clerical script is also known as ancient clerical script, which is a transitional form between ancient script and modern script.

Many excavations testified that there was clerical script before Qin dynasty. The first Emperor’s character renovation measurement was to ban those ancient characters in the other six states. The inscriptions on silk and wooden or bamboo slips, which were closer in clerical script, were untouched. On the contrary, Qin Shihuang ordered that the simplified form of characters be collected and made into a new font, and this is the origin of clerical script in the Qin dynasty. The presence of clerical script which is much simpler than previous scripts not only met the political requirement but also revealed people’s pursuit of efficiency in the Qin dynasty.




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