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Eastern Zhou dynasty (東周, 770 – 221 B.C.)

The second half of the Zhou dynasty, split further into The Spring and Autumn Period (春秋時代, 722 – 476 B.C.) and Warring States period (戰國時代, 475 – 221 B.C.). The first half of Eastern Zhou was a time when highly decorative, yet troublesome to read, variations of seal script (篆書, tensho) were created, with animal motifs (snakes, dragons, birds, worms, fish, etc.) inter-woven into the designs. One of such scripts is known as chōchūten (鳥蟲篆, ちょうちゅうてん, lit. “bird and worm seal script”), though there is a great variety of them.

In the second half, together with the fall of the Western Zhou (西周, 1046 – 771 B.C.) dynasty to a nomadic clan called the犬戎 (Chinese: Quǎn Róng, lit. “Dog Rong”), and followed by three hundred years of struggle during the Eastern Zhou dynasty for supremacy over other feudal states (東周, 770 – 256 B.C.), two trends emerged. One was based on more accurate and distinctive writing methods, cultivating the tradition of great seal script (大篆, だいてん, daiten), which eventually led to standardizing it under small seal script (小篆, しょうてん, shōten) in 221 B.C. The other one took a more practical approach to writing, by simplification of character forms in a process, allowing for faster and easier writing, and eventually led to the emergence of clerical script (隷書, れいしょ, reisho) during the Warring States period.

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Page last modified on October 21, 2011, at 07:12 AM