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Hunan Province (湖南省, Chinese: Hú nán shěng)

The earliest records of pre-kaisho (楷書, かいしょ, kaisho, i.e. “standard script”) in the form of bamboo books (木簡, もっかん, mokkan) from 170 B.C. were unearthed in 1972 in Hunan province. Character forms on those bamboo slips clearly represent a transition from clerical script (隷書, れいしょ, reisho) to standard script (楷書, かいしょ, kaisho). The most outstanding change was the simplification of “silkworm head” and “goose tail” elements (together, known as 蠶頭雁尾, さんとう がんお, santō gan-o), both characteristic to clerical script, into plain straight, although still thicker than others, lines.

The oldest intact brush ever found, over 2000 years old, was discovered in Changsha (長沙), the capital city of Hunan Province. Its history goes back to the Warring States Period (戰國時代, 475 – 221 B.C.). It was made of rabbit hairs attached to a wooden handle.

Until 1983 and the discovery of 女書 (Chinese: nǔ shū, lit. “women’s writing”), everyone was convinced that the Chinese writing system consisted exclusively of logographic ideograms, i.e. kanji (漢字, かんじ, characters of Han China). Nushu is (still in use) an ancient syllabary created by the women of Jiang Yong Prefecture (江永縣), located in the southern part of Hunan Province. It was discovered by sheer accident, revealing an astonishing cultural secret.

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Page last modified on October 24, 2011, at 09:47 AM