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China: Empire Of Living Symbols
     

China: Empire Of Living Symbols

4.3 3
by Cecilia Lindqvist
 

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The origins of Chinese ideographs were not known until 1899, when a scholar went to an apothecary for some medicine made of “dragon bone.” To his surprise, the bone, which had not yet been ground into powder, contained a number of carved inscriptions. Thus began the exploration of the 3000-year-old sources of the written characters still used in China

Overview


The origins of Chinese ideographs were not known until 1899, when a scholar went to an apothecary for some medicine made of “dragon bone.” To his surprise, the bone, which had not yet been ground into powder, contained a number of carved inscriptions. Thus began the exploration of the 3000-year-old sources of the written characters still used in China today. In this unparalleled and deeply researched book, Cecilia Lindqvist tells the story of these characters and shows how their shapes and concepts have permeated all of Chinese thought, architecture, art, and culture.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Many of the 50,000 Chinese characters in use today can be traced back to ancient, inscribed oracle bones and bronzes. Drawing on archeological finds of recent decades, Lindqvist, a Swedish scholar who studied Chinese writing in Beijing, tells the fascinating stories behind the meaning and evolution of scores of Chinese characters. She notes that the original character for ``hand'' may well have been a picture of a hand with five fingers; neolithic jars were prototypes for the character for ``wine''; the character for ``speak or word'' has a basic meaning, ``large flute.'' Other characters relate to everyday life (houses, carts, clothes) or to the countryside, plants and animals. A testament to the continuity of Chinese culture, this beautiful book is illustrated with ancient inscriptions, 18th-century woodcuts and photographs of contemporary life demonstrating how ideogrammatic images recur as archetypes through the centuries. (Nov.)
Booknews
Using the archaeological discoveries of the past few decades, Lindqvist traces the 3,000-year saga of the basic Chinese characters and the world in which they evolved. Illustrated with drawings, rubbings, paintings, and 30 pages of color photographs. Translated from the Swedish by Joan Tate. A lovely and fascinating volume. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher

Guardian 7/5/08
“An evocative, compelling celebration of language as a carrier of culture.”

Toronto Globe & Mail 7/5/08
“[A] delightful cultural and linguistic history.”

Boston Globe
“Deserve[s] special mention…Lavishly illustrated.”

London Review of Books
, 2008
“A fascinating introduction to Chinese language and culture. Beautifully designed and illustrated with photographs, calligraphy and drawings.”

Shelf Awareness’s “Top Ten of 2009,” 12/15/2009
“For those of us fascinated by Chinese, this offers detailed histories of many basic characters, showing their earliest forms, which often were representational, and their stylized modern versions.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780201570090
Publisher:
Da Capo Books
Publication date:
09/08/1991
Pages:
424
Product dimensions:
8.32(w) x 8.65(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author


Cecilia Lindqvist lives in Stockholm and lectures widely. She has just published a book on Chinese music.

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China: Empire of Living Symbols 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
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