China: Empire of Living Symbols

Cecilia Lindqvist, Author Addison Wesley Publishing Company $39.9 (423p) ISBN 978-0-201-57009-0
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.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-306-81609-3
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-0-7867-3199-2
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