The ancient Chinese characters

Dr. Chan reports that examples of ancient Chinese characters were discovered in 1899 in the form called "oracle bones". These included the flat bases of tortoise shells, as illustrated in Dr. Nelson's third book and copied below. The writings date from the Shang Dynasty (c. 1765 - c. 1122 B.C.) and have been only partly decoded. Earlier writings have subsequently been found on pottery dating back to c. 4000 B.C. according to traditional dating estimates. The creation of Chinese characters is attributed to Can Jie at the time of the Yellow Emperor.

Chinese characters were later produced on the surfaces of bronze ceremonial vessels, especially during the Western Zhou Dynasty (c. 1121 - c. 771 B.C.). While in Changsha, Hunan Province, China, in July 2009, I was fortunate to be able to visit a museum exhibit that contained several examples of Bronzeware. I saw the piece illustrated below (copied from a handout).
Oracle Bone example Bronzeware example.

Dr. Chan points out that the Chinese characters were standardized during the reign of Qin Shi Huang Di, (259 - 209 B.C., who unified China in 221 B.C.). He also had the Great Wall built and Xian's terra cotta warriors made.

The later Nelson books show the style changes in characters from the Oracle Bone period through the Bronzeware period to the standardized characters of the past centuries, with some examples from today's simplified scripts.

Back, Next
Beginning, Oracle Bones, God, Water, Earth, Mankind, Adam, Eve, Good Tree, Bad Tree, Penalty, Clothes, Lamb, Gate, Murder, Flood, Lifespans, Scattering, Border Sacrifice, Genesis 1 to 11