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The No. 1 Chinese Invention:
Chinese Characters

18 December 2007
 

The ancient Chinese are certainly one of the most inventive people in history, with Chinese medicine, the block printing technology, silk cultivation, martial arts, civil governmental system, compass and fengshui, I Ching and Eight Trigrams, just to name a few, all to their credit. Among them, one of the greatest Chinese inventions will have to be attributed to the Chinese characters, or more precisely, the Han Characters (汉字).

Thousands years later, along with Confucius, Fengshui, Chinese medicine and many other major Chinese culture aspects, Chinese characters were imported to neighbouring countries, such as Japan, Korea and Vietnam, and became an important part of their own official writing system respectively.

The following is an interesting short essay by Chinese language expert Mr Zhao Yuanren (赵元任: 1892 - 1982). It was composed with Chinese characters that share the same pronunciation, consequently, the essay can only be understood by viewing but not by reading out.

石室诗士施氏,嗜狮,誓食十狮。氏时时适市视狮。十时,适十狮适市。是时,适施氏是市。氏视是十狮,恃失势,使是十狮逝世。氏拾是十狮,适石室,石室湿。氏使侍拭石室,石室拭,氏始试食十狮尸。食时,始识是十狮尸,实十石狮尸,试释是事。

Poet Shi lived in a stone house, vowed to eat ten lions. As he couldn't find any in mountains, he went to the market to search for his delicacies.

It was ten o'clock in the morning, a hunter who captured ten lions emerging. When the cage opened, the lions began to fight, among each other, with viciousness and vigour, until all breathed to their last.

Mr Shi purchased dead lions, and carried them to his dampened stone house. He ordered his servants to clean the rooms, and sat down to enjoy the feast of the lion meat.

Although his teeth were as sharp as steel saw, the lion meat was as tough as iron ore. At last Shi realised what he had just bought were the lions made of stone and granite.

And this is contributed by Chinese Netizens:

五十武师午时舞狮,误食;
稚逝智仕志试治世,制事。

At due noon, fifty kung fu masters performed lion dances, and all missed their lunches;

Mature minded intellectuals try to manage the world affairs, and end up creating more troubles.

And how about this:

网吧尽是王八;
版主皆为斑猪。

Pre: Monk's Hairdo
Next: The Rape of Nanjing

 
 
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The Highest Chinese Visual Art:
Chinese Calligraphy

A handwriting dedication in traditional style by Chinese President Hu Jintao.

It is known that in Briton, one's accent is viewed as an indication to his or her social situations, but in China, it is handwriting that does the trick.

Of all visual arts in China, calligraphy is considered of the highest order, as it is able to convey rich messages with intellectual depth that only written language could achieve.

With its abstract appearance, it opens to wide interpretations of the author's perspectives, the emotions, the personalities, the original backgrounds, the past experiences, the current situations, the future developments, and beyond.

 

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