From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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“An evocative, compelling celebration of language as a carrier of culture.”
Toronto Globe & Mail 7/5/08
“[A] delightful cultural and linguistic history.”
“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.”