Ancient Chinese characters come together at new museum


The museum is located in Anyang city of central Chinese province of Henan, where the oracle script, the country's earliest inscriptions on bones and tortoise shells dating back more than 3,000 years, was discovered in 1899.
The museum has the collection that depicts the evolution of characters since ancient times and showcases cultural relics, including rubbed stone inscriptions, bronze vessels of the Shang (1600 BC-about 1046 BC) and Zhou (1066 BC-256 BC) dynasties, Chinese seal engraving, ancient coins, writing bamboo and silk, and calligraphy work from different dynasties.
Besides Han characters, which are widely used by China's Han, Hui and Man ethnic groups, the museum also houses items bearing more than 40 other types of written languages used by the other minority ethnic groups of the country, including the Tibetan, Uyghur and Kazakh.
"The Chinese characters used by all ethnic groups in China are the 'cultural genes' of Chinese civilisation and history," said Wang Yunzhi of Zhengzhou University.

"They have a strong national cohesion," he said. "They have helped sustain ethnic unity between Han and other minority ethnic groups. Because the written languages of different ethnic groups kept interacting with and borrowing from each other."

In the exhibition hall, which is spread over an area of about 34,500 sq metres, school text-books written in ethnic languages, such as Zhuang and Miao, are on display along with bronze tripods and silk scrolls with square-shaped Han characters.

"All the written languages of China's ethnic groups are equal just as they are equal in our daily lives," said Zhang Gongjin, of the Beijing-based Minzu University, at the opening ceremony of the museum.
Even the written form of the rarely-known Sute language is featured in the museum.
"Although these characters are used in different regions and by different populations, they were created equal and are treated equally in China," said Zhang Dingjing, an expert on the Kazakh language.
Twenty-two of China's 55 minority ethnic groups used 28 types of written language, of which 16 were developed or improved with the help of China's central government.
"The written form of a language helps to preserve the culture of a people who use them," said Gongjin.

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