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28 October 2013
Ancient Chinese wrote with brushes

The discovery in Henan Province of 3000-year-old oracle bones and oracle bone script at Yinxu, the last capital of China's Shang Dynasty, resulted in the identification of the earliest known Chinese writing.
     Tang Jigen, head of the Anyang Station of the Institute of Archaeology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, says that certain characters in the oracle bone scripts indicate that people in the late Shang mainly used brush pens to write. Some characters on the oracle bones were even written by brush, not carved, Tang adds. Sharp carving tools were once believed to be the earliest writing instruments in China.
     "Not only on oracle bones, but traces of brush-written characters were also found on bronze ware, jade, and ceramics discovered at Yinxu," says Tang. For example, the characters for 'good' and 'trip' both have a round shape which could only be written with a brush pen. "There is so much evidence to prove that people in late Shang most commonly used brush pens to write. But brush-written characters are hard to preserve, so only oracle bone script has been preserved until today and remains the only written record confirming the existence of the Shang Dynasty," Tang concludes.

Edited from China.org.cn (23 October 2013)

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