Chinese calligraphy, inventions, and discovery

Chinese vocabulary consists of forty-four thousand characters. It was believed Chinese writing was invented by Tsang Chieh who was inspired by claw marks of birds and footprint of animals. The earliest known Chinese writing,’chiaku-wen’ or “bone-and-shell” script (1800-1200 BCE), was pictographic found on tortoise shell and large animal’s shoulder’s bone in order for the living to communicate with the dead. The next stage of Chinese writing was ‘chin-wen’ or “Bronze” script found on multiple objects from food and water vessels to weapons. Chinese calligraphy was developed in different styles until it was unified by Emperor Shih Huang Ti (259-210 BCE), who ordered the construction of the Great Wall of China. Next, Li-Shu, “clerical” style, has more straight and angular strokes and was much more simplified. Kai-shu, or “regular” style where very strokes, dots, line, style, and nuance is controlled by the calligrapher, is the final step of evolution in Chinese calligraphy and is still in use for two thousand years.
Chin-wen or “Bronze” script
Li-Shu table

Before paper was made, the Chinese used to write on bamboo slates or wooden strips. However, bamboo slates were too heavy and woven silk cloth, when it was invented, was too expensive. Therefore, paper, made of mulberry bark, hemp fishnets, and rags, was invented by high governmental official Ts’ai Lun, who was deified as the god of the papermakers. Other than writing, paper was also used as wrapping paper, wallpaper, toilet paper, and napkins.

Printing was also invented by the Chinese. The first form of printing was believed to be from relief printing from engraved seals, called chops during the Han dynasty (third century CE),to make identification imprints. Another possibility of the invention of printing is from ink rubbing from inscriptions carved in stone carved which resemble relief woodblock printing plates.
Chinese Chop

Movable type was invented by Chinese alchemist Pi Sheng (1023-63) around 1045CE where they were made by a mixture of clay and glue. The “lazy Susan” was also invented in order to solve the problem storing more than forty-four thousand Chinese characters. However, even with the “lazy Susan”, the movable types were not popular in the East compared to the West where the alphabet only consists of 26 letters.
Chinese movable types
The “lazy Susan” table (woodblock image)

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