Tuesday, March 31, 2009

中文字的产生内涵 The Ideas of Chinese Characters

据传说,中国文字是传说中的黄帝的官吏仓颉(c. 2650 BC) 所创造。据说,仓颉在打猎时看到龟而被它的纹理所吸引。由于认为龟纹可能有合理的关系,他再观察世上动物、地球山水与天上星月,因而发明了中国文字符号系统,就叫做字。
According to legend, Chinese characters were invented by Cangjie (c. 2650 BC), a bureaucrat under the legendary emperor, Huangdi. The legend tells that Cangjie was hunting when he saw a tortoise whose veins caught his curiosity. Inspired by the possibility of a logical relation of those veins, he studied the animals of the world, the landscape of the earth, and the stars in the sky, and invented a symbolic system called zi, Chinese characters.
It was said that on the day the characters were born, Chinese heard the devil mourning, and saw crops falling like rain, as it marked the beginning of civilization, for good and for bad. In Chinese thought, the act of writing a character is therefore seen as parallel to the universal process of creation, and an embodiment of the principles that govern all life.
The basic units of Chinese characters are the strokes that, simply stated, are the marks produced by a single continuous motion by various writing instruments. The strokes can be categorized into dots, lines and hooks and can be further described by the direction in which they are written, their beginning and ending characteristics and their contour.
The different types of strokes are codified as forces (shi) in dynamic composition, each with a perfect form and method (fa).
Each character originates from the first stroke, the one that preceded all others. This reflects the concept that the universe was created from an original oneness – a central idea in Chinese thought as it developed over the centuries.
There is a proper sequence to follow when writing characters. The strokes are always written in the same direction and there is a set order to write the strokes of each character. Rules such as writing left to right, top to bottom, and outside followed by inside dictate order. The flow of the strokes should move in such a way that they achieve balance giving the characters the impression of a temporary equilibrium.
One can state the ideas of Chinese character as ‘harmony, naturalness and variety within unity’. The flow, balance, and visual imprint are also emphasized by the invisible square framework within which each character is set.

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