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Home >> Life
UPDATED: 08:18, March 05, 2006
China to set up characters museum
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China plans to set up the first national museum featuring the culture and history of Chinese characters as well as ethnic languages and overseas words.

Preparations are proceeding well for a new construction project at the famous Yin Ruins, where oracle bone inscriptions -- China's earliest writing -- were found, said the cultural relics authorities of Anyang city, home to the Yin Ruins in Central China's Henan Province.

The China Characters Museum has passed appraisal and won approval from an expert group of the State Cultural Heritage Administration. The site will be in the vicinity of the Yin Ruins Museum.

According to the plan, the characters museum will cover a land area of 168,000 square meters, with 30,000 square meters of exhibition space. The museum is expected to be completed within five years, at a cost of 300 million yuan (about 37.5 million U.S. dollars).

The decision to build a national characters museum came after a proposal submitted in March last year by 25 members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top advisory body.

The oracle bone inscriptions, the earliest known Chinese characters, dated from the late Shang (also called Yin) Dynasty (1600-1100 B.C.). The oracle bones were first discovered in 1899 in Anyang, famous for the Yin Ruins.

Since then, more than 150,000 oracle items have been discovered in the Yin ruins, capital of the late Shang Dynasty.

The inscriptions on tortoise shells and animal bones recorded harvests, astronomical phenomena, worship and wars in the Shang Dynasty.

The ancient script, with its majority as pictographs, is so different in form from the present Chinese writing that a layman can not identify their meanings.

In addition to the focus on the display of history, development and art of Chinese characters, the museum will include exhibitions on the development of foreign words and rare ethnic languages in China.

The gracefully-written rhombic "Nushu" characters are structured by just four kinds of strokes - dots, horizontals, virgules and arcs, and are spoken in a dialect to describe women's misfortunes and feelings.

Discovered in the 1980s in Central China's Hunan Province, "Nushu" stunned the world with its uniqueness. With more "Nushu" descendants passing away, preserving the precious cultural relics has become a focus of world attention.

Source: Xinhua

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