Oracle Bone Script And Chinese Characters: Past, Present, and Future**
Presented by Dr. Kuangyu Chen
We are delighted to share insights from the enriching workshop hosted by the American Society of Shufa Calligraphy Education on December 2nd, 2023. The event featured the esteemed Dr. Kuangyu Chen, a Senior Professor from Rutgers University, New Jersey. His research primarily revolves around the study of Oracle Bone Script and the Shang Dynasty civilization, the origins of Chinese characters, and the theoretical construction of Chinese character ecology. His notable works include "Reading of Shang Inscriptions."
During the workshop, Dr. Chen introduced the academic field of oracle bone studies from the Shang Dynasty, tracing back over two thousand years to the Neolithic era to explore the origins of Chinese characters. He highlighted that Chinese characters are one of the four original scripts in human history - alongside Egyptian, Sumerian, and Mayan scripts - and are the only logographic script widely used today.
The Oracle Bone Script of the Yin-Shang period, as Dr. Chen explained, is the earliest unearthed Chinese script. It represents a fully matured writing system with a grammar and structure consistent with later documents. The Oracle Bone Script holds a pivotal place in Chinese civilization, linking the legendary Yu-Xia to the subsequent Zhou-Qin periods. Dr. Chen began his introduction with the discovery of oracle bone script and the establishment of its studies, merging it with his personal learning journey. He shared insights into the deciphering of Oracle Bone Script and his research findings.
A major enigma in the study of Chinese characters, as Dr. Chen pointed out, is the precursor of the Oracle Bone Script. He approached this mystery through the lens of "fossils" of Chinese characters, their structural formation, and archaeological data, particularly highlighting recent methods using archaeological context analysis to prove that the inscriptions on bones from the Lingyang River in Shandong around 2800 BC are indeed a form of writing.
In addition to looking back at history, Dr. Chen offered his perspective on the future of Chinese characters from an ecological viewpoint. He shared his thoughts and theories on the prospects and evolution of Chinese characters, initiating a thought-provoking discussion and exchange with the audience.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to Dr. Kuangyu Chen for his enlightening presentation and to all participants for their engaging involvement. The American Society of Shufa Calligraphy Education continues to be a hub for scholarly exchange and the promotion of the rich heritage of Chinese calligraphy and script.
Stay tuned for more events and workshops!