The full range and history of Chinese characters, one of the world's oldest continuously used writing systems, came together Monday when China's first museum for sinograms opened.
The Chinese Character Museum is located in Anyang City of central Henan Province, where the oracle script, the country's earliest inscriptions on bones and tortoise shells dating back more than 3,000 years, was discovered in 1899.
The museum shows the evolution of Chinese characters since ancient times, showcasing cultural relics, including rubbed stone inscriptions, bronze vessels of the Shang (1600 B.C.- about 1046 B.C.) and Zhou (1066 B.C. - 256 B.C.) dynasties, Chinese seal engraving, ancient coins, writing bamboo and silk, and calligraphy work from different dynasties.
Besides Han characters, which are widely used by China's Han, Hui and Man ethnic groups, the museum also houses items bearing more than 40 other types of written languages used by the country's other minority ethnic groups, including the Tibetan, Uygur and Kazak.
"The Chinese characters used by all ethnic groups in China are the 'cultural genes' of Chinese civilization and history," said Professor Wang Yunzhi, of Zhengzhou University.
"They have a strong national cohesion," he said. "They have helped sustain ethnic unity between Han and other minority ethnic groups. Because the written languages of different ethnic groups kept interacting with and borrowing from each other."
In the exhibition hall, which covers 34,500 square meters, school text books written in languages of minority ethnic groups, such as Zhuang and Miao, are displayed along with bronze tripods and silk scrolls with square-shaped Han characters.
"All the written languages of China's ethnic groups are equal just as they are equal in our daily lives," said Professor Zhang Gongjin, of the Beijing-based Minzu University of China at the opening ceremony.
Even the rarely known written form of the Sute language is featured in the museum.
"Although these characters are used in different regions and by different populations, they were created equal and are equally treated in China," said Zhang Dingjing, an expert on the Kazakh language.
Twenty-two of China's 55 minority ethnic groups used 28 types of written language, of which 16 were developed or improved with the help of China's central government.
"The written form of a language helps to preserve the culture of a people who use them," said Zhang Gongjin.
From： Xinhua News