Man Turns Mountain Sandstone Into Ancient Script Dictionary

April 26, 2009 2:36 pm Last Updated: April 26, 2009 2:37 pm

Guangzhou’s Lianhua Mountain is home to a piece of huge red sandstone roughly 5,000 square meters in size that has been transformed by a local man into a dictionary for China’s ancient oracle bone script [1].

The cliff, which has been recently dubbed the “Cliff Dictionary,” is now inscribed with more than 5,000 oracle bone characters that Jing Hong, a local man who studied seal carving in his childhood and oracle bone script during his later years, has came across through his studies over the years.

Jing says that he began the engraving process last June and it took nearly four months to complete. Many of the oracle bone script characters are pictographs. For example, the character “Ri,” meaning sun or day was inscribed in nine different ways while the character “Yue,” meaning moon or month was inscribed in six different ways. Jing and his students painted the characters with red oil paint to make them more vivid and artistic.

According to Jing, “More than 7,000 oracle bone characters have been found over the past approximately 100 years since oracle bone characters were first found by archaeologists. Among them, over 5,000 are recognized, while about 2000 are not recognized yet. Because there are not many experts researching oracle bone characters nowadays, I don’t know if the mystery of these 2,000 or so oracle bone characters can be solved in the future."

[1] The oldest Chinese inscriptions, the Oracle bone script (Chinese: 甲骨文; pinyin: jiǎgǔwén; literally "shell-bone-script"), were identified by scholars in 1899 on pieces of bone and turtle shell being sold as medicine.

Read original article in Chinese.