Page:The American Cyclopædia (1879) Volume IV.djvu/480

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468 suffice to make an accomplished graduate. An official historiographer under the Han dynasty was required to know 9,000 characters. In the " Canonical Four Books " there are altogether about 2,400, and with the five classics inclusive the number only amounts to about 4,600. With a ready command of 2,000 or 8,000 a person may assume a very respectable status in the literary scale. Gützlaff gives a computation of 24,235 as the number now in use. -Had we no historical data to guide us, an inspection of the structure of this vast mass of characters would naturally lead to the conclusion that they were not the result of a simultaneous effort ; and it becomes a question of some in- terest to know by what incipient stages the sys- tem began to shape itself, and on what principle the gradual accretions have been going on from age to age. In reply to such questionings many of the natives have occupied themselves in the most profound researches regarding the characters; and according to the generally received theory, the whole system may be classed in six categories, i. e., the lŭh shoo, or six classes of characters. The first of these is called l'ēág-hîng, or hieroglyphs. These were termed w&n, or figures, being the simplest forms, and were intended to represent visible objects, as ☉︎ jíh, the sun ; 👁︎ mŭh, eye ; (Symbol missingsymbol characters) k'òw, mouth. The earliest efforts of this kind are probably all lost sight of for many ages past ; but the most ancient examples that have come down to us, in the grotesque figures on the bronzes of the Shang and Chow dynasties, give some faint resemblance to the objects they are intended to represent. The second class is termed chè-szé, or indicatives, and these show the first tendency toward the expression of abstract ideas, pointing to some property or condition; as 丄 sháng, above; 丅 hēá, below ; 三 aan, three. In the third class, hwdy-S, or com- posites, the first attempt appears to represent figurative ideas, by the combination of two or more hieroglyphs ; as (Symbol missingsymbol characters) ming, bright, formed by the combination of sun and moon. These were termed tsze, or derivatives, in contradis- tinction to the simpler w&n, or figures. In the fourth class, called //<>//-*//;//</, or phonetics, we have a still further development of the graphic art, and the first approach toward an alphabetic symbolism. In this division one part of the character is hieroglyphic or ideographic, and the other merely represents the final sound, as in 江 ktang and 河 h6, both signifying river. The same hieroglyph, 氵 thwuy, or water, is the generic idea in both, and gives no clue to the sound; while in the first the accessory 工 Icung, work, and in the second 可 V6, can, are simply phonetic elements, and add nothing to the meaning. The very inadequate resources of the three previous classes to supply the necessities of a moderately developed litera- ture, may be seen in the fact that this class is reputed to contain no fewer than 21,800. These four classes indeed include the whole of the written characters, and the two remaining divisions are merely special applications of al- ready existing forms. The fifth class, called chuen~cho6, or deflectives, includes characters which have come to be used for others of the same sound, as 說 used for 悅 yue, pleased. The sixth class, called ked,-tedy, or substitutes, contains those characters which, besides the primary and obvious meaning, have acquired a secondary and metaphorical sense, as 長 cHang, long and a superior ; 經 Icing, warp of a tex- ture and classic. These classes, the tradition of which dates back to a considerable anti- quity, are not always arranged in this order, which is adopted, with the explanations, from Twan Yiih-tsae, one of the most erudite schol- ars of the present dynasty. Some authors, however, only make the first three classes to affect the forms of the characters, and the other three the sounds. Others again consider all the six classes as referring to the forms. Apart from the elementary composition of the characters, there has been a great diversity in the modes of writing the same, from ancient to modern times. Some native authors enu- merate as many as 86 different styles of wri- ting; and the Yu-che-sMng Icing fob, an ode by the emperor Keen-lung, in praise of his ances- tral city Mookden, is printed in 32 different forms of Chinese seal characters, and as many of the Mantchoo ; but the greater part of these are fanciful or imaginary. Some seven or eight will include nearly all the styles that have been in general use. The invention of the earliest known, termed Icod-w&n, or ancient figures, is attributed to a sage named Tsang-hee; and under this term are included the semi-pictorial forms found on the ancient bells and vases. In the 8th or 9th century B. C. this was re- placed by a different style, invented by one Chow-she, termed the td-chuen, or greater seal character; and this in its turn gave way to the seadu-ehven, or lesser seal char- acter, accredited to Le-sze, the minister of the famous Che-hwang of the Tsin dynasty (227 B. C.). In these two latter styles much of the pictorial had disappeared. The SJtwo- tedn is a dictionary of the lesser seal character. "With the spread of literature, however, and the gradual adoption of silk for writing on in place of bamboo tablets, the seal characters with their curved lines were found to be too cumbersome. About the end of the same dy- nasty (206 B. C.), the le-shoo or official char- acter was invented by Ching Jklo. As the name implies, this was probably used in gov- ernmental documents; it is still sometimes employed for prefaces to books. The hing- shoo or running-hand is an elegant form of manuscript, especially suited to the hair pencil, which was already in general use at the time of its introduction during the Eastern Han dy- nasty (A. D. 56-220). The invention is as.