Tangut script

Tangut script

Infobox Writing system
name = Tangut
type = Logographic
time = 1036-1502
languages = Tangut language
fam1 = Chinese
fam2 = Oracle Bone Script
fam3 = Seal Script
fam4 = Clerical Script
fam5 = Chinese characters,andArtificial script
creator = Yeli Renrong
sample = The Art of War-Tangut script.jpg
unicode = Not specified

The Tangut script was an obsolete logographic writing system, used for writing the equally obsolete Tangut language in Western Xia Dynasty. According to the latest count, there are 5863 Tangut characters excluding variants. [zh icon [http://www.nxnews.net/923/2004-12-9/22@61505.htm 《西夏文字共有5863个正字》] ,宁夏新闻网] The Tangut characters look like Chinese characters, with the same kind of strokes, but the methods of forming Tangut characters are significantly different from those of forming Chinese characters. As in Chinese calligraphy, there are the regular, running, cursive and seal scripts in Tangut writing. The unicodification of the Tangut script is still in progress, [Dr. Richard S. Cook, [http://unicode.org/~rscook/Xixia/ "Xīxià Orthography and Unicode: Research notes toward a Unicode encoding of Xīxià (Tangut)"] , Unicode Organization] but there are certain Tangut fonts available, including the set provided by Mojikyo.

According to "Songshi" (宋史 "History of Song Dynasty"), the script was designed by the high-ranked official Yeli Renrong under Western Xia Emperor Li Yuanhao's supervision in 1036. [zh icon [http://www.wenhuacn.com/lishi/shiji/20songshi/485.htm 《宋史‧卷四百八十五‧列传第二百四十四‧外国一‧夏国上》] ] The script was invented in a short period of time, and was put into use quickly. Governmental schools were founded to teach the script. Official documents were written in the script (with the diplomatic ones written bilingually). A great number of Buddhist scriptures were translated from Tibetan and Chinese, and block printed in the script. [zh icon 徐庄, [http://www.pubhistory.com/img/text/3/603.htm 《略谈西夏雕版印刷在中国出版史中的地位》] ,出版学术网] Although the dynasty was ruined in 1227, the script continued to be used for another couple of centuries. One of the latest example is a stone tower inscribed in 1502.


Tangut characters can be divided into two classes: simple and composite. The latter are more numerous. The simple characters can be either semantic or phonetic. None of the Tangut characters are pictographic, while some of the Chinese characters were at the time of their creations; this is one of the major differences between Tangut and Chinese characters.

Most composite characters comprise two components. A few comprise three or four. A component can be a simple character, or part of a composite character. The composite characters include semantic-semantic ones and semantic-phonetic ones. A few special composite characters were made for transliterating Chinese and Sanskrit.There are a number of pairs of special composite characters worth noting. The members of such a pair have the same components, only the location of the components in them is different (e.g. AB vs. BA, ABC vs. ACB). The members of such a pair have very similar meanings.


*Grinstead, Eric (1972). "Analysis of the Tangut Script". Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies Monograph Series No. 10. Lund: Studentlitteratur.
*Kychanov, E.I. (1996). "Tangut", in Peter T. Daniels & William Bright (ed.), "The World's Writing Systems", New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0195079930, pp. 228-9.
*ja icon Nishida Tatsuo 西田龍雄 (1994). "Seika moji: sono kaidoku no purosesu" (西夏文字 : その解讀のプロセス "Xixia script: the process of its decipherment"). Tokyo: Kinokuniya shoten. ISBN 4314006323.
*zh icon Shi Jinbo 史金波 (1981). "Lüelu Xixia wenzi de gouzao" (略论西夏文字的构造 "A sketch of the structure of the Tangut script"), in "Minzu yuwen lunji" (民族语文论集 "A collection of essays concerning the languages of the ethnic minorities"), Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, pp. 192-226.


External links

* [http://www.omniglot.com/writing/tangut.htm Tangut script] at Omniglot
* [http://babelstone.blogspot.com/2007/01/tangut-coins.html Tangut coins] , with some useful Chinese links
*ja icon [http://www.mojikyo.org/html/index.html Sample Tangut characters] at Mojikyo
*ja icon _ja. 大西 磨希子・北本 朝展, [http://dsr.nii.ac.jp/rarebook/08/ 『文字が語りかける民族意識:カラホトと西夏文字』] ,ディジタル・シルクロード
*zh icon _zh. 史金波, [http://www.nxnews.net/1168/2004-12-14/13@62280.htm 《西夏文字是有规律的文字吗?》] ,宁夏新闻网

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