[ images graphics content X 2003 ]
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• Nushu Visual Art Journal - Table of Contents •


[all images/non-italicized text ©X 2000]

While my visual journals are not traditional Nü Shu, i am taken with the idea of using symbols to represent words, and decided to create my own books which speak through the use of images, in addition to text.

Each journal is hand made by myself, and then created by painting, writing, drawing, scribbling, scratching, and what ever else i feel like doing in them.

For those of you who are interested, please read the following passages, which originally appeared on www.ancientscripts.com, for additional background information regarding this fascinating language. Links to my own journals are listed below the description.

Nü Shu [literally translated as "Women's writing"], is a writing system that was used exclusively among women in Jiangyong County in the Hunan province of southern China.

Unlike the standard written Chinese, which is logographic, Nü Shu is roughly phonetic, with each of its approximately 700 characters representing a syllable. Although some Nü Shu characters appear to have been derived from standard Chinese characters, most are unrelated.

In ancient Hunan, women were discouraged from learning Nan Shu-"man's writing", i.e. Chinese written language; Nü Shu was therefore invented and used secretly, carefully guarded from men. Often, the characters were disguised as decorative marks or as part of artwork. Although Nü Shu has existed for centuries, it was not known to most of the world until 1983, due to the intense secrecy regarding the language.

Before the Cultural Revolution, it was customary to burn Nü Shu books during the author's funeral to comfort her in the next world. During the Cultural revolution, thousands of Nü Shu manuscripts were destroyed, due in part to the fear of secret languages and to the mission of Red Guards to destroy old cultures. As a result, few Nü Shu manuscripts survived.

After the Chinese Revolution, literacy spread among women, and Nü Shu fell into disuse. At present only a handful of old women are capable of reading it. After Yang Yueqing made a documentary about it, the PRC government started to popularize the effort to preserve this rare writing system.

Yang Huanyi, an inhabitant of Hunan province and the last person proficient in this writing system, passed away on September 23, 2004 at the age of 98.

please click on a journal below to view contents

[ journal one ]

[ journal two ]

[ journal three ]

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