National Museum of Chinese Characters to be Built


The following is an exciting piece of news for those of us in the

profession of teaching Chinese. Prof. Wang Yunzhi of Zhengzhou University,

who proposed and initiated the project, contributed an article about the

museum to CLTA-GNY's journal last year. If you missed that article, please

see attached. Another article he sent at the same time is also attached.


Archive on Chinese language approved

China Daily (2005-06-29)


Plans to build the first national museum dedicated to Chinese language

characters in the famous Yin Ruins, where oracle bone inscriptions China's

earliest writing were found, are proceeding well.


Approval by the State Cultural Heritage Administration has been given and

land requisition and architectural designs are underway, said Duan

Zhenmei, director of Cultural Relics Department of Anyang city.


The museum will cover an area of 20 hectares, with 30,000 square metres of

exhibition space and is expected to be completed in three to five years,

at a cost of 300 million yuan (about US$36 million).


The decision to build a museum dedicated to language characters came after

a proposal submitted in March by 25 members of the Chinese People's

Political Consultative Conference, the country's top advisory body.


The proposal stated that Chinese language characters were unique and as

such deserving of special recognition through the provision of a national

museum for their collection, preservation and display.


The oracle bone inscriptions, the earliest known Chinese characters, date

from the late Shang (also known as the Yin) Dynasty (BC1600-1100).


They were first discovered in 1899 in Anyang, famous for the Yin Ruins,

about five hours south of Beijing by train.


Since that initial find, more than 150,000 oracle items have been

discovered in the Yin Ruins, the capital of the late Shang Dynasty.


Recording harvests, astronomical phenomena, worship and wars during the

dynasty, many of the inscriptions on tortoise shells and animal bones have

since been scattered around the world.


The ancient script, mostly composed pictographs, is so different in form

from latter-day Chinese writing that only a few experts can understand it.