Art of the Ancient World, C. 5000 B.c.e.–400 C.E.

Art of Ancient China

How are Chinese characters formed?

Rather than referring to sounds like the English alphabet, the letters of the Chinese alphabet refer to entire words or ideas. These are called characters, or calligraphs. Like Near Eastern cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs, some Chinese characters started out as pictographs, which means the character resembles what it depicts. The Chinese language is extremely visual in that the form of the language also denotes meaning, and this made a major impact on Chinese art throughout history.


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