Chinese Oracle Bone Inscriptions 6. Chinese Oracle Bone and Tortoise Shell Inscriptions

Three Kinds of Archaic Graphs and their Transitions
to Modern Characters

Top Row: Complex single-element graphs whose modern parallels are direct descendants of archaic forms.

Middle Row: Simple multiple-element graphs lacking modern equivalents.

Bottom Row: Complex multi-element graphs with either modern descendants or equivalents.

On to Calligraphy 7 ⇨

Return to Chinese Language Choices

The archaic characters on tortoise shells and oracle bones were presumably originally derived from pictographs, but in many cases formalization has already made many of them difficult or impossible to interpret in a pictorial sense.