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Zhejiang scholar spends 28 years studying oracle bone inscriptions

ezhejiang.gov.cn| Updated: November 29, 2021 L M S


Chen Nianfu's 10-volume work on oracle bone inscriptions [Photo/zjol.com.cn]

Chen Nianfu, an ancient Chinese language professor at Zhejiang Normal University, recently published a reference book on oracle bone inscriptions, revealing the beauty of their shape, manner, and sound to readers.

Chen, who has been studying oracle bone inscriptions for 28 years, took around two decades to complete the 10-volume series which has a whopping 19.2 million characters. The compiling of the book was sponsored by the National Social Science Fund of China.

Oracle bone inscriptions refer to ancient Chinese texts that were written on animal bones and turtle shells more than 3,000 years ago. Wang Yirong (1845-1900), a scholar and antiquarian, first noticed the inscriptions in 1899. Oracle bone inscriptions have been hailed as a major discovery that has advanced the recorded history of Chinese civilization by more than 1,000 years.

Chinese scholars have so far identified more than 4,000 individual characters from oracle bone inscriptions and figured out the meanings of 1,500 of them.

Chen said that his book might be helpful in helping the younger generation research oracle bone inscriptions and decipher more secrets embedded within.


Three Chinese characters from oracle bone inscriptions which mean "the Chinese people". [Photo/zjol.com.cn]