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June 28, 2016

Manchu in Peril

Manchu, the language of the ruling emperor of China’s Qing dynasty, is nearly extinct. While efforts are under way to revive the language, it is a far cry from the time that official documents were written in the Manchu script rather than in Chinese characters. Manchu uses a phonetic alphabet that bears many resemblances to Syriac, or Kufic-style Arabic, script, but which is written vertically down the page. In type format the appearance is closer to Arabic, but when written with a brush, the calligrapher can follow much of the aesthetic of Chinese calligraphy | For more read the article on the state of the language today.

 

In the archive document below, the script on the left is Chinese characters; on the right is the Manchu script, written out in calligraphic style.manchu