Table of Contents

How to Open the Museum................................................................................................................................. 3

How to Close the Museum................................................................................................................................ 3

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MUSEUM............................................................................................................................... 4

The Museum Exhibit Room........................................................................................................................................................................................................ 4

The Reception Room..................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 4

The Activity Room......................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 4

OVERVIEW PANEL TEXT......................................................................................................................................... 5

Ancient Egyptian Papyrus................................................................................................................................ 7

Alphabetic Writing Systems Panel Texts................................................................................................... 8

SUMERIAN.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 8

Phoenecian......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 8

GREEK.................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 8

ROMAN.................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 8

HEBREW.............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 9

ARABIC................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 9

The Alphabet Tree........................................................................................................................................... 10

Asian team exhibits......................................................................................................................................... 11

Quiz Questions for Review.................................................................................................................................................................................................... 11

Answers and Sources................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 11

Exhibit room................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 12

Middle Room Panels................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 14

Ode to Plum in May.................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 14

Purple prayer fan...................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 14

Manga (Comic Books)............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 14

The Ohta Dohkan Story (doll in the glass case).................................................................................................................................................. 14

Logographic Writing Systems Panel Texts.............................................................................................. 15

Exhibit Room Japanese window display........................................................................................................................................................................ 15

Reception Room............................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 20

Second Shelf................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 20

Third shelf...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 20

Fourth Shelf.................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 20

Fifth Shelf....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 20

Activity Plans................................................................................................................................................... 21

Activity Room................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 21

Group A.............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 21

Group B.............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 21

Exhibit Room Activities........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 21

Group B.............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 21

Group A.............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 21

Activity Room Exhibits and Information................................................................................................. 22

CHINESE NUMBERS................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 22

Door Hangings............................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 23

Wall Art.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 23

Two Year of the Rat (current year) paintings..................................................................................................................................................... 23

Zodiac Animal Signs and Dates of Birth.................................................................................................... 25

History of China: Dynasties......................................................................................................................... 26

ANCIENT........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 26

IMPERIAL......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 26

MODERN............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 26


 


 

How to Open the Museum

 

1.     Unlock the outer door if it’s locked. To make it stay unlocked, push the latch into the slot while turning the key in the lock. Referring to the bottom of the key, turn it to 10:00 and let go of the latch. Turn the key back to 6:00 and pull it out. The latch should stay retracted so the door is unlocked.

2.     Unlock the office door. Make sure the bottom lock is undone (the handle should turn freely from the outside; to do this turn the button the inside of the handle so it pops out)

3.     Take key for exhibit hall from assigned location.

4.     Unlock exhibit hall. Replace key.

5.     Turn on power strip under first table. Turn on the computers and let them boot up. For Chinese powerpoint, open “Chinese PowerPoint” from Start menu: documents. Choose “Slide Show” then “View Show.” Adjust volume or turn on speakers if necessary. For the Font Changer game, click on the “A” in the task bar and open the program. For the Website, click on the shortcut on the desktop. If there is a third computer here, open the shortcut to the “menu” which will open up Firefox and allow visitors to browse all of the online presentations.

6.     Plug in and turn on the corner laptop with the Arabic powerpoint. Username nml / Password: password This computer is running on Linux. Click on the shortcut on the desktop to the Arabic Calligraphy powerpoint. When the program has opened, choose “Slide Show” and “View Show.”

7.     Turn on the lights in the hall. Put out the sign in front.

8.     In the reception room: Take out the donation jar from the drawer in the computer desk in the small office. Place it on the 2-level desk in the reception room by the sign about donations.

9.     Have visitors sign the guest book.

10. Divide large groups into two and have half go into activity room and then switch off with the other half after about 45 mins.

11. Follow instructions in this guide for how to do activities in either exhibit room or activity room

12. NOTE:When students come in, and someone has to go to the bathroom, there has to be an adult waiting outside the door to make sure they go into the bathroom and come back out.

13. When guiding visitors, ask which language(s) they are interested in. Point out the presentations available to them if we have them for the language(s). Make a not of suggestions they have for resources we should include.

14. Have fun!

How to Close the Museum

 

1.     Take in the sign from the front yard. Put it into the exhibit hall.

2.     Turn off computers in the exhibit hall. Switch off the power switch under the table.

3.     Empty the trash can and pick up any litter. Run the vacuum (in back of the door in the small office) if there is dirt on the carpet. Turn off light. Lock exhibit hall. Replace key in the box in drawer.

4.     Turn off the computer and the projector in the activity room. Press the button on top of the projector and wait until the fan stops to turn off on the side or by turning off the power strip. Turn off the lights in the activity room and the reception area. The light in the small office is against the far door that is not used.

5.     Empty the trash in the office. The outside trash can is where we are putting the trash.

6.     Put the donation jar into the drawer in the computer desk in the small office. Make sure both bathroom keys have been returned. They can be left on the table by the door of the reception area.

7.     Lock the office door using the deadbolt or top lock.

8.     Lock the outer door if it was locked when you came in (Saturday or Sunday).

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MUSEUM

(this is a handout for visitors)

The Museum is small but powerful in its delivery of information. It has three distinct areas:

·      The Museum Exhibit Room

·      The Reception Room

·      The Activity Room

The Museum Exhibit Room

The theme for the exhibit is: Writing Language: Passing It On. The left side of the room is devoted to the “Alphabetic Writing Systems “ as framed by six panels: one each for Sumerian, Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Hebrew, and Arabic. The back wall has an Alphabet Tree that traces all writings and language families.

The right wall refers to pictographic and logographic writing systems such as Chinese and Japanese, with a description of how Chinese culture and writing strongly influenced Japanese culture and writing.

The Reception Room

There are two book shelves with many objects and materials that give insight into the two major types of writing as well as language and culture. Browse over museum items on the two tables.

The Activity Room

This room focuses on expanding the visitors’ experience through hands-on activities. The Activity Room also has the permanent collection known as “The Allen Walker Read Library.” Visitors can watch a video, a presentation and play a quiz game about Chinese writing. The ‘Name Game’ here allows visitors to see their name printed in different alphabetic scripts. There are also materials for practicing Chinese and Japanese calligraphy.

 

WE HOPE YOU WILL ENJOY YOUR VISIT TO THE ‘NATIONAL MUSEUM OF LANGUAGE.

 

 

 


OVERVIEW PANEL TEXT

A Lasting Message

A writing system is a kind of symbolic system that uses visual elements to convey ideas. Through writing, a message may travel without the presence of its maker. This gives the message lasting impact and allows its transmission far and wide. Ideas carried in written messages can have a permanence that allows them to be used in certain specialized ways. Although many kinds of writing systems (like traffic signs) exist, in this exhibit we discuss writing systems that depict spoken languages. Writing systems of this kind were developed in many places in the world, including Asia, the Indian subcontinent, North Africa, Mesoamerica, and the Middle East. In this exhibit we consider two of these: the Middle East and Asia.

What do we know about early writing?

Writing has been in use for at least 5,000 years. The first full evidence of a writing system is Mesopotamian Cuneiform used by the Sumerians in what is now modern-day Iraq. Babylonians, Assyrians, and Hittites all made use of cuneiform writing. Earliest Sumerian writing was pictographic, meaning that symbols stood for objects, not specific words of a language. These forms evolved over time into ideographic forms, where symbols stood for concepts. So, for example, a picture of “stars” came to mean “night” and later, “darkness”. Over time these forms gradually became simplified into wedge-shaped, conventionalized markings that we call cuneiform (from Latin cuneus 'wedge') . The wedge-shaped characters of cuneiform were made in tablets of soft clay, then baked or left to harden. After centuries of use, cuneiform came to represent recorded spoken language.

Why do we write?

The use of writing allows people to store, preserve and communicate information as never before. As an instrument of power, it is unparalleled. These are some of the many ways that writing systems have been used:

        by law-makers and rulers to create edicts and establish nations,

        to carry the word of God,

       to arouse rebellions,

        to make peace,

        to express personal sentiments, humor, anguish, and love,

        for record-keeping; recording marriages, births, deaths, harvests, purchases, debts, wealth, and observations and descriptions of all kinds;

        to record what the writer did the day before,

        or, to record what the writer did not do,

        and to record what the writer thought of doing or dreamed about doing.

Sometimes the act of writing itself can be a religious or a political act.

In short, writing “spreads the word” by passing it on across great distances and between generations.

Two principal types: logographic and alphabetic writing systems.

Logographic systems, like Chinese, use a sign (a character, logogram or an ideogram) to represent an idea. Alphabetic systems, like Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin, use a sign to represent a sound. A minimal unit of sound that can be moved about is called a phoneme. Both logographic and alphabetic systems use the term morpheme to describe a minimal unit of meaning (the element of an idea, that can be moved about). A small number of characters can be rearranged to generate an infinite variety of texts. There are also syllabic writing systems, like Japanese and Cherokee, that use a symbol to represent a syllable. As these systems evolve and change over time, they often change types of systems. The most radical change sees a symbol standing for something bigger (a word, an idea), passing through something a little smaller (a syllable), and ending up just standing for a single sound!

The basic elements of writing systems are signs called characters (also graphemes, or glyphs) that together make up a script. In order to understand, read, or de-code a writing system, the reader must be able to recognize the shared rules and conventions that link a character to sound (the phoneme, for alphabetic writing systems) or to an idea (the character icon in logographic writing systems). This learning is done by repeated exposure to the forms, whether this is accomplished informally at home among family members, or formally, in a specialized learning setting, like a school.

Can all languages be written?

All human communities use language, but not all communities use writing. Of the 6,912 surveyed living languages in the world, many do not have written forms. Once they discover the significant sounds in any one of these languages, linguists can choose from among several different available writing systems to put that language into writing. Most of the time, the writing system chosen is one that's already being used in the region, which makes learning it a lot easier for the language's native speakers and other people who may need to use it.

Reading and writing are types of code-breaking. That’s what you are doing now in order to read this panel. Just think how many parts of your life would be missing if you could not read and write!

 

 


Ancient Egyptian Papyrus

This is to explain why we have a papyrus plant in the exhibit room.

From Minnesota State Mankato’s emuseum: http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/egypt/dailylife/papyrus.html

 

Papyrus was very important to the ancient Egyptians. It helped transform Egyptian society in many ways. Once the technology of papyrus making was developed, its method of production was kept secret allowing the Egyptians to have a monopoly on it. The first use of papyrus paper is believed to have been 4000 BC.

 

The raw material of papyrus paper comes from the plant Cyperus papyrus. This plant grew along the banks of the Nile and provided the Egyptians with the necessary raw materials. This plant was quite versatile and was not only used in the production of paper but it was also used in the manufacture of boats, rope and baskets. However, the singularly most important and valuable product was the papyrus paper. Not only was this ancient Egypt’s greatest export but it revolutionized the way people kept valuable information. No substitution for papyrus paper could be found that was as durable and lightweight until the development of pulped paper by the Arabs. The way of making pulp paper was far easier to produce but not as durable. This not only led to a decline in papyrus paper making, but also to a decline in the papyrus plant cultivation. Eventually, the papyrus plant disappeared from the area of the Nile, where it was once the lifeblood for ancient Egypt.

 

Papyrus making was not revived until around 1969. An Egyptian scientist named Dr. Hassan Ragab reintroduced the papyrus plant to Egypt and started a papyrus plantation near Cairo. He also had to research the method of production. Because the exact methods for making papyrus paper was such a secret, the ancient Egyptians left no written records as to the manufacturing process. Dr. Ragab finally figured out how it was done, and now papyrus making is back in Egypt after a very long absence.

 

The Method of Papyrus Paper Production

 

·        The stalks of the papyrus plant are harvested.

·        Next the green skin of the stalk is removed and the inner pith is taken out and cut into long strips. The strips are then pounded and soaked in water for 3 days until pliable.

·        The strips are then cut to the length desired and laid horizontally on a cotton sheet overlapping about 1 millimeter. Other strips are laid vertically over the horizontal strips resulting in the criss-cross pattern in papyrus paper. Another cotton sheet is placed on top.

·        The sheet is put in a press and squeezed together, with the cotton sheets being replaced until all the moisture is removed.

·        Finally, all the strips are pressed together forming a single sheet of papyrus paper.

·        Bibliography

 

Papyrus History http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Location/8761/papyrushistory.html

 

The Egyptian Papyrus http://www.beshay.com/paphist/html

 

Papyrus: Gift of the Nile http://menic.utexas.edu/menic/cmes/out/papyrus/papyrus.html


Alphabetic Writing Systems Panel Texts

SUMERIAN

An Early Writing System

Visible records of spoken language may have been used in many places over the world. We have some evidence, for example, of writing used in the ancient Indus Valley city of Harappa in the Indian subcontinent. Egyptian hieroglyphics were developed in North Africa. The most complete evidence we have for early writing, however, is from 5,000-6,000 years ago from the Sumerian cities of Southern Mesopotamia in present-day Iraq.

The Sumerians used reed pens (styluses) to draw pictograms (pictures used to symbolize a word or phrase) on soft clay tablets or on stone. The characteristic wedge-shape stroke gives name to this form of writing, which we call “cuneiform” after the Latin word cuneus, meaning “wedge.”

The earliest Sumerian tablets were drawn in vertical columns. In the middle of the third millennium the vertical presentation was abandoned and the writing system shifted to horizontal rows written left to right. The pictograms rotated 90o counter-clockwise in this process. The clay tablets could be recycled or they could be hardened by firing in ovens (kilns) to provide a permanent record.

From Pictograms to Phonograms

Pictograms depicted the names of gods, countries, cities, vessels, and grains and were probably used to keep track of trade and state matters. Over time, the signs began to communicate attributes of the object that were less concrete. For example, a picture of a night star could mean the star, or it could mean “dark.” About 3,000 years ago, the Sumerian peoples began to shift from a system of pictures to a system of sounds. Phonograms – signs that stand for sounds – could recommunicate many ideas. Evidence of an alphabetic writing system using cuneiform was found in Ras Shamra (Ugarit) but the use of pictograms and phonograms continued for many years.

Phoenecian

The Phoenicians, living along the Mediterranean coast where Lebanon is today, were one of the peoples that used the Semitic alphabet. This efficient alphabet had less than thirty signs that stood for sounds (phonemes). Like other Semitic alphabets, it did not include vowels. It was Phoenician traders, who traveled throughout the Mediterranean, that spread the Semitic alphabet to other peoples. Their alphabet became the basis for the Greek alphabet, from which Cyrillic evolved, and the Etruscan alphabet, from which the Roman alphabet evolved.

 

GREEK

Around the 8th century B.C.E. Greek writers adapted the Phoenician alphabet to their own language. In doing so, they incorporated new letters, including symbols for vowels. This resulted in the first 24 letter alphabet.

In early Greek writing examples, writing flowed either from left to right or from right to left. Some early

Greek writing displays writing in a back and forth manner or in a circular format.

When Athens became the primary city-state authority, writing was standardized. Letter shapes, the direction of writing and the direction letters faced became uniform. Writing from left to right was chosen as the best form to utilize. It is what has been passed down to us.

 

ROMAN

The Roman or Latin alphabet was developed in central Italy from a version of the Greek alphabet around 650 B.C.E. The expansion of the Roman Empire and the spread of Christianity brought the writing systems to Europe, and was adapted to Latin (Romance), Germanic, Celtic, and Baltic languages.

Like Arabic and Chinese writing systems, the Roman alphabet has been adapted to hundreds of different languages around the world. Letters from the Roman alphabet used to write the sounds in Russian, Cyrillic, and Cherokee are also found in this exhibit.

The International Phonetic Alphabet, based on the Roman alphabet, was devised by linguists to facilitate communication and the forming of alphabets for languages still unwritten today.

HEBREW

An ancient form of the Hebrew alphabet was used by Semitic peoples as early as 1000 B.C.E. Fragments showing an early form of Hebrew containing the Five Books of Moses from the Old Testament (also known as the Torah) were found on vellum scrolls known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, dating up to 70 C.E.

Full usage of Hebrew, as a spoken language, ceased in Jerusalem around the 2nd century C. E. when the Jews were exiled. A late 19th century movement led to the revival of Hebrew as a secular, spoken language, replacing the languages of the Diaspora (Yiddish in Western Europe and Ladino in North Africa and Western Asia.) In 1948, Hebrew became the official language of the new state of Israel.

Written Hebrew had continued in use as the basis of religious texts and was used in prayer, ritual and study. Changes in the script were influenced over time by various writing materials, ornamentation copied from other manuscripts, and rabbinic rules. The writing of the Torah, for example, follows strict canons. It may only be copied onto vellum by scribes who use a style known as ‘ketah merubba,’ where each letter is drawn an almost perfect square. Today the Hebrew alphabet is distinguished for its rounded style and the varying thickness of horizontal and upright pen strokes. Vowel sounds are indicated by dots and lines above and below the consonants, but they are not required.

 

ARABIC

Arabic is one of the world’s most widely used alphabetic systems. A Semitic script based on Sumerian, it first appeared in the region of modern-day Jordan about 500 B.C.E. The Arabic alphabet has 28 basic letters that are written from right to left. Like most Semitic alphabets, the letters represent consonants -- stops in the flow of breath. Each letter has variations that depend upon its location in the word. Vowels are shown by markings near the consonants.

With the expansion of Islam in the 7th century, the Arabic language and script were spread across great distances. Since the Qu’ran, the Holy Book of Islam, carries the word of Allah, Islamic law requires that it be reproduced only in the original language. As a result, Arabic script today is used to write many languages, including ones that are not Semitic such as Persian and Azerbaijani in Iran; Uyghur and Kazakh in China; Kurdish in Iraq; Urdu in Pakistan, and many others. In order to accurately write these languages, adjustments were made to the original Arabic alphabet, including new letters and symbols.

Arabic script has been carried to a high art in religious and secular expression. A block style, known as Kufic, is especially prominent in architecture, while other more cursive styles have been shaped to create artistic images known as calligrams.


 

The Alphabet Tree

 

1. All alphabets have common roots in the picture writing of the Ancient Near East as we see on the main trunk of the alphabet tree. These, though not alphabetic, led to the first alphabet, the Semitic.

Chinese, on the right, is not alphabetic.  Today's writing systems are represented as the final fruit at the top of the alphabet tree. The original Semitic Alphabet on the main trunk divides into two major branches: the early Greek, which gave Europe its alphabets and the Aramaic from which Asian alphabets came.

 

2.  We try to help children understand that a true alphabet is a series of symbols for sounds. We call the non-alphabetic writing characters or pictographic writing.

 

3.  A lot of people say "you don't have my language here" and we say "maybe not ,but we have your writing system."

 

4.  Lots of people ask about the blank pieces.  Nothing was ever on those. They just help fill out the tree.

 

From LaDonna Mann, of the Museum of the Alphabet, Waxhaw, NC


Asian team exhibits

 

Prior to the students’ arrival

 

The students are given sheets with questions in advance by their teacher (every student should have five questions to answer) and a numbers sheet as well.

Note: Non-students get no such list

 

The docent should have a copy of the answers to the students’ questions and the numbers sheet and should also have copies of the Cherokee syllabary as a giveaway. DOCENTS SHOULD HELP THE STUDENTS FIND THE ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS

Quiz Questions for Review

After going through the exhibit you should be able to answer these questions. Test your knowledge in the activity room!

 

  1. What are Chinese written symbols called?
  2. Chinese is written in how many directions?
  3. The first Chinese was written on what kind of bone?
  4. What type of pen is needed for calligraphy?
  5. 2008 is the year of what animal in China?

 

6. A straight line is what number in Chinese?

7. What is Pinyin?

8. What determines the length of a Chinese book?

9. How many people can write in Chinese?

10. What other languages use Chinese characters?

Answers and Sources

1. What are Chinese written symbols called?

Answer: Characters

Source: Power Point

 

2. Chinese is written in how many directions?

Answer: Three (Vertical, Right to Left, Horizontal Right to Left and Horizontal Left to Right)

Source: Power Point

 

3. The first Chinese was written on what kind of bone?

Answer: Oracle

Source: Game

 

4. What type of pen is needed for calligraphy?

Answer: Brush

Source: Power Point

 

5. 2008 is the year of what animal in China?

Answer: Rat

Source: Docent and Paintings

 

6. A straight line is what number in Chinese?

Answer: One

Source: Hand-Out

 

7. What is Pinyin?

Answer: Chinese Romanization system

Source: Game

 

8. What determines the length of a Chinese book?

Answer: The total number of Chinese characters

Source: Power Point

 

9. How many people can write in Chinese?

Answer: A Billion

Source: First window display

 

10. What other languages use Chinese characters?

Answer: Korean and Japanese

Source: Power Point

 

Exhibit room

 

Chinese table (table on right nearest the door):

 

There is a calligraphy book provided by Jin Lan (team member). The major activity for the Chinese table is the power point, which runs non-stop—it will answer most, but not all, of the students’ questions. Students will gather around the power point I suspect to watch it

 

There are two computers. The first one by the door has the NML website and the Font-Changer program. Visitors can enter their name, hit enter, and see their name in Arabic, Assyrian, Hebrew, and Punjabi.

 

Glass container (located between Chinese and Japanese table)

 

Top glass shelf items (courtesy of Joseph Page)

 

1. Buddha

2. Liaohe Oil Field Dish

 

2nd glass shelf items (courtesy of Jin Lan)

 

1.   Fan

2.   Brushwriting Set

a.   inkbox

b.   brush pen

c.    inkstone

d.   brush pen holder

e.   paper

 

3rd glass shelf items (courtesy of Gregory Nedved)

 

1.   Coke Bottle

2.   Cartoon Book (Blondie)

3.   Poker Deck

4.   Money ($60)

 

Bottom glass shelf items

 

1. Calendar (courtesy of Jin Lan)

2. Turtle Dragon (courtesy of Jin Lan)

3. Two Bookmarkers (courtesy of Gregory Nedved)

 

 

FIRST WINDOW PANEL (on right, nearest the door):

1.   The children are second graders in the Chinese Immersion Program at College Gardens Elementary School and they are students of Plutus Yang.  Visitors will be able to see them in the short video in the Activity Room, too.

2.   The photo was taken in Shenzhen, China, by Paul Colombini, (of Olney, MD - he's now a student at American University in Washington DC) and here is his caption for it:

At the center of Shenzhen is beautiful Liqi Park, whose traditional pavilions surround a stunning man-made lake.

During the day the park is inhabited by retired people, who spend their time chatting, drinking tea, practicing traditional Chinese instruments, and writing poems on the sidewalk with a wet rag.

(said panel courtesy of Debra Keift, Greg Nedved and Jill Robbins)


Middle Room Panels

 

Said translation was provided by Jin Lan from our group.

 

Gist: The flower blossoming in May brought many famous people to the scene of the painting in 1661. The author of the painting is Wang Hui (pronounced Whoway), who painted the event 50 years later

The below translation of the Chinese in the painting was provided by team member Jin Lan.

 

Ode to Plum in May

By Wang Hui (1632-1717)

 

The former residence of Mr. Fangzhou, a scholar, was located by a stream, and the Fragrant Blue Jade pavilion was nearby. The place was famous for its dense trees , and a big plum tree stood in front of the pavilion. The flowers blossomed in May; they attracted many celebrities who came and wrote poems praising the beautiful flowers. This happened in the year of 1661, more than 50 years ago. Now I draw a picture of that time. This renowned place had attracted me; I was overcome by the beautiful scenery, and have written much about it. May 1714, Wang Hui.

 

(said panel courtesy of Debra Keift, Greg Nedved and Jin Lan)

 

Japanese table (table closest to the wall)

 

Purple prayer fan

Buddhist scriptures are written in kanji with hiragana added as an aid to pronunciation. The small characters used in this way are called furigana.

Manga (Comic Books)

Japanese comic books are called manga, which translates as “whimsical pictures.” Children and adults in Japan all read manga, which are immensely popular: in 2007 manga publication amounted to a 3.7 billion dollar industry. Topics range from stories about everyday people, to superheroes, to serious issues such as economics.

Some manga are serialized, like soap operas, and appear weekly, with many different stories collected in thick volumes like these. The most popular of these is Weekly Shonen Jump, which sells 3 million copies a week and is available in English.

The Ohta Dohkan Story (doll in the glass case)

The doll displayed here portrays a youthful Ohta Dohkan in samurai garb. A renaissance man of his time, his story illustrates the continuing influence of Chinese culture in Japan, some 1000 years after the writing system was introduced.

Born in 1432, Ohta Dohkan was a fearless warrior and brilliant military tactician who became one of the most powerful lords in the Kanto area. In 1457 he built Chiyoda-jo castle in Edo, now Tokyo, and is considered a founding father of that city. The structure, which was expanded during the Tokugawa shogunate, became part of the Imperial Palace in 1868.

Once when caught in a storm, Dohkan stopped by a farmer’s cottage and asked a young girl if she might lend him a raincoat. Without speaking, she answered by unfolding a fan decorated with a yellow rose. Confused, he asked a retainer what was meant by this strange gesture. The rose, he was told, referred to an old Chinese poem. A line in that poem was a pun for the Japanese phrase, “We have no raincoat”.

This incident made Ohta Dohkan ashamed that he had neglected his schooling in his youth, and he immediately resolved to change his ways. Pouring himself into his studies, he eventually became famous as a composer of waka verse, and is remembered today for his poetry as much as for his exploits as a warrior.

In 1486 Ohta Dohkan was falsely accused of disloyalty to his lord, and was killed by a jealous rival. He lies buried in Isehara City, south of Tokyo, where an annual festival his held in his memory.

Logographic Writing Systems Panel Texts

Exhibit Room Japanese window display

PASSING IT ON: FROM CHINA TO JAPAN

 

It is difficult to imagine a more clear and graphic example of how written language carries with it the seeds of cultural change, than the case of Japanese.

BACKGROUND

For most of its history, Japan was a hunting and gathering culture comprised of numerous clan groups that moved about according to the seasonal ripening of wild foodstuffs and the migration of animals which they hunted.

---

 

Wet rice cultivation, introduced from China, made the advance of civilization possible in Japan.

---

Things began to change in about 300 BCE, when the cultivation of rice was introduced from China. As rice provides a near perfect diet when combined with small amounts of vegetables and meat or fish protein, this great innovation transformed Japanese society. People stayed in one place and built permanent structures. The population grew, and labor became divided and specialized. Cooperation was required for the task of constructing rice paddies and irrigation systems, the terracing of hillsides, and the laying out of roads for trade.

 

Traditional Shinto Shrine Architecture

 

Land became a valuable commodity, and the various clan groups competed for its control. Over time the Yamato clan, in the area around present day Osaka, became dominant.

 

WE NEED TO WRITE THIS DOWN!

 

The Japanese spoken language, quite distinct from Chinese and other Asian tongues, had no writing system. By the 5th century CE, its society had grown in complexity to the point where the inability to record laws, events, and transactions became a severe handicap. It was natural for the Japanese to seek knowledge from their neighbor to the west, which had been recording events for thousands of years. Beginning in 413 and continuing for some 300 years, numerous diplomatic missions were dispatched to China. Scribes and scholars were brought back to Japan from China and the Korean peninsula to teach the writing system.

 

IT WASN’T JUST THE WRITING

 

The effect was revolutionary. To think in current terms, imagine the impact on an isolated yet otherwise sophisticated society in today’s world that suddenly learned about radio and TV, computers and video games, cars and rocket science, all at the same time.

 

Buddhist influence on Japanese Architecture

 

The Japanese went crazy for everything Chinese. With the writing came a great interest in Chinese literature. Chinese architectural styles replaced or were incorporated into the old styles. Chinese styles of painting, sculpture, music and drama became popular. Political organization was changed to reflect the ideals of Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher. The regent Prince Shotoku (574 – 622) put forth the first constitution, based on Confucian principals, adopted the Chinese calendar, and established the first Buddhist monastery near the then capital of Nara. In 794 a new capital was established at Kyoto, modeled on the Chinese city of Chang’an, where the influence of Chinese language, culture, and technology continued to grow. Naturally, Japanese vocabulary grew as these new ideas and concepts were introduced.

 

While it is certain that the Japan of today, like the spoken language, is quite different from China, it is impossible to understand current Japanese thought and behavior without knowledge of the profound influence that came along when the Chinese writing system was introduced.

 

THE JAPANESE ADAPT

 

Using the Chinese characters to write the Japanese language presented some problems. There are words and inflections (word endings) in Japanese that do not exist in Chinese. Some of the characters, therefore, were employed to represent meaning, while others were used to represent sound only. Many people found this compromise to be cumbersome and difficult to learn.

 

These difficulties were solved with the invention of two systems of kana, phonetic symbols derived from the kanji Chinese characters, which represent the 46 basic vowels and syllables in the Japanese spoken language. The term kana itself means “non-regular writing”. The great Japanese Buddhist saint, Kobo Daishi (774 – 835), is often credited with the invention of this system. This is probably more legend than fact.

 

The katakana symbols, which are angular in nature, are pieces of kanji characters used to represent phonetic sounds. Kata means “partial” or “not whole”. These were originally developed by students in Buddhist monasteries, who used them as mnemonic devices to help them remember the prayers and scriptures they were required to recite.

 

---

u

 

te

ku

 

 

ko

 

 

The images shown here have the current katakana character on the left, and the Chinese character on the right, showing the part in grey that became a katakana character.

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The hiragana symbols are abbreviations of whole characters, used to represent sounds. Hira, in this case, means “easy” or “rounded”. These were originally considered a “female hand”, as it was thought that the kanji characters were too difficult for women to learn. The women got the last laugh in this regard, as the first novel in recorded history, The Tale of Genji, was written in hiragana by a Japanese woman, and it was not long before its use became universally accepted, even for writing Chinese poetry.

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Hiragana as abbreviated Kanji

Hiragana developed from man'yōgana, Chinese characters used for their pronunciations, a practice which started in the 5th century. The forms of the hiragana originate from the cursive script style of Chinese calligraphy. The figure below shows the derivation of hiragana from man'yōgana via cursive script. The upper part shows the character in the regular script form, the center character in red shows the cursive script form of the character, and the bottom shows the equivalent hiragana.

a to no

 

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MODERN JAPANESE WRITING

 

In the Japanese writing of today, all three systems are used in combination.

 

Most nouns, verbs, and adjectives are written with kanji characters, while hiragana is used for the endings of these words to show tense. Hiragana is also used for grammatical particles (similar to prepositions), and for certain terms that do not have a kanji equivalent. Katakana is generally reserved for words of foreign origin. Roman letters are occasionally used for this purpose as well. Katakana is also employed for sound effects and onomatopoetic expressions, scientific terms, and botanical names. All three systems may be found in a single sentence.

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This sample shows how the different writing systems are combined in a Japanese sentence.

Word boundaries are indicated in the line below by a dash. Japanese sentences do not usually contain a space between words.

Kanji – hiragana – kanji – hiragana – katakana – hiragana – katakana- hiragana

田中さんは日本人です。スミスさんはアメリカ人です。

Word for word transliteration:

Tanaka – Mr. – [subject particle] – Japanese - person – is. Smith – Mr. – [subject particle] – American – person – is.

Translation: Mr. Tanaka is Japanese. Mr. Smith is an American.

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Kanji, hiragana, katakana, and Roman letters are all used to advertize the "Sun Aloha" Hawaiian restaurant

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While the number of kanji characters may approach as many as 50,000, the Japanese government has designated 1,945 of them for daily use. Some of these are peculiar to the Japanese language. Most were introduced from China, and will have one or more on or Chinese readings as well as kun or Japanese readings, depending on the context.

 

While this may appear a bit complicated, students new to Japanese generally find the kana scripts easy to master, and discover that the logic of the writing system reveals itself with further study.

 

 


Reception Room

First Bookshelf is Japanese / Second is Semitic Languages

Top Shelf:

In the signatures of the sumo wrestlers, Chionofuji and Konnishiki, both the kanji (Chinese Character) and hiragana forms of Japanese script can be seen.

 

Second Shelf

·      Japanese student’s calligraphy set including suzuri (inkstone); fude (brush); sumi (ink stick) and water bottle for making ink; paperweight, and liquid ink.

·      Writing pads: Used under the rice paper to create a smooth writing surface. Paper is held down by a paperweight, as shown in the photo.

·      Pocket calligraphy set.

·      Hanko: personal signature stamps. In Japan, documents are stamped rather than signed, using carved seals called hanko. The larger seal is registered with the government and used for signing contracts and other important documents. The smaller, or pocket hanko, is for everyday use, such as signing for packages, interoffice memos, etc.

Third shelf

·      Along with written language, many aspects of the Chinese culture were transferred to Japan. The Japanese folk tale, Momotaro, or ‘Peach Boy,’ teaches children loyalty, filial piety, and other ethical principles taught by the Chinese philosopher, Confucius.

·      Note that the Japanese version is written entirely in the hiragana script for the benefit of young readers who have not learned sufficient kanji.

Fourth Shelf

·      Chinese laquerware: multiple coats of lacquer are painted onto an object and a design is carved into the lacquer. In Japanese lacquer, the design is carved into wood, which is then coated with multiple coats of lacquer for protection.

Fifth Shelf

These are some books for learners of Japanese. One explains onomatopoetic words through the use of drawings.

 


Activity Plans

Activity Room

Larger groups of students will be divided in to two groups. Group A will go into the Activity Room first. Group B will go into the Exhibit room first. After about 45 minutes the groups should switch.

Group A

1. Docent discusses wall art and oracle bones, numbers handout (Chinese numbers)

2. Chinese Powerpoint (Jenny Gao) (5)

3. Video of writing Chinese (3 mins) (Plutus Yang – kids)

4. Practicing Chinese Calligraphy on Magic paper (take home paper explained) (5)

5. Flash quiz (5)

6. Font Changer for names (during calligraphy practice)

Group B

1. Docent discusses wall art and oracle bones, numbers handout (Chinese numbers)

2. Video of writing Chinese (3 mins)

3. Practicing Chinese Calligraphy on Magic paper (take home paper explained) (5)

4. Font Changer for names (during calligraphy practice) (5)

5. Flash quiz (5 -10) (multiple times)

Hand7.gifExhibit Room Activities

Group B

1. Hand cassette recorder player – saying hello in various languages (5)

2. Chinese Powerpoint (5)

3. Japanese Book Bag (5)

4. Touring exhibit (5)

Group A

1. Hand cassette recorder player – saying hello in various languages (5)

2. Find Katakana characters in Manga (Comics)

Or Play jan – ken - pon (rock – paper - scissors)

Paper covers Rock

Rock breaks Scissors

Scissors cut paper (5)

3. Japanese Book Bag (5)

4. Touring exhibit (5)


Activity Room Exhibits and Information

CHINESE NUMBERS

This is how some of the Chinese numbers are written.

English

Chinese Character

Romanization (use the tone marks for intonation)

one

two

èr

three

sān

four

five

six

liù

seven

eight

nine

jiǔ

ten

shí

hundred

băi

thousand

qiān

ten thousand

wàn

one hundred million

亿

zero

líng

 

HUNDRED MILLIONS

TEN THOUSANDS

THOUSANDS

HUNDREDS

TENS

ONES

亿

 


How the numbers are put together:

十三 13

六十九 69

一百五十三 153

八千七百 8,700

二万八千九百七十七 28, 977

十万 100,000

四亿 400,000,000

六百零九 609


 

Door Hangings

Objects, courtesy of Joe Page, are the Year of the Pig and the Year of the Rat (the current year)

Wall Art

 

Two samples of early Chinese writing (both have text);

The Shang Dynasty was 1700-1030 BCE; Items courtesy of Debra Keift, Yale University, Jin Lan, Greg Nedved

 

Oracle Bones: To communicate with their ancestors, the Shang kings (from 1600 BCE to 1100 BCE) used oracle bones (sometimes called dragon bones).

Here's how it worked: The king or emperor would ask a question, for example, will it rain tomorrow? The priest would carve the king's question on an oracle bone, which was just an animal bone or turtle shell. (Will it rain tomorrow?) Then, the priest would heat a bronze pin and hold the hot pin to the bone. This created a pattern of cracks over the bone. The priest (who was usually a woman) would study the cracks to find the answer to the question.

Archaeologists have found over 100,000 oracle bones. Since many questions were asked about daily life, we know something about this civilization. The thing is, they didn't exactly ask "Will it rain tomorrow?" Oracle bones say things like: "If we sacrifice 10 men or 5 oxen, will it rain tomorrow?"

The Shang kings sacrificed a great number of people to talk to their ancestors. Some of those sacrificed were enemies, captured in war. Some were slaves or people who were sick or deformed. Some were merchants, craftsmen, or farmers who had upset the nobles. Some were nobles who had upset the king.

From Ancient China for Kids http://china.mrdonn.org/oraclebones.html

Two Year of the Rat (current year) paintings

(1) Rat Sitting on Turnip

 

Gist: Congratulations for the Chinese New Years (the Year of the Rat)

Literal translations below (provided by team-member Jenny Gao):

 

Spring tides spread happy messages
Year of the Rat reports good news
January 2008

Congratulate New Happiness

Year of the Rat

 

The rat is an auspicious animal, a symbol of life reproduction; the oil lamp is a traditional appliance, use of the carrot and turnip brings color to the painting; the painting is the work of Jenny’s mother.

 

(2) Western and Eastern Rats

 

Gist: The Chinese mouse (Eastern) plays the flute while Mickey Mouse (Western) plays the trumpet; magpies sing in the background

 

Four literal translations below (provided by Jenny Gao):

 

1.   With unbounded happiness

 

2.   In midnight hearing the soughing of wind in pines

 

3.   Year of the rat smelling the fragrance over the singing of magpies

 

4.   Aiqing painted in Maryland. (Aiqing is Jenny’s mother)

 

The painting is centered with a large seal character of a "mouse;” a small mouse plays a traditional Chinese musical instrumentthe bamboo flute, while Mickey Mouse plays a Western instrument—the trumpet. This embodies Eastern cultures and Western cultures coexisting in harmony in the Year of the Rat.


Zodiac Animal Signs and Dates of Birth

 

rat

Rat

ox

Ox

tiger

Tiger

01/24/1936 - 02/10/1937
02/10/1948 - 01/28/1949
01/28/1960 - 02/14/1961
02/15/1972 - 02/02/1973
02/02/1984 - 02/19/1985
02/19/1996 - 02/06/1997
02/07/2008 - 01/25/2009

02/11/1937 - 01/30/1938
01/29/1949 - 02/16/1950
02/15/1961 - 02/04/1962
02/03/1973 - 01/22/1974
02/20/1985 - 02/08/1986
02/07/1997 - 01/27/1998
01/26/2009 - 02/13/2010

01/31/1938 - 02/18/1939
02/17/1950 - 02/05/1951
02/05/1962 - 01/24/1963
01/23/1974 - 02/10/1975
02/09/1986 - 01/28/1987
01/28/1998 - 02/15/1999

rabbit

Rabbit

dragon

Dragon

snake

Snake

02/19/1939 - 02/07/1940
02/06/1951 - 01/26/1952
01/25/1963 - 02/12/1964
02/11/1975 - 01/30/1976
01/29/1987 - 02/16/1988
02/16/1999 - 02/04/2000

02/08/1940 - 01/26/1941
01/27/1952 - 02/13/1953
02/13/1964 - 02/01/1965
01/31/1976 - 02/17/1977
02/17/1988 - 02/05/1989
02/05/2000 - 01/23/2001



01/27/1941 - 02/14/1942
02/14/1953 - 02/02/1954
02/02/1965 - 01/20/1966
02/18/1977 - 02/06/1978
02/06/1989 - 01/26/1990
01/24/2001 - 02/11/2002


horse

Horse

sheep

Sheep

monkey

Monkey

02/15/1942 - 02/04/1943
02/03/1954 - 01/23/1955
01/21/1966 - 02/08/1967
02/07/1978 - 01/27/1979
01/27/1990 - 02/14/1991
02/12/2002 - 01/31/2003

02/05/1943 - 01/24/1944
01/24/1955 - 02/11/1956
02/09/1967 - 01/29/1968
01/28/1979 - 02/15/1980
02/15/1991 - 02/03/1992
02/01/2003 - 01/21/2004

01/25/1944 - 02/12/1945
02/12/1956 - 01/30/1957
01/30/1968 - 02/16/1969
02/16/1980 - 02/04/1981
02/04/1992 - 01/22/1993
01/22/2004 - 02/08/2005


rooster

Rooster

dog

Dog

boar

Boar

02/13/1945 - 02/01/1946
01/31/1957 - 02/17/1958
02/17/1969 - 02/05/1970
02/05/1981 - 01/24/1982
01/23/1993 - 02/09/1994
02/09/2005 - 01/28/2006

02/02/1946 - 01/21/1947
02/18/1958 - 02/07/1959
02/06/1970 - 01/26/1971
01/25/1982 - 02/12/1983
02/10/1994 - 01/30/1995
01/29/2006 - 02/17/2007

01/22/1947 - 02/09/1948
02/08/1959 - 01/27/1960
01/27/1971 - 02/14/1972
02/13/1983 - 02/01/1984
01/31/1995 - 02/18/1996
02/18/2007 - 02/06/2008

 

 

 

 


 

History of China: Dynasties

ANCIENT

3 Sovereigns and 5 Emperors

Xia Dynasty 2100–1600 BC

Shang Dynasty 1600–1046 BC

Zhou Dynasty 1122–256 BC

Western Zhou

Eastern Zhou

Spring and Autumn Period

Warring States Period

IMPERIAL

Qin Dynasty 221 BC–206 BC

Han Dynasty 206 BC–220 AD

Western Han

Xin Dynasty

Eastern Han

Three Kingdoms 220–280

Wei, Shu & Wu

Jin Dynasty 265–420

Western Jin

Eastern Jin

16 Kingdoms 304–439

Southern & Northern Dynasties 420–589

Sui Dynasty 581–619

Tang Dynasty 618–907

( Second Zhou 690–705 )

5 Dynasties & 10 Kingdoms 907–960

Liao Dynasty 907–1125

Song Dynasty 960–1279

Northern Song             W. Xia Dyn.

Southern Song             Jin Dyn.

Yuan Dynasty 1271–1368

Ming Dynasty 1368–1644

Qing Dynasty 1644–1911

MODERN

Republic of China 1912–1949

People's Republic of China 1949–present

Republic of China (on Taiwan) 1945-present