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Nü Shu A Womens Writing System By Kristen Skipper.

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Presentation on theme: "Nü Shu A Womens Writing System By Kristen Skipper."— Presentation transcript:

1 Nü Shu A Womens Writing System By Kristen Skipper

2 What is Nü Shu ? Where did Nü Shu occur? Why did Nü Shu occur? Sworn Sisterhoods and Old Sames Nü Shu Language Structure Nü Shu Themes Preserving Nü Shu

3 Nü Shu is: Women's Script, as it is known to its practitioners Used by peasant women in remote villages in Jiang Yong county, Hunan province in China A phonetic script quite distinct from Chinese character script A written version of the local spoken dialect Photo - Xinhua News Agency

4 Source of Nü Shu Hunan Province Jiang Yong Prefecture

5 Why Did Nü Shu Develop? Narrowness of a womans life Strength of sworn sisterhoods Foot binding Need for self-expression Lack of male objection

6 NüShu, Sworn Sisterhood, and Old Sames Sworn sisterhoods: Seven girls sworn after foot binding (around 10 years old) Remained united until the first girl married then sisterhood was dissolved Old Sames: Two girls with seven matching characteristics Life-long bond Kristen Skipper collection

7 The design of the houses in Jiang Yong (unlike Han houses) encouraged women to gather and socialize. Photo by Orie Endo

8 Historical Origins of Nu Shu Predates the oracle-bone inscriptions of the Shang Dynasty (16th -11th century BC ). Official writing of the Yi (ancient name for tribes in the east of China) Remnant of a 4,000-year-old language stamped out elsewhere by the first emperor of China, Qin Shihuang. A concubine of an emperor of the Song dynasty ( ), who embroidered the secret script on handkerchiefs to write to sisters and friends outside the court. Recent researchers consider NüShu a result of a hybrid Yao-Han culture. Main Theories: Photo by Orie Endo

9 Surfaced during the 1960s Cultural Revolution buried it Chinese Intellectual interest revived in the 1980s Chinese Government support for the past decade Nü Shus Emergence in National Consciousness Miss Tian 1921 – Kristen Skipper collection

10 Nü Shu Structure Nü Shu has between 1,800 and 2,500 characters, each representing a syllable of the local dialect. Written top to bottom, right to left One character per sound – the character for father fu is the same as the character for woman fu. The character wang (king) also represents other wang-sounding words such as garden or whole. Photo by Orie Endo

11 Phonetic rather than logographic Nü Shu is linguistically significant for its simplification of the Chinese writing system Nü Shu Structure Photo by Orie Endo

12 The passage roughly translates as "They taught her to apply makeup and comb her hair; on her head she was wearing pearls that are shining magnificently; she is sitting like Guanyin (a Buddhist goddess) out of a Buddhist shrine". There are obvious similarities between Nü Shu and Mandarin characters.

13 Most works use rhyming, seven-syllable lines Expressions of independence and frustration with men Sorrow at the loneliness of married life Stories in which female characters had active roles and won victories through piety and fortitude. Nü Shu Content

14 San Chao Shu were decorated in ink or paper cutouts Both sides of the first three pages would be filled with songs written for the bride leaving the village The rest were left blank for the bride to write on. Nü Shu Content Wedding 1922 – Kristen Skipper collection

15 Outside and inside of a three-day missive To help ease the sting of the separation, the brides mother and sworn sisters made a cloth bound book, known as a "Third Day Book which contained messages for the bride in Nü Shu language. San Chao Shu Third Day Book "Now we sit together because our feelings are disturbed by the imminent marriage of one of our sworn sisters and we must write the third-day book. We cherish the days when we are together and hate losing one of our sisters. After she gets married it will be difficult to meet her so we worry that she will be lonely. For a woman, marriage means losing everything, including her family and her sworn sisters." Photo by Orie Endo

16 Nü Shu Study and Preservation Just over 300 pieces of authentic Nü Shu have been uncovered Bronze coin from the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom ( ), with a Nü Shu inscription on the back that reads All women on earth are one family.

17 Yang Huanyi was the oldest living Nü Shu writer when she died in 2004 at age ninety-six. Photo by Orie Endo

18 Tombstones for Ms. Gao Yin-xian ( ), one on the left is written in Nü Shu, one on the right is written in Hanzi (Pu Wei village) Photo by Orie Endo

19 Nü Shu - Fact and Fiction Nü Shu us the only women- only language in the world. Similar female scripts have arisen in other cultures such as Japan and Korea. Nü Shu women were only rarely literate in Chinese script. Nü Shu is a secret, forbidden language Men knew about Nü Shu, but found it beneath their notice. The structure of Nü Shu characters indicates that its origins were Chinese-character based. Nü Shu was rediscovered in the 1980s Nü Shu was used continuously since its creation, albeit by an extremely small group.

20 Pu Mei - Nü Shu Culture Village In 2004, the Chinese Government built this school and museum in Pumei. Here village girls and women are taught Nü Shu and produce modern handicraft decorated with the ancient writing system. Photos Copyright Orie Endo You can witness Hunan Provinces Nü Shu cultural preservation efforts by visiting Pu Mei.

21 How a Secret-But-Not-So-Secret Code Let Women in China Share Hardships Voice of America's Program about the English Language 16 August 2005 World of Nu Shu by Orie Endo Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign News and Reviews vol. 4, no. 3 Spring 2001 Womens Conceptions of Widowhood in Jiang Yong County, Hunan Province, China by Fei Wen Liu Journal of Asian Studies 60 No. 4, Nov The re-invention of a Chinese Language By Jon Watts Crossing Gender Boundaries in China: Nüshu Narratives by Anne E. McLaren Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context Issue 1, September 1998 Heroines of Jiangyong: Chinese Narrative Ballads in Women's Script Translated by Wilt L. Idema Seattle: University of Washington Press. Reviewed by Katherine Dimmery, Indiana University Bibliography

22 Engendering China: Women, Culture, and the State by Christina Gilmartin, Gail Hershatter, Lisa Rofel, Tyrene White Female-Specific Language to be Revealed March 15, CCTV - A Room of Ones Own: Womans Script Article - A Language by Women, for Women Hu Mei Yue Teaches Nu Shu in Pumei Village in South Central China by Edward Coty, The Washington Post Feb. 24, 2004 Visual Sourcebook on Chinese Civilization Holding Up Half the Sky By Jie Tao, Bijun Zheng, Shirley L. Mow April 1, 2004 Article - The Womens Script of Jiangyong: An Invention of Chinese Women by Zhao Liming Bibliography

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