Volume 31 / Issue 1


Issue Cover

Special Issue: Writing Systems

On the cover: End page of a Koran from Hamadan, Iran, dated to AD 1164. The inscription, written in Naskh script, gives the date and the name of the calligrapher.
Collection Object Number: NEP27

Chinese Ink

By: John Winter

Leaving aside such cases as inscriptions incised in stone or cast in bronze, almost all traditional writing in China, as well as a good deal of painting, has used the material known as Chinese ink. Although liquid forms exist, this ink has usually been made in sticks or cakes that may be rubbed with water […]

Chinese Writing

A System of Characters Rich in Structural Diversity

By: Cheng-mei Chang

Chinese writing is a system primarily intelligible to the eyes rather than to the ears. Each written character can be comprehended without knowing the pronunciation. Chinese thus acts as a unifying force in a country where for millennia people have spoken many different dialects, dialects not understood by their countrymen. On the other hand, it is […]

The Art of Writing at Gordion

By: Lynn E. Roller

The impetus to record a previously unwritten language must be powerful, since it requires adaptation to a new kind of com­municative device and thus must reflect and cause alterations in the group that becomes literate. Here I examine the process through which one illiterate society went when it confronted literate ones and the reasons why […]

Persian Calligraphy

The Development of an Art Form

By: Ezat O. Negahban

Iran is one of many cultures in which the written word has been transformed into an art form, an extension of its function beyond documentation and com­munication. Iranian calligraphers employed their talents to produce styles and patterns of writing that were applied to such different mediums as architecture, pottery, and metal work, in addition to […]

Upper Paleolithic Notation Systems in Prehistoric Europe

By: Simon Holdaway and Susan A. Johnston

The search for an indigenous writing system among the prehistoric cultures of Tem­perate Europe has a long history which may in part be motivated by the desire to show that they were not barbaric and culturally back­ward, but rather possessed of one of the hallmarks of “civilization” (Childe 1950). Systems of writing and counting in other […]

The Trukese-English Dictionary

Recording a Language on the Computer

By: Ward H. Goodenough

The creation of a dictionary often strikes people as an extraordinary undertaking, although it is more of a common­place at The University Museum than elsewhere because of the Su­merian and Aramaic dictionaries now being compiled there. Putting together the Trukese-English dic­tionary called for a somewhat dif­ferent approach, for the initial recording of the language had […]

The Feathered Serpent in Oaxaca

An Approach to the Study of the Mixteca Codices

By: John Monaghan

The Mixteca region of the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Puebla, and Guerrero is the home of one of the largest Native American groups in southern Meso­america (Fig. 1). Over 250,000 Mixtec speakers live in the dozens of small communities scattered throughout the high, dry lands of the Mixteca Baja, the cool forested mountains of the […]