Book review: Symbols, Art, and Language from the Land of the Dragon: The Cultural History of 100 Chinese Characters (Ni Yibin)

Via on Feb 28, 2010


This is one big (literally) beautiful book; one that belongs on a coffee table, not on a bookshelf.

In it, author and scholar Ni Yibin gives a brief history of Chinese calligraphy as a whole, in addition to a discussion of how the various characters in the language evolved and developed over time. Accompanied by lush illustrations and lavish photography, the book includes not only a textual and pictorial history of the various characters, but also axioms demonstrating its usage.

Covering four major topics (nature, mankind, objects and qualities), Symbols, Art, and Language from the Land of the Dragon spans a wide range of human and Chinese life. The text includes a chronology of dynasties and notable emperors, since various emperors influenced how a particular character evolved or remained as it was. Anyone interested in calligraphy or Chinese culture should add this to their collection.

From Duncan Baird Publishers and available from your local, independent bookseller. (Shop local, shop independent, and tell ’em you saw it on Elephant Journal!)

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About Todd Mayville

Todd is a single dad of four diverse and lively kids, and is an English teacher and climbing team coach at a local public high school. A rock climber, cyclist and avid reader, Todd also practices yoga and meditation as often as he possibly can, which helps him stay at least a little centered and sane.


One Response to “Book review: Symbols, Art, and Language from the Land of the Dragon: The Cultural History of 100 Chinese Characters (Ni Yibin)”

  1. Hi, Todd. Thanks for telling us about this interesting book.

    How often does one encounter calligraphy in a blog? Well I just encountered it twice in a row–once here and once in the blog just before this–Steven Jobs description of how he took a calligraphy class at Reed College on a whim, and how it later led to the sleek design of the first Apple graphic interface .

    Must be the day for calligraphy.

    Bob Weisenberg

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