Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Dragon Bones and language

I have to do more research, into ancient Chinese linguisitics. In Dragon Bones (the book), Lisa See writes about dragon bones as archeological linguistic artifacts. He characters discuss these ancient bones, which had funny marks on them, and were presumed to be from dragons, and were highly valuable for medicinal purposes. Then some scholar, looking at them more closely, realized the marks were actually an early form of writing - possibly one of the first forms of written Chinese characters - and started collecting and saving them. This is referred to in the book as a discovery on par with the Rosetta Stone.

This idea absolutley fascinated me, so I started to do some research. Unfortunately, although I've learned a lot about Peking Man (because the place where he and other skulls were found is sometimes refered to as Dragon Bone Hill), I have yet to find anything that connects 'dragon bones' to early Chinese writing. I've also found a number of articles that do describe dragon bones as dinosaur bones which were assumed to come from dragons. So far, most of my research has been through google, so I think it's time to 1. Talk to my brother, the Chinese linguistics scholar turned Vermont farmer, and 2. turn to my old friends, the scholarly journal agregators.

5 comments:

Alia said...

Now that I have so much free time, I guess I'll have to read Dragon Bones! Speaking of free time there was this on Apartment Therapy today.

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/sf/look/look-more-great-displays-at-anthropologie-059477

And yes, I need a job!

Alex Zealand said...

It is a really interesting book. I finally finished it a few days ago, after realizing that I was getting way too intellectual about the whole thing, and not just enjoying it for itself.

But I'm also feeling frustrated, because I'm not sure that I can create a visual that is as moving as the poem I quoted into the previous post is.

Alex Zealand said...

And, those are really cool. I especially like the ones on the bench, that look like flowers.

Alex Zealand said...

Ha! you rock, Alia - I may have just figured out where to start with this book, after looking at that site.

Alia said...

Ha! Then you'll like this. AT just loves altered books, I guess.

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/la/at-australia/look-kylie-stillmans-book-carvings-melbourne-059556