Sunday, November 9, 2008


The philosopher bought me a brand spanking new book on the history of writing, Amalia Gnanadesikian's The Writing Revolution. It's a very accessible book, probably destined for lots of good use as an introductory textbook on writing systems. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in the history of writing. I just started it yesterday, so I'm still at the beginning in Sumer, when that first system, which was logographic (that is, using symbols for ideas, not to represent language directly), was slowly being transformed into a syllabary (a system using symbols representing pronunciation of syllables). So many of the symbols from earlier cuneiform took on additional meanings.
One that really caught my attention was the symbol 'gi'. At first (3000 BC) it just meant 'reed', and looked like a reed. Over time, it also came to mean a homonymous word meaning 'render'. Eventually it was used for the syllable 'gi', perhaps as a part of words having nothing to do with reeds or renderings. But it's those first two meanings that caught this calligrapher's heart-- reeds being the tools those early scribes used to press the symbols into the clay, and the result being a rendering. I just had to do something with this, so here's my ACEO of 'gi', done with my coke can pen and handmade ink. I just love the rough look resulting from adapting a pen to this writing form that wasn't ever done with pens at all.

And here's the symbol for 'ka', meaning 'mouth' and a whole host of ideas associated with mouths: teeth, tongue, language, speech:

1 comment:

JMW Jewelry said...

You've been tagged!!