Scribal Notation in Medieval Chinese Manuscripts

Putting some of my older publications online:

Scribal Notation in Medieval Chinese Manuscripts: The hewen (Ligature) and the chongwen (Duplication) Marks
(by Imre Galambos)
Manuscript Cultures (2010), No. 2.

Early Chinese manuscripts and inscriptions often make use of two devices referred to by modern researchers as hewen 合文 (ligature) and chongwen 重文 (duplication). Both of them are signified with the same mark, comprising two small dashes which are placed below the lower right corner of the character. The mark resembles the character 二 written in a small script, similar to what we would today call a subscript. Since the notation is identical in both cases, it is the context that determines whether it marks a joint character or a repetition.

The first examples of this notation date back to the oracle-bone records but their heyday was during the centuries BC 8th–3rd. While their use in inscriptional material up to the Han is relatively well-studied, there is almost no treatment of it with regard to paper manuscripts, especially ones from the post-Han period. In this article, I would like to use the Chinese manuscripts from Dunhuang and Turfan to demonstrate the application of this notation during the medieval period. This has added relevance because, although the continuity of orthography and its transitions from early China to the medieval period has been fairly well researched, the secondary or peripheral aspects of writing, such as the marking of repetitions or the notation used in editing and correcting mistakes, have received little attention…

Read the whole article here: Scribal Notation in Medieval Chinese Manuscripts

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