The Origin of Chinese Characters — The Legend of Cangjie

Cangjie legend (folk legend) is a kind of folk oral literature that has been passed down by people in Baishui County and Luonan County of Shaanxi Province since ancient times, with the creation of characters by Cangjie as the main theme. It mainly tells about the complex process of Cangjie’s character creation, and also includes the use of characters to respect characters, subdue demons and monsters, fight wits and valour, display saints, wood and stone deformation, and explain the names of solar terms; It expressed the gratitude and worship of the local working people to Cang Jie.

Baishui County and Luonan County are located on the west bank of the Yellow River and in the east of Shaanxi at the foot of the Qinling Mountains, both of which belong to the Yellow River basin. The geographical location is 109 ° 16 ′ 27 ″ to 109 ° 49 ′ 52 ″ east longitude and 33 ° 52 ′ 00 ″ to 35 ° 27 ′ 09 ″ north latitude. The total area is 3777.3 square kilometers and the population is 760000.

There are “Huashilang Ape Man Site” and “Xiahexi Site” left here, which were inhabited by humans long ago. Before the Spring and Autumn Period, the two counties belonged to each other, and the Warring States Period belonged to the Qin Dynasty. The county system was established in the middle of the Warring States Period and after the unification of the Qin Dynasty. Since then, although the name has been changed several times, the county system has not changed.

The legend of Cangjie was first seen in the documents of the Warring States Period; In the Qin and Han Dynasties, the legend spread; Since then, many historical records and materials about Chinese characters have been mentioned.

Baishui is the legendary place where Cang Jie lived and died. According to the Baishui County Annals, “Cangjie lived in Yangwu, died, and buried in the Lixiang Pavilion of Yamen.” It is said that Cang Jie once wrote a book in Luonan. “Cehai · Six Books” contains: “Cang Jie climbed the mountain of Yang deficiency, faced the water of Xuanhu Luorui,… created words with his fingers.” A large number of relics related to the legend of Cangjie are left here. Since the early Qin Dynasty, the local working people of all dynasties not only inherited these legends, but also constantly improved and enriched them, so that they can spread more widely and have a deeper impact.

The legend of Cangjie shows the precious spirit of wisdom, dedication and great creativity of the Chinese nation, and has the value of promoting the cultural identity of the Chinese nation and strengthening social cohesion. It is a valuable cultural heritage of the Chinese nation. In 2002, Baishui Cangjie Temple and Tomb were included in the list of national key protected cultural relics; In 2010, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization designated the “Valley Rain Festival” from the legend of Cangjie as the “Chinese Language Memorial Day”. In 2013, the legend of Cangjie was compiled into the primary school language textbooks by the People’s Education Press. Cang Jie’s image as the “ancestor of characters” has been established in people’s hearts. The legend of Cangjie has been included in the fourth batch of national intangible cultural heritage.



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