A Treasury of Written Characters

Lixil Gallery Osaka

poster for A Treasury of Written Characters

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Written characters are said to be one of humanity’s greatest inventions. While several thousand languages exist in the world, only about 300 writing systems are thought to exist, including those which are no longer in use. These writing systems have evolved mainly from three sources: Egyptian characters, cuneiform characters, and Chinese characters. Written characters not only give a visual form to sounds and meanings, they are in each case a crystallization of the ethnic culture which produced them, with a formal beauty and mystery all their own.

Akira Nakanishi (1928-94), the sixth generation head of Nakanishi Printing Company in Kyoto, was a man of rare distinction in the world: a “character hunter.” Driven by his deep curiosity about little known written characters, Nakanishi visited over 100 countries during 25 years and collected nearly 3,000 specimens. The specimens, representing 95 different types of writing systems, are preserved as the “Nakanishi Collection” at the National Museum of Ethnology.

This exhibition displays some 80 specimens of written characters from throughout the world, primarily from the Nakanishi Collection. The specimens are organized in sections reflecting the Middle Eastern and European cultural spheres, Indian and Southeast Asian cultural spheres, Chinese (East Asian) cultural spheres, and so on. In valuable inscriptions, visitors can marvel at the diversity of written characters and rich creativity of the people who created them. To enable a sense of Nakanishi’s boundless passion for collecting characters, furthermore, a portion of his great many travel albums are displayed, as well. Visitors, it is hoped, will enjoy discovering the vastness and variety of the world of written characters.

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Schedule

from 3月 04, 2016 at 10:00 to 5月 17, 2016 at 17:00

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Reiji Isoi tablog review

文字の博覧会 A Treasury of Written Characters

-旅して集めた“みんぱく”中西コレクション-展

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