From: Tim Greenwood (
Date: Tue Feb 24 2004 - 10:18:25 EST

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    The front page of today's Washington Post has an article on nushu - a Chinese women's script. From the article

    "Only men learned to read and write Chinese, and bound feet and social strictures confined women to their husband's homes after marriage. So somehow -- scholars are unsure how, or exactly when -- the women of this fertile valley in the southwestern corner of Hunan province developed their own way to communicate. It was a delicate, graceful script handed down from grandmother to granddaughter, from elderly aunt to adolescent niece, from girlfriend to girlfriend -- and never, ever shared with the men and boys.

    So was born nushu, or women's script, a single-sex writing system that Chinese scholars believe is the only one of its kind."


    "Much remains unknown about nushu. Its origins, reaching perhaps as far back as the 3rd century, have been the subject of scholarly exchanges among a handful of researchers in China and elsewhere. They know it was used in Hunan's Jiangyong County, in south central China about 200 miles northwest of Guangzhou, and believe it was limited to what is now Jiangyong's Shungjian Xu Township, which includes Pumei and these days has a population of around 19,000 people. But even that is not certain."

    It is online on . You have to complete a free registration to read it online. The online version shows the script on a blackboard in a photograph. The print version also has a close up of some text.

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