Ancient Chinese styles


Kōkotsushotai (甲骨文字)

The oldest surviving Chinese characters were written on turtle shells and bones, and perhaps used for divination.


Kinbuntai (金文体) is the second oldest type of Chinese characters. These were found engraved on bronze vessels, hence the name kin (metal) bun (word).


Tenshotai (篆書体・てん書体) is still used for making seals (hanko, inkan) (see How do the Japanese sign their names?). There are two variations, daitenshotai (大篆書体), created in the Zhou (Japanese shuu, 周) era, and shōtenshotai (小篆書体), created in the Song (Japanese Shin, 秦) era.


Reisho (隷書体)

This style is square and simple in form. It is a simplified version of shōtenshotai. The rei (隷) in reisho means a minor official, hence this style is sometimes called "clerk style" in English.

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