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  • Author or Editor: Mengxin Yu x
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The phenomenon of preserving ancient character forms (wenzi cungu xianxiang 文字存古現象) can be observed in certain recently unearthed bamboo slip manuscripts from the Warring States. These characters have preserved early character structures or word usage habits, thus reflecting an interactive relationship between the copyist and the source text. Based on the number of early characters observed in a copied manuscript, Warring States bamboo manuscripts can largely be divided into three categories. One category containing relatively more words with early word forms can be dubbed as “transcripts containing characteristics of ancient text preservation,” with the Tsinghua manuscripts *Xinian 繫年, *Hou fu 厚父, *Sheming 攝命, and *Si gao 四告 being the most emblematic of this category. The value of research into ancient character forms preserved in Warring States bamboo-slip manuscripts is important in many ways, such as providing evidence for character identification; helping to determine the origins of ancient manuscript source texts and their time of transcription; and demonstrating how documents may have been transmitted. All these aspects are evident in the relevant Tsinghua manuscripts. However, in assessing whether ancient character forms were indeed preserved in Warring States manuscripts, two problems must be accounted for: first, some characters that have previously been identified as having characteristics of different scripts may have earlier origins or lack any obvious script-specific features; second, some ancient-looking characters cannot necessarily be used as a standard to determine the occurrence of ancient script forms.

Open Access
In: Bamboo and Silk