Mapping the Old Zhuang Script

A Character-Based Writing System from Southern China


The traditional Zhuang script is a character script based on Chinese, adapted for the purpose of writing the Tai languages of southern China and northern Vietnam. Mapping the Old Zhuang Character Script by David Holm, presents for the first time a systematic overview of such a script, based on a survey of traditional texts in 45 locations among the Zhuang and related peoples in Guangxi, Guizhou, eastern Yunnan, and northern Vietnam. Complete with 133 maps, it looks at patterns of geographic variation in relation to dialect, the domains of former native chieftaincies, the activities of ritual masters and Taoist priests, large-scale migrations, and the transplantation of garrisons of native troops. Internal evidence indicates the script has a history going back well before the Tang.
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Biographical Note

David Holm, D.Phil. (1980) in Chinese, University of Oxford, is Professor in the Department of Ethnology at National Chengchi University. He has published extensively on the traditional language and culture of the Zhuang, a Tai-speaking people indigenous to Southern China.


All those interested in writing systems, Chinese characters, anthropological linguistics, comparative Tai, Chinese historical linguistics, literate and oral cultures, and the cultural history of southern China and northern mainland Southeast Asia.