Font illustration of Xi’an

During my one week field trip of Xi’an, Forest of Steles is the most impressive place. I saw many Chinese ancient fonts in that place, they make me very interested in. So I decided to make a set of font illustrations for a specific font.

The reason why inscription upon the Chinese bronze inscription is chosen to underlie the whole concept is that it is the very first font of regional meaning. Before Zhou dynasty, Oracle Bone Script was the first writing as pictography. Indeed, it was impregnated under the foreworld culture in Stone Age with early slavery features. Due to the ethos of divination of Shang dynasty, the Oracle Bone Script on the carapax was more superstitious. No matter how charming it is, still it could not be ascertained that its origin belongs to Shanxi. Chinese bronze inscription, came after Oracle Bone Script, went through an evolution rooted from the advent of Zhou dynasty at the beginning. When the slavery reached its peak, Zhou’s system of rites and music and rigorous enfeoffment reigned over the society. Still, Chinese bronze inscription remained its regional features, without superfluous confinement from the government. Though Chinese bronze inscription lost its “virginity” with substantial political meaning, compared to Qing characters of Qin dynasty who unified the writing throughout the whole country, Chinese bronze inscription still kept its “dignity” somehow and remained to be attractive.
Those inscriptions which are relatively stable of a certain format are selected because they describe specific professional conception like geographic name and clan. These characters are regarded as names for dynasties. Xi’an had gone through thirteen different dynasties. Eight among them were original while others like Post-Qin and North-Zhou derived their names from the former influential kingdoms. These copiers are set aside. For these eight original ones, their names represent their ethnic features.
Beside the characters, brief explanations are attached including the original meaning and purpose of selection. For instance, “汉”was chosen at the first place because Liu Bang believed it an auspicious place for the establishment of “Han” dynasty. Eventually it becomes the name for the strongest nation and only seconds to ­“华”in the ancient times. Hence characters are no longer merely the symbols of culture or politics. As time passes by, they are integrated into the deepest soul of a nation.

周 “Zhou” dynasty


秦 “Qin” dynasty

汉 “Han” dynasty

新 “Xin” dynasty

魏 “Wei” dynasty

晋 “Jin” dynasty

隋 “Sui” dynasty

唐 “Tang” dynasty