Campaign of the Month: November 2011
Avatar: Conquest of the Imperial Order
riting in the World of Avatar
Writing and Literature form an integral part in societies all across the World of Avatar. All cultures use a common system of characters borrowed from the Chinese system for daily purposes. The four lands primarily use writing for communication and literary purposes, but there are some such as skilled swordsman who practice calligraphy.
Writing in the Avatar World is achieved through several means. This is primarily through the use of brush, ink and paper; however, there are also engravings. The actual written language is Chinese, with thousands of characters made up of different kinds of strokes, and is usually written top down, right to left, though this is not always the case.
The brush is the traditional writing implement in the World of Avatar. The body of the brush can be made from either bamboo or wood, or other rarer materials. On the other hand, the head of the brush can be made from the hair of a wide variety of animals.
Paper is used for scrolls, books, letters and memos. Paperweights are typically used to smoothe out the paper for writing; these are, basically just two plan rectangular blocks of wood.
Traditional Chinese characters are used for all writing in the Avatar World. There are tens of thousands of characters, but only a few thousand are required for day-to-day communication. There are several types of characters used in order to complete a sentence and thus be able to make text readable.
- Pictograms – These characters are derived from stylized, simplified drawings of an object. This type of character is used to represent that object. Examples include 日 (rì) for “sun”, 月 (yuè) for “moon”.
- Ideograms – Although not a direct derivative of pictures like pictograms, ideograms are related to them in that they are a stylized abstract representation of an idea. Direct examples include 上 shàng “up” and 下 xià “down”. Notice that the character for up literally points up and the other literally points down.
- Ideogrammic Compounds – These are created through combining elements of pictograms and ideograms to form another abstract representation of an idea or object. An example is that doubling the pictogram 木 mu “tree” produces 林 lin “forest”. There are literally more trees. The existence of this category as an independent category is disputed in the real world.
- Phono-semantic Compounds – The name is complex, but most characters fall under this category. It is impossible to be able to draw absolutely everything into a character, hence the existence and size of this category. These characters are usually made of two parts. One part is a small pictograph that gives a representation of the idea of the character, and the other, larger part is another character that gives an idea to the pronunciation of the character. For example, one of the characters for river is 河 (hé). The three strokes to the left are a stylization of water, and the right part is the character 可 (ke).
There are a few more categories, but the above are enough to summarize the types of existing characters.
Calligraphy is a form of art where one writes, or rather, draws or paints characters in a particularly artistic way to emphasize its beauty and shape. The paper, ink, brush, and inkstone are essential implements in calligraphy. A paperweight is also used to keep the paper straight and flat on the table, negating the need for one’s hand to touch the clean paper. Only the highest quality types are used. Calligraphy is uncommon but certainly not unheard of, especially among the upper classes and masters of the arts (bending, swordplay, martial) as a practice of precision and focus.