tangut

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The Tangut script. The Tangut script was a logographic writing system used by the Tangut people of the Western Xia dynasty (1038-1227) to write their language, the now-extinct language of Tangut, of the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages. The language and script together are attested between 1036 and 1502.

The Tangut script is notable for its great complexity - its characters typically consist of far more strokes than their Chinese counterparts. No Tangut character is directly based on any Chinese character; the overall concept of the writing system and the forms of individual strokes were all that were borrowed. The characters include no phonetic or pictographic elements or references whatsoever; their forms are completely arbitrary and abstract.

The [Tangut] language is remarkable for being written in one of the most inconvenient of all scripts, a collection of nearly 5,800 characters of the same kind as Chinese characters but rather more complicated; very few are made up of as few as four strokes and most are made up of a good many more, in some cases nearly twenty. It is extremely difficult to remember them, since there are few recognizable indications of sound and meaning in the constituent parts of a character, and in some cases characters which differ from one another only in minor details of shape or by one or two strokes have completely different sounds and meanings. - Gerard Clauson

I think the Tangut script is one of the most aesthetically pleasing writing systems that I have read about; for me, its great cumbersomeness only enhances its beauty. This script is also a great reminder for conlangers that developing a logographic script does not necessarily require going through any kind of pictographic stage at all.

An open folio from the Auspicious Tantra of All-Reaching Union (Tangut: Gyu̱²-rjur¹ Źji²-njɨ² Ngwu²-phjo̱² Mər²-twẹ²), c. 1139-1193. The earliest known book printed with wooden moveable type. Discovered in 1991 in the ruins of the Baisigou Square Pagoda after it had been illegally blown up.

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Calligraphies in Tangut scripts by Lu Tong (卢桐, b. 1947).

Though there are huge amounts of extant Tangut manuscripts, but, as I know, calligraphies with aesthetical value are hardly found among them. Some modern Chinese calligraphers try to make Tangut calligraphies in accordance with the priciples of traditional Chinese calligraphy, and the practice may answer the question: whether these principles could be applied on symbols other than traditional Chinese characters (Chinese calligraphers have little knowledge about Japanese calligraphies that are not in Chinese characters), of which one corollary of the affirmative answer is that symplified Chinese characters could also be calligraphed with traditional skills given sufficient practice, a proposal that most of traditional Chinese calligraphers sneer at.