Nushu: world’s only secret language curated by women

Originating in China’s Jiangyong province in the 19th Century as a code of defiance against social gender inequality, Nishu (Chinese for women’s writing) is considered to be the world’s only writing system that is created and used exclusively by women.

Once upon a time…

In Ancient and Imperial China a set of moral principles called the Three Obidiences dictated the entirety of a woman’s existence. Schools and education were privileges reserved for men while ignorance was seen as a womanly virtue. These unfair stringent rules and social ideals forced women to come up with a new language to tell their stories, comfort each other, sing out their sorrows and express admiration. This was how Nushu the world’s only writing script curated and used exclusively by women came into being, Passed down through generations from mothers to daughters, Nushu is based on phonograms (where each character represents a sound). Besides communication, women also embroidered this script onto handkerchiefs, belts, shoes and fans hiding their secrets in decorative patterns.

The earliest record of Nushu

The earliest known artefact with the script on it is a bronze coin from the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (1851-1864) unearthed in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province. The characters etched in Nüshu on the coin translate to “all the women in the world are members of the same family”.

Picture Credit : Google 

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