Ancient Chinese characters remained almost the same after the Tang Dynasty. During a period more than 900 years, the existing system of scripts and calligraphy didn't change a lot, in spite of two dynasties ruled by other ethnic groups.( Click here to see the background information )
At the same time, the culture of Chinese characters continued developing, deep into every corners in China. It can't be separated from people's daily lives.
# After the Tang Dynasty
Aesthetic standard kept on changing during the dynasties and therefore calligraphy fashions were changing, too. However, great works of art would always be cherished. Go to "Beauty of calligraphy" to view them!
The development of Chinese characters slowed down after the Tang Dynasty. We may say that this system of scripts and characters had become well-developed, and there's no need to change. Without any doubt, it became a kind of art. Little kids started learning how to write very early.( Click here to see the background information ) People always judged others by their calligraphy, and one who did well in calligraphy must be good at writing articles, poems and so on. That showed the influence of cultural atmosphere.
No other great theory of Chinese characters came out as time passed by...
# The influence of other ethnic groups
Most Chinese are members of the Han nationality nowadays. However, in the ancient time, some other ethnic groups were once quite strong, who have ruled the Chinese mainland twice.( Click here to see the background information )
The Mongolia rulers tried to invent a new language so as to unify Chinese, Mongol and Tibetan. But this kind of language died out as soon as the collapse of Mongolia dynasty.
In the Qing Dynasty, which was ruled by the Manchus, rulers kept on using their own scripts for the first tens of years. However, most of the Manchu people couldn't speak or write their language anymore after 100 years. They became almost the same as the Han people.
The ethnic groups were partly assimilated by the Han culture at last. However, their own culture brought in new ideas and contents to the traditional Chinese culture and partly broke the invariable situation.
# Application in other fields
Chinese characters have been appied to many other fields in dailylife, which formed some special cultural branches.
People used to cut characters on bones or metal utensils. After the invention of paper, they began to "write" instead of "cut". However, sometimes stones are still cut with some characters. What are their uses?
It's called "Seal Cutting".
When trade became more and more frequently in daily life, some credit certificates were needed, so as to make sure the goods were moved or stored safely. Then the first Seal cuttings came out.
Seal cuttings were stones carved with characters or pictures on one flat side. Pressed against some soft surface, it can "print" the characters or pictures on. People used to put some clay over the seal of the goods, and then add the Seal cuttings to the clay. If someone opened the seal, the "printings" would be broken, which ensured the safety of posting letters.
Later, seal cutting stone was carved with its owner's name or some mottos, and was often added to a painting or a calligraphy work as a signature. Gradually it became a kind of art.
There's two kinds of seal cuttings, which are shown in this image . It depends on the way to carve the stones. Usually people call them "red characters" and white characters" by their appearance. (More information is available in "Beauty of calligraphy". Clike here!)
Collecting ancient coins was an interesting hobby. Every Chinese emperor would issue special coins with his own marks. Before unified during the Qin Dynasty, different kinds of currency were used in different areas. Characters were carved on them.
Here's some samples:
Knife-shaped currency: used in eastern area
Shovel-shaped currency: used in central area
Round with a square hole: used in western area.
The traditional style of Chinese coins.
Coin with the Manchu character (the Qing Dynasty)
The first coin with English on one side
Some special tiles were used on the eaves to fix other pieces of tiles and forbid rain. Normally, they are as large as a bowl.
In the ancient time, people started carving a few characters or paintings on eaves tiles, in order to pray for fortunes and forbid demons. Because of the special shape, characters carved on eaves tiles have a unique style, which has often been referred by calligraphers.
A pattern of Eaves tile