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Selections from the Naxi Manuscript Collection
Asian Division, Library of Congress

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Selections from the Naxi Manuscript Collection features ceremonial writings of the Naxi people of Yunnan Province, China. The Library of Congress’s Naxi collection is the largest outside of China and is considered one of the finest in the world.The Naxi language is the only pictographic writing system still in use today. The Dongbas created two scripts for ceremonies--pictographic and syllabic (phonetic). Many of the individual symbols, totaling 276 sound complexes, are compounds and are read as a phrase in which verbs and other parts of speech are supplied from memory. In addition, the Naxi language has four tones; each sound complex has many different meanings based on its tone. The Dongba language is influenced by the Tibetan-Burman language family and the tonal and symbolic aspects of Chinese. This online presentation features 185 manuscripts, a 39½ -foot funerary scroll, and an annotated catalog of the entire collection.

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The Library of Congress presents these documents as part of the record of the past. These primary historical documents reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. The Library of Congress does not endorse the views expressed in these collections, which may contain materials offensive to some readers.
Special Presentations:
Annotated Catalog of Naxi Pictographic Manuscripts
Joseph Rock
Quentin Roosevelt II

Understanding the Collection

About the Collection

Selected Bibliography

Working with the Collection

How to View

Building the Digital Collection

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