Bird-Worm Seal Script

       The bird-worm seal script, also referred to as the bird-worm book, is a variant of the pre-Qin seal script, one of the earliest Chinese scripts, and it is a distinctive example of Jinwen art. According to the swords, knives, halberds, and other tools discovered throughout the ages, including pottery and wine vessels, it appeared at the latest during the middle of the Spring and Autumn Period and rose to prominence during the Qin and Chu Dynasties. The script known as the "bird-worm seal" emerged during a particular period in the history of Chinese calligraphy, when birds and other insects were not only useful but also ornamental, contributing to the environment's aesthetic appeal. They can still be seen on ceremonial vessels, Chinese seals from the Han Dynasty, and even Tang Dynasty tablets. They are mostly found on weapons, with a few on containers and seals.

The jade seal of the kingdom - "commanded by heaven to live forever" (lost)


       The Bird-Worm Seal Script is also known by the names Bird Script, Worm Script, and Bird Seal, and has been used for many generations. The earliest known reference to "Worm Script" is found in Xu Shen's "Shuowen Jiezi," which is from the Eastern Han Dynasty and lists "Worm Script" as one of the eight styles of Qin writing. The "Worm Script" was still one of the "Six Styles" at the start of the Western Han Dynasty. According to Xu Shen's "Shuo Wen Jie Zi," "Since the Qin Dynasty, there are eight styles of books: one is Big Seal Script, two is Small Seal Script, three is Carved Symbols, four is Worm Book, five is Copy Seal, six is Sign Script, seven is Shu Script, and eight is Official Script." Worm Books were known as "Worm Books" during the First Emperor of Qin's reign Name it The Worm book since it is made in the shape of insects and birds, suggested Yan Shigu of the Sui and Tang dynasties. Suo Jing stated that the "Bird seal is a kind of object and pictogram, and there are so many philosophical changes which are clever" during the Western Jin Dynasty. Liu Xie wrote in "Wen Xin Diao Long" during the Southern Dynasty (Liang): "The quantity of seal script is the remnants of the bird seal script, which was collected by Li Si. The distinction between "Bird Seal" and "Bird Script" refers to the latter's independent existence.

Notable Artifacts

Gou Jian's sowrd, who was the king of Yue in the Spring and Autumn Period (Hubei Provincial Museum Collection)

       The length of the sword is 55.7 cm, the hilt is 8.4 cm long, the width is 4.6 cm, the head is turned outward into a round hoop shape, 11 concentric circles are cast inside at a distance of only 0.2 mm, and the sword is covered in a recurring dark lattice pattern in the form of a black diamond. The back of the lattice is covered in turquoise, while the front is covered in blue lucite. The sword has two razor-sharp blades, a long, slender body with a central spine, and a curved, concave front edge. Concentric circle jewelry with two convex hoops on the stem. The sword is significant because, among the many swords used by King Goujian during the Spring and Autumn eras, it was the "self-use" sword. After examining the metal under a microscope with a 3000x magnification, Tan De Rui from the Shanghai Municipal Museum discovered chemical treatment remnants at a thickness of one hundredth of a millimeter. Proton fluorescence analysis of the sword's surface decoration and composition revealed that it was primarily made of tin-bronze, with minor amounts of aluminum and nickel, and that sulfur was used to create the gray-black diamond pattern and the black hilt and grill. The sword of King Goujian of the Spring and Autumn Period is a priceless bronze weapon that is extremely important for understanding ancient Chinese bronze casting methods and texts as well as studying the history of the Yue Kingdom.

Painted Mirror with Bird-Worm Seal Script (Tsinghua University Art Museum Collection)

       The diameter is 28.2 cm, and there are four groups of objects inside: people on foot, people sitting on the ground, people riding horses, four horses towing a cart, and a big tree. This mirror is among the painted ones and features the only seal script inscription of birds and insects that has ever been seen. The image shows four groups of eight black and white characters each, for a total of 32 characters, in the inscriptions. The poetic form of the Chu and Song dynasties is represented by the inscription system, which consists of seven lines each with the word 猗 (兮) added at the end.

       The inscription reads: 制察美恶无私亲猗(兮),□流阴光□□□□,□之□□阑其真猗(兮),□彼□诤□取□猗(兮)。

Characteristic of The Font

       The bird-worm writing style is distinguished and beautiful, rich in decorative effects, unpredictable, and challenging to distinguish frequently. It frequently takes the form of a gold inlay. Like the painting that develops into the Bird Script, it is the original representation of the ancestors to be remembered. The cover painting is exactly like the stream of Bird Script, according to Wei Chen Si Wang Zhi. Where the text with the plume animal intention shape is in this example, the outer edge of the bird script is quite large. Worm script is one of the traditional Chinese character calligraphy styles. For instance, "Shuo Wen Jie Zi" explains the "虫" character as a three-inch-long Crotalinae with a head the size of an arm-finger-long elephant. The underline signifies that the character is lying down and is unable to see, and the dot denotes the character's hair. All words beginning with "虫" belong to the worm class. Qin has eight different script types, including "Worm Script." No matter how thick the brush is, similar or not, as long as it has the charm of birds and worms, the connotation of the Bird-worm seal script is richer.

       From a lexical perspective, from the pre-Qin to the Han dynasties, all animal forms were used as characteristics of decorative calligraphy, regardless of the subject of its simulation, and these forms included birds, worms, fish, phoenixes, diamonds, and others. Even though the calligraphic strokes in decorative calligraphy from before the Han Dynasty are complex and varied, it can be categorized under the term "Worm Script" in its broadest sense. However, the primary shape of the worm-, bird-, and fish-shaped composition for the majority of the other side is relatively uncommon. Scholars generally agree that the relationship between the bird script and the worm script is closely related to the bird-shaped composition of the brush strokes if "in addition to the bird's head under which are flexed like the worm shape can be seen." The Worm Script is the script with a bird's head for the bird but no bird's head. Almost all characters with the same inscription as the bird script but without any features resembling birds can be categorized as worm script. In comparison, it exceeds the quantity of bird scripts.

Bird-Worm Script Seals

       The Warring States era, which is a little later than the invention of the Bird-worm seal script, is when the seal was first used. It flourished during the Han Dynasty, which is a long time after its earlier flourishing periods during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period. Very few ancient seals from the Warring States era still exist, and those that do not have as elaborate decorations as those from the Spring and Autumn and Warring States eras and the later Han dynasty. The Warring States and Spring and Autumn seal scripts were the basis for the seal's composition, and the basic structure of the script was preserved without the addition of any new components to make it more recognizable. On the basis of this, some strokes are treated like birds. This treatment may be related to the seal's social role as a credential (it is difficult to make it too complicated, otherwise it would be difficult to identify it), but it also reflects the Jin script's aesthetic vogue at the time.

       Although straightforward, the Warring States-era seal in the seal script of birds and worms was clearly well-planned, and its composition took into account the seal's characteristics, serving as a template for later seals. The Han dynasty marked the pinnacle of ancient seals and the height of bird-worm seal script's glory. Regardless of the decorative methods used, the placement of the strokes on the surface of Han Dynasty seals tends to be balanced, with little empty space and a general evenness. These new features set them apart from the ancient seals from the Warring States period. The seal script has reached its full development stage and established the figuration and abstraction modes of expression. Figurative: Although there are obvious animal motifs in the lines, the deformed animal images in the strokes do not take away from the original characters' structure, brushwork, or backwardness. It is elegant and vibrant. Most frequently observed in early Western Han Dynasty jade seals from the Han Dynasty.


In Game




       In "Wu Neng Zi," which states, "Nature is worms, unnatural is what human is," the worm script is combined with the bird shape, or the bird shape is attached to the top and bottom of the character for decoration. This suggests that the author intended for readers to respect and understand the birds and worms in the mountains and coexist with nature. The development of the bird-worm seal script represents a successful attempt to balance human civilization with nature while fostering growth.

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