Calligraphy & Painting        
Nu Shu
world's only writing system of women
Nu Shu (Nü Shu), literally "women's writing" or "women's script"), is a syllabary writing system that was used exclusively among women in Jiangyong County, Hunan Province, southern China. It is applying for UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage. Many characters are formed from dots, horizontals, virgules, and arcs. Unlike Chinese, Nu Shu writers value characters written with very fine, almost threadlike, lines as a mark of fine penmanship.

Women in Jiangyong County were discouraged from learning the Chinese written language. Nu Shu was therefore invented and used secretly, carefully guarded from men. Women learned the writing from their sisters and mothers. Sometimes the characters were disguised as decorative marks or as part of artwork. A large number of the Nu Shu were cloth bound booklets created by women to their sisters or daughters upon their marriage. Other works, including poems and lyrics, were handwoven into belts and straps, or embroidered onto everyday items and clothing.

Although Nu Shu has existed for centuries, it was not known to the outside world until 1983. Scholars have since been able to collate only 2000 characters. The last person proficient in this writing system died in 2004. At present no one living learned Nu Shu from her mother or sisters, though there are a few scholars who learned it from the last of the women who did. The Chinese government started to popularize the effort to preserve this rare writing system, and some younger women are beginning to learn it.

The language and locale have attracted investment with money from Hong Kong building up infrastructure at possible tourist sites and a $209,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to build a Nu Shu museum opened in 2007.
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