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East Asian Writing: Their beauty and their history - August 2010 Newsletter
Mrs Lin's Kitchen - August 2010 Newsletter - East Asian Writing: Their beauty and their history


When getting acquainted with another country’s culture, the thing that we turn to next to food, is that of the country’s language.  Indeed, language is deeply tied to a culture and a people’s identity.

In East Asia, the Chinese language, and specifically its written form, has had a predominant influence on China’s neighboring countries.  For centuries, nobilities and the educated classes in both Korea and Japan held the written Chinese language in high esteem, and a learned man is judged based on his knowledge of the Chinese classics.  Today, however, in China, Japan, and Korea, distinctive languages have developed and evolved, each with its own sound, texture, and words. 

Here at Mrs Lin’s Kitchen, we celebrate the beauty and diversity of East Asian writing. 


Of the three languages, Chinese is the oldest. It has been in existence for around three thousand years.  Chinese writing is largely based on early pictograms that depicted a close relationship between the observations in the real world and the meaning and form of the word itself.

The Chinese writing system went through several stages of development.  The earliest form of Chinese writing was found on oracle bone inscriptions that date back to the Shang dynasty (1711-1066 B.C.) With the unification of China by the Qin emperor, Chinese writing developed into the “Seal script” and became standardized.    The “Official” or “Clerical” script was developed in Han Dynasty (206 B.C -200 A.D) by low level clerks who felt the curved “Seal script” was too time consuming.

With this development, Chinese writing entered into the period scholars call—modern writing.  Many of the Chinese characters have not changed since the clerical development.

At Mrs Lin’s Kitchen, we carry many beautiful dinner and tea wares featuring various Chinese scripts. 
For a taste of the cursive script similar to the “seal script” of Qin dynasty, our Chinese Poem tableware set will bring the refinement of the cursive script into your home.  Our Chin dynasty poem dinnerware set features the “clerical script” that speaks of balance and practicality.  Set in frosted glass, the bold calligraphy of this clerical script suggests a sense of style and combines this ancient language with contemporary aesthetics. 


Korean has been spoken on the Korean peninsula for more than 2,000 years, but the writing system was not devised until the fifteenth century A.D, during the reign of King Sejong in Yi dynasty (1392-1910). 

King Sejong created a Korean alphabet that was made up of twenty-eight letters (jamo) although only twenty-four remain in use today.    The alphabet was created to better transcribe the rich polyphonic spoken language of Korea that differed from monophonic Chinese. 

The Korean writing system was not a result of borrowing and adapting from another writing system, but was an entirely new invention.  Known today as Han’gul, Korean is unique, because unlike other alphabet systems, Korean is not written horizontally, but instead form alphabet units resembling the block format of Chinese characters. 

Created to capture the unique sound of Korean language, Han’gul has become the distinctive writing system of today’s Korea and is used in both North and South Korea. 

Like the curved and circular strokes of the Korean script, the celadon vases of Korea emphasize the beauty of form and are pleasing to the eyes. 
You can find a variety of Korean Celdaon vases at Mrs Lin’s Kitchen, each individually hand crafted to illustrate the harmony in its curved forms and its fine luminous surfaces.  Just as han’gul is a unique creation of the Korean peninsula, the celadon vase carries a simple yet remarkable sophistication that makes it stand out on its own.


The Japanese writing system is a combination of three kinds of scripts: Kanji, Hiragana, and KatakanaKanji (Chinese characters) was first imported into Japan through the Korean peninsula in the fifth century A.D.  The imported Chinese characters eventually became appropriated for their phonetic qualities instead of the meanings in the development of Man’yogana

Hiragana and Katakana were simplified from Kanji in the Heian period (794-1192 A.D).  Katakana is made up of lines and angles, while Hiragana is formed by curved lines.  Hiragana originated from the cursive Chinese script and in the past was seen as more personal in contrast to Kanji and Katakana that is often used in official memorandums and documents. 

At Mrs Lin’s Kitchen, you can find a combination of the three different scripts in our elegant tea sets and dinnerwares.  

Our Japanese wedding poem tea set and Kutani Poem tea set features the cursive Hiragana script.  While the Abstract Calligraphy Bowl features the dignified Kanji script.  For a combination of the three different scripts that make up Japanese writing, the Japanese Kyushu tea set for two will blend the beauty of the language with the rich enjoyment of tea.

Each of these three East Asian languages tells stories of its people and country’s history and culture.  Chinese, Korean, and Japanese writing is also deeply tied to the practice of calligraphy, which is the practice of letter writing as a form of art.  You can read more on calligraphy in our May 2002 newsletter.

You can now share this beauty of East Asian writing with friends and family.  At Mrs Lin’s Kitchen, we offer a wide array of dinner and tea ware carrying beautiful and meaningful Chinese, Japanese and Korean scripts.  Our Chinese and Japanese Calligraphy sake sets combine both the beauty of East Asian writing with the art of calligraphy.  The poetic encounter between words, calligraphy and the taste of sake will illuminate the quiet beauties of life that so many ancient poets yearned after. 

East Asian Writing:  Their beauty and their history

Calligraphy & Sumi-e

The Bento Box

Japanese Woodblock Printing

Magical Meaning of Cranes

Chinese Chop Seal & Ink

Japanese Furoshiki and Noren

The Magnificent of Mount Fuji














Nomu Sake Set (S993)

Japanese Wedding Poem Bowl (10692)

White Flowers Ikebana Celadon Vase (5686)

Small Sutra Yixing Teapot (8wt814)


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