China’s Yunnan Province is surely a wealth of isolated, local, ethnic scripts, some of which have surfaced in a single reference, some of which surely remain entirely unnoticed.
The Jingpo Pictographic Script is mentioned once, in a blog that references a single book: Shi Rui.- Jingpo zu yuanshi tuhua wenzi (Original pictographic script of the Jingpo Nationality). Yunnan Fine Arts Publishing House. Kunming, 2007.
“[E]very person fond of [the Jingpo] culture can remember the pictures of the lavishly decorated posts used by the Jingpo in the celebrations of Munao Festival, the most important of their traditional festivals,” the unnamed blog author writes. “The author of this book, Mr Shi Sui, however, through a meticulous analysis of the pictures used in the decoration of their posts and their symbolic meaning to the Jingpo religious specialists, suggest that we have, in deed, a pictographic language that leads these specialists along the ceremonies they celebrate.
“Following his book we know that every drawing or symbol in their Munao posts, has not an isolated meaning, as can be supposed, but form part of a complete text that leads the shaman along the ceremony.”
(I know nothing about Mr. Shi Sui, but I can’t help pointing out that if it is indeed an ethnic name, the Sui people have their own remarkable semi-pictographic script.)
To summarize the blog’s summary of Mr. Shi Sui’s summary, these “lavishly decorated posts” involve a large number of symbols I can’t illustrate without violating copyright whose meaning is rich with Jingpo ancestral lore, including the Dark Man, the Man of the Obscure Times, male, female, night, day, and the creation of the world from out of darkness.
The blog concludes, “The author teaches us to read more than twenty religious ceremonies of the Jingpo. If in the section of Munao ceremonies dealing with the origin of the world the Munao script can be someway cryptic, in other, as these dealing with their funeral rites, pictographs are easily recognizable, and maybe can be more useful to convince the skeptical reader of the existence of at least, a kind of proto-script among the Jingpo.”
Will someone please track down this book and give it to me for my birthday?