Haraf (a.), Haruf (pl.), An. Scriptura, . . . . LAT. Raqm, Irqam, . . . „ Navaaht, . . . PERS. Tahrir I P LiPi, SANSX.
Ecriture, Fa Eacritura, . . . . sr. Schrift, . . . . Gra. Aruba, Ezhuttu, . Tam. Likhawat, . . . HIND. Raahathee,. . . . TEL.
All Asiatic races regard writing characters with a respect ainounting to veneration. This feeling is earliest with Muhammaclans, influenced by the possibility of the words representing tho sacred name of God ; and the Chinese in their towns employ people to collect expended manuscripts from houses, to secure them from desecration. Amongst Muhammadans of India, a holy man, to cure sickness, writes tut invocation on a board or slate or paper, which is washed off and given to the sick person to drink. Writing has been brought to its present perfection by much labour. It hais been INC from prehistoric times, and throughout 5000 yotra, at lewd, learned men have been Inventing and improving alphabeta.
The most recent writer is Dr. Isaac Taylor, in 1883, on the alphabet. Ho tells us that two kinds of writing are in use by the natives of the world,—alphabetic and non-alplutbetic ; that the Egyptian hieroglyphic writing is believed to have been the source of all existing alphabets ; that every system of writing has begun with rude pictures of objects, and such pictures, more or less conventionalized, were gradually accepted as the representatives of words, and afterwards be came the symbols of more or less elementary sounds. Learned men describe this process in saying that writing began with ideograms, pictures, or pictorial symbols, which afterwards developed into plionograms or symbols of sounds, either verbal signs, syllabic signs, or alphabetic signs.
There are known five great systems of picture. writing, which have been independently invented. These are (1) the Egyptian, which developed into the monumental hieroglyphic ; (2) the cuneiform, which branched into nine forms ; (3) the Chinese, of five forms ; (4) the 3Iexican, with its two branches ; and (5) the Hittite, which developed into the Carchemish hieroglyphics, the Asia Minor syllabary, the Lycian alphabet, and the Cypriote syllabary. The Chinese characters illustmte
graphic system which has never adranced beyond the most rudimentary stage of conventionalized picture-writing. It is a language of roots, and is monosyllabic. The people of Japan use tho Chinese characters, but their buiguage is poly syllabic ; and the Chinese characters, which are verbal phonograms, have been used by the Japan ese for the expression of the polysyllabic Japanese words by being treated aa syllabic signs.
The diffusion of alphabets has been largely effected by trade routes, by conquests, coloniza tion, and religion. In the 5th century B.C., Darius Hystaspes recorded in the Behistun inscription his restoration of the forgotten text and commentary of the Zendavesta. Also Ilennippus of Smyrrut, who lived in the middle of the Sd century me., quoted and summarized tho contents of the twenty books, each consisting of 100,000 lines, which, he says, had been composed by Zoroaster; and Masudi, an Arab historian of the 10th century A.D., says the Zendavesta was written on 12,000 cow-hides, in a character invented by Zertuslit. It is believed that the character used by Zertuslit WWI a variety of the Aramean.
Buddhism, a missionary religion, has eagerly availed itself of the art of writing for the propaga tion of its doctrines ; but Aryan Ilindus have v:s.eferred the oml transmission of the Vcslaa ; and "umarila Bhatta, of the 8th century A.D., mentious writilig only to condemn its use. The sons of the three higher castes of Hindus were required to learn by heart the sacred text; and to the present day youths in some of the Brahnumic families GM repeat the whole of the Rig Veda, learned, ns their ancestors acquired it thousands of years ago, front tho mouth of a teacher, so that the `Vedic succession' should never be broken.