Creating a new character – public transport

All the main city buses in Lijiang recently got a new makeover, which included the following Naxi and Chinese characters sprayed onto the fronts and backs of each bus:

The Chinese here is Lijiang Gongjiao 丽江公交;  simply Lijiang (丽江) public transport (gongjiao 公交 – short for gonggong jiaotong 公共交通).  The Naxi Dongba script utilised here however is particularly interesting as it involves the coining of a new pictographic character for the word ‘public transportation’.


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Lijiang’s road signs

Lijiang has done a good job in trying to preserve and indeed promote the Naxi pictographic script, a writing system that was previously controlled and used exclusively by the Dongba priests and passed down from generation to generation.  Now, of course, primary school students can opt for extra curricular lessons in the script, and there is a course at the local teacher’s college that teaches it to foreigners. The script is used on all shop fronts in the old town and some in the new town, and on road signs throughout the city. However, it’s ultimately debatable Continue reading