Empire of Living Symbols


By Cecilia Lindqvist

Formats and Prices




$19.99 CAD




ebook $14.99 $19.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around April 27, 2009. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

The origins of Chinese ideographs were not known until 1899, when a scholar went to an apothecary for some medicine made of “dragon bone.” To his surprise, the bone, which had not yet been ground into powder, contained a number of carved inscriptions. Thus began the exploration of the 3000-year-old sources of the written characters still used in China today. In this unparalleled and deeply researched book, Cecilia Lindqvist tells the story of these characters and shows how their shapes and concepts have permeated all of Chinese thought, architecture, art, and culture.


  • Guardian 7/5/08
    “An evocative, compelling celebration of language as a carrier of culture.”Toronto Globe & Mail 7/5/08
    “[A] delightful cultural and linguistic history.”

    Boston Globe
    “Deserve[s] special mention…Lavishly illustrated.”

    London Review of Books
    , 2008
    “A fascinating introduction to Chinese language and culture. Beautifully designed and illustrated with photographs, calligraphy and drawings.”

    Shelf Awareness’s “Top Ten of 2009,” 12/15/2009
    “For those of us fascinated by Chinese, this offers detailed histories of many basic characters, showing their earliest forms, which often were representational, and their stylized modern versions.”

On Sale
Apr 27, 2009
Page Count
448 pages
Da Capo Press

Cecilia Lindqvist

About the Author

Cecilia Lindqvist lives in Stockholm and lectures widely. She has just published a book on Chinese music.

Learn more about this author