The Straits Times Asia
MADAM Yang Huanyi, 98, died in a remote part of China's Hunan province last month. There was nothing unusual about her death, except that she was the last person on Earth who had mastered a secret writing system used only by women in that region.
Today, the number of people who understand nushu well comes to less than 50 worldwide. Most of them live in Madam Yang's Jiangyong county. The residents there want to exploit its potential as an attraction for tourists. This has alarmed linguists, anthropologists and other experts, who are worried that the ancient writing system will be defiled through such commercial exploitation.
Nushu, believed to have been invented almost 2,000 years ago, was used exclusively by women in western Hunan and parts of adjoining Guangxi region. (article no longer online)
A language by women, for women. Scholars try to save unique Chinese script (MSNBC / Washington Post)
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