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It does not look very well written.

Quite interesting. The text was part of a rather rough engraving on a type of inkbox. I would give it not more than hundred years old.

Does it have a meaning? Or is it an imitation without meaning.

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skylee

Quite interesting. The text was part of a rather rough engraving on a type of inkbox. I would give it not more than hundred years old.

Does it have a meaning? Or is it an imitation without meaning.

From left to right vertically -

駑不下

馬舍學

十溫上

駕故達

功知

在新

Three sayings / set phrases - 1) 駑馬十駕,功在不舍 2) 溫故知新 3) 下學上達

Looks pretty 小篆-y to me.

To my untrained eyes they are 篆. Perhaps they are 小篆, I am not sure.

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Perhaps?

nù mǎ shí jià, gōng zài bù shě, wēn gù zhī xīn, nǎi xué zhī dào ?

[Apologies, can't write properly]

Seems to make sense. Sloppy writing, or rustic?

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Hofmann

駑不下

馬舍學

十溫上

駕故達

功知

在新

If the text is what you say it is, there are wrong characters. I read 以學止道不舍溫故知新駑馬十駕功在.

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I started this post with "What script is this? IMHO it is not Kǎishū nor Cǎoshū. So what is it? Looks a bit as seal script."

It is clear that this was a mistake. I should have realized that not everybody writes as they have been tought (at school).

So, no extraordinary script involved but more a case of 'lousy' writing. [i guess as we all do from time to time].

An usefull experience.

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Hofmann

So, no extraordinary script involved but more a case of 'lousy' writing. [i guess as we all do from time to time].

篆書 is extraordinary in this era. Most people aren't taught 篆書 in school. (Hell, look for one school that teaches proper 楷書 in China and you will have found a bunch of the most literate teachers in China.) I don't know about the handwriting, but I can read it, so it passes the most important test. If skylee's text is valid, though, there are wrong characters. They're completely different characters that no literate person would substitute unless they were drunk or really sleepy.

Also if skylee's text is valid, why is it from left to right? This whole thing screams "illiterate!" to me.

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OneEye

I started this post with "What script is this? IMHO it is not Kǎishū nor Cǎoshū. So what is it? Looks a bit as seal script."

It is clear that this was a mistake. I should have realized that not everybody writes as they have been tought (at school).

So, no extraordinary script involved but more a case of 'lousy' writing. [i guess as we all do from time to time].

An usefull experience.

I'm not sure how you came to this conclusion, since all the responses are talking about how it is Seal Script. It isn't a case of someone just not writing like they learned in school (who does that anyway?). It's like someone in 2010 writing in blackletter or Carolingian minuscule, or (even better) the Phoenician alphabet (the ancestor of the Roman alphabet). It's unusual.

Take a look at what 楷書 (kaishu) and 草書 (caoshu) actually look like, and you'll see a huge difference between them and what you posted. Here's another example of a relatively recent calligrapher (楊沂孫 Yang Yisun, Qing Dynasty) using Seal Script for comparison.

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You are right. My remark was off the mark.

There seems to be difference between the responses whether it is Dazhuan or Xiaozhuan, about the writing style, L-R versus R-L, and regarding the identification of three of the last four characters (which I have been told are nǎi, xué, zhī, dào, 乃学之道).

Would you know by chance a site where both Seal Scripts are shown in juxtaposition, so as to get an idea about the essence of the difference.

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Altair
There seems to be difference between the responses whether it is Dazhuan or Xiaozhuan, about the writing style, L-R versus R-L, and regarding the identification of three of the last four characters (which I have been told are nǎi, xué, zhī, dào, 乃学之道).

You may find the material from this Wikipedia page to be helpful in understanding what exactly Dazhuan or Xiaozhuan refer to:

There are two uses of the word seal script, the Large or Great Seal script (大篆 Dàzhuàn; Japanese daiten), and the lesser or Small Seal Script (小篆 Xiǎozhuàn; Japanese shōten); the latter is also called simply seal script. The Large Seal script was originally a later, vague Han dynasty reference to writing of the Qin system similar to but earlier than Small Seal. It has also been used to refer to Western Zhou forms or even oracle bones as well. Since the term is an imprecise one, not clearly referring to any specific historical script and not used with any consensus in meaning, modern scholars tend to avoid it, and when referring to seal script, generally mean the (small) seal script of the Qin system, that is, the lineage which evolved in the state of Qin during the Spring and Autumn[1] to Warring States periods and which was standardized under the First Emperor.

As for the direction of the writing, I think everyone assumes that it is vertical and left to right based on the layout; however, I think this combination is unusual and begs an explanation.

As for the identification of the last characters as 乃学之道, try searching for the various options suggested on this site, and judge for yourself:

I have done so and would vote for 乃學之道, although I cannot really distinguish between 之 and 止 by shape alone.

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skylee

As for the direction of the writing, I think everyone assumes that it is vertical and left to right based on the layout; however, I think this combination is unusual and begs an explanation.

駑馬十駕,功在不舍 is from 荀子, which was why I said it was vertical and from left to right.

I obviously misread the last column. 乃學之道 makes sense.

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You may find the material from this Wikipedia page to be helpful in understanding what exactly Dazhuan or Xiaozhuan refer to:

Hope you do not mind this question from an obvious novice.

But, am I correct to have understood that there is no morphological / writing style difference between Dazhuan and Xiaozhuan? If so, what makes Skylee to opt for Dazhuan and Hofmann for Xiaozhuan.

駑馬十駕,功在不舍 is from 荀子

Skylee, would you mind to let me know which text of Xun Zi you are referring to.

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skylee
what makes Skylee to opt for Dazhuan

You might not have noticed, but I am just one of those useless native speakers (of Cantonese, not even Mandarin). hohoho. :D So don't take my reply too seriously. I am not good at calligraphy at all. I know it is 篆 and I think it is 大篆. That's all.

And Daan is right.

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That would be this passage.

Saying 9 from book 1 (Yang Liang's arrangement) 勸學 "Exhortation to Learning"?

Thank you!

I am very, very impressed that both you and Skylee apparently remembered this one line ( - or knew how to find it). I had checked the Chinese Text Project site, but could not think of how to find the line.

As I am not a philosopher, and just a tiny novice of the Chinese language, so my understanding of the line is a bit blurred. And, to find John Knoblock's work in a library would not be easy, I guess.

Would you know a proper translation.

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I am afraid I underestimated the availability of specialized books in my direct environment. I just managed to borrow 'Xunzi : a translation and study of the complete works' from the University Library in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

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skylee
I am very, very impressed that both you and Skylee apparently remembered this one line ( - or knew how to find it).

Take a look -> Dear All-knowing Lord

The key is to recognise the characters and then search them.

That theme of the passage is about accumulating effort to attain success. A good horse cannot go farther than ten paces if it just jumps once (騏驥一躍,不能十步). A bad/weak/slow horse can go very far if it keeps running for ten days (駑馬十駕). The key to success is not to give up (功在不舍). Similarly, if you try to carve something but give up easily, you won't be able to break a piece of rotten wood (鍥而舍之,朽木不折). But if you don't give up and keep carving, you will be able to carve on metal and stone (鍥而不舍,金石可鏤).

I am glad you've found that book.

But don't you think the words in the picture ugly?

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skylee

Would you know a proper translation.

Indeed there is one, but it is for a variant of the saying. This is from my The Pinyin Chinese-English Dictionary (The Commercial Press, 1981) -

"駑馬千里,功在不舍。If a jade travels a thousand li, it is only through perseverance."

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