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Chinese Variant Characters

par Lemardelé Élise - publié le

Principal Investigators : Costantino Moretti, Françoise Bottéro et Olivier Venture

Discipline Paleography, philology, lexicography

Participants :

Full Members

Costantino Moretti, Olivier Venture

Associate Members

Françoise Bottéro (CNRS-EHESS-CRLAO), Imre Galambos (Univesité de Cambridge)


Variant Chinese characters (異體字) are a well studied phenomenon in China, but are most often approached in relation to the conventions of standard scripts and therefore readily cast as deviant forms. Yet some scholars, like Françoise Bottéro (2001, 2003), have shown that another approach is possible, and that variant characters deserve to be studied in their own right. The project proposes to address the phenomenon of variant Chinese characters on the long term and across the whole Sinicized world. The aim will be to identify continuity and interruption in their use in the different corpora currently available, be they the bamboo manuscripts of the Warring States, of the Qins and the Hans, or the paper manuscripts on paper from Turfan and Dunhuang, or again stelae from the Han to the Qing. Colleagues who are working on Japan, Korea and Vietnam will also be invited to participate in this project. Finally, the project aims to create a database of these variant characters, which could, at least in the case of the Dunhuang manuscripts, lead to the creation of an online specialised dictionary that will be better suited to the needs of scholars than the research tools that are currently available to us.

Planned scientific output and scientific activities A symposium will be organised, followed by the publication of the proceedings that would be issued in the CRCAO’s collections.