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- The Naxi language spoken by the Naxi people of Yunnan Province, China is the only pictographic writing system in the world still in use. A member of the Tibetan-Burman language family, Naxi has many of the tonal and symbolic aspects of Chinese. The Naxi language has four tones; each sound complex has many different meanings based on its tone. The Naxi Dongba script is used exclusively by the dongba (shamans/priests) as an aid to the recitation of ritual texts during religious ceremonies and shamanistic rituals. Many of the individual symbols, totaling 276 sound complexes, are compounds and are read as phrases in which verbs and other parts of speech are supplied from memory. The Naxi Manuscript Collection of ceremonial writings in the Library of Congress is the largest outside of China and is considered one of the finest in the world.
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