E-Dongba: software to write Dongba pictographs


The Naxi Dongba script is the only pictographic script still in use in the world. It was traditionally used to write the ritual books needed by the Dongba priest when performing their ceremonies. In the last decades however it has attracted worldwide attention becoming an ethnic mark of the Naxi, present in a multitude of objects, from shop’s names, to T-shirt and souvenirs of all kinds, and at the same time the focus of an interdisciplinary academic interest.

Edongba software, developed by the Naxi Yang Xiaohui, enables the writer to input the complex Dongba pictograms in any text of drawing, making easy in the writings related to Naxi religion, life and culture to include their interesting pictographs without the need to continuously insert images. As the Dongba pictographs provided in the Edongba software are highly standardized, it will allow a uniform presentation of the text, difficult to obtain to writers that are not good calligraphers in Dongba, improving academic and educational presentations, as well as texts related with Lijjiang or Yunnan, in which the presence of Dongba pictographs would be an elegant visual motif.

One instance of the use of EDongba in my last book (1)



The easy availability of the Dongba pictographs with Edongba software could be very useful also for the research of the history, religion and culture of the Naxi. Comparative analysis of related pictographs is made easy when you can have them in your screen at the size you chose.

I think that the use of the Edongba software must develop beyond the field of academic researches and educational materials to include its use in graphic design, maps elaboration and promotional materials. Its use fits perfectly for most of the symbols included in most maps. Walled cities, palaces, pagodas, and other geographical elements can be elegantly and originally be signaled with Dongba pictographs, providing at the same time a fresh ethnic element to the contemporary design.

Here there is simple map of Guandu Old City near Kunming, using Edongba to mark its main attractions.



Though the map is in Spanish language, Temples, pagodas, main entrances and places to eat, are perfectly identified.

More information about the program and trial download in:

(1) Ceinos Arcones, Pedro. Sons of Heaven, Brothers of Nature: The Naxi of Southwest China. Kunming. 2012. P. 136


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