The Ming Dynasty book is the first woodcut print of the written Shui language ever to be found in China.
The Shui language belongs to the Zhuang-Dong branch of the Chinese-Tibetan family of languages. The Shuis used to have an archaic writing script. Some of their words were pictographs, while others resembled Chinese characters written upside down. The history of Shui Language dates back to the Shang Dynasty, 3,000 years ago when Jiaguwen inscriptions were taking shape on bones and shells as well as Jinwen markings being developed on ancient bronze objects.
Except for a few ancient words that are still in use for religious purposes, the Shuis use Chinese in their day to day lives. To prevent this rare language from disappearing, experts have spent years collecting and sorting out documents covering all aspects of the Shui language.
Pan Chaolin, Researcher of Guizhou University for Ethnic Minorities, said: "This is the 4th volume of Research on China's Shui Ethnic Minority. It will be published by the end of the year and become the very latest research into Shui culture."
The researchers have seen the Shui language listed among the "Chinese Cultural Relics of Historical Files and Documents." The linguists are now trying to get the tongue additional protection from UNESCO.
(CCTV.com August 15, 2003)