What is the History of Pictographs?

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A pictograph also known as pictogram is a symbol of the pictorial graphic system. It is a prehistoric drawing on ancient rocks and is essentially a picture of the objects they signify while an ideogram is a symbol that represents a concept or idea. A Pictograph conveys meaning through a diagrammatic representation of a physical object. Pictographs are generally used in graphic systems and writings which have characters that appear in a pictorial form. Pictography refers to a form of writing consisting of pictorial drawings and forms a base for cuneiform and even hieroglyphic writing which sometimes makes use of drawings to represent phonetic letters.


What is the History of Pictographs?

Pictographs formed the basis for early written symbols as used by ancient Egyptian, Sumerian and Chinese civilizations. These ancient civilizations used symbols nearly 5000 years back and developed them into writing systems during the third millennium BCE.  Interestingly, pictographs continue to be used as a symbol of writing in certain backward cultures of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. Pictographs are designated as art form in Native American art, Pre-Columbian art and Pre-Colonization art in the Americas. Some recognized sites of pictograms engraved on rocks include the “Rock art of Chumash” and “Petroglyphs Complexes of the Mongolian Altai”


What is the Advantage of Pictographs?

Pictographs use graphic symbols and can thus communicate easily and effectively to speakers of different cultures and languages. For instance certain pictographic material such as road signs have an universal appeal and used globally as they can be easily understood by all. Pictographs are used in the form of diagrams to explain and represent statistical data and changes are indicated by varying the size, color or number of the pictorial forms. Pictographs are used as simple pictorial symbols by many modern cultures.


What is the Modern Use of Pictographs?

Pictographs are commonly used today as pictorial signs, statistical diagrams or instructions in various fields. Pictographs are graphic in nature and are used to indicate places such as train stations, airports, hotels, public toilets and so on. Similarly a universal set of pictographs is used as laundry symbols on clothing labels. A standard system of pictographs was laid down in the “Public Information Symbols” which has been accredited as the “international standard ISO 7001”


How is Pictograph used in Poetry and Art?

Pictographs were widely used in Ancient Egypt and Chinese literature. Many times the whole story was narrated with the help of hieroglyphics and pictographs. The modern written language has in a way emerged after the use of pictographs.The modern artist Xu Bing developed a universal language, consisting of pictograms used all over the world, called the “Book from the Ground”. A similar chat program has been installed internationally in several galleries and museums. More recently, a “Book form the Ground Wiki” has been launched and ready for development through public participation. The program would essentially be a record of ongoing pictograms used in books, representational signs, and chat programs and so on.


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