A university professor in Beijing is giving ancient Chinese characters modern meanings with a new series of emojis.
Chen Nan, a doctoral advisor at Tsinghua University's Academy of Arts & Design, retraces his inspiration for the animated emojis to oracle bone scripts.
Written on turtle shells and animal bones, the pictographs, dating back 4,000 years, are the earliest known Chinese writing.
"I think the designs and promotion of oracle bone script should be given new life and fused with the present," Chen told thepaper.cn. "I don't want them to be portrayed as these incomprehensible cultural symbols that remain out of reach."
The colorful emojis are pictographs that use the syntax of oracle bone script to convey modern words and internet slang. The emojis got a big endorsement from Chinese pop star Lu Han, who recently posted the set on Sina Weibo. The post received more than 31 million views and was reposted over 140,000 times.
Chen explained he first came up with the redesigned oracle bones with Li Zhengdao, a Nobel laureate in Physics, during a project together in 1999.
The designs were featured on a series of Spring Festival-themed postcards printed by China Post in 2011.