Xiaozhuan(lesser seal script), also calledQinzhuan, is a calligraphy developed fromDazhuan(greater seal script). It emerged in the Qin State in the late Warring States Period (475-221BC), and was prevalent in the Qin Dynasty (221-206BC) and early Western Han Dynasty (206BC-8AD).
|"Qinzhuan" calligraphy on stone
Cultural relics of the Qin Dynasty unearthed show thatXiaozhuanwas gradually involved fromDazhuan, and the two do not have clear demarcation of time periods. Some characters ofDazhuanwere comparatively complicated and difficult to write, characters became more simplified starting from the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476BC), and the pace of simplification obviously picked up. Persons like Li Si, the Minister of Qin Emperor Shihuang, simply collected and arranged the characters ofXiaozhuan, setXiaozhuanas a standard calligraphy and popularized it in the whole society.
Examples ofXiaozhuanof this period areTaishan Keshi(stone inscription on the Mount Tai) andLangyatai Keshi(stone inscription on Langya Terrace).Elucidations of the Signs and Explications of the Graphs, compiled by Xu Shen, included 9,353Xiaozhuancharacters. ThoughXiaozhuandid not emerge early, it boasts a large number, plays a special role in the development history of Chinese characters and is the bridge between ancient characters and modern characters.