“Cang Jie invented the characters, thereby millet grains fell down from heaven and the evil
spirits cried in the night.”
This is how Chinese have passed down the legendary tale of the invention of the Chinese characters by the ancient bureaucrat, Cang Jie, 4000 years ago.
Author and painter Zhang Yanyuan explained during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) the reasoning to above story as follows: “The heavens can no longer keep their secrets from human beings. Humans would, when learning the characters, recognize the secrets of the heavens. That is the same happy act of providence as millet grains falling down from the heavens.”
The evil spirits can now no longer hide, because human beings can now recognize, through the characters, the fundamentals and principles of the world. Therefore, it is no longer possible for these spirits to cheat and lie to people. The only consolation the spirits now have is to secretly cry during the night.
The Chinese characters are the treasure of treasures of the Chinese culture. The Chinese speak of “unity of heaven and humans,” which is also reflected in the Chinese characters. The Chinese characters contain the teachings of I-Jing, the five elements, and the Taoist Yin-Yang; they carry extensive information about heaven, earth, humans, events and objects, and these connections are all illustrated through the combination of the characters. That is also how in ancient China fortunetelling on the basis of characters came into being.