Character Classic" was used in China as the second primer for
teaching reading and writing to children. By putting one thousand
characters into a more or less coherent rhymed form, learning was
presumably made easier and more interesting. It is something of a
very great achievement in that no character is repeated. This poem
was so well known in China that its one thousand characters,
arranged in order, were often used as a fanciful way of notation
or counting from one to a thousand.
There are many legendary
stories about the origin of the poem. One story relates that the
celebrated penman Wang Hi-Che wrote the thousand characters on a
thousand separate pieces of paper. The Emperor Liang Wu Ti then
directed Chou Hsing-Szu to arrange them in rhymed sentences to
convey a meaning. This task was accomplished in a single night,
but such was the mental effort that the compilers hair and beard
were turned completely white before morning.
The poem is read from top
to bottom and from right to left.
While the use of these
characters on a Keno ticket is merely to represent numbers, some
Chinese people select the character marked for the word meaning.
The words selected usually have a special meaning to them,
pronounced the same as their name, or an event that has happened
to them, or a recent dream.