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I have seen this script many times before, but the best information anyone can give me is that they are archaic and almost no one uses them. Here is a photo of the characters then versus now: old script.png

11

There are five distinct scripts in that picture, all reflecting forms of the Chinese writing system.

From left to right, we have: oracle bone script (甲骨文{こうこつぶん}), bronze script (金文{きんぶん}), seal script (篆文{てんぶん}), and then modern handwriting (traditional and Japanese simplified). Oracle bone script is the earliest attested form of the Chinese script.

One theory is that the character 樂 depicts a set of drums mounted on a rack -- this can be better seen from the oracle bone inscription.

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    Note that the simplified script is the Japanese-specific simplification. Chinese simplifies it to 乐 – nhahtdh Oct 12 '15 at 6:43
  • 1
    Indeed. Edited for clarification. – jogloran Oct 12 '15 at 7:14

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