Beijing 2008 – Sports Pictograms

Designers: Hang Hai & Wang Jie


The sports pictograms of Beijing 2008 are, in their final form, a joint work of Hang Hai and Wang Jie. The two call their pictograms “the beauty of seal characters” because their basic form is based on strokes and lines of ancient seal signs, as found on inscriptions and bronze objects from ancient China. In addition to their traditional context, the sports pictograms must primarily function flawlessly as a simple, internationally understandable representation of the respective sport; as has been the case for all the Olympic Games for many decades. Hang Hai and Wang Jie used the written form of old seals as a basis, for example oracle bone writing (jia gu wen) and bronze ware script (jin wen), and incorporated them into their modern graphics. Characteristically, the seal script is formally round and smooth, both rough and gentle, as well as beautiful and graceful, demonstrating the quintessence of traditional Chinese aesthetics, which gives the pictograms movement and dynamism, depending on the sport. The origins of these signs are inscriptions and pat-terns that have mostly been found on ancient bronze or stone tablets. By rubbing, the characters or text can be transferred onto a sheet of rice paper, for example, making them reproducible in many ways. This culture of rubbing has reached its heyday in Chinese art; the contrast between black and white in the sports pictograms comes very close to this art.