Epigraphy refers, according to the common understanding, to the observable practice and technique of carving inscriptions into objects of hard materials, such as stone, wood, metal and, less frequently, ceramic, steel, glass and concrete. The epigraphic objects can be natural, e.g. rocks, or man-made , such as tombstones, or ancestral tablets. Characters can be carved in, so-called yīn 陰 carvings, or out, so-called yáng 陽 carvings. In addition, they can be painted to enhance their social functions or to change or underline the symbolism of the writing. More than 100 epigraphic genres are distinguished in the Chinese languages used in the Taiwan Strait by a rich vocabulary. Yet, these languages only loosely attempt to organize epigraphic practices in hierarchies. An overarching notion of epigraphy is virtually absent in these languages and potentially irrelevant to practitioners, as well as for believers of related rites.