Sunday, October 2, 2016

Amazing Chinese Characters (91) Tie - 系(係)

The shell bone script of character Tie is


the top is a hand, and the bottom is bouquet of grass, or hemp yarn. It means that a person uses his hand to tie knots. Dictionary of Pictography believes that people tie knots to keep record of events, which was popular in ancient China.


Different knots represent different event. 


Some people disagree with Dictionary of Pictography, who think that the character just means “Tie something”, may include tying knots to record, but much widely used. I prefer this explanation.

Its small seal script is


there is still a hand on the top, but no fingers anymore. Only one thread of silk yarn is left on the bottom, it is simplified a lot from the shell bone script.

Its clerical script is


similar to small seal script but much less pictography. People can't see the original meaning any more.

The song typeface for traditional character is


The right is same as the clerical script. The left is Single Person Radical, which means that it is an action of a person, normally is a verb to make a connection, or relationship in community, society, and among people.

The song typeface for simplified character is


which is similar to clerical script. This character original meant Tie as a verb, but also meant something connected, related closely, such as 系统 – System,系 – Department of College, Series – 系列,etc. It was a noun too. The interesting thing is that It was exist with 係 for long time, therefore it is not a “Simplified character”. But Chinese simplification eliminated 係, right now, 系takes over all meanings of 係 and 系 before. 

Its Pinyin is "Xi4".

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