Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (128) Elephant - 象

Elephant is not a Chinese zodiac animal, but it is very important in Chinese culture. Many many words include character Elephant.

Elephants lived in China thousands years ago, people call it as Yellow River Elephant because they lived in the Yellow River area. As the weather changed, forest disappeared in north China, so elephants disappeared in north China and most south China. Small amount of elephants live in Yunnan, near Burma.

When elephants disappeared from most of China, many people couldn't see elephant, but listened the animal by legends, the imagine elephant. So character Elephant means "similar to", "look like", not direct "be". It forms words with other characters to express anything with your imagination, e.g. “想象“-imagine, "抽象“ -abstract. Anyway, something you couldn't see, but you could imagine, which is Thinking-Elephant - 想象.

Let see the its scripts.

The shell bone script for character Elephant is


a picture of a vertical standing elephant, with a typical long nose.


Its big seal script is

The head is up more, and the nose is shorter.

Its small seal script is


The nose is shorter, and where the head is not clear.

Its clerical script is

which is similar to its small seal script. The nose is short, and the tail is outward which is not natural, difficult to relate to elephant tail. The pictography is lost.

Its current standard printing script is

very similar to its clerical script.

Its Pinyin is "Xiang".


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your efforts! found this very helpful foF my research (creds to you!) much appreciated

    ReplyDelete