Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (138) Drum - 鼓

The shell bone script for character Drum is


It is an ancient drum on the left.



on the right, it is a drum stick held by a hand.

Its small seal script is


the left is similar to shell bone script but the right one changed a lot.

The clerical script is


Similar to the older scripts.

The current standard printing script is


Its pinyin is Gu3.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (137) Dust - 尘

The shell bone script for Dust is


the top is


which means Deer.

The bottom means Soil.

In the ancient time, deer hunting was popular in China especially for Royal family members and ministers. When they were chasing the deers, they met the dust raised by deer running. So they created the character: Deer + Soil.


The big seal script is


three deers run on the ground (soil) right now, more dust could be made.

The small seal script is


similar to the big seal script.

The clerical script is


similar to the small seal script.

The current standard printing script for traditional character is


almost same as the clerical script.

The current standard printing script for simplified character is


the top is character Small, the bottom is character Soil. So it means "small soil", which is Dust. 

Normally, simplified character is not as good as traditional character in conveying the original meaning, but this simplified character is an exceptional good one, which is not only simplified the character, but conveying the meaning very well. 

Its pinyin is Chen1.  

Amazing Chinese Characters (136) Together - 共

The shell bone script for Character Together is


The left one has two hands, the right one has two hands with a 口 in the middle.

In ancient time, people hold two hands together to greet each other.



The 口 in the middle is a big square where people get together for sacrifice, all greet each other by holding both hands in front of the chest.

The greeting had changed a little bit to become holding both hands together a few hundred years ago.


Don't be confused with greeting among people who do Kung Fu. 


which is one palm and one fist, a specific greeting between Kung Fu masters because they use fists and palms.

The big seal script for Together is
which is similar to the right one shell bone script above.

The small seal script for character Together is

The top changed to  which means 20. But some experts think it as 口, a place for sacrifice. I prefer to 20, not exactly 20 but many people.

The clerical script of the character is
The top is 20, the bottom two dots are two hands.

Its song typeface is
Almost same as clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Gong4.

共 emphasizes doing something together, not just stay together. It also means Common, or All.  

Amazing Chinese Characters (135) Small, Young - 小

How to draw a picture to present "Small"? Ancient Chinese used the following shell bone script


three short vertical bars. Actually, they wanted to show small particles.

The bronze script is


more like three small particles.

The small seal script is


three lines, the particles disappeared. But we can see the similarity between it and the older scripts. The reason why its pictography was gone is because there is no dot in small seal script, all dots are replaced by short curve or straight lines, which is better to write but less pictography.

The clerical script is


the two dot-alike short lines on sides but the middle is a verticle bar with a hook at bottom.

The character also means "Young".

The current standard printing script is


very similar to the clerical script.

It pinyin is "Xiao3".

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (134) Brush - 笔

Chinese had used brushes to write for thousands years. The oldest shell bone script for Brush is

The top right is a hand holding a brush on the left.

Let us compare it with 書 - Write (Post 54),

The top is Brush with hand, same as we see above. The bottom is Mouth, we may think: the writing is like speaking with brush.

Its bronze script is


similar to shell bone script.

Its big seal script is


The fingers of hand are langer, more like a hand.


Its small seal script is


the bottom one


means Brush (with a hand holding the brush).

The top one



is a radical, which means bamboo related. Becaues all brush body was made from bamboo.

Its clerical script is


same as the small seal script, the top one is a radical meaning something related to bamboo. The bottom one means brush.

Gradually, the bottom one has been replaced by the characters with the radical. The bottom one has not used as Brush any more. It became a modal particle without meaning, and not used nowadays. But it keeps its Brush meaning if it is in a character as a radical.

Its current standard printing script for tranditional character is


same as the clerical script.

Its printing script for simplified character is

on the top is the bamboo related radical, on the bottom is character "Hair". Top is bamboo, and bottom is hair, which is Brush. The hand is disappeared, but it is very understandable.

Its pinyin is "Bi1".


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (133)Happy or Happiness - 喜

The shell bone script for Happy or Happiness/Joy is

It is a drum on the top, and a mouth at the bottom, which means that a person opens his mouth smiling when hearing the sound of drumbeat.


Chinese have liked to beat drums and dance to celebrate festivals, weddings, and any great news, which is a tradition.


Even there are a drum and a drummer on back of the dragon boat to encourage the rowers and coordinate the paddling. All the audiences are exciting, and happy to watch the race.

Its small seal script is

Its clerical script is

Its running script is
The current standard printing script is



Its pinyin is "Xi3".

The character Happy or Happiness is so popular in Chinese culture. It has been one of the two most popular characters, another one is Fortune (福). Normally it is artistic paper-cut Double Happiness or double joy.


Two Happiness character side by side means Double Happiness, which is used much more than single Happiness.

What you see most on the doors or windows of during a wedding is like the following:


I have to point out that you can't find the above double happiness character in official dictionary, but it is widely accepted by all Chinese for hundreds or more than a thousand years.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (132) Sky - 天

The shell bone script of character Sky is

The top is the sky, the bottom 


is character Big. Ancient Chinese thought the "Sky" is the biggest and highest thing in the universal, above Big.

The bronze script of the character is


The solid big oval is sky.

A big square or oval over "Big" is the Sky, on the top of the person who open his arms to embrace the sky.


Its small seal script is


right now, the square becomes a line.

The clerical script for character "Sky" is


Its pinyin is "Tian1".

Friday, March 3, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (131) Love - 爱

The big seal script for character Love is


The middle of the lower part

is Heart.

The 《象形字典》(Pictography Dictionary) explains the character: the surrounding heart is  character 欠,which original means that open mouth, breath out, or speak softly. So the meaning of the character is "To care from one's heart, to show love in a soft voice".

Let's see its small script first


It is all similar to big seal script except there is an extra 夕 alike part on the bottom, which is an up-down 止 (foot). So the small seal script has all the meaning of big seal script, plus "To follow the love anywhere with ones foot".

Its clerical script is

The middle part

is Heart.

The top part above the 心 is a hand, the original 欠 disappears. Now we have a heart in the middle, a hand on the top, and a foot on the bottom. The meaning of the character becomes "To care with you hands, To love with you heart, To follow the love where ever it goes".

The current standard printing script for traditional character


Its current standard printing script for simplified character


The difference between the traditional and simplified characters above is that there is "心“ (heart) in traditional character but not in simplified character.

Many people feel if no Heart, then no Love. So it is a bad simplification.

Its Pinyin is "Ai4".

I created an artwork "愛 in Love".