Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (172) Towel - 巾

The big seal script for character Towel is



The middle vertical line is a rope, which ties the arch-alike towel, which is a simplified skirt, like grass skirt people wore in the ancient time.


The small seal script for the character is


which is similarity to the big seal script.

The meaning of the character changed to Towel long time ago, and people created another character for Skirt - 裙.

The clerical script for the character is

The current standard printing script is


All scripts are very similar. 

Its Pinyin is Jin1.

Amazing Chinese Characters (171) Hang - 吊

The shell bone script for character Hang is


The middle one


is Person or People.

The bend curve with an arrow is a rope. The character means that using a rope to tie a person and hang on some where. It is ideogram character.

The big seal script for the character is

which changed a lot, no similarity to the shell bone script.

The top is a person's head, and the bottom

is Towel or Cloth or any thing related, including the ropes made by cloth. Here is rope. The character means that using a rope to hang a person, which is same meaning as the shell bell script.

The small seal script for the character is

which is similar to the shell bone script.

The clerical script for the character is

which is similar to the big seal script.

It is unclear why the character changed back and forth.

The current standard printing script is


which is almost same as its clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Diao4.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (170) Window - 窗

The shell bone script of character Window is


which is a ventilation window.



The big seal script of the character is

The small seal script of the character is


There is a top over the window, which means "cave house", or a cave for living. Ancient Chinese digged caves for residence. There are many people live in cave houses in Northwest China.



The clerical script of the character is

It has some similarity to small seal script.

The song typeface of the character is


Its Pinyin is Chuang1.


Amazing Chinese Characters (169) Man - 男

The shell bone script of character Man is

the left part is character Field,



the right part is character Power


actually it is a plow.



Man is the one who is ploughing in the field. It is true, in the ancient time, only men took care of ploughing field. At that time, Ox were not trained to pull the plow, men had to pull the plow.

The character is an ideogram.

The small seal script for the character is


The character Field is on the top, and the Power (plow) is on the bottom.

The clerical script for the character is


The current standard printing script is


Its pinyin is Nan2.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (168) Power or Strength - 力

The shell bone script of character Strength is


which is a plow.



Ancient Chinese used man power to pull the plow (not Ox), so only the most powerful and strength man could pull the plow.

Let's see its big seal script


and its small seal script


The clerical script of the character is


which changed a lot, difficult to see the similarity.

The current standard printing script is


very similar to the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Li4.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (167) Self - 自

The shell bone script of character Self is


which is a picture of nose.


Originally, the character meant Nose. But the meaning changed later to Self. Why did ancient Chinese use nose to be Self? Because Chinese like to use a finger to point to his or her nose when they say "me" or "self" (Americans like to point to his or her chest), so the nose represents "self".

The big seal script of the character is

Let's see the small seal script,


which changed a lot, but still has some similarity to a nose.

The clerical script is


which is similar to the small seal script.

The song typeface of the character is


which is very similar to the clerical script.

Its pinyin is Zi4.

I need to point out that there was another character created sometime later,


pronounced Za2, one 口 (Mouth) added to the left of 自, which means I or Me or Self, being used more often in oral Chinese. 

It is understandable, people point the Mouth and Nose area to indicate Self. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (166) Father - 父

The shell bone script of character Father is


which is a hand holding an ax or other tools. Father was a man who took the hardest job to support the family, also he was the man who had the power to set the family rules. Many times, the character is explained as a hand holding a stick for father to beat family member who didn't follow his rules.

The big seal script of the character is



similar to shell bone script.

The small seal script of the character is


We can see the hand, but the stick is bent now, not still similar to its shell bone script.

The clerical script for the character is


Which is different from the old scripts. The bottom cross two strokes could be seen as the hand, the top left could be seen as the stick. The top right one is unclear. I don't know what it presents for.

The song typeface of the character is


Which is similar to the clerical script.

Its pinyin is Fu4.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (165) Wife - 妻

The shell bone script of character Wife is


The bottom is character Woman, the up right is a hand grabbing her hairs. In ancient time, people often to capture women to force marriage. The character describes the situation. It is sad but unfortunately it is true.

Let's see its small seal script

which is formed by character Woman



and character Claw (or Hand)


Which means that man catched up a woman and forced her to be his wife, explained by dictionary.

Some people explained that the man touched the woman by hand to show his love, which is more accepted by morden society.

Its clerical script is


similar to its small seal script.

The current standard printing script is


Similar to its clerical script.

Its pinyin is Qi1.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (164) Oil - 油

The shell bone script of character Oil is


one drop over a pan.


Similar to shell bone script.

Its small seal script is

which changed a lot.  The left part is small seal script for Water. What is the right part? Why was it changed?

Let's see the following


Which are seal scripts for Oil, the left is older than the right. We can see the left is a closed oil pot, the dot is the oil dropt, the 人 over the dot should be something like a pipe for pouring out of oil. The right one should be standard small script for Oil, but the oil drop and the pipe connected together to become 十.

By some unknown reasons, the right character had been used for another meaning - From: formed from, caused from, ect. So people added a Water on the left of the right character to keep the meaning of Oil.

Here Water means liquid.

The clerical script for character Oil is

The left is the radical for Water, the right one is similar to the small seal script.

The current standard printing script is


very similar to clerical script.

I need to point out that Chinese use 油 for Gasoline too because it is liquid. Chinese think Gas is something like air, not liquid.

Its pinyin is You2.