Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Amazing Chinese Characters (256) Hair - 毛

The bronze script for character Hair is


which is grass, lush grass.


The big seal script of the character is

similar to its bronze script.

Let's recall the character Hand - 手 (Post 55), its big seal script is

which is mirror symmetric to character Hair, a little bit confusing.

The small seal script of the character Hair is

compare it to the character Hand

mirror symmetric.

As we have seen, originally character Hair means grass, but it became to mean "hair" - animal and human hair long time ago.




The clerical script of character Hair

in comparison with Hand

the difference is a little bit bigger.

Its song typeface is

which is big different from song typeface Hand,


As time past, the original meaning of Hair has expanded from grass to hair, nowadays, it means human or animal hair in most of time but grass in some cases especially in proverbs, e.g. proverb 不毛之地 - soil with no grass at all (barren land).

Its pinyin is Mao2.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Amazing Chinese Characters (255) Universal - 普

The big seal script for character Universal is

the top is two people standing side by side


which is the bronze script of the character of "Side by Side" (see Post 241)

the bottom is Sun.

There are people who stand side by side in the early morning when the sun is rising.



Every one share the same sunshine, which means universal.

The small seal script for the character is


very similar to the big seal script

The clerical script for the character is


the top is 並, means two people standing side by side, just simplified from the old scripts.

However, 並 as a single character is not used in simplified Chinese any more (see Post 241), but it is still used in characters as a radical or part of the character like 普 above, in which the top is 並, not 并.

Its Pinyin is Pu3.

Nowadays, 普 has the meaning of General too. Same as English, the difference between Universal and General is very subtle, Chinese just share the same character to mean both. People could figure out which meaning in the context.

(Other related blogs
Creative Chinese Calligraphy - https://creativechinesecalligraphy.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-beautiy-of-creative-calligraphy-1.html)
Chinese Calligraphy History - https://leweishang.blogspot.com/2016/02/picto-calligraphy-new-way-to-write.html)

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Amazing Chinese Characters (254) Yang - 阳

The shell bone script for character Yang is

The left is the cliff, we mentioned in Post 252.


The top right is character Sun (see Post 4).


The bottom part is the sunshine by 《象形字典》(Dictionary of Pictography).


The bronze script for the character is


The right bottom has three slashes on the left of the curve, which is the sunshine or sunlight.

The small seal script for the character is
similar to the bronze script.

The clerical script for the character is
the left part is changed to "Ear radical" with the meaning of cliff as I mentioned in Post 253, the right part is similar to that of old scripts.

The traditional song typeface of the character is

similar to clerical script.

The simplified song typeface of the character is

The sunshine on the right bottom disappeared, which is OK because the Sun is still there.

Its Pinyin is Yang2.

Basically, 日 is sun, 阳 is the sunshine on the cliff in original meaning. 阳 means sun too in most of time too. The difference between the two is very subtle nowadays. 

阳 is not only Sunny, but is part of famous Chinese philosophy 阴阳 (Yin-Yang). I discussed 阴(Yin) in Post 253. 

阴阳(Yin-Yang) is so important and so rich in content that I will discuss it in an independent post under my another blog "Chinese Calligraphy History" (https://leweishang.blogspot.com/2016/02/why-chinese-say-buy-east-west-instead.html)


(Other related blogs
Creative Chinese Calligraphy - https://creativechinesecalligraphy.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-beautiy-of-creative-calligraphy-1.html)
Chinese Calligraphy History - https://leweishang.blogspot.com/2016/02/picto-calligraphy-new-way-to-write.html)

Amazing Chinese Characters (253) Yin - 阴

The shell bone script for character Yin is not found, so we start the bronze script for the character,


Left is a cliff, ancient Chinese lived in caves in the bottom of cliff.


From their view, they see cliff all the time.

The right top is mouth (the triangle), the low part is cloud.Why is there a mouth on top? No explanation is found. I think that the ancient Chinese believed that there is a King in the sky who is in charge of weather.  When he spits clouds from his mouth, it is a cloudy day.


The big seal script for the character is

very similar to its bronze script.

The small seal script for character Yin,


which is similar to the old scripts but a little bit more complex.

The clerical script for the character is

The left has changed big, but still has some similarity to the old script. The left part is called Ear Radical because it is like an ear. This one is called Left Ear Radical because it is on the left of the character. As we discussed above, it has nothing to do with ear. It is cliff, which most people including Chinese don't know that.

The traditional song typeface of the character Yin is

which is very similar to the clerical script.

The simplified song typeface of the character is

which is changed a lot, the right part is 月(Moon), totally different from that on old scripts.

Is this change rational? Some degree. The original scripts emphasize the Shade in the day time, the sun is blocked by clouds. The simplified song typeface uses Moon to replace the right part, which means "night with moon", different from shade in day time. But it has no sun too. Some degree rational.



Its Pinyin is Yin1.

Some of you may have heard Yin-Yang, a famous Chinese philosophy. Yin-Yang in Chinese is 阴阳, the first character is 阴. I will discuss Yang - 阳 in next post. We will see what they Yin-Yang really mean in the view of original pictography.

(Other related blogs
Creative Chinese Calligraphy - https://creativechinesecalligraphy.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-beautiy-of-creative-calligraphy-1.html)
Chinese Calligraphy History - https://leweishang.blogspot.com/2016/02/picto-calligraphy-new-way-to-write.html)

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Amazing Chinese Characters (252) Meat - 肉

The shell bone script of character Meat is

which is a Knife


and a vertical line in Knife, something is cut by knife, which is Meat.


The big seal script of Meat is

two lines in knife, more meat.

The small seal script of the character is


similar to its big seal script.

But it is almost same as the small seal script of Moon


It is difficult to distinguish the small seal script Meat from that of Moon.

Next the clerical script for the character is
the knife is a door-like shape, different from clerical script of Knife, or a little bit similarity.

inside there are two 人(Human), top part is extending out. Here 人 should mean something related to body or meat.

which is similar to character Inside (Post 249),


which is only one 人 inside.

Let's see the clerical script of Moon,

significant different from Meat.

The Pinyin for character Meat - 肉 is Rou4.

I have to point out that the similarity of the two characters has great influence on related characters. Most radical 月s do not mean Moon, but Meat or body or organ or meat related. For example

 肝 - liver;  肥 - fat; 肺 - lung; 肌 - muscle, etc.

We call the radical 月 to be Meat-Moon radical (肉月旁), because it means Meat but it is written as Moon.

Fortunately, the confusions have not caused much problem. People have got used to. The reason may be because people just memorized the characters, don't know and care the original meaning of any character. Is it good or bad?

Friday, November 8, 2019

Amazing Chinese Characters (251) Again - 再

The shell bone script for character Again is


which are a fish traps made from bamboo which are still used nowadays.


Inside of the trap is similar to a fish hook


Fish could get in easily but difficult to get out. It is used most in rice field to catch loach whose body is very slippery, hard to hold. Also in the rice field, the water is very shallow (1 or 2 inches), it is impossible to use fish hook. The fish trap is the best tool to catch the loach.


Why is the bamboo fish trap meaning Again? Because it could be used again and again.

Well there are many other tools which could be used again and again, why is trap for Again? I think the reason should be trap was more difficult to make than other tools, and could be used for longer time.

The big seal script for the character is
It looks like fish trap.

The small seal script for the character is

Similar to its big seal script.

The clerical script for the character is
Similar to the old scripts.

Its Pinyin is Zai4.

In my hometown, Zhejiang, Hunan, China, people still use this fish traps to catch the loach. The name of the trap is called "Zhuan3 Zai3",  Zhuan may be Zuan (钻) because people there don't distinguish Zhuan and Zuan, 钻 means Drill or squeeze in. Zai3 is close to Zai4. So "Zhuan3 Zai3" could be 钻再“ - Drill in trap, which is the best describing of the bamboo devices .

再 means Again, so Chinese see "Good bye" is 再见 - pronounced "Zai4 Jian4", meaning See You Again, or Meet You Again. In which 见 means "Meet" (see Post 201).

or
or

再见 is the most used word in Chinese, another one is 你好。If you learn Chinese, you will be taught 再见 right after you learnt 你好。

In Post 102, I talked another character Again - 又, what is the difference between the two.

又 means that something happened again already:“又见面了” - We met again (We had met, we met again). 再 means that something would happen again in the future:"再见“ - See you again sometime in the future (possibly).

Both mean Again but not exchangeable.

(Other related blogs
Creative Chinese Calligraphy - https://creativechinesecalligraphy.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-beautiy-of-creative-calligraphy-1.html)
Chinese Calligraphy History - https://leweishang.blogspot.com/2016/02/picto-calligraphy-new-way-to-write.html)