Thursday, February 27, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (266) Morning - 早

Shell bone script of character Morning are



The right one has Sun (日,see Post 4) on the top, and Grass (草,see Post 49) in the bottom. When the Sun rises just above the grass is Morning.



The left character has a grass on the top left just over the right one character, the middle is a moon, and the right  are two grass. In the morning, the Sun is rising when the moon may be still in the sky. The middle character has a same left part as the one left character does, and a character Evening (Moon with empty inside, see Post 52), the inside empty moon means the moon in the early moon not bright anymore.  

The bronze scripts of Morning are


Similar to shell bone script, except the straight horizontal line in the bottom.

The big seal script of the character is

In which, the bottom is changed very big. Some people believe that the bottom is a type of grass, others think that it was written this way mistakenly. 

The small seal script of Morning is 


Similar to big seal script

The clerical script of Morning is

Which is changed back to similar to old scripts.

The song typeface of the character is

Same as the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Zao3.

早 is one of the most popular characters. It is an adjective. People greet each other in the morning:"早上好!” (Good morning!). Even just say "早!“ (Morning!), which are same as people do with English.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (265) Tribal Chief - 酋

The big seal script of character Tribal Chief is
The top 八 alike means Distribute, Divide, Separate, etc. Actually it is a tool of opening the jug.

The bottom means Liquor Jug (Post 104).

The character means that the person who is responsible for distributing liquor among the tribe. Because alcohol liquor was very expensive in the ancient time when people didn't have enough food to eat, so no extra food for making liquor. Only the most powerful man could control the liquor, he could use it by himself or distribute to people among tribe.


The small seal script of character Tribal Chief is

which is similar to its big seal script.

The clerical script of Tribal Chief is

The top is two dots, but still similar to old scripts.

The song typeface of the character is
Same as the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Qiu2.


Friday, February 14, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (264) North - 北

The shell bone script for character North is


The left is a Person (see Post 37), the right is its another person but facing to right, opposite direction.


The original meaning of this character is Opposite.

The big seal script for the character is

It is two back to back people.

The small seal script for the character is

 Two back to back people, same as old scripts above.

The clerical script for the character is
which is two back to back people, but not like people standing, but sitting there.

When was the meaning changed from Opposite to North? I don't know, but it was very early, at least 2000+ ago.

How was this North from?

In Chinese history, almost all palaces for Kings or Emperors face south, and Kings or Emperors sit facing to south. Opposite is comparison with Palace or King/Emperor facing, which is North.

The pinyin for the character is Bei3.

Now we have learnt three characters which have two characters of Person: 北,从,比。It is interesting to compare them.

Shell bone script


From left to right: Follow (从), Compete (比), North (北)

Two people face left is Follow (See Post 74), two people facing right with two forearms up is Compete (See Post 162), two people standing back to back, facing opposite directions is North.

Small seal script


Song typeface and Standard script







Friday, February 7, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (263) Ink - 墨

The big seal script for character Ink is


The top
is Black - 黑 (See Post 183).

The bottom

is Soil - 土 (See Post 223)

Black Soil (黑土)is Ink, an ideogram character.

Here the Black is black charcoal. Ancient Chinese smashed charcoal and mixed with pine gum to make ink sticks. The character meant Ink sticks, not the liquid ink. It means Ink liquid right now because people don't use ink sticks anymore except some (not all) Chinese calligraphists and Chinese painters


Why didn't ancient Chinese call them Ink Stones, but Black Soil? I think the reason is because at the early time, people didn't know to add pine gum, or donkey-hide gelatin to the charcoal so the ink sticks were as loose as soil. As time past, people know how to make solid ink sticks with pine gum or donkey-hide gelatin.

The small seal script for Ink

The top is Black, and the bottom is soil.

The clerical script for Ink is

 Same as above, Black + Soil = Ink.

The song typeface for Ink is

Its Pinyin is Mo4.