Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (278) Painting - 画

The shell bone script for character Painting is


On the top, the vertical is a brush, and the right is a hand holding the brush.


The bottom are two curves drawn or painted by the brush.

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

The top is same as that of Painting, the bottom is a square which means you have to write in a square box.

The bronze script for character Painting is
There is a brush on the top similar to the shell bone script, and the right is the hand. The bottom is a map drawn or painted by the brush.

The big seal script for character Painting is
The top are brush and hand, the bottom is a map (middle) with borders (four bars on four sides). It means painting or to paint too.

The small seal script for character Painting is
which is similar to big script.

The clerical script for character Painting is

Let's compare it with the clerical script of character Write
The top is same as that of the Painting, the bottom is 日, meaning the Write is to write character in a box.  They are very similar, but if you understand the meanings, you can't mix up.

The simplified song typeface is
which is the bottom of the traditional character, the top brush and hand omitted. It is a painting not to paint.

Its Pinyin is Hua4.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (277) Steam - 蒸

The shell bone script for shell bone script are


which are the steamers for food cooking, made from bamboo or wood.

The left one has a steamer in the middle, and two hands on the bottom. The right one is similar to the left one on the bottom part, but there is a character Rice (Post 163), which means the rice is in the steamer.

The big seal script for character Steam is


which is similar to the right of shell bone script above: the top is rice, the middle is the steamer, and the bottom are two hands.

The small seal script for character Steam is
which is changed a lot.
The top is Grass top, the Pictography Dictionary explains that it was mistakenly written this way. I guess there maybe a possibility that the ancient people sometimes used grass to cover the steamer top, or the grass means vegetables in the steamer. The middle is the steamer, and the two hands on sides, the bottom is Fire, which is a new addition but a good one because Fire is a must to steam.

The clerical script for character Steam is

very similar to small seal script. The four dots on the bottom means Fire.

Its Pinyin is Zheng1.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (276) Stop - 停

The big seal script for character Stop is

The left is Person (Post 37), and the right is Pavilion (Post 106).

In the ancient time,  there were some pavilions for travelers in the remote area. The pavilions could be as simple as shade booth, or as complex as small restaurant.


People could take break, or have food and drink. Person + Pavilion = Stop. We can say that the Stop is a rest area.

We can recall another character  Rest - 休 (Post 75).  Its shell bone script is

The left is a Person, the right is Wood (= Tree), a Person + Tree = Rest, when there was no pavilion, people just sit against a tree truck.

The small seal script for Stop is

The left is Person, the right is Pavilion.

The clerical script for Stop is

similar to the old scripts, just more straight lines.

Its Pinyin is Ting2.

I have to point out that there is another character of Stop - 止 (Post 93), its shell bone script is


a foot (left foot), which means that you have to use your feet to stop. Both are used right now, but 停 is more popular than 止.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (275) Burnt - 焦

The shell bone for character Burnt is


The top is a bird, the bottom is fire. The bird is being grilled, which was the popular way to cook. So the original meaning of the character is Grill.


The big and small seal scripts for character is


The left one has three birds on the top, the fire on the bottom, grilling three birds at the same time. The right one has only one bird on the top.

Because most of time if not all of the time, the grilling meat is over burnt partially at least the out side. So the meaning transferred to Burnt, many times it means Over Burnt.

The clerical script for the character is

The top is bird, the four dots on the bottom is Fire.

Let's see how the Fire become four dots.

The big seal script of character Fire


When people tried to write quickly, they simplified the strokes, so the above Fire become for separated dots because it is easy to write.
The pinyin for 焦 is Jiao1.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (274) Band - 带

The shell bone script for character Band is

The top is the decoration on the head of a person who wear a grass skirt. The bottom is the grass skirt, 
and the middle is the band to connect the skirt to the top of the body, the dots are unknown, may be sweat beads of the dancer with grass skirt.

The big seal script for the character is
The top is the band, the bottom is the skirt, which is more like a skirt band with decoration.


The small seal script for the character is

similar to big seal script.

The clerical script for the character is

similar to big/small scripts.

The song typeface of traditional character is

The song typeface of simplified character is
The Pinyin for 带 is Dai4.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (273) Square - 方

The shell bone script for character Square is

A person is shackled by ancient Chinese shackle, which is the original meaning.


The above picture is uncomfortable, but it is better to show what the old shackles look like than text. The top is a square board.

The big seal script for character Square is

The top is simplified to be a horizontal line, which is an indicative for the square shackle.

The original meaning of being shackled had been disappeared, probably back to 3000 years ago, people used the character as Square.

The small seal script for the character is

similar to the big seal script.

The clerical script for the character is
which is changed a lot, still some similarity to the old scripts.

The pinyin for 方 is Fang1.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (272) Crimson - 赤

The shell bone script for character Crimson is

the top is a Person, the bottom is Fire

The original meaning is that a person is executed by burning stake.

The bronze script for the character is

The big seal script for the character is
The fire punishment was discarded long time ago in China, I don't know when but it could be more than 2000 years ago. Then the character changed its meaning to Crimson - a hot red.

The small seal script for the character is
The top is still Person, but the curve of the two lines is close to flat, not much like a person. From 大 to more like 土. It is possible to make the top short to make room for the Fire in the bottom.

The clerical script for the character is
The top finally changed to 土, completed different from original 大, which is a mistake. The bottom is also dislike 火 (Fire), at most we may say, there is a little bit similarity to the old scripts.

The Pinyin for  赤 is Chi4.

Similar to English, 赤 is exchangeable with 红(Red) in some situations, but not the exactly same.




Sunday, April 12, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (271) Household - 户

The shell bone script for Household is


which is left half of character Door
The original meaning of Household is Single Door.


In comparison, the Door is double door or twin door


The popular doors we see right now

is belong to single door.

The big seal script for the character Household is

is a single door.

Even though the Single Door is still one of the character's meaning, but its major meaning has been  Household long time ago, possible more than two thousands years. It is unknown why people used single door to represent household instead of Door (double door). I guess that most people could only build a single door house by the financial situation, or most people were not allowed to build a double door house without being a high level official of government.

So when people talk ordinary people (> 99%), they mean those who live in houses with single door, not double door (very few).

The small seal script for the character is


which is very similar to older scripts, but there is tiny difference: the right vertical line is not touching the the top horizontal line. I don't know if it was written this way by mistake or intentionally.

The clerical script for the character is
We can see that the tiny difference in small seal script permanently changed the character in clerical script. The character has nothing to do with Door as following
Because this change, right now most Chinese don't know that 户 is from single door.

The Pinyin for character 户 is Hu4.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Amazon Chinese Characters (270) Boundary - 介

The shell bone script for character Boundary is


the middle is Person, who is surrounded by four dots, which experts believe are the indicative points to represent the cover armor on a solider who is protected by the boundary of the armor created.


The small seal script for Boundary is


The middle is the person, the four dots become two lines, more like the armor.

The clerical script for the character is

The top is the character of Person, the bottom is the armor, which is not protect the person anymore. The clerical script has lost the original pictography of the character.

The Pinyin for 介 is Jie4.