Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (278) Painting - 画(畫)

The shell bone script of 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(Post 54)

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

The bronze script of 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 of 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 of character Painting is
which is similar to big script.

The clerical script of 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 traditional song typeface is
The structure is same as the clerical script.

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.

The character also means Draw or Drawing. Chinese doesn't distinguish Painting from Drawing.

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 of 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 of character Stop is

The left is Person, the right is Pavilion.

The clerical script of character Stop is

similar to the old scripts, just more straight lines.

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

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 of character Burnt is


The top is a tailed bird (Post 107), 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 bronze script of the character is

The top is a bird, the bottom is fire.

The big seal script of the character is
Similar to bronze script.

There is another big seal script of the character


There are three tailed birds on the top, and fire on the bottom. People could toast or grill many birds at the same time.

The small seal script of the character is

Top is the tailed bird, the bottom is fire.

The clerical script of the character is

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

The pinyin for character 焦 is Jiao1.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (274) Band - 带(帶)

The shell bone script of 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 of 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 of the character is

similar to big seal script.

The clerical script of 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.

带 also means Belt, Ribbon, etc.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (273) Square - 方

The shell bone script of 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 bronze script of the character is

Some similarity to shell bone script. The script looks not very well writing partially due to the poor technology of bronze casting 3000 years ago.

The big seal script of 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 of the character is

similar to the big seal script.

The clerical script of 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 of 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 of the character is

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

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(戶)

The shell bone script of 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


The smooth continuous horizontal line turning to vertical line changes to a horizontal line, and a left-falling line without connecting any more, which is convenient for writing clerical script, nothing else.

The traditional song typeface is
Similar to small seal script.

The simplified song typeface is
The top left-falling line becomes a dot, which is absolutely unnecessary because there is NO stroke reduced, but more destruction of the pictography.

The Pinyin for character 户 is Hu4.