Friday, June 19, 2020

Amazing Chinese Characters (297) Outside - 外

The shell bone script of character Outside is


The left is 卜 (Divine, see Post 280), the right one is compound character with 卜 on the left and 内 (Inside, see Post 249). Both has 卜. The simple explanation is that the divination is hold outside, not inside. The second character includes 内 (Inside) to emphasize, 卜 is divination outside.

The bronze script of the character is

This is totally different from the shell bone script. Why? I think it may be because the one was exist as shell bone script but people didn't discover it, the two above were found. But people felt that this one was better for the meaning outside, more and more people used it, so it become the most popular one.

Let me explain the meaning of the bronze script.

The left is 夕(Evening, see Post 52 and 53), the right is 卜. 夕 is moon in the evening. There is dispute on this one. Some people believe that the divination is held outside in the evening. Others believe that the divination was normally held in the day time, so if it was held in the evening, would be a out of predication or normal expectation.

I prefer the first: the divination is held outside in the evening. I am not sure if divination was held in day time or evenings, but I think that divination in evenings should not be unusual because in the day time, people went for hunting or some other work, came home in the evening. It should be normal to hold divination in the evenings.

The big seal script of the character Outside is
which is very similar to the bronze script except the left is Moon (Post 53), not Evening. Moon implies Night, which is from Evening, there is no clear line between Night and Evening. In addition, the divination may be held in late of evening to night when the Moon on the sky. But it is outside, not inside.

The small seal script of character Outside is

even though the left changed big, but it is Evening. Ok, ancient Chinese changed the left from Evening to Moon back and forth. As I mentioned that the divination could be held under the moon in the evening or at night.

The clerical script of character Outside is

which has some similarity to old scripts (see Post 52 and 53).

Its Pinyin is Wai4.

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