Monday, May 17, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (396) Emperor - 皇

 The bronze script of character Emperor is


There are many explanations about the above character. Here I give two major ones.

1, The top is a golden crown with the rays of light. the bottom is an ax which means power. The character is an emperor wearing a crown.

2, The top is the sun with the rays of light, the bottom is an ax which means power. The character means that the emperor is the person bring the bright like the sun for people. 

I prefer the second one.

The big seal script of the character is

The top simplified to one ray of light, the bottom is character King (王, Post 244)which is an ax.

The small seal script of the character is

The bottom is unchanged, the top is character Self (自, Post 176). It may be the different writing for character Sun (one more horizontal short line inside), but some people believe that it is the First Emperor put himself as the emperor, so change the top to Self: The emperor is myself.

The clerical script of the character is

Now the top is changed back to 白,same as the big seal script. It may not be changed back because the small seal script was created by Minister Li Si under the order of First Emperor for official language of the government but not spread to the society - normal people. The clerical script was created by normal people, not following the small script but big script. 

The song typeface of the character is

Same as the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Huang2.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (395) Dry - 干

 The shell bone script of character Dry is


which is a bifurcated trunk, the horizontal line is an indicator to tell what the character really means: the main trunk of the tree, which is the original meaning of the character. It is an indicative character.

The bronze script of the character is

Similar to the shell bone script except the dot replaces the horizontal line. 

The big seal script of the character is

Similar to bronze script.

The small seal script of the character is


The bifurcated trunk becomes ox horns alike.

When the character evolved to clerical script, it has multiple forms. 

The first clerical script of the character is


which means Tree Trunk, but I don't know where it comes from, can'f find information about its older scripts.

The second clerical script of the character is

Which means Dry.

This character has its own evolution. Let us see its bronze script


The center circle with a dot inside is character Sun (日), the bottom is character Fire (火), the top over the Sun is grass, the side waves are air or water vapor flow. The character means that hot sun plus fire make the water evaporate very quickly, and dry everything.

Then we could go back to explain the big seal script above. 

We can see the Sun, the grass, the fire became grass, and the side curves are water vapor. 

The small seal script of the character is


Similar to big seal script.

The clerical script of the character is

Similar to small seal script.

The simplified song typeface for Dry is


The traditional song typeface for Dry is



The traditional song typeface for Trunk is


Simplification merged the two traditional characters into 干 .

Its pinyin is Gan1 for Dry, and Gan4 for Trunk.






Friday, May 14, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (394) Bizarre - 异(異)

 The shell bone script of character Bizarre is

Which is a person uses two hands to wear a bizarre mask covering all face. People who presides over the sacrifice in which living people as sacrifice, or executioner fear to be retaliated, wearing the mask to cover their faces. 

The bronze script of the character is
Very similar to shell bone script.

The small seal script of the character is
The top is the mask, the middle are two hands, and the bottom is the body.

There is another small seal script for the character


The top is character My Self, the bottom is two hands. The character My Self actually is a rope, the dictionaries have not a good explanation on why a roll rope means My Self. What I think is that in ancient China, minority like to braid and bun hair, which is different from Han majority. My Self is different from others by the hair style. Now there are two hands under the hair, meaning to make the difference, emphasizing the difference, and strange. But it is not bizarre. 

The clerical script of the character is

The traditional song typeface of the character is
 

Similar to clerical script.

The simplified song typeface of the character is

which is similar to the second small seal script above, but there is a minor difference: the top of small seal script is character Me Self (己), but the top of the simplified song typeface is character Already (已). The difference is so small that you may not be able to notice, which is a mistake. But I don't discuss this topic here.

By the way, 异 is not formal character in traditional Chinese character. The simplified song typeface just uses  异 to replace the 異, not merge the two into one. They have similar meaning but not exactly the same.

Its Pinyin is Yi4.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (393) Stone - 石

 The shell bone script of character Stone is

It is a stone cliff.

or 


There are cliff and stone, which means that the stone is from the cliff, either it drops itself or men quarry it. The 口 here is not mouth but stone.

The bronze script of the character is

Similar to the shell scripts above, except the skew line disappeared.

The big seal script of the character is

Similar to bronze script.

The small script of the character is

Similar to the older scripts.

The clerical script of the character is
The 口 is still not much change, but the cliff becomes two strokes from one smooth continuous turning line.

The song typeface of the character is
Almost same as clerical script.

Its pinyin is Shi1.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Amazing Chinese characters (392) Wisdom - 智

 The bronze script of character Wisdom is


Which is same as the character Know (Post 391) because people who knows more is wisdom, so both characters shared the same character at the beginning.

The big seal script of the character is

Similar to the bronze script. In comparison with the big seal script of character Know

which eliminates the sun, and other weapon, but character Wisdom keeps all parts, which not only distinguish the two, but imply that that wisdom know more.

The small seal script of the character is

The left is arrow, the right is another weapon, the middle part are the mouth on the top and the sun on the bottom.

The clerical script of the character is
The top is character Know, and bottom is character Sun, the weapon on the right is disappeared.

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

The Pinyin is Zhi4.


Amazing Chinese Characters (391) Know - 知

 The bronze script of character Know is


The bottom is character Sun -  日, the top left is Arrow, the right is a weapon which I don't know what kind weapon, no information in the dictionaries too. The middle 口 is Mouth. 

In a sunshine, a person teaches how to use arrow and another weapon. Because in ancient time, the knowledge of using weapons is very important to survive either in the battle fight or in hunting animals. The person who is qualified to teach is a knowledgeable person.

The big seal script of the character is

The left is character Arrow, the right is the character Mouth. The sun and another weapon are disappeared, which is understandable because teaching how to use arrow is enough to express the meaning of knowledgable, ancient Chinese tried to make the character as simple as possible.

The small seal script of the character is

Similarly, the left is arrow, and the right is mouth.

The clerical script of the character is

The left is arrow, and the right is mouth but most strokes are straight now.

The song typeface of the character is
The Pinyin is Zhi1.





Friday, May 7, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (390) Thick - 厚

 The shell bone script of character Thick is

The 厂 is the cliff of mountain, the below is the up-down of character Enjoy, actually a up-down temple for worshipping ancestor, which is a mausoleum underground. The original meaning of the character is abundant grave goods.

The bronze script of the character is 

Similar to the shell bone script.

The big seal script of the character is

Similar to older scripts.

The small seal script of the character is


The inside has some similarity up-down small seal script of character Enjoy,

But the bottom keeps the same direction as character Enjoy, which may be to avoid touching the top horizontal line of character Thick above. The top circle has a horizontal line inside, the meaning is unknown. 

The clerical script of the character is

The 厂 is unchanged, the inside has some similarity to the bottom of small seal script of character Enjoy.

The bottom 子 (Child) is from misunderstanding of the small seal script (See explanation in Post 389).

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

Its pinyin is Hou4.

The character means Thick most of time, and keeps the meaning of Abundant.


Amazing Chinese Characters (389) Enjoy - 享

 The shell bone script of character Enjoy is 


The left is a temple to worship the ancestors, the right one is a multilayer temple for the same purpose. People put food in the temple for the passed away ancestors to enjoy because they believe that the ancestors need food in the nether world.

The bronze script of the character is


Similar to the shell bone script except the rounded bottoms instead of rectangles.

The big seal script of the character is


 The top changes a lot but the similarity is still observed. However the bottom changes to an unreasonable vertical line as a base of the temple. Obviously, the small seal creator completely ignored the pictogram of the character.

The clerical script of the character is

The top is only one circle left, which causes the bottom to be misunderstood as character Child of small seal script,


whose clerical script is

So we see the clerical script of the character above, which doesn't meet not only the pictography of the older script, but completely mis-understanding of the meaning of the character.

The song typeface of the character is

Same as the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Xiang3.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (388) Word - 字

 The bronze script of character Word is


Inside is character Child (Post 21), the outside cover is a house. A child is a house, which is Word? Actually, in the ancient time, any person had a name, and a courtesy name. The name was given by parents in or before 3 months old for relatives to call. When the girl grew up to 15 years old, and boy to 20 years old, they were given a courtesy name for their adulthood life. The name was like a nickname, the courtesy name is like a form name for social life. After a girl was given the courtesy name, she could get married. After a boy was given courtesy name, he could take some adult responsibility or jobs.

As long as a person has not got the courtesy name, he/she is like a child in a house. The courtesy name is the original meaning of the character. 

The big seal script of the character is

Similar to the bronze script, the inside is child, the cover is house.

The small seal script of the character is 

Similar to the older scripts.

The clerical script of the character is

The song typeface of the character is

Same as the clerical script.

Its pinyin is Zi4.

The character has expanded hit meaning to Word, but I have not found when and how it expanded to have Word meaning. The courtesy name tradition had only followed restrictedly in intellectuals for at least hundreds years. After 1949, the tradition has not been followed completely.