Monday, August 2, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (439) Take - 取

 The shell bone script of character Take is


The left 


is character Ear (Post 42).

The right is a hand.

There are many explanations for the script, the major three are

1, Cut enemy's ears to show how many one killed.

2, Cut wild animal's ears to show many one killed

3, Cut wild animal's ear to reward the hunter (the rest is shared with whole tribe)

I prefer to number 3, which has the meaning of "Take".

The bronze script of the character is


The ear on the left, and hand on the right, even though they are not like the ear or the hand as much as the shell bone script. 

The big seal script of the character is

The left is ear, the right is hand.

The small seal script of the character is

The left is ear, and the right is hand.

The clerical script is 

The left is character 耳 - ear, the right is character 又 -  Again (Post 102), which means Hand originally and here.

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

The Pinyin of 取 is Qu3.



Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (438) Thousand - 千

 The shell bone script of character Thousand is

which is a person


and one horizontal line on the leg.

What does it mean? There are many explanations. Dictionary of Pictography gives its explanation: "(The person) is keeping moving". There is another explanation:"Many many people (slaves) are tied each other".

Let's look the shell bone script of character Abreast - 并 (Post 115)

Two person walk together and keep the step withe each other. So the horizontal line means Walking.

In ancient China, people measure the land by steps because there was no measure instrument, no long ruler to measure big land. They estimate the land by how many steps in length and width. Thousand-step might be a number most used in measuring land, so it is reasonable for them to use the drawing of a person with a horizontal line, an indicative stroke, to represent Thousand steps. This is my explanation, the best one I feel. 

The bronze script of the character is

Which is similar to the shell bone script.

The big seal script of the character is

Similar to the older scripts.

The small seal script of the character is
Which is a little bit strange, but actually is a small seal of character Person 


just turns a little bit to let the person straight up, plus a horizontal line. 

The clerical script of the character is

Which is super simplified of small script of the character: the top left falling stroke is the arm of the person, the person body except the arm is now a vertical line, the indicative horizontal line is unchanged.

The song typeface of the character is

Same as the clerical script.

The Pinyin of the character is Qian1.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (437) Temple - 寺

 The bronze script of character Temple is

The bottom is character Again - 又 (Post 102), means "Hand".

The top is character Of - 之 (Post 370)

Which means "Right here", "From here", "Here is our base".

Some people think that it is character Stop or Foot - 止 (Post 93). 


Which implies that Solid (can't be moved), Stable, etc.

The two meanings are close. But it likes more like character Of - 之. The top should be mainstay, either the physical buildings or government power, or laws. It is impossible for people to move it by hands. However, if you think that it is the character Stop, which makes sense too.

The character originally means the buildings of Dynasty (government), when Buddhism was introduced into China, it is said that the buddha was originally settled in this kind buildings, or similar buildings. Gradually its meaning changed to Temple, the meanings of government building or power or laws disappeared.

The big seal script of the character is

The top is character Stop now, the bottom is hand.

The small seal script of the character is
The top is character Of. As I mentioned above, the meanings of the two characters are close, and they look like similar, so people wrote back or forth, but the basic meaning is not changed.  
The bottom is character Chinese Inch - 寸 (Post 98), in ancient time, 寸 and 手 - hand, are exchangeable.

The clerical script of the character is


The top two curve become one straight horizontal line, making the top as character Soil - 土 (Post 223). The bottom is character Chinese Inch, the curves are changed to straight lines. It is typical for clerical script to make most curves to straight lines in order to be able to write faster but losing the pictography. 

The song typeface of the character is

Same as clerical script.

The pinyin of 寺 is Si4.

Right now, 寺 is most of time specifically for Buddhist temple unless there is explanation otherwise. Most of other temples (if not all) are called 庙 (Post 318). People normally use "寺庙“ (Put the two characters together) to mean all religious temples.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (436) Five - 五

 The shell bone script of character Five is


There are many explanations on what the above X means, most are too complicated and confusing. The only one I think is the most reasonable is that there are four end points and one cross point in the X, total five the most important points.

The bronze script of character Five is

Two horizontal lines connected on the top and bottom points, making five nodes. Ancient Chinese records things by tying knots, here is five knots to represent number Five.

The big seal script of the character is

Similar to bronze script.

The small seal script of the character is

Similar to older scripts.

The clerical script of the character is


Change the X right stroke to untouched top horizontal line connected to a vertical line touched bottom, the reason why it changes is unknown. But the clerical script is created to speed the writing, doesn't pay any attention to original pictography. So many is not most clerical script characters change dramatically without much connection to the older script, which lost the pictography. The standard script and song typeface are based on the clerical script, so the two have not pictographic too.

The song typeface of the character is

Same as the clerical script.

The pinyin for character Five is Wu3.

 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (435) Four - 四

 The shell bone script of character Four is

Which is four horizontal lines, an indicative character. 

The bronze script of the character is


Different from the shell bone script. There are many explanations on the above script, the one I trust is that a very popular and important thing in ancient time is to divide the meat, the above is a meat divided into four pieces. I guess that most of time the meat was divided by four, which is easy to do. Divided by two is too big, by three is still too big, by five is difficult to do, so by four is most often. 

The above is a simplified image of division of meat. We can imagine that the inside is X, two diagonal cut the meat to 4 pieces. 

Another explanation is that the middle is character Eight - 八, which original meaning is Divide. Like the discussion above, a meat is normally divided into 4 pieces. 

The small seal script of the character is
Similar to bronze script, the inside is more like character 八.

The clerical script of the character is

Similar to older scripts.

The song typeface of the character is
The pinyin of the character is Si4.
 


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (434) Substitute or Replace - 替

 The bronze script of character Substitute or Replace is


The top are two people stand side by side and open their mouths big, the bottom is character Say - 曰 (Post 341) . They are two guards who exchange passwords to go substitution.

The big seal script of character Substitute or Replace is

The top is character Side by Side - 並 (Post 241), the bottom is character Say - 曰.

The small seal script of the character is
The bottom is character Say, the top are two characters of Before or In Advance - 先 (Post 231), the top of 先 is foot, the bottom is person, which means that the two guards are walking (foot is in front of person) when they substitute.

The clerical script of the character is
The bottom is character Say, the top are two characters of Gentleman - 夫 (Post 76). Guards are gentlemen. 

The song typeface of the character is

Same as the clerical script.

The Pinyin of the character is Ti4.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (433) Broom - 帚

 The shell bone script of character Broom is


The top is reed catkins, and the bottom are reed poles.

The bronze script of the character is 


The top is similar to shell bone script, the bottom added something to tie the reed poles together.

The big seal script of the character is

Similar to bronze script.

The small seal script of the character is


The top changed a little bit, but it means "hand", not reed catkins anymore. The bottom lines are bent, except the vertical line. Some people think that the top is hand which holds a broom on the bottom, which is very like a broom right now. But from the evolution, we can understand that the above explanation is not the original meaning of the character.

The clerical script of the character is 
The top is changed back to reed catkins, and the bottom is more like the older scripts, except no connection between the top reed catkins and the bottom reed pole, which damaged the pictography of the character. 

The song typeface of the character is

Same as clerical script.

The pinyin of the character is Zhou3.

 


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (432) Soar - 腾

 The big seal script of character Soar is

The top is character I (Emperor or King self claim) - 朕 (Post 431). The bottom part which is character Horse (Post 14)

The small seal script of the character is
The top (including the left) is character 朕 (Post 431)

The bottom is character Horse - 马 (Post 14)

Soar is Emperor on a horse, ancient Chinese thought. First, the horse Emperor or King rides on is not normal horse, the best horse. Second, China has been agricultural country, few horses, only very VIPs ride horses. Emperor or King rides the best horse, running very fast in the view of normal people.

The clerical script of the character is
The top
is character 朕, the bottom

is character Horse.

The Emperor or King on the horse is Soar.

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

The Pinyin for 腾 is Teng2.






Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (431) I or Me (Emperor self claim) - 朕

 Chinese Emperors since Qin Dynasty (~2200 years ago) had a specific self claim to call himself, any other people couldn't use the claim.

The shell bone script of character I (Emperor self claim) is

The left is character Boat (Post 117), what is the right top is disputable. 《象形字典》-Dictionary of Pictography explains that it is a rudder, the bottom are two hands controlling the rudder.  However, some one thinks that it is boat pole, two hands punt, including control the direction of the boat.

In both explanations, the character means Boatman. Since the shell bone script was 3500+ years ago, more than 1000+ earlier than Qin Dynasty, it is highly unlikely to be used as Emperor self claim. But why the Emperor of Qin chose it as himself claim is unclear. It may be that he is the man who controls the direction of the country same as the boatman who controls the direction of a boat.

The bronze script of the character is


Similar to shell bone script.

The small seal script of the character is


The left is boat, the right bottom are two hands, which are same as the older scripts. However, the right top is character Fire (Post 26), which is different from the older scripts. Dictionary of Pictography thinks that this was written by mistakenly. I think that it is possible, the emperor is the person who holds a torch because before small seal script, the character was not the emperor self claim term, but from small seal script when was Qin Dynasty, the character was used as emperor self claim, he was of course not the boatman anymore but sit in the boat as commander. The torch is the sign of him to guide other boats to follow. So this change is reasonable.

The clerical script of the character is


The left is character Moon (Post 53), which is a mistake because character Boat is similar to character Moon. The right one is character Close (Post 358), which was simplified by careless. Because people who created clerical script wanted to write faster, didn't pay attention to the pictography at all. We see many characters being changed unreasonably.

The song typeface of the character is

Same as the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Zhen4.


Saturday, July 10, 2021

Amazing Chinese Characters (430) Anti- or Against or Reverse - 反

 The bronze script of character Anti- or Counter is

We see character Factory or Plant, which means Cliff here. A hand is under 厂, which means a person who is climbing the cliff. The action is against the cliff, so it means Anti-, or Against, or Reverse, or Counter, etc.

The big seal script of character Anti- or Against is


Similar to bronze script.

The small seal script of the character is
Similar to older scripts.

The clerical script of the cheater is

The bottom 又 - character Again (Post 102) means Hand, same as the older scripts. But there is no 厂, even though looks like, but there are two left falling stroke connected, not two straight lines right tangle connected. It is very subtle. But the difference is exist.
Same as the clerical script.

Its Pinyin is Fan3.