Chinese doesn't distinguish In, On, At, all of them could use the same character.
The shell bone script of the character In/On/At is
Which is a house beam and pillar.
The bronze script of the character is
The left is the beam and pillar, the big black dot is an indicator which means this is what I am talking about, so it means At here. The right is an ax, a tool for building a house. So the character means building a house, which means In, or On.
I have to point out that 《象形字典》- Dictionary of Pictography explains that the right one is character Soil or Earth (Post 223), house + soil (grain field) = people have house and grain field, and settle down.
I disagree with the dictionary.
Firstly, the bronze script of character Soil is
No any similarity to the right of the character above.
However, the right part is similar to character King
Both have an ax-like bottom, most people agreed that the character King is an ax. So the character In/On/At should be ax too.
Secondly, in the time of shell bone script, 3500+ years ago, people lived in nomadic life, not got in agricultural civilization yet, or in the transition at most. The foods were not from farming, the soil was not important for people to survive as it is for us. Obviously, the dictionary mistakenly the ancient Chinese 3500+ years ago had the same value and thought of us right now. It is not right.
The big seal script of the character is
Similar to the bronze script except exchanging the positions of the two parts.
The small seal script of the character is
The left part is the beam and pillar, the dot in the cross becomes a horizontal short line which is equivalent of dot because there is no dots in small seal script, all dots are short lines. The right part becomes character Soil, because all are lines, so it is impossible to draw an ax blade. But people got confused, think that is the soil, not ax.
The clerical script of the character is
The soil 土, on the right bottom, the rest is the beam and pillar which look not like the real ones anymore.
The song typeface of the character is
Same as the clerical script.
Its Pinyin is Zai4.
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