Friday, August 5, 2022

Amazing Chinese Characters (518) Silkworm - 肙

 The earliest script of character Silkworm is small seal script,

Are there earlier scripts exist? Yes,  but they are not found yet. The above character means Silkworm, which is my explanation, not from the dictionary. The Xinhua Chinese Dictionary explains that the character means little insect, which is close to my explanation. You will see why I think that it is silkworm, not just general insect in next post.


The top is character Mouth (Post 16), and bottom part is character Meat or Body (Post 252). Mouth + Body = Silkworm? How? Good question. 

The above is small seal script, about 1500 years later than shell bone script, 1000 years later than bronze and big seal scripts. The small seal script normally dramatically changed the original shell bone, or bronze, or big seal forms. Let's see an example, the evolution of character High - 高 (Post 124).

The shell bone script of character High 

The big seal script

The small seal script

We can see that the top of shell bone, and big seal scripts are connected with the bottom, a drawing of a high tower. However in small seal script, there is 口 in the middle, no connection with top and bottom, lost the pictography.

Let us come back the character Silkworm, we could reasonably deduce that the top 口 was connected to the bottom 月 in shell bone, and big seal script, a drawing of silkworm. However the two parts is disconnected in small seal script above. The situation is similar to the evolution of character 高. 

The song typeface of character Silkworm is


The Pinyin of the character is Yuan1.

The character is only exist in traditional character, abandoned in simplified character. However it is widely exist in compound simplified characters with the same meaning, you see it often, but don't know where it is from, and what meaning it is.







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