Thursday, July 27, 2023

Amazing Chinese Characters (605) Image - 像

 The big seal script of character Image is 

The left is character Person (Post 37), the right is character Elephant (Post 128). 

Elephants lived in China thousands years ago, people call it as Yellow River Elephant because they lived in the Yellow River area. As the weather changed, forest disappeared in north China, so elephants disappeared in north China and most south China. Small number of elephants live in Yunnan, near Burma.

When elephants disappeared from most of China, many people couldn't see elephant, but listened the animal by legends, they could only imagine elephant. So character Elephant means "similar to", "look like", not direct "be". It forms words with other characters to express anything with your imagination, e.g. “想象“-imagine, "抽象“ -abstract. Anyway, something you couldn't see, but you could imagine by the information you heard, which is Thinking-Elephant - 想象, imagining the elephant.

The image from imagination was formed in our mind, in 3500+ years ago, there was no paper, it is very difficult for people to draw the images on bamboo slips. However, in Han Dynasty, people knew to make paper, then they could draw the images in their mind on paper, they had a physical media with image. They created character Image as above to present it. All pictures, paintings, drawings could be presented by the character.

The small seal script of character Image is

The left is character Person, the right is character Elephant.

The clerical script of character Image is
The left is Radical Person, the right is character Elephant.

The Pinyin of character 像 is Xiang4, same as character Elephant (象).

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