Monday, 23 April 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 突

While we were studying 犬, we mentioned that there are many Chinese characters which are created with it. character 突 is one of the examples.

Looking at 突 carefully, it is composed of upper part - 穴 and lower part 犬. What does it mean here?
Logically two possible options:
a) a hunting dog hiding inside a cave;
b) a hunting dog rush out of a cave.

option a) sounds a bit un-reasonable, if the dog hides inside the cave, we should not be able to see it. Then 犬 would not be part of the character 突.

option b) is a much more natural description of the hunting process: suddenly the hunting dog(s) rush out of the cave where they hide to catch the prey.

Before we continue, it will be also helpful to know the ancient scripts of 突:  (image taken from: http://vividict.com)
ancient scripts of 突
It is amazing that the concept and components of 突 has not been changed starting from its Oracle script: , and its Bronze script and Seal script followed the same composition and is eventually simplified to current form - 突.

Below is the picture demonstrate the original meaning of 突:

From the picture of 突, we can perceive the vivid meaning of surprise and sudden. for example 突然.

And the dog will become obvious / visible after it jumps out of the cave. so 突 also has the meaning of prominent. for example: 突出.

That is all for 突, now it is time to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 突 inside:

趵突泉

Below is the youtube video which introduces the famous 趵突泉 in Chinese.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 吠

Same as what we have learnt for 鸣, 吠 is created with the same context - 口 plus 犬. It is to mean the bark of a dog. for example: 狗吠声.

We can see how it is evolved from its Oracle Script  , which is (犬) + (口), to its modern form - 吠.

evolution history of 吠

And enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 吠 inside:
狗吠深巷中,鸡鸣桑树颠。

Monday, 26 March 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 犬

Our character today is created to represent one animal lived very closely to us in our daily lives - 犬.

It looks impossible to guess its meaning by looking at its current form - 犬. What does it mean by adding an extra dot to 大? Recall that 大 originally means an adult.

Let us see what we can get from its ancient scripts: (image taken from: http://vividict.com)
Evolution history of 犬

From its Oracle script , it is a drawing of some kind of animal with long and thin body, long tails as well as long head . Bronze script  and were indeed vivid silhouette of the animal. Seal Script started to transform and is the prototype of current form 犬.

Since this animal lives with us closely, Chinese ancestors did not create a complex figure out of it. you might have already guessed which animal is, as shown below:

recall the current form 犬, it is also quite indicative that hound normally walks ahead of hunters.

so 犬 means dogs, especially when we want to mean hunting dogs. We will see many Chinese Characters created with 犬 to be related to hunting process, like 突,伏 and etc.

狗 is a different character which is used to mean dogs as well, but it was created much later than 犬 when Chinese ancestors started their civilization into agriculture era. That is also why we can see many derogatory terms started to emerge which are related to 狗, like 狗仗人势.

We seldom see any Chinese phrases represents bad meanings with 犬 inside. Maybe that is also a proof that 犬 was created during the era that Chinese ancestors were still nomads and hunting dogs were very important assistant.

As 2018 is a Year of Dog, let us enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 犬 inside which is to congratulate Chinese Spring Festival:

吉犬贺新年

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 春

As traditional Chinese spring festival has just passed, let us start our lesson today with the Chinese Character which means spring - 春.

You might be wondering how did Chinese ancestors create 春 to mean spring? As usual, we will get the full idea behind with the help of its ancient scripts.

Below is the evolution history of 春 (image taken from: http://vividict.com)
evolution history of 春

As we can see from its Oracle script -  clearly that it is composed of (which is woods), (which is sun) and is new to us, which is a drawing of some seed start to sprout from earth and growing root underneath. That is exactly what will happen in spring: all plants are awaken by the power of sun to start to sprout, as shown below:
grass sprout in a woods under sun shine

There could be following two reasons for Chinese ancestors to put sun under one side of the woods instead of putting it on top of woods:
1. Downside of a map is south. At the start of Spring, Sun shines from south side of the woods.
2. Sun might mean Sunlight as illustrated by the picture above.

From its Bronze Script , which is composed of(which is grass), (simplified version of seedling -) and  (which is Sun),  It still contains most part of its Oracle Script counter party - .

When it came to Clerical Script  and are further merged and simplified to  with lower part 日 moved to middle bottom part of the character, which is then eventually transformed to our current writing - 春.

Yes 春 means spring. For example: 春天

And since 春 is created with meaning of seeds sprouting all over the woods under sun shine, it naturally contains the meaning of lively and joyful. For example 大地回春.

As Spring is mating season of most animals, so 春 is extended to mean love or kind of lust. For example: 怀春

That is all for 春, it is now time for us to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 春 inside:

好雨知时节;
当春乃发生。

Monday, 26 February 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 渔 | 漁

Since we just learnt 鱼, today we examine a new character related to it - 渔. What does it mean? 

we already know that  means water or river. Combination of Water / River and 鱼 can possibly have following meanings:
a. fish inside water;
b. fish outside water.

Fish inside water does not have any special context. However fish outside water does, especially if it is caught out of water by people.

Let us get more hints from its ancient scripts. below is the evolution history of 渔 (image taken from http://vividict.com/):
evolution history of 渔 | 漁
As we can see from its Oracle script , it is the drawing of , which is a hand () holding a fishing rod (), to catch fish (), like a Chinese painting below:
angling

While its another Oracle script is a drawing of hands casting nets () to catch fish ().

Another Oracle script is drawing of fish () outside river (), which is eventually adopted by Seal script  with river moved to left hand side of fish.  is then evolved into the modern form - 渔 | 漁.

So 渔 | 漁 means fishing. For example: 渔夫.

And catching fish means obtaining some benefits, 渔 | 漁 is also used to mean obtain or get as a verb. For example 渔利. Since fishing is to catch fish by force and is against the will of fish, when 渔 | 漁 is used as verb, it is a kind of derogatory term, which contains such hiding meaning of "by force and against the will of other people".

That is all for 渔 | 漁, let us enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with it inside:

渔父笑,轻鸥举,漠漠一江风雨。
江边骑马是官人,借我孤舟南渡。