Saturday, 28 March 2020

悦 | 悅

Today we will study a new character 悦, which is composed of 忄 and 兑. 悅 is not strictly its traditional version, but kind of an variant of 悦.

We have already known that when heart (心)is used as a Chinese radical, it will be written as忄. And 兌 is what we just learnt in our previous post: "兄 is dividing among his clans". So 忄 plus 兌 | 兑 is to represent the meaning what (people) feel in their heart when they get their share they deserved: happy and gladness. for example: 愉悦.

悦 | 悅 can also be used as verb to mean:  to make (somebody) happy or glad. for example: 女为悦己者容.

Before we continue to enjoy the Chinese calligraphy, let us see whether there is any more clues we can get from its ancient scripts:

evolution history of 悦
Unfortunately there is no Oracle script found for 悦, but I assume it should be the same as 兑. 
And as we can see from the character discovered from War State period that it was to write 心 below 兑, instead of left to 兑. And Seal Script quickly changed to put 心 at left hand side.

That is all, now it is time to enjoy our Chinese calligraphy with 悦 inside:


Saturday, 22 February 2020

兑 | 兌

Today we move to character 兑, whose Traditional version is 兌. 兌 not particularly different from its Simplified counterpart - 兑, but we can tell that it is related to 兄 we just learnt. What does the header  or represent here, together with 兄?

Before guessing its original meaning, let us examine its ancient scripts first:

 We can see that there is no obvious difference between 兌 and its ancient scripts shown above.

兌, which is 兄 plus . As we have know, 兄 is the person with authority in the family.  should be 八, which we also know to contain the original meaning of divide. So 兌 is to present that oldest brother excises his authority to divide (something) among his clans.

while Simplified version 兑 is more likely to represent the 兄 is speaking  or commanding.

During the process of dividing benefits among clans, people would exchange their shares with others for something they are more interested in. 兑 is thus used to mean exchange. for example: 兑换.

And during the same process, 兄 would fulfill his promise to clan members who contributes more, 兑 thus also contains the meaning of fulfill or realize (the promise or agreement). for example 兑现诺言.

That is all for 兑, time to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 兑 | 兌 inside:

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Our character today 兄 is obviously composed of two components : upper part 口, bottom part 儿. 

We have known the meaning of both of them, but what is the aggregated meaning here? A kid is talking? Or a kid is eating?

Let us see if we can get more clues from the evolution history of 兄 :
evolution history of 兄

Its Oracle script , and its following Bronze and Seal scripts are all following the same pattern. But its bottom part refers to 人, instead of 儿 initially.

Since we cannot get any ideas from 兄 itself, we look around for other Chinese characters for help. Another Chinese character 祝, which contains more complex meanings, helps to understand the character 兄. 
evolution history of 祝

We will get to know what 祝 means later, but for now, you only need to know that 祝 confirms that 兄 is to represent "a person is speaking".

And modern form of 兄 uses 儿 as its bottom part instead of 人, 兄 must be more closer to kid or child.

In ancient China, during the family 祭祀 (a Chinese family ceremony during which family members recall and worship ancestors) , the male head of the family will represent the family to speak and worship. This is what  is drawn to represent "the son who is speaking".

And in Chinese tradition, usually first born son is always the male head, who is the eldest brother of the siblings.

And also in Chinese tradition, eldest brother take the responsibilities to take care of the family when their father passed away, thus he also have the authority to command his younger brothers. So   also represent "the son who is in command".

So that is all for 兄, it is to mean elder brother. for example 长兄如父。

Since 兄 has the meaning of male head of a family or tribe, we also call others 兄 to show respect. for example: 赵兄.

that is all for today, time to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 兄 inside:

Sunday, 22 December 2019


Our character today 儿 is so simple that we can hardly guess anything by itself. 
And its traditional script 兒 provides no more help as well this time. Adding 臼 on top of 儿 makes it even more confusing.

Let us see whether we can get any help from its ancient scripts: (image taken from

Evolution history of 儿|兒

Looking at its Oracle script , its upper part is and bottom part is  is what we are already familiar with - people / person. What is the meaning that  represents?
It is reasonable to guess that Chinese ancestors wanted to emphasize some unique characteristics of the head of certain person.
Looking back at the Seal Script with its upper part as  and the Regular script with its upper part as , all of them, including ,  emphasized the fact that the top of skull of a baby is not fully closed. Bottom part of 兒 is transformed from to 儿 along the time and 儿 is unique enough to be used alone without 臼.

So 儿|兒 means very young kids - Toddler

That is all for today, let us enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 儿|兒 inside:
五花马,千金裘, 呼儿将出换美酒,与尔同销万古愁。

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Our new character today is 臼. It is quite clueless to us what could be its meaning by looking at 臼 itself. Shall its ancient scripts help us to reason its meaning (image taken from
Evolution history of 臼

 Its earliest script we can found is its Bronze script: , we can see that  is a kind of container with grooves engraved on its inside surface.  Something like:
Seal script  and Clerical script  starts to transform to be finalized to our current form: 臼.

<<说文解字>>   tells us that 臼 is what Chinese people made to grind grains inside. Usually made of wood or stone. For example: 石臼.
grinding grains

And after Anatomy was introduced into China, Chinese started to use 臼 to describe the joints of bones due to its similarity. For example 骨头脱臼.

That is all for 臼, let us enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 臼 inside:

Monday, 28 October 2019

Our character today is 亦. We might not know how it was created now, but can see its likeness after knowing its ancient scripts (image taken from
evolution history of 亦

 It's Oracle Script is to add two indicators  to the side of a person . Its Bronze script  and Seal script  followed the same pattern.

What does it mean here? I guess Chinese ancestors was trying to draw the movements of a person, something demonstrated as below:

So the original meaning of 亦 is a person who is walking. If we look back at 亦 now, does not it still look like a walking person?

Since everybody walks in the same way, thus 亦 contains the meaning of the same, as well or too. for example 不亦乐乎.

And while we are walking, our hands and legs keep doing the same pattern, which can conclude to the meaning of the same as well.

Kids learn and copy the way adult walks, 亦 thus contains a subtle meaning of copy to do the same, for example 亦步亦趋.

That is all for 亦, time to enjoy Chinese calligraphy with 亦 inside:
茶亦醉人何必酒; 书能香我不须花

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Our character today looks very simple: 不, which thus provides much little information for us to guess its meaning. From my memory, the closest drawing among Chinese characters is 木. So is 不 created somehow from 木 (details of 木 goes here: Let us explore.

Bronze script of 不 is  while Bronze script of 木 is . Comparing the two, 不 looks like the part of a 木 (a tree) above earth has been removed. A tree chopped down contains the meaning of the tree is gone and not exists any longer.
what 不 is

Chinese ancestors used 不 to represent the meaning of nothingness, or not, or blank. For example: 不要.

That is all for 不, before enjoying our Chinese calligraphy, let us examine its evolution history first: (image taken from
Evolution history of 不

Now the calligraphy with 不 inside: