Monday, 3 December 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 哞

Yes, the character that was created to replace the original meaning of 牟 is 哞, with an extra 口 added to 牟.

And yes 哞 means the sound made by a cow or buffalo: moo

 And enjoy a Chinese Seal art with 哞 inside:

Monday, 19 November 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 牟

Our new character today is 牟, which is related to 牛 as well. From its current form, we are not sure what does its upper part  represent. It ancient scripts might be of great help, as shown below: (image taken from
evolution history of 牟

Now we can see from its Oracle script that initially the upper part was , which is 口. Recall what we have learnt with 鸣 | 鳴. We know that 牟 originally should mean sound made by a buffalo.

Starting from Seal Script era, was slowly changed to , which madeis very close what we write today: 牟.

As we known, First Emperor of Qin dynasty burned all books in China, and emperors of Han dynasty tried their best to rescue all ancient books by gathering elders to tell stenographers from their memories. Stenographers sometimes would write down a temporary character which has the same pronunciation in place of the correct one. Then eventually some characters were borrowed or phonetic loaned to represent same meaning of some other characters.

牟 is one of such characters. It pronounces the same as 谋, thus 牟 sometimes can replace 谋 in certain phases where 谋 should be used. So same as 谋, 牟 is also used to mean seek, strive for. For example 牟利.

The original meaning of 牟 is then represented with a newly created character. If it were you, how will you create the new Chinese character?

That is all for 牟, time to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 牟 inside:
ps: story of "魏牟尺漇 裴度千缣" can be read here:

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 伴

The character today we are examining is 伴, which is obviously composed of 人 and 半. If we would like to guess its meaning, following could be the possible combinations:
a). A person who divides a buffalo into half;
b). A person is divided into half;
c). It is as if a person divided into half.

Option a) sounds like a butcher, or someone like tribe leader who divides sacrificed buffalo to each member.

Option b) is quite unreasonable to have a character created for cutting a person into half.

Option c) is interesting. When we would like to describe how close two friends are, we probably say they are as good as one person.

Option a) or c) cannot be ruled out. let us see what is its ancient scripts for more ideas (image taken from

Evolution history of 伴

We now can tell from its oracle script that 伴 refers to two persons together. Option a) is thus eliminated.

One of its Seal Script  already started to use and to mean two close friends.

So 伴 means a companion, for example: 同伴.

Since two friends always hang out together, 伴 has the meaning of together, accompany as well. for example 伴随.

If we recall the story from Bible, creation of 伴 surprisingly fits well with the story that "Eve is created by taking one rib from Adam". We Chinese also call husband and wife as 伴侣.

That is all for 伴, time to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 伴 inside:

Monday, 22 October 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 判

Yes, the character is 判. Note the knife (刂) is added to 半. The original representation of 判 is then clear now: using knife to divide the Buffalo into two parts.

Let us check if there is any surprises from its ancient scripts: (image taken from
Evolution history of 判

So there is no surprise. There was neither Oracle Script nor Bronze Script for 判. Most likely Chinese ancestors used 半 during that period. Starting from Seal Script, knife () was added to form , which is pretty much the same as our modern form 判.

判 has the meaning of break down, separate or distinguish. for example: 判别.

In ancient China, it is always a very important and crucial matter to divide the Buffalo fairly to all members of a tribe, normally by tribe leader. 判 thus was born to contain the meaning of judgement and making decisions with authority, besides its original meaning. So 判 also has the meaning of judge, identify or determine. for example: 裁判
The 审判 from King Solomon

That is all for 判, it is now a time for us to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 判 inside:
。。。 朝议郎,判尚书,武部员外郎,琅琊颜真(卿书)。。。

Monday, 8 October 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 半

our character today - 半 is also related to 牛, though it is not that obvious. We can see their relationship clearly in its ancient scripts below: (image taken from:)
evolution history of 半

from its Bronze script , it is composed of (八) and (牛). Recall that 八 has the original meaning of "divide". so  has the original meaning of divide the buffalo into half.

Its Clerical Script  transformed a lot and was eventually evolved to its current form: 半.

Eventually 半 is borrowed to present the meaning of half, or part of  something, or not whole of.

As usual, Chinese ancestors then created a new character to represent the meaning of divide buffalo into half. Before revealing which Chinese character it is, what would you add to 半 for creating the new character?

That is all for 半, time to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 半 inside:

Monday, 24 September 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 牧

After learning both important and common livestock 牛 and 羊, we now start to examine a few Chinese characters created with them.
Our character today is one of that - 牧. What does it mean? It is composed of two parts : 牛 and 攵, of which we know that 牛 means Buffalo, while what does it mean by 攵?

As usual, we can get the help from  its ancient scripts shown below: (image taken from:
Evolution history of 牧

It Oracle Script  is a drawing of a hand  holding some stick or whip  to (control) the buffalo , like below paint:
So 攵 actually represents "a hand holding a stick or whip". Sound familiar? recall what we learnt on regarding 殳.
Its Bronze Script followed the Oracle version but swapped 牛 and 攵. The Seal Script  continued with Bronze Script.

So 牧 has the meaning of cowherd, and is eventually used to mean pasture or shepherd any herd, or even manage or govern people. In ancient China, some officer titles were named with 牧, like 徐州牧, which means this is an officer who governs the state called 徐州.

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

Monday, 10 September 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 羊

The modern Chinese character for sheep or goat is 羊. It does not look like a sheep / goat any longer. Its ancient scripts might help us to reason its meaning, which is shown below (image taken from

Evolution history of 羊

Looking at its Oracle script  and , or its Bronze script  , we can see 羊 is the drawing of a head of sheep or goat. It is because of the same reason that sheep or goat is also a mainly used sacrifice offered to gods.
Sacrifice offered with a head of a goat

We can also see that at certain age of Bronze script whole body of 羊 was drawn to represent sheep or goat, which was eventually abandoned.

So 羊 means sheep or goat. As Chinese character is a drawing, it can be used to represent any animals looks like a sheep or goat. With this understanding, we will no longer be surprised to see Chinese can use either sheep or goat for their year of Chinese zodiac 羊.

As 羊 is always considered as a quiet, gentle and peaceful species, especially it is always used as sacrifice to gods for blessing, 羊 itself has the meaning of peace, gentle, auspicious and being blessed, especially when 羊 was used as a component to create other Chinese characters.

Now it is time to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 羊 inside:

Monday, 27 August 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 牛

Our character today is 牛, which is a pictograph character. Hard to guess what it is due to the transformation and simplification along the time. We will need the help from its ancient scripts.

Let us examine its revolution history as below: (image taken from
Evolution history of 牛

It is kind of clear that its Oracle script  or is the stick figure of the head of a buffalo, comparing to the picture of a Buffalo below:

you might be wondering that how come we draw the whole body for 马, 龟, 鱼, 象 and other animals, but only head of a bull? the answer is that, same as other civilisations, 牛 is one of the major sacrifice Chinese offered while worshipping gods. Head of 牛 will be mainly used:
Head of a Boffalo

Yes, 牛 means bull, buffalo or cow, and any animal that looks similar to buffalo. for example: 野牛

Since 牛 has great strength and is the main labour force Chinese ancestor used for farming, 牛 is extended to mean very strong and powerful.

牛 sometimes can become very stubborn and not willing to listen to the commands of a farmer, thus 牛 also has the meaning of stubborn.
Stubborn Buffalo

that is all for 牛, let us enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 牛 inside:

our next character will be for sheep or goat, if it were you who was creating it, how would you do?