Monday, 11 March 2019

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 群

Now we move back to 羊 with our character today - 群. We now know both parts of this new character : 君 and 羊. Combining their together we have the scene described: (somebody) holding a stick and shout aloud to shepherd the herd of sheep.
牧羊

So 群 has the meaning of a big group of 羊. Thus it is used to represent the meaning of a group. For example 羊群.

You might wonder why it is 君 plus a 羊, instead of adding to 君 with other animals like cows? I believe Chinese ancestors noticed a unique characteristics of sheep that they have strong instinct to gather together and blindly follow the leader. 


As you know, same Chinese Character can also be used as verb. It is same for 群 that it is used to mean "gather together to form a group". For example 群而不党.

Sometimes 群 is also used to mean together. For example 群居.

Before we end our study today, let us examine its evolution history as shown below (image taken from http://vividict.com)
Evolution of 群
Looking at its Oracle script , it is what we expected from its modern form - 群: a group of sheep  is shepherded under the command () of (a person) holing the stick .


That is all for 群, it is now time to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 群 inside:
群贤毕至,少长咸集。

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 伊

Our character today is formed by adding 亻(a person) to 尹, which is 伊. 

As we have known, 尹 is the drawing of "a hand holding scepter". Thus adding 亻 to 尹 is to emphasize the person whose hand holding the scepter. This is the original meaning of 伊.

Comparing to what we just learnt 君 , which is to add 口 to 尹, 君 is more to emphasize the representation of giving order or commanding.

As officers or rulers in ancient China were usually elected because of their reputation and high moral standard, people respect them and sometimes love them, like the famous tribal Emperor , and .

For 君 has been used to represent people with high reputation and moral standard, 伊 is then specifically used to mean people we loved, and eventually only to mean a lovely lady. for example 所谓伊人,在水一方。

We can check its evolution history to understand this character better (image taken from http://vividict.com):
Evolution history of 伊
We now clearly see that our modern 伊 is exactly the same as that of Oracle script: .



That is all for today, it is time to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 伊 inside:

蒹葭苍苍,白露为霜。所谓伊人,在水一方。
溯洄从之,道阻且长。溯游从之,宛在水中央。

Monday, 11 February 2019

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 君

Looking at our new character today 君, it is composed of 尹 and 口. What could be the meaning of 君 then? 

君 is the person who holding the power and giving orders. For example 一国之君, which means the ruler of a kingdom.

As usual we would like to examine its ancient scripts to see if we can get better understanding of this character. (image taken from: http://vividict.com)
Evolution history of 君
 Now we can see from its Oracle script  that it is created with exactly the same components as what we have today: 尹 and 口


In China, especially during the Era of Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Sovereigns_and_Five_Emperors), only people with great moral and kind heart could be elected as the ruler of a kingdom. 君 is so also extended to mean people with great heart. For example 君子.

That is all for 君, let us enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 君 inside:
莫愁前路无知己,天下谁人不识君

Monday, 28 January 2019

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 尹

Before studying our next character related to 羊, we shall detour to examine some other Chinese characters first to prepare ourselves. The character today is 尹. What does it mean?

尹 can be dissembled to  and丿. We already know that is drawing of a hand when we study 尽 | 盡 at https://xiongzou.blogspot.com/2016/11/learn-one-chinese-character-day_24.html.

What does 丿represents? not very clear, let us check whether any help we can get from its ancient scripts: (image taken from http://vividict.com)
evolution history of 尹
 It is now obvious from its Bronze script  and Seal script  that 尹 is the drawing of "a hand  holding a ". What does  looks like? a staff or more precisely a scepter.

Starting from Clerical script   transformed into .

We have gotten he original representation of 尹: (someone) holding a scepter as a symbol of sovereignty or authority. 尹 is then used to mean the person with sovereignty or authority, like officers. For example an officer title 令尹.

It was a common practice for Chinese ancestors to adopt their official title as their new family name. And 尹 eventually became one of the popular 100 Chinese family names.

That is all for 尹, time to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 尹 inside:
尹伊溪磻

Monday, 14 January 2019

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 羔

Our character today is related to 羊, with four dots ( 灬 ) drawn beneath it: 羔.

You might already know that Radicalmeans 火 which we have learnt. Does it mean that 羔 represents "roasted whole lamb"?

You know we Chinese like to enjoy all types of foods. With so many varieties, it is impossible for our ancestors to dedicate each dish a Chinese character. So what is "putting a sheep / goat above fire"?

After cultivation by human beings, sheep tends to born lambs during winter or spring when the weather is very cold, as explained by following urls: http://carrollgrown.org/why-are-lambs-born-during-the-winter/ or http://www.sheep101.info/lambing.html

The situation is the same in ancient China. To increase the survival rate of lambs, Chinese ancestors would use small fire to help new born lambs to get rid of the amniotic fluid. This is special for lambs and Chinese ancestors created 羔 to mean lambs.

Let us see whether ancient scripts would give more hints or ideas otherwise. (image taken from: http://vividict.com/)
evolution history of 羔
We can see that one of it Oracle script  is composed of 羊 () and probably amniotic fluid (). And another Oracle script  is composed of 羊 () and fire ().

Since Bronze script, 羔 followed the idea of  to represent its meaning clearly.

羔 means lamb or young goat.
And 羔 is extended to mean cub or calf of any animal or even human as well.

Now it is time to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 羔 inside :
一童伛偻行负羔,一羖上树啮柳条;
两羝树根龁枯草,余者散乱依平郊。

Monday, 31 December 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 牢

Today we examine another character related to 牛: 牢. It is the drawing of a house roof (Radical 宀) with a buffalo (牛) inside. What is the meaning of 牢? Cattle-shed where a buffalo is locked in.
牢 - cattle shed

That is 牢's original meaning. 牢 is also extended to mean any places where prisoners or other animals is imprisonment. For example: 牢房.

Since 牛 is very important property of a family, which is a very strong animal, 牢 need to be built very firm and secure. that is why 牢 is further extended to mean firm and secure as well. For example 牢固.  The same meaning can be concluded from firmness and security a prison should have.

Before ending our study today, evolution history of 牢 would give us better understanding of this character: (image taken from http://vividict.com)
evolution history of 牢

Oracle script  is put  inside a (fence). When it comes to Seal script , Chinese ancestors added an extra  to lock the  inside properly.

That is all for 牢, let us enjoy a Chinese Seal Art with 牢 inside:

牢城朱记

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 美

we have just learnt 羊, our character today is 美, which is composed of 羊 and 大. What does it mean here? well, offering a big and fat goat or sheep without blemish is a good and beautiful thing to God.
a big and fat goat

Before jumping to conclusion, let us examine its evolution history as usual: (image taken from http://vividict.com/)
Evolution history of 美

From its Oracle script, it is believed to be composed of horn of a goat or sheep () and (大). It is further strengthen by its Seal script to write its top part as 羊. 

Please also note that some people believe of the Oracle script refers to decorations made of flowers or horn of a goat / sheep, which I disagree with.


Yes, 美 means good or beautiful, for example 美人.
琵琶美人图 

美 can also be used to mean: to make something good or pretty, like beautify. For example 美化.

When we say something is 美, it is to praise it. 美 thus has the meaning of to praise or to extol, for example 赞美.

美 can also be used to represent anything that is good or pretty, for example 美中不足.

That is all for 美, time to enjoy a calligraphy with it inside:
积健为美