Saturday, 29 June 2019

We have left a few unknown Chinese characters before we can fully understand the first and most important sentence of the Confucianism classic: <<论语>> - 学而时习之,不亦说乎?With a full understanding of the original meaning of each of these characters, we will have a much better comprehension of this sentence.

As the title, the character today is 爻. Its ancient scripts are pretty much the same as what we write today: (image taken from: http://vividict.com/)
Evolution history of 爻

It is pretty hard to know what it is if you do not have in-depth knowledge of Chinese culture. 爻 is the most important tools for ancient Chinese wizard to calculate or predict what to happen in the future:
Fortune Teller

爻 is composed of two 乂, which is the drawing of two sticks crossing each other. Two sticks represents Ying (阴) and Yang (阳) . 


So 爻 is the most basic element of the universe: a pair of Ying (阴) and Yang (阳). And it is also used to represent the most basic element of 八卦 / Bagua (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagua) or 易经 / I Ching (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Ching).

 That is all for 爻, now it is time to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with it inside:
摹元羲之灵爻,仰东宿之飞景。
下沉瓶而互汲,蜚织绠而幽牵。
澄澜恬以清渟,泓冷朗己宁戾。

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

计 | 計

We have studied enough characters related to 牛 / 羊.  With Chinese Radicals learnt during our learning journey, we now have many low-hanging fruits to pick up, like the Chinese Character today - 计 | 計.

It is easy to tell that 计 is composed of 讠and 十 ( or 言 and 十 with Traditional version 計).
As we know 讠 or 言 means say or speak (to refresh your memory, you can check the post: https://xiongzou.blogspot.com/2015/11/learn-one-chinese-character-day_17.html). and 十 means number ten (Details please check https://xiongzou.blogspot.com/2015/11/learn-one-chinese-character-day_10.html).

What does the combination mean here? Possible candidates as:
1. Speak out number ten;
2. Count to number ten;

Both options are actually representing pretty much the same scenario: counting numbers.

With all fingers of our two hands, we can count up to 10 easily, so 计 | 計 is kinds of showing the concept of counting (fingers) to ten.




So 计 | 計 means counting. For example: 计数

As number counting related to calculations, 计 | 計 has the original meaning of calculate and all of its extended meanings. For example: 计划

For 计 | 計 is counting numbers, when it is used as noun, it refers to any metering device with scale: like 温度计

Before ending our study today, let us check its ancient scripts, as shown below (image taken from http://vividict.com/)
Evolution history of 计 | 計
It is obvious that the components of 计 | 計 has not been changed from era of Oracle Script.

That is all for 计 | 計. Let us enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 计 inside as usual to end our study today:
一年之计在于春

Monday, 22 April 2019

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 牵 | 牽

Our character today 牵 is also related to 牛. Upper part of 牵 is kind of ambiguous. Its Traditional version 牽 provides more information, which contains 玄,  and 牛. As what we learnt with 丝 (https://xiongzou.blogspot.com/2016/01/learn-one-chinese-character-day_6.html), lower part of 玄 is related to silk: .  That is all we can get so far, ancient scripts of 牵 would help us as usual: (image taken from http://vividict.com)
Evolution history of 牵
Oracle script is quite obvious now, rope () is tied to a kind of nostril ring () to lead the buffalo ().
牵牛


Seal Script represented the idea clearer: a hand () use a rope () to lead a buffalo ().

That is the original meaning of 牵 | 牽 - "lead along a buffalo".

Getting back to Tradition character 牽, which is 玄,  and 牛. now we can guess that could be ox yoke.

Ox Yoke
So 牵 | 牽 is used to mean lead along, for example 牵手.

Since 牵 | 牽 contains the representation of connecting with a buffalo using a rope. thus 牵 | 牽 is also extended to mean "connected to / connected with". For example 牵连.

That is all, let us enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 牵 | 牽 inside:
天街夜色凉如水;
卧看牵牛织女星。

Monday, 8 April 2019

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 解

Our character today 解 is a quite complicated one related to 角 we just learnt, which can be dissected into 3 components that we know: 角 (horn), 刀 (knife) and 牛 (buffalo). What is the aggregated meaning of the combination: 解? Does it mean to use knife to cut the horn off the buffalo?

Let us see if any help we can get from its ancient scripts: (image taken from http://vividict.com)
Evolution history of 解
Its Oracle script is the drawing of two hands () taking away the horn () of a buffalo (). When it comes to Seal script ,  two hands () is replaced by a knife () to represent the idea clearer. which is indeed to cut the horn off the buffalo. this is 解's original meaning. For example 庖丁解牛.


Based on its original meaning, 解 is extended to mean dissect, break up or cut up. For example 解剖.

Since 解 contains the meaning of "to divide and separate parts of a buffalo", 解 is also used to mean untie. 解开.

Once the buffalo is finally dissected, it means the task is accomplished, 解 thus has meaning of resolve. for example 解决.

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

一瘦解千愁

Monday, 25 March 2019

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 角

Looking at the character 角, it seems impossible to guess its meaning with its current form. Let us see what we can get from its evolution history: (image taken from http://vividict.com)
evolution history of 角
 Now looking at its Oracle scripts  and , and especially its Bronze script , They look much like what they draw, as shown below:


Yes, 角 is the drawing of a horn of a buffalo or sheep.

Since 角 has sharp tip, it also used to represent something that is at a corner or with sharp tip. For example 角落.

Since angle in mathematics looks like a 角 in shape, angle is called 角 in Chinese, for example triangle is called 三角形.

That is all for 角. Time to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 角 inside:
羚羊挂角

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。