Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 西

English word Occident denotes west with following way of creation: O (the sun) + ccid ( descend ) + ent ( place ), which is the place where the sun descends.

How does Chinese ancestors create a word to denotes the same meaning? In our last lesson of "东 | 東", we knew Chinese has a fairy tale that Sun rises from the "扶桑tree, led by an immortal crow. 
When Sun sets, the immortal crow would get back to its nest to rest for the night. Chinese ancestors then utilised the nest of the immortal crow to mean the place where sun descends to - west.

Below is the evolution history of Chinese character "西", which means West: (Screenshot taken from http://chinese-linguipedia.org )
Learn one Chinese Character a day - 西
Oracle Script, Bronze Script and the Scripts used during Warring States Era (first three columns in above table) were Pictograph character, which were different drawings of bird nest. During Seal Script period, one variationexplicitly added the bird  which rest on its nest .

It is possible that from Warring States Era was mainly used in State of Qin. After Qin united China, when Emperor Qin Shihuang wanted to unify the writings, his first choice would be , which was then simplified to Clerical Script . Its shape is thereafter kept the same for hundreds of years including now - "西"

"西" means West. or Occident to be precise.

Let us enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with "西" inside to end our lesson today:
If were you who would create a Chinese character to mean South, what could be your possible choices?

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