Thursday, 17 December 2015

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 栖

Looking at this character 栖, it consists of left part - 木 and right part - 西. It has been known that 木 means tree or wood, while 西 has its original meaning of bird nest. Since 西 has been borrowed to mean West or Occident, Chinese ancestors then added 木 to 西 to create a new character  to mean bird nest in a tree.

when  is used as a verb, it can be used to mean (bird) alight or rest one something
栖 is also extended to mean dwell (in certain place).

For now there is no evolution history found for 栖, It is possible that it was created to be separated from 西 in Han Dynasty ( ) during a great effort to save ancient Chinese books.

After Qin Shihuang united China, he felt it hard to rule such a great country with different intellectual discourse. His chief chancellor Li Si suggested to unify thought and political opinion by forbidding people to have their own books. Qin Shihuang collected all the books from all over his empire and reserved one copy of each in his Epang Palace ( ), then burned the extra copies. Details can be found at titled "Burning of books and burying of scholars".

At the end of Qin Dynasty, General Xiang Yu, the leader of rebellion forces, defeated Qin and burned Epang Palace, which burning lasted for 3 months. Because of that all the collected books by Qin Shihuang were destroyed as well.

After Han Dynasty was established, Emperors of Han ordered the officials to try their best to recover ancient writings. They did find many elders and scholars, talked with them to record what they memorised. Thanks to Han Dynasty majority of the Chinese culture and knowledge were saved and continued till current day.

Anyway let us enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 栖 inside:

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