Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 皇

皇 is also a composition character, with 白 and 王. What is the meaning of 皇 then? An old king with white hair or a king wearing white crown? It does not make much sense to create such a new character to mean either of them.

Recall what we have learnt, 白 has its original meaning as thumb. like 伯, which means oldest brother among siblings, 皇 is actually to mean biggest king among all kings, or king of kings, which is Emperor. Dedicating 皇 to mean Emperor only started from Emperor Qin Shihuang.
皇 can be another proof that 白 has the original meaning as thumb.

Let us examine its evolution history to get more ideas. (image get from http://www.vividict.com)
Learn one Chinese Character a day - 皇
From Bronze Script of 皇, we can see that it was actually the drawing of a lighted lamp, some of the Bronze Script drew it as , and it continued to become during Clerical Script, which is then almost the same as what we are using today - 皇.

From the original meanings of 白 and 王, it was quite natural that 皇 was then borrowed to mean Emperor. In later lessons I will show you how Chinese ancestors created a new one to represent the original meaning of , as what they did always. However in certain idioms, 皇 still refers to its original meaning - Brilliant.

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

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