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 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: