Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 前

At the end of our last lesson of 舟, I showed you the a Bronze Script - it is composed of two parts: (foot) on (boat). what did Chinese ancestor would like to present here? Looking at the same picture shown in our last lesson might give us more ideas:
The original meaning of is clear now - stepping on boat (to move it forward). And it was eventually borrowed to mean forward or ahead, which is what boating for!

So we have got the meaning of 前 by checking its Bronze Script, How about its form in other period of ancient China, especially its Oracle Scripts? Let us examine its evolution history as usual: (image get from http://www.vividict.com)
Learn one Chinese Character a day - 前
 One Oracle Script of 前 -  is to mean step () on a boat () and make it moving ( - 行).
Seal Script started to add  () to to vividly describe the scene that a fast moving boat with its fore part dividing the water like a knife.
Clerical Scripthas mistaken  to  while has  been simplified to . Whenever we see  as a Radical of one Chinese character, it is always related to knife or sharpness. After Clerical Script period,  was further simplified to  and finalised at Regular Script - 前. Till then, 前 has lost almost all context which its Oracle Script or Bronze Script has.

We are lucky that archaeologist recovered the evolution history for us that we can now better understand our Chinese characters.

That is it, let us enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 前 inside:

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