Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 路

When I was young and learning this character 路, I was taught that 路 is related to 足 for people walking on 路 with 足. However nobody actually explained why 各 is used here. Now with our solid understanding of the original meaning of 足 and 各, we shall have a much better understanding.

Recall that 足 (with its Oracle Script ) originally contains then meaning of "walking - towards the target place - ", while 各 (with its Oracle Script ) has the original meaning of "walking - towards our place ". Looking at  and , does not it show clearly the idea of a left hand traffic rule, same as shown in below image?
Left Hand Traffic
That is right, 路 was created to mean road. And it does provide us the vivid view that ancient China adopted left hand traffic rule. 

And from the way 路 was created, 路, unlike another Chinese character 道, normally refers to roads that are formed naturally by people who keeps walking on it

As usual, let us check its evolution history to confirm our interpretation: (image taken from http://vividict.com)
Learn one Chinese Character a day - 路
And now it is time to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 路 inside:

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 箭

For the character today - 箭, we are now fully prepared to dissemble it to guess its meaning. It should be quite obvious for us that 箭 is composed of  and 前.

is actually 竹 while it is used as a Radical. So 箭 must be something related to 竹. 

And as for 前, most of us think 前 is only a phonetic element - 箭 pronounces as jiàn,  while 前 pronounces as qián. After knowing original meaning of 前, we now know 前 provides more than just phonetic function here. Same as 剪, 前 was added to 箭 to mean something made by 竹, piercing or cutting forward like a knife.

Now possible candidates are very limited. Following picture shows what that something is:
箭 - arrows
It is possible that during certain period of ancient China, entire arrow including arrow heads were made from bamboo directly. Metal arrow head might appear later when metallurgy technology was developed in China.

Recall that we have learnt 矢, which means arrow as well, what could be the difference between 矢 and 箭? 矢, with its pronunciation similar to 石, I believe that 矢 was made with stone as its arrow head in stone age. Oracle script of 矢 -  could probably tell us already. Does not its arrow head look like a stone bound to head of an arrow?

So 箭 means arrow.

Let us examine its evolution history to get better understanding of 箭: (image get from http://www.vividict.com)
Learn one Chinese Character a day - 箭
And now it is time to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 箭 inside:


Thursday, 23 June 2016

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 石

石 is another pictograph character. From its current form, it can be dissembled into two parts, 厂 and 口. 口 is actually drawing of a stone, however if we just draw 口 to mean stone, it would be very confusing, as 口 can also mean mouth, gate and etc. Thus Chinese ancestors added 厂 ( which originlly means cliff, details please check our previous lesson of 厂) to mean this 口 is related to cliff, which gives 石, and it is then clear for us to know it means stone.

We can confirm our observation by looking at its evolution history (image yaken from http://www.vividict.com)
Learn one Chinese Character a day - 石
From Oracle Script of 石 - , I guess that it might contains other context inside this character. In ancient China, people lived in caves under cliff - . To prevent big animals from hurting them, people would put big stones - at the entrance to block them away. It is possible that is the original meaning of 石 actually? And such behavior of putting stone at the entrance of a house eventually became a habit, and along the time habit became culture. Chinese people started to place stone statues of lions and etc besides the gate to protect the household, as shown below:
Stone Statues at the entrance of a house

That is it, 石 means stone.

And let us enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 石 inside: