Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 乌 | 烏

Today our character 乌 looks very similar to what we just learnt 鸟.  And its Traditional version 烏 to that of 鸟 - 鳥. Check carefully their differences.

Because of their similarity, 乌 must be something related to bird. to refresh your memory of 鸟, please go to https://xiongzou.blogspot.sg/2017/12/learn-one-chinese-character-day_18.html to review its ancient scripts.

the which is missing in 乌, comparing to 鸟, refers to the eyes of a bird. So what does 乌 mean here? There are two possibilities:
a. the bird without eyes;
b. certain bird, whose eye is kind of invisible.

If you still remember what we learnt of character 西 (https://xiongzou.blogspot.sg/2015/12/learn-one-chinese-character-day_15.html), you know the existence of a black bird called 金乌, which Chinese ancestors believed to carry Sun around the world in sky.

Yes 乌 is created specifically to represent such a black bird, with its black eyes not visible, as shown below. It is amazing that the Chinese ancestors so intelligent and creative in inventing all kinds of Chinese characters, isn‘t it?
乌鸦 - crow
From the creation of character 乌, it does demonstrate a very important philosophy of Chinese that "Less is more"!

Here is the evolution history of 乌 | 烏: (image taken from: http://vividict.com)
evolution history of 乌 | 烏

Oracle script of 乌 is missing. While its Bronze script is just drawing of another type of bird. Starting from Seal scripts of 乌 (which is ) and that of 鸟 (which is ) , we can see clearly the idea of "not drawing the eyes of 乌".

So 乌 is specifically created to mean crow. For example:
As time passes, 乌 is also used to mean colour black as well. For example:
And since 乌, comparing to 鸟, has no eyes, 乌 carries the meaning of no / not as well. For example 子虚

that is all for 乌 | 烏, let us enjoy a Chinese calligraphy to end our lesson today:

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