Monday, 26 March 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 犬

Our character today is created to represent one animal lived very closely to us in our daily lives - 犬.

It looks impossible to guess its meaning by looking at its current form - 犬. What does it mean by adding an extra dot to 大? Recall that 大 originally means an adult.

Let us see what we can get from its ancient scripts: (image taken from:
Evolution history of 犬

From its Oracle script , it is a drawing of some kind of animal with long and thin body, long tails as well as long head . Bronze script  and were indeed vivid silhouette of the animal. Seal Script started to transform and is the prototype of current form 犬.

Since this animal lives with us closely, Chinese ancestors did not create a complex figure out of it. you might have already guessed which animal is, as shown below:

recall the current form 犬, it is also quite indicative that hound normally walks ahead of hunters.

so 犬 means dogs, especially when we want to mean hunting dogs. We will see many Chinese Characters created with 犬 to be related to hunting process, like 突,伏 and etc.

狗 is a different character which is used to mean dogs as well, but it was created much later than 犬 when Chinese ancestors started their civilization into agriculture era. That is also why we can see many derogatory terms started to emerge which are related to 狗, like 狗仗人势.

We seldom see any Chinese phrases represents bad meanings with 犬 inside. Maybe that is also a proof that 犬 was created during the era that Chinese ancestors were still nomads and hunting dogs were very important assistant.

As 2018 is a Year of Dog, let us enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 犬 inside which is to congratulate Chinese Spring Festival:


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