Monday, 7 May 2018

Learn one Chinese Character a day - 伏

Same as 突, our character today is also created with 犬: 伏, which is composed of 亻( which is 人) and 犬. What does it mean here?

There could be some different possible combinations as listed below:
a. Hunter and a hunting dog;
b. Hunter (does hunting with) a hunting dog.
c. Hunter acts like a hunting dog;

We can easily strike out option a, as that does not contain any useful context that Chinese ancestors would waste a character for.

For options b and c, it is hard for us to jump to conclusion. Its ancient scripts might help us to understand its meanings: (image taken from
Evolution history of 伏

we can see that from its Bronze Script and Seal Script till the current modern form 伏, the concept and components has not been changed at all!

From option b above, it is to describe the scene that hunters, together with their dogs, ambush and besiege the prey. The YouTube video below demonstrates the concept of ambush precisely, and it vividly explains what 伏 means. 伏 has the meaning of ambush.

From the video above, we can tell that 伏 has also the meaning of lower down (one's body) or lie on one's stomach. For example: 伏案疾书.

And from above video we can also see that lions pulled the buffalo down to the ground by force. 伏 thus contains the meaning of being subject to. for example 伏法. Actually we can conclude the same meaning as "being subject to" when we see somebody lower down his body before another authority.

if 伏 is used as verb, then it can be used to mean "making somebody / something to be subjected to (by force)", for example 降龙伏虎.

From option c, it should be describing the scene that Hunter lower down his body to hide himself carefully like a hunting dog in order not to alert the prey. We get the same meaning of lower down (one's body) as that from option b.

now it is time to enjoy a Chinese calligraphy with 伏 inside:

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