Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (138) Drum - 鼓

The shell bone script for character Drum is


It is an ancient drum on the left.



on the right, it is a drum stick held by a hand.

Its small seal script is


the left is similar to shell bone script but the right one changed a lot.

The clerical script is


Similar to the older scripts.

The current standard printing script is


Its pinyin is Gu3.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (137) Dust - 尘

The shell bone script for Dust is


the top is


which means Deer.

The bottom means Soil.

The deer runs on the ground (soil), which creats Dust.

The big seal script is


three deers run on the ground (soil) right now, more dust could be made.

The small seal script is

similar to the big seal script.

The clerical script is


similar to the small seal script.

The current standard printing script for traditional character is


almost same as the clerical script.

The current standard printing script for simplified character is


the top is character Small, the bottom is character Soil. So it means "small soil", which is Dust. 

Normally, simplified character is not as good as traditional character in conveying the original meaning, but this simplified character is an exceptional good one, which is not only simplified the character, but conveying the meaning very well. 

Its pinyin is Chen1.  

Amazing Chinese Characters (136) Soil - 土

The shell bone script for Character Soil is


a picture of sprouting on soil. The horizontal line is the soil, the top is the sprout. Ancient Chinese used sprouting on the soil to express what Soil means.

The bronze script is


very similar to shell bone script.

There is another explanation: the top is a mound. But I think that the sprout is closer to the original meaning when we see the bronze script.

The small seal script is


all are lines, we can't see the top is sprout if we don't compare it with the older scripts. The pictography is gone.

The clerical script is


similar to small seal script.

The current standard printing script is


same as small seal script.

Its pinyin is “Tu3". 

Amazing Chinese Characters (135) Small, Young - 小

How to draw a picture to present "Small"? Ancient Chinese used the following shell bone script


three short vertical bars. Actually, they wanted to show small particles.

The bronze script is


more like three small particles.

The small seal script is


three lines, the particles disappeared. But we can see the similarity between it and the older scripts. The reason why its pictography was gone is because there is no dot in small seal script, all dots are replaced by short curve or straight lines, which is better to write but less pictography.

The clerical script is


the two dot-alike short lines on sides but the middle is a verticle bar with a hook at bottom.

The character also means "Young".

The current standard printing script is


very similar to the clerical script.

It pinyin is "Xiao3".

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (134) Brush - 笔

Chinese had used brushes to write for thousands years. The oldest shell bone script for Brush is

The top right is a hand holding a brush on the left.

Its bronze script is


similar to shell bone script.

Its big seal script is


The fingers of hand are langer, more like a hand.



Its small seal script is


the bottom one


means Brush.

The top one



is a radical, which means bamboo related. Becaues all brush body was made from bamboo.

Its clerical script is


same as the small seal script, the top one is a radical meaning something related to bamboo. The bottom one means brush.

Gradually, the bottom one has been replaced by the characters with the radical. The bottom one has not used as Brush any more. It became a modal particle without meaning, and not used nowadays. But it keeps its Brush meaning if it is in a character as a radical.

Its running script is


Its current standard printing script for tranditional character is


same as the clerical script.

Its printing script for simplified character is

on the top is the bamboo related radical, on the bottom is character "Hair". All brush heads were made of animal hair, so it is understandable.

Its pinyin is "Bi1".


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (133)Happy or Happiness - 喜

The shell bone script for Happy or Happiness/Joy is

It is a drum on the top, and a mouth at the bottom, which means that a person opens his mouth smiling when hearing the sound of drumbeat.

Its small seal script is

Its clerical script is

Its running script is
The current standard printing script is



Its pinyin is "Xi3".

The character Happy or Happiness is so popular in Chinese culture. It has been used at least as much as another character Dragon, may be even more. Normally it is artistic paper-cut Double Happiness or double joy.


Two Happiness character side by side means Double Happiness, which is used much more than single Happiness.

What you see most on the doors or windows of during a wedding is like the following:





Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (132) Sky - 天

Ancient Chinese thought the "Sky" is the biggest and highest thing in the universal. Let's recall the character "Big" of shell bone script:


a man opens his arms.

The shell bone script for "Sky" is
a big squre on "Big", the square is Sky, on the top of the big.

Its small seal script is


right now, the square becomes a line.

The clerical script for character "Sky" is

Its running script is



Its pinyin is "Tian1".

Friday, March 3, 2017

Amazing Chinese Characters (131) Love - 爱

The big seal script for character Love is


The middle of the lower part

is Heart.

Let's see its small script first


similar as the big seal script, the middle


is Heart.

On the top, and the bottom are hands.

Two hands hold a heart carefully is Love, which is what ancient Chinese thought.

Its clerical script is

The middle part

is Heart.

The top and bottom parts are hands, even though they look differently.

It running script is
The current standard printing script for traditional character


Its current standard printing script for simplified character


The difference between the traditional and simplified characters above is that there is "心“ (heart) in traditional character but not in simplified character.

Many people feel if no Heart, then no Love. So it is a bad simplification.

Its Pinyin is "Ai4".