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mative elements, in addition to resting on the wrist (of which more afterwards), that availed to force in the modern form of the character were ink and paper, then recently brought from the Roman Empire.1 The word 'iai shu, applied to the writing then introduced, alludes to the sense rule, pattern, belonging to the word k'iai. This is the meaning of the quotation in Kh from the Tsin shu, "Wang t'sï chung of Shang ku was the first to make characters according to the method called k'iai."

K'iai is also the name of a tree which grows at the tomb of Confucius. 2

The strokes which make up a Chinese character will be found in Appendix E, as given by Callery. They form eight strokes in all. The Chinese themselves are accustomed to say that the character yung contains them all; according to this view there are only six strokes.

On the direction of the brush in writing, it should be noticed that it is predominantly from left to right and from above downwards. Pie goes from right to left, but then it has a downward direction. Ti begins below and goes upwards obliquely to the right. It was introduced to allow for a very natural movement of the brush, and is in fact but a variation of pie.

To rest on the wrist joint in writing, and not on the thumb, is a fundamental requisite. The form of the character has not changed since the time of Wang hi chï, and it was probably therefore by him that the resting of the hand on the wrist in writing was introduced. This will partly account for the superior beauty of the character since his time.

The Grass character, or abridged running hand, originated in the Han dynasty soon after the Li shu. Its forms are drawn rather from the Siau chwen and the Li shu than from the K'iai shu. It continues

1 In Notes and Queries for China and Japan, I have shown that trade, opened up with the West in the Han dynasty, brought Greek paper and ink to the knowledge of the Chinese. 2 I saw it there in 1873. It is said to grow nowhere else. It is found, however, through the whole region for many miles from the tomb. It has opposite leaves like those of the Hwai shu, Acacia sophora. It has a yellow flower, smaller than that of the Hwai. The people say there are no seeds. The leaves fall in the ninth month. It flowers in the third. The stem throws off branches at five feet and upwards. The people say it is propagated by the agency of birds, and not by that of the gardener.

to be extensively used down to the present time for correspondence, book keeping, and the rough copy of any written compositions. It is current among friends and equals. In any document addressed by an inferior to a superior it is not permitted. The K'iai shu must then be used.

The invention of printing led to the introduction of a new form of the character called Sung t'i. Both this and the K'iai shu are employed in printed books at present, but the Sung t'i is the more common. The handwriting taught in schools is the K'iai shu.




In the dictionary Shwo wen, A.D. 200, the first elaborate attempt was made to explain the formation of the Chinese characters. Hü shu chung, the author of that work, described about 10,000 characters according to the nature of their symbolism as ideographic or phonetic. He only busied himself with the illustration of the written symbols. As to the etymology and origin of the words themselves he attempted nothing. But the book was a great achievement, and its explanations of the formation of words and their meanings have been imported to a vast extent into the productions of all succeeding lexicographers.

This book was written before the Hindoo Buddhists taught the Chinese to spell, so that the author had no method for preserving the sounds of words as they were pronounced in his own time.

To analyse sounds and divide vowels from consonants has always been a problem which the Chinese have failed to comprehend. Down to the present century their best writers on the changes of sounds have never made use of the alphabet or divided words into vowels and


One great advantage of the Shwo wen is that it selected the best established forms of the characters, suggested an explanation of them, and fixed them according to a system. In the forms of the characters as preserved on old bells, vases, cups and tablets, there is the most remarkable variety. This variety the author reduced to a certain unity. There now exist in the country only a portion of those forms

that must have been familiar to this author. He lived at the closing part of an eminently critical and learned time, during which the ancient texts were published with comments, and made the foundation of a government system of examinations. Although we meet therefore with considerable diversity in the forms of characters, we may look upon those given in the Shwo wen as the collective result of the learning of the Han dynasty in this department.

The Han dynasty scholars, meditating on the classical phrase lu shu "six principles of writing," and on the various modes of formation discoverable in the characters, placed pictures of ideas and objects first. Then came a want. Pictures could not be for ever multiplied. They might be turned round. Two might be joined to make a third. Hence came a large accession of new signs. Afterwards the phonetic principle and that of borrowing were introduced, and these were the most fruitful of all principles in forming new characters. The philology of the Han period could proceed no farther than this.

Even in the Sung dynasty, a thousand years later, the study of the formation of the characters is represented as attaining its grand result in a better understanding of the Yi king, the text book of the ancient philosophy which the Chinese sages loved, and which aimed to explain the world by means of a mystic symbolism.

The first mention of the lu shu "six kinds of writing" is in the classical work Cheu li, attributed to Cheu kung, B.C. 1100. The fifth of the six accomplishments to be taught to princes is stated to be lu shu. This is explained by the Han comment to be the six modes of forming characters, siang hing, hwei yi, chwen chu, c'hu shi, kia tsie, hie sheng.

Tai tung, the author of the Lu shu ku, divides the characters into 479 classes. Among these he distributes them further according to the six principles of formation.

He arranges them in the following order:

1. Chi shi, symbols of ideas, acts, numbers, and positions in space. They are such as a stroke for one, two strokes for two, the sign L for "above," and T for "below."

2. Siang hing. Pictures of objects. The sun, the moon, vapour, mountains, fire, water, a sheep, a fish, etc., are represented by outline pictures.

1 Han dynasty, B.C. 206 to A.D. 220.

3. Hwei yi. Suggestion. Thus in one man is seen following

another. This is used as a symbol for the verb "to follow," with the sound t'sung.

Three men placed together represent chung "many," as in the

lower part of.

Two fires, one above the other, represent yen "burning," "bright.” 4. Chuen chu. The characters are sometimes turned partially or completely round (chwen "turn"), to indicate a new sound and modification of meaning (chu "indicate"). Thus feu "hill" is shan" mountain," turned up on its end.


5. Hiai sheng. Phonetic imitation. Characters are used as sound symbols, their original pictorial sense being for the time put out of view. Thus, for example, "a hundred," pe, pak, is formed from the stroke "one," and pe, bak, "white."


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"star" is formed in the Li shu from

ideographic and

sheng phonetic. The former, a pictorial group of three stars, was the entire character in the ancient writing. chau "beckon" is from JJ tau "knife" phonetic, and as an ideograph k'eu "mouth.” Puto strike lightly with the hand" is formed from yeu "hand," the ideograph, and † pu, pok, “to divine," the phonetic.

6. Kia tsie. Borrowing. Examples: sok "rope," formed from R. silk below and shok "to bind" above, is used in the sense "to seek," merely on account of the sound agreeing. Chu "to dwell in a place" is sometimes written, because it formerly agreed in sound with that word.

There are more examples of Kia tsie in and before the time of Confucius than afterwards. It became customary in later times to add radicals to the kia tsie characters, which thus became phonetically written, and passed into the fifth class.

In Chi shi abstractions are drawn pictorially as well as they can
be. Chi "to point to." Shi "
Shi "a matter," "thing."
Siang hing embraces objects having a form.

Hing "form."

a form. Siang "likeness."

In Hwei yi "understand the meaning," one, two or more objects in a picture suggest another.

In Chwen chu "turn the explanation," we have a change in the meaning accompanying a change in the posture of the figures.

In Hiai sheng we have the borrowing of a word symbol already in

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