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Heaven was symbolized by three parallel curved lines. The sun was a circle with a stroke in the middle, 72. The moon was a crescent, 74. Slightly modified it became evening, 36. Stars were three small circles. Mountains were triangles standing side by side. They either rest on their bases, 46, or stand on one end, 170. The first was shan or tan, a mountain generally. The second was feu and but, "a hillock." Rain was falling drops, 173. Two drops one over the other formed an icicle. A valley was water issuing from an opening, 150.
Man, represented in R. 9, 10, is seen using his muscular strength in field labour in 19, lik, "strength." He pants for breath when fatigued, and leans against a stool. The breath and the stool are the objects chosen to make up the symbol in 76, k'im, "to be weak and fatigued." Man is lying as a corpse in 44. In 48, kung "work," he holds in his hand a carpenter's rule. Man appears prostrate and bending in 131, c'hen "subject." Man in his self originating activity occurs in the form of the reflexive pronoun in 132 and 49. The ideograph of something else has here come to be used phonetically for a pronoun. Man, as father, 88, is probably phonetic. The pictorial original is unknown. A general name for tribes, 83, is most likely a symbol of joining. Woman, 38, is an unexplained ideograph. A scholar, 33, is also probably a picture of something else used for this sense on account of identity in sound. Sickness is indicated by a picture of a man leaning against a post. So it is explained in 104. This symbol once invented, all words descriptive of disease can be conveniently classed under it. They form a numerous group of compounds in which this symbol occupies the top and the left hand side, and some phonetic the remainder.
The parts of the human body are extensively delineated in the primitive Chinese writing.
The hand, mouth, face, 176, eye, ear, teeth, head, 181, 185, foot, heart, 61, nose, 209, are all pictured. Not only are these parts of the human body drawn to become signs of themselves, but they are drawn also to represent very many other ideas. One hand above another represents a friend, 225. A man's two hands joined denote "to make a bow in token of respect," R. 55. The mouth embraces two radicals, 30, 31, but it occurs in many more, and with the sun, the inclosing walls round houses and cities, 13, 17, 163, and any
natural hole or opening, 116, helped to originate many of the square, circular, and other shapes found among the ideographs.
Kok is the commonest sound for the square, and proceeds from "mouth." Kiung 13, ham 17, k'am, come from an original verb gam, which expresses holding in the mouth, opening the mouth, to be hollow, etc. The original symbol for mouth was a semicircle open upwards, with a straight line crossing it above from left to right.
A small addition is made to the picture of the mouth to indicate sweetness, kam, 99. Speech found a symbol in breath in the act of issuing from the mouth, and is expressed by one stroke across the circle in R. 73, yue, yet, "say," and by four strokes above the circle in R. 149, yen "words." This last furnished a symbol for yin, tim, "sound," 180, one stroke more being added for the sake of distinction.
Breath is represented by horizontal lines, one, three or four in number, drawn from left to right, and straight or waving. In 84, k'i "breath," and in 76, they begin high on the left, and descend more or less as they pass to the right. In 73 and 149 they are more horizontal. Straight and bent lines are both used in yün "clouds," P. 64.
"lead out" things into life They also say that kwei because the proper agency
Spirits, principle of life, soul, are represented in 84, and heavenly influences in 113. Demons have a class word which is used as a radical for ghosts, for all outré shapes, and generally for such things as are not canny, 194. Some Chinese authorities say that "spirit," is so called because the spirits and order, shen, meaning "to lead." "ghost," is from kwei "to return," of the kwei, or spirits of darkness, is to cause all things to return, in opposition to the agency of the shen. A more probable explanation would be to refer kwei to k'it "breath," and shen possibly to din "spread out," and shen or chan, "to stretch," the word deing derived from the animated human body stretching out its limbs, or the expression of the face when animated with emotion.
The foot and leg play a part in RR. 105, 60, 144, all of which represent two legs, but differently employed.
The foot is represented in 156, 157, 162. The acts of the feet in walking, standing, or halting, are depicted by representations of one, two, or more, feet, slightly differentiated to suit variety in sense.
The foot of a large beast appears in R. 114, and serves as one of
the class symbols for the zoological portion of the vocabulary.
Feathers, yü, tok, 124.
Hair, sham, 59, mok, 82, er, niok, 126.
Head of a boar, 58.
Bird tails, chui, tok,
A bone, kut, 188.
Horns, kak, 148. Blood, kit, 143.
Broken bones, 78. Claws, c'hau, t'ok, 87.
Teeth, ya, ngat, 92, c'hi, t'it, 211.
The whole body is represented in 158.
The animals pictured in Chinese writing are such as the horse, sheep, cow, dog and pig, 152.
They also delineated the tiger, 141, hare, dragon, 212, rat, 208, deer, 198, frog, 205, tortoise 213.
A picture of a reptile coiled up, 142, served as a generic symbol for almost all reptiles and insects.
Birds are represented by a single symbol, which probably was, to judge from the old sound, tok, the magpie or the sparrow, 196.
Fishes are also symbolized by one character, 113.
Here appears the wisdom of the inventors of writing. They declined to overburden themselves with too great a variety of pictures. For each species among reptiles, birds, and fishes, the phonetic principle was called into play. E.g. the shad, a fish long in use in China for consumptive diseases, as the cod more recently among ourselves, is called shi yü, "the time fish," in allusion to its punctuality in returning in May to the rivers of central China.1 R. fish, P. time.
The bamboo, so useful in many ways in China, is looked on as a thing sui generis. The people do not call it a tree, or write it with the tree symbol. The number of words which bamboo has connexion with is so great that it heads a distinct and extensive class in Chinese dictionaries.
The Chinese agriculture fills so large a space in their ideas that no fewer than four radicals, names of seeds, are employed in constructing the agricultural vocabulary. Besides this, they have a picture of a cultivated field and a plough.
The productions of the soil delineated among the radicals areplants 45, trees 75, corn 115, rice 119, grass 140, onions 179, wheat 199, hemp and flax 200, millet 202, melons 97.
1 Dr. Macgowan.
The metals are all embraced under one word kim, which also means gold in particular. The name kim was probably derived from the sound given out by metals when struck. The king (old form k'im) is a flat sonorous piece of metal or stone which is struck in a hanging position. Its name perhaps originated the word "gong" employed by Europeans as the name for the Chinese lo.
Gold being found in the form of dust and nuggets in river beds, and on the surface of the soil, we need not be surprised that in the Chinese vocabulary it should be identical with the idea of metal as being the first metal known. It should also be remembered that etymologically hwang "yellow," is gom, and thus is nearly the same in elements as kim. It is therefore possible that kim, "gold," may derive its name from its colour; or it may be the other way, the colour may be named from gold.
Copper, dong, dom; silver, ngin; iron, t'it; lead, yuen=tan; tin, sik, are all written with a phonetic on the right, and on the left the radical kim "metal."
Although gold may have been the earliest metal known, all these metals may well have been known at the time of the invention of the characters. They may each have had a symbol, and the radical sign may have been afterwards added, or have been in use from the first. The inventors of writing finding the name kim applied indifferently in the language of their day, as since, both to gold and to metal, would proceed to relieve the ambiguity of the symbols for other metals by prefixing the sign for kim.
It is difficult not to believe iron, silver, and copper to have been in common use in China at the time when the characters were made; for they occur in the oldest historical fragments, as in the Yü kung, a topographical section of the Shu king, and ascribed to B.c. 2200. They are there mentioned as objects of tribute. Polarized iron seems to have been known from the time of Cheu kung, B.C. 1100. It is found in abundance in some parts of the iron districts of North China, as for example at Ts'i cheu, "city of the load-stone."
Implements made of metals and wood mixed are such as, knife, tau, 18, kwo, kak, javelin, 62, kin, knife, catty, 69, mau, spear, 110, lei, plough, 127, kü, cart, 159, mortar, 134.
From the time of T'sin shï hwang, destroyer of the small states, the manufacture of iron, silver, salt, and other minerals extended
greatly in China. Uniformity in government, brought about by this conqueror, B.C. 221, gave a stimulus to trade and to the working of minerals.
Common utensils occur such as a knife, 18, stool, 16, spoon, 21, spear, javelin, 62, bow, 57, drum, 207, flute, 214, pencil of hair, 129, net, 122, arrow, 111, spear, 79.
A general name for earthen utensils is ming, 108.
Containing vessels, definite measures, or mere receiving vessels, are 22, 23, 68, a three-legged vessel, 193, 206. Among measures of length are found, an inch, 41, a foot, ten feet, a mile, 166, and a piece of cloth about 40 feet in length, 103.
Skin and leather are expressed by three radicals, 107, 177, 178. Clothing, cloth, yi, clothes, 145, chi, sewed clothing, 204, a napkin, 50, silk, 120.
The industry of the people in weaving silk and flax, has caused a picture of balls of silk or cocoons to take its place in the vocabulary. It is indisputable then that when writing was invented, weaving was already in use. See 52, 120. Boats have originated radical 137. Coverings are represented by RR. 8, 14, 20, 27, 40, 53. The peculiar senses are those of river banks or cliffs impending, of wrappers inclosing, and of roofs.
Oblong and square shapes are expressed by 13, 23, 31, 70, 73.
The colours among the radicals are no fewer than six. They are white 106, blue 174, yellow 201, red 155, black 203, dark blue 95, and a general word for colour, shak, 139, is also included.
Adjectives, not being colours, are great 37, small 42, 52, square 70, sweet 99, acid 160, fragrant 186, high 189, even 210.
Among the radicals are found the delineation of 28 verbs:
To divine, 25.
To shoot, tik, 56.
To walk, 3, tak, gang, 144, t'ak, 60, 162.
To take a long journey, din, 54.
To enter, nip, 11.
To stop, tik, 77.
To stand, lip, 117.
To hang down, 14.
To open the mouth, 17.
To embrace, hold in the arms, 20.