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We previously took a look at the Chinese character for "above," 上, which, in its original form, indicates the idea of above by placing a shorter line on top of a longer line. The Chinese word for "below" or "under was created in the same way. On ancient oracle bones, the word is made of a shorter line placed beneath a longer line.
The Chinese phrase "ma shang" - "on horseback" - has the meaning of "immediately," "in no time." The literal meaning of the term is "on horseback." In ancient times riding a horse was the fastest way to travel, so "on horseback" in Chinese acquired the meaning of "speedily" or "instantly."
His historical work, three million words in length, is one of the most important readings in China, and he is also widely known for saving the life of a little friend when he himself was but a small boy. And served as the prime minister of the country too.
Yang volunteered his service to help Duke Xiao of Qin to strengthen his realm. The man must first convince the duke to employ him and then convince the people in the state that he meant what he said.
Sheep and goats are both 羊 in Chinese. Guangzhou is nicknamed "Goats City," and the Chinese also call that particular kind of trimmed beard that some men keep on their chin "goatee."
The jealous king ordered his younger brother to come up with a poem upon walking just seven steps. Failure would mean death. The quick-witted prince managed to save his head and left behind a quatrain well known to the Chinese.
The Chinese character for oxen or cows is 牛. Cattle were important in traditional farming, but the Chinese did not drink much milk. The Cowherd and the Weaving Girl are the two legendary loves who live across the Milky Way and only see each other only once a year.
"Looking at flowers in the field from atop a pacing horse." That you should not do. "Pat the horse on its ass"? Well, we all do that now and then.
It is a traditional tune rendered with a modern twist, featuring traditional Chinese zithers called Qin and Zheng. The artists called themselves "Self-Entertained Zither Group," who have recently become popular for their reinvention of old Chinese music, done with players dressed in the style of the Tang Dynasty.
The Chinese character for "pig" evolved over time, but the reputation of the swine has not improved at all. The word continues to be associated with undesirable qualities such as filthiness, lethargy, and gluttony. So unfair, considering that pork makes such an important part of the Chinese diet.
Sun Wu the military strategist volunteered his service to King Helu. The King asked the general to train some of his court ladies as if they were soldiers. How did that go? Some say what Sun did was horrifying but others say he did what a military man should do in times of chaos and war.
Confucius felt obliged to pay a visit to an official of his home state. He chose a time to drop by at the official's residence when the official was not at home. Confucius had his reasons.
In this skit, a Chinese Peking-opera singer appears as Jack in Titanic, swearing his love for Kate. "If you don't love me, I'll jump into the Chinese," he croons, in a tune typical of Peking opera. We're sure that Kate would have been convinced.
When Confucius taught, he taught based on his understanding of his students. In his methodology, just as in his philosophy generally, humanity is important.
Funny singing in the style of Peking-opera. Tang Sanzang, the Buddhist monk, explains to monsters why they should not play their tricks on him and how he, riding his White Dragon Horse, is determined to travel to West Heaven to bring holy sutras back to China.
This is Long Fei, a billiard player from the city of Wuhan. She now works as a referee in billiards competitions.
Big toys, mega projects. This video shows how Chinese workers build a viaduct that is part of a high-speed rail, using a specially designed monstrous vehicle to get their work done quickly.
The Chinese character for "worms," "insects" or "bugs" is 虫 [chóng]. This is a general name for creatures that are very small in size, so it is not a scientific term meant to differentiate among concepts such as worm, insect, or bug. The word started as a pictograph that depicts a worm.
A mom secretly recording her daughter dances to a song played in the car, gets caught, and gets stared at. The song is called Lang Zi Xian Hua, "The Roving Youngster," which became rather popular in China recently.
The Chinese character for "surname" is consisted of two parts. One part of the word means "woman" and the other part is "birth." The Chinese word for "surname," therefore, literally means "born of a [particular] woman." This points to the matriarchal origin of the family in China. Overtime, however, Chinese families came to be define along the patriarchal lines. The family name shared by most people in China is "Wang."
The Chinese character for "fish" is 鱼. This word evolved from ancient pictograms, like this one, which is found one one of those "oracle bones" that the Chinese used to practice divination over three thousand years ago. 鱼 is an auspicious word in Chinese. This is because the word sounds the same as the Chinese word for "surplus" or "abundance." It is a Chinese tradition to have a dish of fish on the new year's eve,
The Chinese character for "bird" started as a little picture of, well, a bird. One can still see the way the word is written today and what it used to be. Just like in English, in Chinese there is a set phrase to the effect that a slow bird should get out early if it wants to get the worm.
Quan Hongchan, the 14-year-old Chinese girl who has just won a gold medal in diving at the Tokyo Olympics, now faces some unexpected new challenges. Now she had to do her school work more seriously and she's got her time to play video games cut by a third.
The Chinese character for "flower" started as an image of a flower (no surprise there). The ancient form of the word was used to refer to the blooming Chinese civilization, and it is also closely associated with women and love. This is also the surname of Mulan, the legendary Chinese girl who disguises herself to take her father's place in the imperial army.
The Chinese pictograph for "wood" was originally the image of a tree, with roots, trunk, and branches. The character changed little in the following millennia, so today you can easily see the similarity between the modern word and its ancient form. Many Chinese characters related wood or trees contain the character for "wood" as an ideographical indicator.
The Chinese character for "grass" started as an image of low-growing plants. In its extended meanings it suggests commonness, roughness, and endurance. Cao shu, literally "grass writing," is the cursive style of Chinese calligraphy, known for the free expression of the artist's emotions.
The Chinese pictograph for "water“ started, naturally enough, as a depiction of flowing water. The shape of the word did not change much in the three millennia that followed. Whereas mountain stands for commitment in traditional Chinese culture, water symbolizes flexibility.
The Chinese character for "mountain" started as a simple likeness of mountain peaks, which was standardized to be what we see today. In traditional Chinese culture, mountain stands for stability and principles, immobile and permanent.
The Chinese character for "winter" was originally drawn as an image of a string with knots tied at both of its ends. The word initially meant "end." It attained the meaning of "winter" likely cause people viewed winter as the end of a year, in addition to the fact that Chinese words for "winter" and “end" sound similar.
When the Chinese character for "autumn" was first created, it was an image that depicts a locust next to fire. Locusts were a major threat to harvest in the fall, and ancient Chinese fought them with fire. The locust in the pictograph was later replaced by a symbol that stands for crop stocks.
The Chinese character for "summer" was originally created as a pictograph that depicts a human figure. This was a word very ancient Chinese used to refer to themselves, namely the Xia People. Later, the word also acquired the meaning of "summer." And this word is closely related to the debate if, 3,000 years ago, there was actually a Chinese dynasty known as the Xia.
When the Chinese character for "spring" was first created over three thousand years ago, it was drawn with two parts. The main part of the pictograph shows growing grass while the lower right part depicts the sun. This is the scene of te flourishing field under the sun and denotes the time of the year when growth starts.
When the Chinese character for "north" was first created over three thousand years ago, it took the shape of two persons standing back to back. There are different explanations why such a pictogram denotes the idea of "north."
Nán miàn, "facing south," is an important concept in traditional Chinese culture. Residential quadrangles were almost always built to face south, with the northern rooms typically occupied by the most senior members of a given family. When an emperor received his ministers in the audience hall, he sat in his throne facing south.
In ancient times, the Chinese character for "west" was a pictogram that shows a bird resting on its nest. The bird returns to its nest at sunset time, and the sun sets in the west. So the pictograph acquired the meaning of "West."
The Chinese character for "East" is 东, /dōng/. In its original form, dong is associated with sunrise. In the middle of the pictograph is the sun; the upper and lower parts of the character are woods. The image shows the sun seen through trees and has the meaning of "East."
The Chinese character for a human being is 人. It looks like a person standing on his two legs. When it was first created over three thousand years ago, the pictograph shows a person standing, viewed from the side, with his arms stretching out forward.
A woman in Shanghai accidentally stepped on another woman’s foot at a train station. The wrongdoer, a Ms. Chen, apologized profusely, but the victim would not let the matter drop. She had bought her pair of shoes just two days ago, the young woman said. Her shoes were nothing fancy, but she just could not accept the fact that her two-day old new shoes were already trampled on.
The Chinese character 地 [dì], means "earth", "ground", or “land”. The left part of the pictogram is "soil". The right part, we're not sure what it is. Some people say it is a snake, standing for creatures on earth. Like 天 (heaven), 地 (earth) is understood in both the spiritual and the physical sense.
The Chinese pictograph for “heaven” started as a human figure with a big head, which evidently emphasizes the idea of “top” or what is above man. It is significant that the Chinese character for “heaven” takes the shape of a human figure with an emphasis on the head. From early on the Chinese defined heaven in terms of man’s relationship to it, which indicates a clear humanist streak in their culture.
In Chinese, “one” is 一, and “two” is 二. It follows then that “three” is 三. (What about “four”? Do you put yet another line on top of 三 to write number “four”? Actually, no, but that’s another story.) In traditional Chinese philosophy, three is a large number. As we previously quoted, the Daoist philosopher Lao Zi said: “One gives birth to two, two gives birth to three, and three gives birth to myriad things in the universe.”
“二” is the Chinese character for the number “two”. So the Chinese word for “one” is “一”, and the character for “two” is “二”. It figures. In Chinese culture, 二 is not as good as 一. Whereas one is the origin of all things and the unity of myriad creatures , two is division.
The Chinese character for “one” is “一”. It makes sense, doesn’t it, since there is just one line there. While the Roman and Arabic numbers for “one” stand up vertically, the Chinese number lies on its back. Surely a more relaxing posture.
The Confucian Analects begins with what Confucius viewed as three kinds of pleasure - learning, friendship, and self-content as a knowledgeable and virtuous man.