San Tzu Ching/San Tzu Ching







San (see line 49) is an ideogram, as also are 一 i one (line 45), 二 êrh two (line 116), and the archaic 亖 ssŭ four, for which 四 (line 114) was substituted at an early date. Odd numbers are regarded as male, even numbers as female.

Tzŭ is composed of 子 tzŭ child and 宀 mien an obsolete character meaning shelter, the former having here the double function of radical or indicator of sense, and of phonetic or indicator of sound. The word originally meant to suckle,—a child beneath a roof; later on, to betroth a girl. It came to be used in the sense of written character under the First Emperor (lines 211, 212) according to some, and according to others about a century later in the famous history by 司馬遷 Ssŭ-ma Chi'en. Previous to that date the characters 名 ming (line 16) and 文 wên (line 44) had been used.

Ching is composed of radical 糸 mi five strands of silk as spun by the silkworm, now generally read ssŭ like the duplicated form in line 87, and an obsolete phonetic. It originally meant to weave, the warp of a web, and came to be applied to canonical works or classics, thus offering a curious analogy with our own word text. Strictly speaking the property of the Confucianists, it was borrowed by the Buddhists as a suitable equivalent for sûtra (= threads) or that portion of the Canon which contains the actual utterances of Shâkyamuni Buddha. It was subsequently adopted by the Taoists (line 7), and has also been employed by Roman Catholic missionaries in their dignified rendering of Bible.


Men at their birth






Jen is a picture of the object,—Shakespeare's forked radish. Like all Chinese characters, it is the expression of a root idea, humanity, collectively and individually; and its grammatical functions vary in accordance with its position in a sentence and the exigencies of logic. The context, lines 3 and 4, here calls for a plural.

Chih originally meant to issue forth as grass from the ground; and by extension, to meet, to arrive at. It has come to be used conventionally as a sign of the possessive case, a particle of subtle influence, and a demonstrative pronoun; also, from its shape, = zigzag.

Ch'u is composed of 刀 tao knife as radical, and 衣 i clothes (衤 in combination), and is said to derive its meaning from the application of a knife or scissors to a piece of new cloth.


are naturally good.






Hsing is composed of 心 hsin heart as radical (忄 in combination) and 生 shêng (line 297) as phonetic. It means the moral nature, disposition, temperament, with which man is endowed at birth. Heart is used as being the seat of the moral and intellectual faculties.

Pên is composed of 木 mu a tree (line 66) as radical, and a horizontal line to indicate locality. It is much used in the sense of fundamental, original, native, etc. See line 68. Shan was originally composed of 羊 yang sheep (line 77) and 言 yen words (line 118) doubled. The latter portion has been corrupted, and the character is now classed under radical 口 k'ou mouth (line 263). It is noteworthy that sheep enters into several characters referring to excellence, duty, property, etc. See line 14.


Their natures are much the same;






Hsing see line 2.

Hsiang is composed of 目 mu eye (line 262) as radical and 木 mu tree (line 66), and originally meant to peer, to scrutinise. It is explained in the Canon of Changes (line 135) as inability to see through trees, hence to look at; which may be compared with the derivation of lucus a non lucendo. In this sense it is now read hsiang4. Read hsiang1, it means mutual, reciprocal; but it is often a complementary particle of very elusive value, signifying direction towards anybody or anything.

Chin is composed of 斤 chin an axe-head, a Chinese pound weight (= 1⅓ lb. av., probably adopted from the weight of the axe-head) as phonetic, and the contraction of an obsolete word 辵 cho (辶 in composition) meaning to go on and stop as radical. The latter is commonly seen in characters dealing with movement, and is popularly known as the walking radical.


their habits become widely different.






Hsi is composed of 羽 feathers as radical and 白 pai white, and seems to have been associated with young birds practising flight.

Hsiang see line 3.

Yüan is composed of the walking radical and a common phonetic.

It is not an authorised rhyme to shan in line 2, but is sufficient to produce the jingle which is such an important aid to memory. [Lines 3 and 4 are the ipsissima verba of Confucius, and form the chief dogma in Confucian ethics. It was vigorously upheld by Mencius (line 9), and opposed by Hsün K'uang (line 172) of the 3rd cent. B.C. who held that the nature of man is radically evil, and also by Yang Hsiung (line 172) who taught that it is neither one nor the other but a mixture of the two.]


If foolishly there is no teaching,






Kou is composed, under its modern form, of 艸 ts'ao vegetation (艹 in composition) as radical, and 句 chü crooked (line 110) as phonetic. It commonly means if, if only, etc.

Pu is supposed to be a picture of a bird which is circling in the air and will not come down, the upper line representing the sky.

Chiao is composed of 孝 hsiao filial piety (line 41) as phonetic and an obsolete radical meaning to tap (line 43).

[Every translator so far has made the same serious error of rendering the 苟 kou in this line as though it were simply "if." It is elliptical however for 苟且 kou ch'ieh (line 274) wrongly, improperly etc., as carefully stated in Ho Hsing-ssŭ's commentary.]


the nature will deteriorate.






Hsing see line 2.

Nai was originally a picture of vapour struggling forth. It is now a conjunctive and disjunctive particle, with other and more unusual values, demonstrative (line 95) and possessive.

Ch'ien is composed of the walking radical (line 3) and a phonetic which means to ascend. The whole character originally meant to ascend, then to move from a given position, a departure from the norm, etc.


The right way in teaching






Chiao see line 5.

Chih see line 1. [It is unnecessary here to regard chih as a sign of the possessive. The root idea may be developed as follows:—"In the matter of teaching, we reach the right method by, etc."]

Tao is composed of the walking radical and 首 shou head (line 41). It originally meant that which passes through, a road to be walked upon, and then by extension a road or method to be followed, as in philosophy, and even in stealing. Hence Taoism, the Doctrine of the Way, as taught by Lao Tzŭ (line 174), in antagonism to the Way taught by Confucius (line 121). 道人 tao jen was a term for Buddhists down to the end of the 5th cent. A.D., and Mr. T. W. Kingsmill has identified tao with the Buddhist mârga, the path which leads to Nirvâna.


is to attach the utmost importance to thoroughness.






Kuei is composed of 貝 pei, a picture under its old form of a pearl-oyster, once a circulating medium in China; hence, precious, honourable, as radical, with a corruption of 臾 k'uei4 a basket as phonetic.

I under its old form was the horary character 巳 ssŭ turned back to front, and its original meaning was to use, to take.

Chuan is composed of 寸 ts'un an inch as radical, and a phonetic which, with the ts'un added, forms another important phonetic. Its original meaning is uncertain; but among its earliest senses is that of unity, singleness of purpose, special, etc.

[The structure of this line is 以 to take 專 thoroughness (為 to be, understood) 貴 the valuable thing. Few couplets in the San Tzŭ Ching have been so widely misunderstood as the above. Dr. Bridgman (Chinese Repository for 1836, p. 107, reproduced by Williams in The Middle Kingdom, 1883): "A course of education, is made valuable by close attention."

The Rev. S. C. Malan, 1856: "But in the way of education, the principal-thing is undivided attention."

Stanislas Julien, 1864: "Teaching takes all its value from an entire application of mind of the master"

Rév. Père Zottoli, 1879: "Educationis ratio exigitur ex toto animo."

The Rev. E. J. Eitel (China Review for 1892, vol. XX, p. 35): "Education's rationale is such that the highest value is placed on application."

The flaws in all the above renderings, of which the last is decidedly the worst, will be made plain by a reference to the commentary. Education, in the Chinese acceptation of the term, should begin even before birth. The prospective mother should watch carefully over her own uprisings and downsittings. She must see no evil sights and hear no harsh sounds. She must not indulge in strong language, nor taste of out-of-the-way dishes; but she should herself cultivate loyalty, filial piety, friendly feelings, and upright principles, with a view to transmit the same to her child about to be. This is the first stage of education. The second consists in teaching her little one to eat with the right hand, to speak in a subdued tone, to know the four points of the compass (see line 64), to be deferential, and to avoid selfishness. The last stage begins in the schoolroom, at about eight years of age. Julien rightly saw that chuan could not refer to the pupil, but he wrongly limited its function to the schoolmaster.]


Of old, the mother of Mencius






Hsi is composed of 日 jih sun (line 52) and the corruption of an obsolete character meaning stale meat. It originally meant dried meat, and is now used in the sense of formerly, of yore.

Mêng is composed of 子 tzŭ child as radical, with 皿 min or ming dishes as phonetic. It means chief, eldest, but is here the surname of the philosopher 孟子 Mêng Tzŭ (line 119), latinised by the Jesuit missionaries as above. He flourished B.C. 372—289, and his teachings are contained in the last of the Four Books (line 119).

Mu has been regarded (1) as the picture of a woman embracing a child, or (2) as representing the breasts of a woman. It becomes 媽 ma or ma-ma to the child, as with us (line 18).


chose a neighbourhood;






Tsê is composed of 手 shou hand (扌 in combination), and a phonetic for which see line 344.

Lin is composed of 邑 i a town or district (⻏ in combination, always on the right) and 粦 lin lights which flit over old battle-fields, will-o'-the-wisps, as phonetic.

Ch'u is composed of radical 虍 hu a tiger and 処 as phonetic. This latter appears to have been the original character. It is explained as 夂 sui to walk (obsolete) and 几 chi a bench, = to walk to a bench, q.d. to stop, to abide, which are still meanings of 處 when read ch'u3, as also are to decide, to punish.

[The story runs that when first left a widow Mencius' mother lived with her little boy near a cemetery, the result being that the latter was always playing at funerals. Removing to a house near the market-place, she found that the boy now began to play at buying and selling; and fearing the ill effect of these sordid associations, she next sought shelter near a college. There the young philosopher began to imitate the ceremonial observances in which the students were instructed, to the great joy and satisfaction of his mother. In modern China, more attention is paid to neighbours than to neighbourhood, every householder being held responsible for the doings of those on each side of him.]


and when her child would not learn,






Tzŭ, under its original form, was a rude picture of a child. Except in special cases it refers to males. It came to be used as a term of respect, sir, philosopher, and is now colloquially employed as an enclitic.

Pu see line 5.

Hsüeh is a corruption of 教 chiao to teach (line 5), the radical on the right being omitted and the left-hand portion modified by the addition of an obsolete word 冖 mi to cover, imparting the idea of ignorance. It originally meant to awake to a sense of one's position.


she broke the shuttle from the loom.






Tuan has for its radical 斤 chin to cut wood, an axe (line 3), with a phonetic which was the old form of a word 絶 chüeh to break, and is said to express pictorially the idea of dividing into halves.

Chi is composed of 木 mu wood as radical (line 66), with 幾 chi how many? as phonetic, and is rather the motive power than the machine itself, which is an extended sense.

Chu is composed of 木 mu wood as radical, with 予 I as phonetic, and is the shuttle for holding the thread of the woof (see title). What Mencius' mother did was to exemplify to her son the disastrous effect of want of continuity in learning by snapping the thread of the woof. Eitel translates, "She tore (in his presence) loom and shuttle." Père Zottoli has "fregit textorium radium." But it was the thread which she broke, not the shuttle, the latter being put by synecdoche for its contents.


Tou of the Swallow Hills






Tou is composed of 穴 hsüeh a hole as radical, with 賣 (see line 134), here an abbreviation for 瀆 tu a ditch, as phonetic. It was the surname of 竇禹鈞 Tou Yü-chün, a scholar of the 10th cent. A.D. He lived in 幽州 Yu-chou, a part of modern Chihli which fell under the jurisdiction of Yen; hence he received the sobriquet of Yen-shan, the name of the 順天 Shun-t'ien Prefecture under the 宋 Sung dynasty, A.D. 960–1260.

Yen was under its old form a picture of a flying swallow, the two halves of 北 pei north (line 61), between which 口 k'ou mouth (line 263) is inserted, representing the wings, and 火 huo fire (line 65), under which radical it is now classed, giving a good idea of the forked tail.

Shan was originally a picture of mountain peaks.


had the right method.






Yu is composed of 月 yüeh moon as radical, below 又 yu a hand (line 18) as phonetic. The latter portion is said to have been the original character, moon being added as a differentia when the written language began to grow. Yu is the root idea of being and possession, q.d. to exist, to have, which senses have been fancifully derived from the moon present, not eclipsed. Read yu4, it means plus.

I is composed of 羊 yang sheep (line 77) above 我 wo I (line 147) = my sheep, and points towards a great obligation in primitive ages. It can be best rendered in philosophy by duty towards one's neighbour (line 69). Thus it came to mean something provided from a sense of duty, as a burying-ground for the poor, troops to defend the people's liberties (line 240), etc. It also signifies meaning, purport.

Fang originally meant, and is supposed to be a picture of, two boats joined together. Then it came to mean square, and by extension a place. Here it stands for the colloquial 方法 fang fa a means of doing. For an adverbial sense, see line 30.


He taught five sons,






Chiao see line 5.

Wu was originally written X, and for short X. It is now classed under radical 二 êrh two (line 116), representing heaven above and earth below, the cross lines shewing the interaction of the male and female principles of Chinese cosmogony.

Tzŭ see line 11.


each of whom raised the family reputation.






Ming is composed of 夕 hsi evening (line 266) and 口 k'ou mouth as radical. It is explained thus: "In the evening it is dark and one cannot see, so that it is necessary for a man to call out his name." The word ming (see title) is now mostly used of a man's personal name, which is taboo except to parents and to the sovereign. Tou's five sons all rose to high office.

Chü is composed of 人 jen man as radical, with 具 chü (line 84) as phonetic.

Yang is composed of 手 shou hand as radical, with a common phonetic which must be distinguished from 昜 i (line 126). [Zottoli and Eitel are both wrong in making ming refer to the sons.]


To feed without teaching






Yang is composed of 羊 yang sheep as phonetic and 食 shih eat as radical, and means to bear children, to feed. Read yang4, it means to minister to, to attend upon, especially one's parents.

Pu see line 5.

Chiao see line 5.


is the father's fault.






Fu was originally an ideogram, being composed of 又 yu again, which anciently meant a hand with three fingers stretched out and was the original form of the more modern 右 yu right hand, and a ferule. A common name for a father is 家嚴 chia yen (lines 19, 192) the family severe one, while a mother is called 家慈 chia tz'ŭ the family gentle one. In the mouth of the child fu becomes 爹 tieh daddy (line 9). Fu sometimes = male (line 210).

Chih see line 1.

Kuo is composed of the walking radical and a common phonetic. It means to pass by or over; hence, to transgress, an error, a fault. It is used colloquially to form the past tense, thus: 來 lai come, 來過 came. See line 162.


To teach, without severity






Chiao see line 5.

Pu see line 5.

Yen is composed of two 口 k'ou mouths which formed the ancient radical (now a single k'ou) and a phonetic. It originally meant a sharp order, hence severe; see line 18.


is the teacher's laziness.






Shih is composed of an old form of 堆 tui a mound or bank on the left, with 帀 tsa to encompass as ancient (巾 chin napkin modern) radical on the right. It originally meant a body of 2500 soldiers (line 240), and its composition may possibly have reference to a mud fortress; then it came to mean to take as a model, a teacher, a master workman. Confucius said 三人同行必有我師 san jen t'ung hsing, pi yu wo shih, if three men are walking together, one will be my teacher, i.e. able to teach me something (see title, lines 1, 106, 67, 112, 14, 147).

Chih see line 1.

To is composed of 心 hsin heart as radical and a phonetic (line 235).


If the child does not learn,






Tzŭ see line 11.

Pu see line 5.

Hsüeh see line 11.


this is not as it should be.






Fei is supposed to resemble a pair of wings placed back to back; hence, to turn the back on, to negative.

So is composed of 戶 hu a leaf of 門 mên a door, and 斤 chin (line 3). Its original meaning was the sound of chopping. It then came to mean a place, i.e. was probably adopted to express an idea the sound for which already existed. The next stage was to apply this word in the sense of a relative pronoun. It will be found under radical hu in K'ang Hsi's dictionary, under chin in the 說文 Shuo Wên dictionary of the 1st cent. A.D.

I is composed, under its old form, of 多 to many (line 302) contracted, below a roof and above a line = the ground. It originally meant in repose, sheltered, and now means to be right, fitting, proper.


If he does not learn while young,






Yu is an ideogram composed of 幺 yao small, said to be the picture of a new-born child, now the ace at dice, as radical, and 力 li strength; sc. youth.

Pu see line 5.

Hsüeh see line 11.


what will he be when old?






Lao was originally composed of 人 jen man, 毛 mao hair, and an obsolete character meaning to change; q.d. the hair turning white, seventy years of age. See lines 41, 174.

Ho is composed of 人 jen man as radical, with 可 k'o possibility, can, as phonetic. It is a common interrogative particle.

Wei is composed of 爪 chao claws as radical, over the alleged picture of a female monkey, which is said to be fond of scratching. It came to mean to be, to do. Read wei4, it means on behalf, in place of; hence to pawn.


If jade is not polished,






was originally composed of three equidistant horizontal lines joined by a vertical stroke. It is now written with a dot, which is omitted in composition, to distinguish it from 王 wang (line 190). It is the gem par excellence of China, a species of nephrite or jade, and is held to possess five virtues. It is used for all kinds of ornaments, and is also put into the mouths of corpses to preserve them from decay.

Pu see line 5.

Cho is composed of 玉 jade as radical, and a phonetic which is 豕 shih pig (line 78) with its feet tied together. It means to prepare jade.


it cannot become a thing of use.






Pu see line 5.

Ch'êng is composed of 戊 mou or wu flourishing, and what under the old form was 丁 ting a cyclical character, a man, a nail, etc. It means to accomplish, to complete.

Ch'i is composed of four 口 k'ou mouths with 犬 ch'üan dog (line 78) in the middle. It originally meant receptacles for food etc., the mouths of which are represented as guarded by a dog. It also means anything which can be put to some definite use. Confucius said 君子不器 chün tzŭ pu ch'i the superior man is not a thing, i.e. of restricted use; mathematically, he is not a function of one variable but of many.


If a man does not learn,






Jen see line 1.

Pu see line 5.

Hsüeh see line 11.


he cannot know his duty towards his neighbour.






Pu see line 5.

Chih is composed of 矢 shih the arrow or bolt in a crossbow as radical and phonetic, and 口 k'ou mouth. It is defined in the Shuo Wên (line 22) as language, the outward expression of inward ideas; but from the earliest times it is found meaning to know, to perceive.

I see line 14. It has here a variant, 理 li eternal principles, found in inferior editions.


He who is the son of a man,






Wei see line 24.

Jen is in the possessive case by position and by logical requirements.

Tzŭ see line 11. [Jen tzŭ is the same as 人之子 jen chih tzŭ, which has been adopted by the translators of the Bible as rendering "the Son of Man" (Matt. VIII. 20 etc.). But these terms point rather to sons of men in general, and require the insertion of a demonstrative particle.]


when he is young






Fang see line 14. It is here used adverbially and signifies just now, then, when, a moment ago.

Shao is composed of 小 hsiao small (line 113) as opposed to 大 ta great (lines 113, 127), and a sweeping stroke from right to left. It has come by extension to mean young, and when preceding a man's name is used in the sense of the Younger So-and-So, as opposed to 老 (line 24) the Elder. Its original meaning was few as opposed to 多 to many (line 302), in which sense it is now read shao3.

Shih has 日 jih the sun (line 52) as radical, pointing towards the meaning, and 寺 ssŭ a temple as phonetic. The latter is composed of 寸 ts'un inch as radical, which seems to refer to regulations, below an abbreviation of 之 chih (line 1) as phonetic, and is used in several important characters (line 135).


should attach himself to his teachers and friends.






Ch'in is composed of 見 chien to see (line 42) and a phonetic. It is defined in the Shuo Wên by 至 chih (line 94), and one of its earliest meanings was to love, close attachment to; hence it comes to mean parents, relatives (line 35).

Shih see line 20.

Yu is composed of two 又 yu hands (line 18) entwined; hence its meaning. It is defined as "of the same class or kind." See also line 102.


and practise ceremonial usages.






Hsi see line 4.

Li is composed of 示 shih divine manifestation, to proclaim, etc., as radical, with a phonetic (line 150) which meant a sacrificial vessel. It is defined as worship of the gods which brings happiness; hence, ritual. It bears also the varying meanings of etiquette, politeness, and propriety. It was coupled with music in the ancient educational system of China as an important factor in the art of government. Lao Tzŭ (line 7) explained ceremonies as "the outward expression of inward feelings," while admitting in another utterance that they are but "the veneer of loyalty and good faith." For the Book of Rites, see line 136.

I is simply i duty towards one's neighbour (line 28) as phonetic, with 人 jen man as radical. It originally meant a limit; then usages, observances, etc.


Hsiang, at nine years of age,






Hsiang is a corruption of 黍 shu millet (line 74) over 甘 kan sweet. It means scented, fragrant, as in Hongkong (Cantonese pronunciation), the second syllable being 港 chiang a lagoon. It is here the personal name of a man surnamed 黃 Huang (line 180), of the 2nd cent. A.D., famous as a model of filial piety

Chiu is supposed to represent the weakening of the male numbers (see title), which reached their climacteric at 七 ch'i seven (line 84), before their individuality is lost in the completeness of 十 shih ten (line 45). 九九 nine nines is a term for arithmetic.

Ling is composed of 齒 ch'ih teeth as radical, with or ling a command as phonetic. It means the front teeth, from which the sense of year, only found in the book-language, is probably derived.


could warm (his parents') bed.






Nêng originally meant a bear, now written 熊 and pronounced hsiung. It is possible that the strength of the bear may have imparted the meaning of power to the character, which is now classed under radical 肉 jou flesh.

Wên is composed of 水 shui water (氵 in composition, see line 65) as radical, and a phonetic, the value of which is sometimes wên and sometimes yün. 温水 wên shui is colloquial for warm water.

Hsi is composed of 庶 shu many (contracted) and 巾 chin napkin as radical. It refers to the mats on which the "many" guests sat, and although chairs and tables were used in very early ages, the term mat is still applied to a banquet. It here refers to the plaited grass mats laid on beds, fine ones for coolness in summer, coarse ones for warmth in winter.


Filial piety towards parents






Hsiao see lines 5, 41.

was originally the same as 于 (lines 130, 233) which was developed from 亏 a picture of vapour extending. It is defined by 居 chü to be stationary, 往 wang to move towards, and 代 tai in place of. It is commonly used with such prepositional values as in, on, at, to, from, etc., all of which may be traced to one or other of the root-ideas.

Ch'in see line 31.


is that to which we should hold fast.
So3 tang1 chih2

What ought hold

So see line 22.

Tang is composed of 田 t'ien cultivated fields as radical, with 尙 shang (line 270) above it as phonetic. It is said to have derived its meaning of right or proper from the rectangular form in which fields are properly laid out. Read tang4, it means to stand in place of, to pawn. In the latter sense it is often seen, of gigantic dimensions, on the blank walls of houses, and corresponds to the well-known sign of three balls in this country.

Chih is composed of an ancient radical, also its phonetic, on the left, and 丸 wan balls on the right, the latter portion being a corruption of 手 shou hand and a stroke to the right. It means to arrest prisoners, to seize, and is now classed under radical 土 t'u earth (line 66).


Jung, at four years of age,
Jung2 ssŭ4 sui4

Jung four year

Jung is composed of 鬲 li a cauldron and 虫 ch'ung (short for 蟲) insect, reptile, as radical, and originally meant steam rising, its radical being associated in the Chinese mind with vaporous manifestations. The character now means clear, bright, intelligent, and is here the personal name of 孔融 K'ung Jung, died A.D. 208, a descendant of Confucius in the 20th generation.

Ssŭ is supposed to be a picture of quartering (see title).

Sui is composed of 步 pu to step, to walk, and 戌 hsü a horary character as phonetic. It originally meant 木星 mu hsing wood-star (lines 66, 52), i.e. the planet Jupiter, also known to the Chinese as the year-star from its revolution in twelve years which was reckoned as one great year. It is now colloquially used as a year of one's life or age (line 33), and is classed under radical 止 chih to stop.


could yield the (bigger) pears.
Nêng2 jang4 li2

Able yield pear

Nêng see line 34.

Jang is composed of 言 yen words and 襄 hsiang which is an important phonetic (see line 82).

Li is composed of 木 mu wood (line 66) as radical and 利 li sharp as phonetic. [The story runs that when K'ung Jung at four years of age was asked why he chose all the small pears and left the bigger ones for the rest of the family he replied, "I am a small boy, so I take the small pears." Eitel wrongly translates "was able to yield up his pears (to his brothers)."]


To behave as a younger brother towards elders,
T'i4 yu2 chang3

Fraternal towards grow

T'i to behave as a younger brother is a verbal sense developed from the original sound and signification of the character read ti4 = younger brother (line 100). For convenience' sake the former is sometimes written 悌, with 心 hsin heart as radical.

see line 35.

Chang means to grow, one grown, an elder. The original word was ch'ang2, composed of 兀 wu lofty, far, 𠤎 hua (the old form of 化, to be distinguished from 七 ch'i seven, line 84) to melt, to change, and 亡 wang to perish (line 159) turned upside down, showing that this last is to be taken in an opposite sense. It is consequently explained as that which will go far without change, lasting, long.


is one of the first things to know.
I2 hsien1 chih1

Ought before know

I see line 22.

Hsien is composed of 人 jen man (under the form in which it appears when placed at the bottom of a character) as radical, and a corrupted 之 (line 1). It is used as a comparative adverb of time.

Chih see line 28.


Begin with filial piety and fraternal love,
Shou3 hsiao4 t'i4

Head filial fraternal

Shou was originally written with three wavy strokes at the top, said to represent hair, the lower portion being an obsolete word for head.

Hsiao is composed of 老 lao old (line 24), as seen in combination, as phonetic, and 子 tzŭ child underneath as radical, thus picturing the idea of the young taking care of the old.

T'i see line 39. The logic shows it cannot be ti.


and then see and hear.
Tz'ŭ4 chien4 wên2

Second see hear

Tz'ŭ is composed of 二 êrh two and 欠 ch'ien as radical. The latter now means to owe, but was originally a picture of vapour issuing from a man's head, hence to yawn. Tz'ŭ is explained as not in the front rank or of the best kind.

Chien is composed of 目 mu eye (line 262) as radical, and 人 jen man (line 40). It originally meant to look at, and has come to signify sense perception of any kind.

Wên is composed of 門 mên the two leaves of a door (line 22) and 耳 êrh ear, and means to hear, to smell. Seeing and hearing stand for the acquisition of knowledge in general.


Learn to count,
Chih1 mou3 shu4

Know certain numbers

Chih see line 28.

Mou is composed of 木 mu wood as radical, and 甘 kan sweet. It originally meant sour plums, explained exactly as lucus a non lucendo. An old dictionary says, "Things of which the names are not known are mou." The term 某人 mou jen a certain man, is used in reading as a substitute for the personal names of Confucius and Mencius, which may not be uttered.

Shu is composed of 攴 p'u to tap (in composition 夊, see chiao line 5) as radical, with an important phonetic. It originally meant to count, probably based upon tapping, in which sense it is now read shu3.


and learn to read.
Shih4 mou3 wên2

Know certain characters

Shih is composed of 言 yen words and an important phonetic. It answers more to connaître than to savoir.

Mou see line 43.

Wên originally meant cross lines, any markings or veins, streaks on a tiger, etc.; hence the written character, in which sense it was used until the introduction of 字 tzŭ (see title), and literature, and by extension civilian (see line 189). [Eitel and Père Zottoli have both missed the point of these two lines. For the latter Eitel has "and understand the several appellatives" whatever that may mean. P. Zottoli has "scias aliquot notiones," the scias following an ut erroneously inserted as a conjunction between lines 42 and 43.]


Units and tens,
I1 êrh2 shih2

one and ten

I stands for Unity, the cosmogonical abstraction which was ultimately subdivided into two forces, the resultant being the visible material universe. It is the number of heaven; see title and line 49.

Erh originally meant whiskers. It is now used as a conjunction, sometimes disjunctive, and also as the pronoun you.

Shih is composed of one line pointing east and west and another pointing north and south; it therefore represents the hub of the universe, also numerical completeness, the Chinese system being decimal.


tens and hundreds,
Shih2 êrh2 pai3 or pŏ

Ten and hundred

Shih see line 45.

Erh see line 45.

Pai (or ) was composed, according to the Shuo Wên, of a contraction of 自 tzŭ nose (line 93) as radical, and 一 i unity. In K'ang Hsi's dictionary, however, it is regarded as composed of 一 i one and 白 pai or white as radical, though i would be an intelligible radical and pai would be a perfect phonetic. The functions of radical and phonetic are often thus arbitrarily interchanged. Pai is much used by synecdoche for all, every; e.g. 百 pŏ hsing the hundred surnames, i.e. all the surnames, of which no less than 4657 have been recorded; hence the people of China.


hundreds and thousands,
Pai3 êrh2 ch'ien1

Hundred and thousand

Pai see line 46.

Erh see line 45.

Ch'ien is composed of 十 shih ten (line 45) as radical, and a corruption of 人 jen man. 千歲 ch'ien sui a thousand years (line 37) is a title of a prince.


thousands and tens of thousands.
Ch'ien1 êrh2 wan4

Thousand and ten-thousand

Ch'ien see line 47.

Erh see line 45.

Wan was originally classed under radical 禸 jou the track of an animal, and meant insects; hence its primary meanings, myriad, all. It is now classed under radical 艸 ts'ao vegetation. It is often written 万 for short; sometimes the Indian 卍 sauvastika is employed. 萬歲 wan sui ten thousand years (see line 37) is a title of the Emperor.


The Three Forces
San1 ts'ai2 chê3

Three force ones

San see title. The three lines of which this character is composed have been said to stand for heaven, earth, and man.

Ts'ai was originally written as a vertical line dividing two parallel horizontals, and meant vegetation sprouting. It came to mean force, power, talent, and is now classed under radical 手 shou hand.

Chê is composed of 白 tzŭ (= 自 see line 46) as radical, and a contraction of 旅 a body of 500 men (not a contraction of 老 lao old as in line 41). It is impossible to say what was its original meaning; perhaps a leader of 500 men. It is now a particle imparting various forces, substantival (as here), adjectival, adverbial, etc., to words and phrases, and is classed under radical 老 lao old. For its phonetic value, based probably upon some older sound, see lines 149, 176, 230, 238.


are Heaven, Earth, and Man.






T'ien is composed of 一 i one, its original radical, and 大 ta great, its present radical. Originally meaning the top, that which is above, the physical sky, it soon came to mean the invisible Power beyond, God; popularly, the old man in blue clothes. See line 79.

Ti is composed of 土 t'u earth, soil, as radical, and 也 yeh female, heaven being regarded as male. See line 79.

Jen see line 1. [When chaos resolved itself into the universe, the lighter gas rose and formed the sky, while the heavier congealed and formed the earth. From the interaction of these two, "the bridal of the earth and sky," all things were produced, of which the chief was man, endowed with reason.]


The Three Luminaries






San see title.

Kuang is composed of 火 huo fire above 人 jen man (line 40). The former used to be, the latter is now, its radical.

Chê see line 49.


are the sun, the moon, and the stars.
Jih4 yüeh4 hsing1

Sun moon star

Jih was originally a circle containing an irregular line, and may be regarded as a picture character. It came to be used also in the sense of day.

Yüeh was originally a picture of the crescent moon, which may be faintly traced even in its modern form. It came to be used for lunar month, twelve of which go to the year, the difference between the lunar and solar years being made up by seven intercalary months in nineteen years.

Hsing was originally 生 shêng to produce as phonetic, with three circles at the points of its then trident-like form. Under a later form these circles became three 日 jih suns, which combination was then the radical of the character. These were reduced to one, its modern radical. It is explained as the pure, ethereal portion of the universe, which rises to heaven and manifests itself as stars.


The Three Bonds
San1 kang1 chê3

Three bond one

San see title.

Kang is composed of 糹ssŭ silk as radical, with 岡 kang a mountain ridge as phonetic. It originally meant a rope, together, and must be carefully distinguished from 網 wang a net.

Chê see line 49.


are (1) the obligation between sovereign and subject,



Prince Minister duty

Chün is composed of 尹 yin to rule, with 口 k'ou mouth as radical; hence one whose commands are respected, a ruler. 君子 chün tzŭ is the superior or perfect man of Confucian ethics.

Ch'ên under its original form, with curved outline, is supposed to represent a Minister bending before his Prince,

As lofty lords before an Eastern throne
Bend the whole body, not the head alone.

The term has been extended to include any one ruled, a subject, which is the meaning here.

I see line 14. [The Rev. E. J. Eitel, evidently translating from an inaccurate text and reading 矣 i, gives the following most forlorn rendering:—"As to the three social regulators or rather that-which-constitutes them Consists of (the following relationships: There is first that of) the prince with his officials indeed."]


(2) the love between father and child,
Fu4 tzŭ3 ch'in1

Father child love

Fu see line 18.

Tzŭ see line 11.

Ch'in see line 31. Eitel translates by "intimacy," which is not adequate here.


(3) the harmony between husband and wife.
Fu1 fu4 shun4

Man wife harmony

Fu is composed, like Heaven (line 50) of 一 i one and 大 ta great, and seems to have formerly indicated men of exceptional character. It is now used for husband. Read fu2 = now, forasmuch as, etc.

Fu is composed of 女 woman as radical and 帚 chou a broom, and is emblematical of the duties of a wife.

Shun is composed of 頁 yeh head as radical, with 川 ch'uan flowing water as phonetic, and gives the idea of floating smoothly down the stream. [Eitel wrongly makes the bond one-sided, "And finally, there are husband and wife, the latter in submission."]


We speak of spring and summer,
Yüeh4 ch'un1 hsia4

Speak spring summer

Yüeh under its old form was supposed to represent breath issuing from the mouth, q.d. speech.

Ch'un is composed of 日 jih sun as radical, and a contraction in which 艸 ts'ao vegetation was once conspicuous. It is also used figuratively in the sense of joyous, pleasant.

Hsia is a contraction of 頁 yeh head, an obsolete word for hands, and an obsolete radical which is here said to refer to the feet. It originally meant an inhabitant of the Middle Kingdom, probably from the name of a dynasty which ruled China from B.C. 2205 to B.C. 1818.


we speak of autumn and winter.
Yüeh4 ch'iu1 tung1

Speak autumn winter

Yüeh see line 57.

Ch'iu is composed of 禾 ho grain, as radical, and 火 huo fire, suggesting the sense of harvest-time.

Tung is composed of 冫 ping an old word for ice, now used as a radical, and a contraction of 終 chung end, sc. the end of the year when ice comes. The modern word for ice is 冰 ping, formed by the simple addition of water (line 65).


These four seasons
Tz'ŭ3 ssŭ4 shih2

This four time

Tz'ŭ is composed of 止 chih to stop, under which radical it is now classed, and 匕 pi a spoon. It originally meant to stop; and from this sense of arrestation it is an easy transition to the modern demonstrative value of the character. See line 273.

Ssŭ see title.

Shih see line 30.


revolve without ceasing.
Yün4 pu1 ch'iung2

Revolve not exhaust

Yün is composed of the walking radical with 軍 chün military as phonetic. The latter is a corruption of 車 ch'ê or chü a chariot, and 勹 pao to enclose (under the old form it completely surrounds the chariot), suggesting a military encampment. Yün was originally pronounced wên, as still in the Canton dialect, and meant to change one's abode, to transport. Later on, from change it came to mean luck, fortune.

Pu see line 5.

Ch'iung is composed of 穴 hsüeh a cave as radical, over 躬 kung body as phonetic. It originally meant extreme, limit; and later, without resource, poor.


We speak of north and south,
Yüeh4 nan2 pei3

Speak south north

Yüeh see line 57.

Nan is composed of an old word meaning abundant vegetation (q.d. the south), with 羊 yang sheep inserted as phonetic. It is now classed under radical 十 shih ten (line 45). The south is the standard point, as the north with us, of the mariner's compass, which has been known to the Chinese since the 12th cent. A.D., and is said to have been developed from a legendary "south-pointing chariot" given to tribute-bearing envoys from Tongking more than a thousand years B.C. Chinese houses are as far as possible duly oriented, facing the south. See line 230.

Pei was originally composed of two men, back to back. How it came to mean north is not clear. It is now classed under radical 匕 pi a spoon.

62. 西

we speak of east and west.
Yüeh4 hsi1 tung1

Speak west east

Yüeh see line 57.

Hsi was originally composed of a bird roosting on a tree, which was thought sufficient to suggest the time for roosting when the sun is in the western sky; hence, by an aphetic process on a gigantic scale, the west. It is now classed under radical 襾 hsia to cover.

Tung is explained as 日 jih the sun among the 木 mu trees as radical (lines 52, 66). The east is the place of honour, and 東家 tung chia is the master of a house (line 192). The phrase 東西 tung hsi east-west means a thing, and it is an insult to say that a man is not a thing, implying that he is only raw material.


These four points
Tz'ŭ3 ssŭ4 fang1

This four square

Tz'ŭ see line 59.

Ssŭ see title.

Fang see line 14.


respond to the requirements of the centre.
Ying4 hu2 chung1

Answer to middle

Ying is composed of 心 hsin heart as radical, with an old form of 鷹 ying a falcon as phonetic. It means to respond, as to a call for services, etc. Read ying1 it means ought, proper.

Hu is composed of 兮 hsi an emphatic particle, with 丿 p'ieh (obsolete) as radical. It is defined as "language surplus" or expletive, is an interrogative particle, and has also several prepositional values.

Chung is an obvious ideogram, classed under the obsolete radical 丨 kun to pass through. Read chung4 it means to middle, i.e. to hit the middle, to attain.

[The above two lines have met with severe treatment at the hands of translators. Bridgman (1836) gave, "These are four points, which tend towards the centre;" Julien (1864), "These four sides of the world correspond to the centre of the earth;" Zottoli (1879), "Istae quatuor orae respondent cum centro;" finally Eitel (1892), "These are the four regions in mutual correspondence with regard to the centre." The idea however, according to the commentary, is simply this. The earth is the centre of the universe; the four points of the compass are associated with the four seasons, and, so to speak, supply these as required. At the same time it is difficult to escape from the belief that the real meaning of this line is "occupy fixed positions as regards any given centre," i.e. "fix the orientation around any given origin."]


We speak of water, fire,
Yüeh4 shui3 huo3

Speak water fire

Yüeh see line 57.

Shui originally meant level. It is a picture of flowing water; it influences the north, and is the name assigned to the planet Mercury. It usually appears in composition as 氵 on the left.

Huo is a picture of flames; it influences the south, and is the name assigned to Mars. When at the bottom of a character, in combination, it is expressed by four dots (lines 13, 77).


wood, metal, and earth.
Mu4 chin1 t'u2

Wood metal earth

Mu was originally written with the horizontal line bent upwards at each end; it was thus a picture of branches in the air and roots in the ground. It influences the east, and is the name assigned to the planet Jupiter.

Chin is composed of 土 t'u earth, with two lumps inserted to represent ore, and 今 chin now, present, which gives the sound. It is specially the yellow metal, which knows no defilement and may be melted again and again without losing weight, q.d. gold. It is also commonly used to mean silver, as in money calculations in which gold does not appear. It influences the west, and is the name assigned to the planet Venus.

T'u is supposed to be a picture of plants springing from the soil. It is the name assigned to the planet Saturn.


These five elements
Tz'ŭ3 wu3 hsing2

This five operate

Tz'ŭ see line 59.

Wu see line 15.

Hsing is supposed to represent two steps, the three strokes on the left being a step with the left foot, known as the double-man radical (line 273), and those on the right a step with the right foot. It means to walk, to act, to operate. Read hsing4 it means conduct; and read hang2, a row, a series, from which is taken the word hong, a place of business.


have their origin in number.






Pên see line 2.

Hu see line 64.

Shu see line 43.

[For the above two lines Père Zottoli has, "Ista quinque elementa fundamentum sunt pro numeratione rerum," with the following gloss, "Siquidem omnia ex his conflantur, et sic constituitur numerabilis individuorum series." In other words he makes number spring from the elements instead of the elements from number. But what becomes of 乎, which has clearly a prepositional value, as in line 64? Eitel has, "These are the five mutable-elements, radically related with regard to the numerical proportions (of the cosmos)," which would seem to be less available, for tutorial purposes, than the original text. The meaning however is that in the beginning there was One (lines 45, 50). This divided itself into Two, and these forces, known as male and female, positive and negative, heaven and earth, light and darkness, produced the five elements which inform all creation. Heaven is said to have begun by producing water, Earth followed with fire, Heaven with wood, Earth with metal, and lastly Heaven produced earth (soil). Then water began to produce wood, wood to produce fire, fire to produce earth (ashes), earth (soil) to produce metal, metal to produce water, and so on. All this time water was destroying fire, fire was destroying metal, metal was destroying wood, wood was destroying earth, and earth was destroying water, in an endless chain.]


We speak of charity of heart and of duty towards one's neighbour,
Yüeh4 jen2 i4

Speak charity duty

Yüeh see line 57.

Jen is composed of 人 jen man and 二 êrh two, and is defined as love. This was explained in the tenth century A.D. to mean love for one's two neighbours (line 10). Its ethical sense is an inward and spiritual love for all mankind, of which 義 i is the outward and visible manifestation. Charity, in the theological sense, seems to be the best rendering; love, which has been substituted for charity in the Revised Version of the New Testament, is wanted for more general purposes. Zottoli has "pietas."

I see lines 14, 240.


of propriety, of wisdom, and of truth.
Li3 chih4 hsin4

Propriety wisdom truth

Li see line 32.

Chih is composed of 知 chih to know (line 28) as phonetic, above 日 jih the sun as radical, being a corruption or contraction of an earlier and more complicated form which is explained as knowledge of language.

Hsin was originally composed of 言 yen words as radical, with 心 hsin heart on the right, giving a more satisfactory ideogram of truth than the modern form, which is classed under radical 人 jen man.


These five virtues
Tz'ŭ3 wu3 ch'ang2

This five constant

Tz'ŭ see line 59.

Wu see line 15.

Ch'ang, which is also read shang, is composed of shang (line 270) as phonetic, and 巾 chin a cloth, a towel, as radical. It means constant, long-enduring, something which is always present even though obscured by neglect. The term virtue is our nearest equivalent to the extended sense.


admit of no compromise.
Pu1 jung2 wên4

Not contain tangle

Pu see line 5.

Jung is composed of radical 宀 mien meaning a covered place, a room, and 谷 ku a valley. It means to hold, to contain,—a property both of rooms and valleys, says a native philologer,—and by extension to tolerate.

Wên is composed of 文 wên streaks (line 44) as phonetic, with 糹ssŭ, silk as radical. It signifies confusion such as that of a tangled skein, but something more is required to bring out the sense, which is that no one can be allowed to shirk the practice of the five virtues in however trifling a degree. Julien has, "These cardinal virtues must not be confounded (disturbed in their order);" Père Zottoli, "ista quinque officia non patiuntur perturbari;" and Eitel, "These are the five constant factors of morality, which do not admit of any confusion." All three renderings are obviously inadequate.


Rice, spiked millet, pulse,
Tao4 liang2 shu3

Rice spiked-millet pulse

Tao is composed of 禾 ho grain and a common phonetic. It was anciently applied to glutinous rice, but is now used of common rice.

Liang is composed of 米 mi rice as radical, below a contraction of 粱 liang (line 228) as phonetic. It is the millet of north China, "distinguished from the panicled millet by its long and dense compound spikes." Bretschneider.

Shu is composed of 艸 ts'ao vegetation, with 叔 shu, originally to gather, now a father's younger brother, as phonetic. It is "a collective name for leguminous plants and their seeds." Bretschneider.


wheat, glutinous millet, and common millet.
Mai4 shu3 chi2

Wheat glutinous-millet common-millet

Mai is composed of 來 lai to come, over an obsolete radical 夊 sui to walk slowly, and is now itself a radical. It is subdivided into 大 ta mai barley, and 小 hsiao mai wheat.

Shu is composed of 禾 ho grain, with a contraction of 雨 rain as phonetic. It is specially mentioned as being sticky, and is said to have been called shu because it was planted during the 大暑 ta shu great heat. It is now a radical.

Chi is composed of 禾 ho grain and a phonetic associated with husbandry, as might be inferred from its composition. It is called the chief of the five grains.

[Shu and chi are said by the Chinese to be varieties, the former having glutinous seeds, of the common millet. However Dr. Hance and other competent botanists "were not able to make out any botanical difference between the two." Bretschneider.]


These six grains
Tz'ŭ3 liu4 ku3

This six grain

Tz'ŭ see line 59.

Liu is composed of 八 pa eight (line 88) below the old pictorial form of 上 shang above, which was anciently represented by a line above a line (line 192). It is the number of change, the female numbers (see title) strengthening at six to reach their climacteric at eight, and is now classed under radical 一 i one.

Ku is composed of 禾 ho grain as radical, and a phonetic. It stands for cereals in general, and comes to have such meanings as alive, happy, which are apparently based upon the possession of grain.


are those which men eat.
Jen2 so3 shih2

Man what eat

Jen see line 1.

So see line 22.

Shih, the composition of which is disputed, seems to have originally meant a grain of rice. It is now a radical, and read ssŭ4 it means food. [The commentary points out that the six grains mentioned must be held to include all the varieties which fall under each head.]


The horse, the ox, the sheep,
Ma3 niu2 yang2

Horse ox sheep

Ma is one of the stock pictures in the Chinese written language. The four dots, elsewhere used for 火 huo fire (line 65), are of course the legs. They also do duty for the legs and wings of 鳥 niao a bird, and for the fins of 魚 a fish. It is now a radical.

Niu was also a picture character under its old form, which may be produced by removing the dash at the left-hand top corner and turning up the ends of the upper horizontal so as to resemble horns. See line 340.

Yang stands in the north for sheep; in the south it is more widely applied to the goat, also known as 山羊 shan yang mountain sheep. Confucius declared that niu and yang were both words formed after the likeness of the object intended. See line 14.


the fowl, the dog, the pig.
Chi1 ch'üan3 shih4
Fowl dog pig

Chi is composed of 鳥 niao bird as radical, with 奚 hsi how? why? as phonetic. It is also written 雞, and is described as the bird which knows the time (line 334).

Ch'üan seems to have greatly impressed Confucius. He said it was a perfect picture of the animal, meaning of course the old form.

Shih is another picture, which likewise leaves much to the imagination, although bristles, feet, and tail are said to stand out distinctly.


These six animals
Tz'ŭ3 liu4 ch'u4
This six keep

Tz'ŭ see line 59.

Liu see line 75.

Ch'u is composed of 玄 hsüan black, dark, mysterious (line 94), an epithet often applied to 天 t'ien the sky, and 田 t'ien cultivated fields, i.e. the black fields which nourish us. [Cf. Eurip. Bacchæ, μέλαν πέδον the black plain; Homer Il. ῥεε δ'αἵματι γαῖα μέλαινα, etc. In connection with the Greek μέλας, comparison may also be made with the Chinese 青 ch'ing (lines 84, 180), both being applied to the sky, water, etc.] It means to feed, to nourish, to keep as animals; hence, brute beasts.


are those which men keep.
Jen2 so3 ssŭ4
Man which feed

Jen see line 1.

So see line 22.

Ssŭ is composed of 食 shih to eat (line 76) as radical, and 司 ssŭ to manage as phonetic (line 334). [For eight extra lines which in some editions are inserted here, see Appendix I.]


We speak of joy, of anger,
Yüeh4 hsi3 nu4

Speak joy anger

Yüeh see line 57.

Hsi is composed of 口 k'ou mouth as radical and an obsolete word associated with joy. It appears in the Shuo Wên as a radical.

Nu is composed of 心 hsin heart as radical and 奴 nu slave as phonetic.


we speak of pity, of fear,
Yüeh4 ai1 chü4

Speak pity fear

Yüeh see line 57.

Ai is composed of 衣 i clothes with 口 k'ou mouth inserted in the middle as radical. This is a common arrangement (lines 38, 161). Eitel wrongly renders by "grief."

Chü is composed of 心 hsin heart as radical, with a phonetic made up of two 目 mu eyes over 隹 chui a short-tailed bird. The phonetic originally meant the glance of a kite, which would excite fear; hence it came to mean timid, and was probably used in early times without its present radical. One old form was two 目 mu eyes over 心 hsin heart. Some cheap editions erroneously read 樂 lo; hence Eitel's rendering "pleasure."


of love, of hate, and of desire.
Ai4 wu4 4

Love hate desire

Ai was originally composed of 夊 sui to walk slowly as radical, with a phonetic made up of 旡 above 心, which phonetic was an independent and still earlier word meaning to love. It is now classed under radical 心 hsin heart, and answers to the French aimer, being used either in the sense of to love or to like.

Wu was originally written 亞 (now ya ugly, etc.), which is said to be a picture of two men bending their backs in disgust. It has several other readings, the most important being o4 wicked, loathsome.

is composed of 谷 ku a valley as phonetic, and 欠 ch'ien to yawn, deficient, to owe.


These are the seven passions.
Ch'i1 ch'ing2 chü4

Seven feelings all

Ch'i is composed of 一 i one and 中 chung middle (corrupted), q.d. a slight trace of the Female Principle coming up in the middle and vitiating the Male Principle, seven being the numeral at which the male numbers (see title) reach perfection (line 75). It is now classed under radical 一 i one.

Ch'ing is composed of 心 hsin heart and an important phonetic 青 ch'ing, which means the colour of nature in all its varying hues (line 180). One of its common significations is circumstances or facts of a case.

Chü is composed of 貝 pei the pearl-oyster in a contracted form, and an obsolete word meaning the hands folded. It has two important senses, viz. to prepare, and all, every. For the latter, 俱 is now substituted (line 16).


The gourd, earthenware, skin,
P'ao2 t'u3 ko2

Gourd earth skin

P'ao is composed of 夸 k'ua extravagant as phonetic, with 包 pao to enclose as radical. The latter, which was originally a picture of the fœtus, is no longer a radical. Its place has been taken by 勹 pao, which was the picture of a man bending forward as if enfolding something. 瓜 kua melon is sometimes substituted for 夸 and takes the place of radical, the phonetic being in that case 包 pao to enclose.

T'u see line 66.

Ko means hides or skins without the hair on, parchment. The old form is said to be composed of 三十三 san shih san thirty-three, which is the number of years in a generation and the time required for a complete change of skin.


wood, stone, metal,
Mu4 shih4 chin1

Wood stone metal

Mu see line 66.

Shih is regarded as the picture of an overhanging cliff, apparently with a boulder beneath it. It is used as a liquid and dry measure, representing in the latter a weight of 120 斤 catties (line 3).

Chin see line 66.


silk, and bamboo,
Ssŭ1 3 chu2

Silk and bamboo

Ssŭ is a duplicated form of 糸 mi or ssŭ, and originally meant ten strands of silk as spun by the silkworm (see title).

is composed of 舁 to raise and 与 to give, and originally meant several; hence, together, with, and, etc. It also means to give, to bestow, and is now classed under 臼 chiu a mortar as radical (line 215).

Chu is described as a grass which grows in winter, and under its old form is regarded as a picture of the object intended.


yield the eight musical sounds.
Nai3 pa1 yin1

Then eight sounds

Nai see line 6.

Pa is explained as to separate, to divide, being a picture of two persons separating, turned back to back (line 162). It may well have been adopted as the symbol for 8 in reference to the obvious and easy divisibility of that unit; the Chinese however occupy themselves less with its origin as a numeral than with its fanciful position, a climacteric of the female numbers (line 75).

Yin is a corruption of 言 yen words (line 118) with a stroke inserted, and means regulated noise, i.e. musical sounds. These are arranged under eight heads. The gourd furnishes such instruments as the mouth-organ, earth the ocarina, skin the drum, wood the Castanet, stone the hanging musical-stone, metal the gong, silk the guitar, and bamboo the flute. [Eitel wrongly renders this line "By these then we produce the eight tones of the scala."]


Great great grandfather, great grandfather, grandfather,
Kao1 tsêng1 tsu3

High add ancestor

Kao is used of height in both material and immaterial senses. It is supposed to present to the eye the semblance of looking up from a terrace or belvidere, and is here an adjective qualifying tsu ancestor understood. See line 215.

Tsêng is composed of 八 pa to divide (line 88) above, and 曰 yüeh to speak (line 57) below, a middle portion which is said to be the phonetic. It is defined as a stretcher-out of language, from which we can understand its sense of past, finished, especially as applied to time, thus imparting a tense-value to verbs. With this meaning it is now read ts'êng2, while read tsêng1 as above it means to add to, and here qualifies another tsu, understood. It is also a common surname (line 128), and is now classed under radical 曰 yüeh.

Tsu is composed of 示 shih, which is supposed to represent divine commands sent down from heaven, and 且 ch'ieh, which originally meant to set forth in sacrifice, q.d. worship of ancestors (see line 274). [The line runs, High-ancestor, add-ancestor, and ancestor, the last of which is here narrowed down to grandfather, in colloquial 祖父 tsu fu.


father and self,



Father and body

Fu see line 18.

Erh see line 45.

Shên is regarded as a picture of the human body. It is also used in the senses of I, self.


self and son,



Body and son

Shên see line 90.

Erh see line 45.

Tzŭ see line 11.


son and grandson,



Son and grandson

Tzŭ see line 11.

Erh see line 45.

Sun is composed of 子 tzŭ son and 系 hsi connected, from which the meaning may be obtained. It was originally classed under the latter as radical, but is now under the former, and is also a common surname.


from son and grandson
Tzŭ4 tzŭ3 sun1

From son grandson

Tzŭ was originally a picture of the human nose, and it is still found in the ordinary word 鼻 pi a nose. Its earliest known sense seems to have been to follow; hence, from. Its later sense of self may have grown up by attraction, i.e. attraction of the self in 自己 tzŭ chi (= from self) from the chi to the tzŭ, the former being gradually dropped.

Tzŭ see line 11.

Sun see line 92.


on to great grandson and great great grandson.



Arrive original add

Chih under its old form was supposed to resemble birds flying downwards and reaching the earth. It is often used as a superlative = very, extreme.

Yüan (line 254E) is here used for 𤣥 hsüan black (line 79), a character which is taboo under the present dynasty, having been part of the personal name of the Emperor K'ang Hsi, A.D. 1662—1723. It means great great grandson, preceding tsêng merely for the jingle's sake. The son of this descendant is called 耳孫 êrh sun ear grandson, being one who can only have heard of his ancestor, not seen him.

Tsêng see line 89.


These are the nine agnates,
Nai3 chiu3 tsu2

Then nine agnates

Nai see line 6.

Chiu see line 33.

Tsu is composed of an obsolete word meaning to bend, to wave, and 矢 shih an arrow, but is now classed under radical 方 fang square (line 14). It seems to have originally meant a bundle of arrow-heads, from which it is easy to reach such meanings as clan, family. It came to be used in the sense of agnatic relatives, especially of these nine degrees, as early as the 書經 Shu Ching Canon of History (lines 135, 146).


constituting the kinships of man.
Jen2 chih1 lun2

Man arrive relationship

Jen see line 1.

Chih see line 1. Here obviously of possessive influence.

Lun is composed of jen man as radical, and an important phonetic (see line 115) made up of an old radical 亼, now used for 集 chi collected together, and 册 ts'ê (see line 116), which phonetic means to think, to arrange. The primary sense of lun was constant, invariable; then it came to mean classes, relationships (see line 105), obligations, etc. [Eitel strangely renders this line by "which constitute mankind's determined order."]


Affection between father and child,
Fu4 tzŭ3 ên1

Father child affection

Fu see line 18.

Tzŭ see line 11.
En is composed of 心 hsin heart as radical and 因 yin cause as phonetic. It here covers the kindness of the father and the dutifulness of the child. Eitel renders it by "kindliness," which leaves out the obligation of the child.


harmony between husband and wife,



Man wife harmony

Fu see line 56.

Fu see line 56.

Ts'ung was originally 从 two men side by side. It meant to listen to; hence its modern significations to follow, to agree with. [Eitel again makes the blunder of applying the word ts'ung only to the wife's conduct,—"the relationship of husband and wife demanding of the latter obedience"—leaving all obligation of the husband out of the question. See line 56.]


friendliness on the part of elder brothers,



Elder-brother rule friend

Hsiung is composed of 口 k'ou mouth over 人 jen man, and originally meant to grow.

Tsê is composed of 貝 pei the pearl-oyster and 刀 tao knife (刂 in combination). It originally meant to classify, a sense said to be derived from the shells which were used as money in early days. Thence came the meaning of rule, method, to which must be added the conjunctional senses of then, in that case, etc.

Yu see line 31.


respectfulness on the part of younger brothers,
Ti4 tsê2 kung1

Younger-brother rule respect

Ti has been regarded as an altered form of 第 ti order, series, from which the sense of younger brother has been developed. It is also said to be the picture of a thong encircling a faggot. In colloquial, 兄弟 hsiung ti means younger brother, and 弟兄 ti hsiung means brothers. Read t'i4, see line 39.

Kung is composed of 共 kung all, collectively, as phonetic, with 心 hsin heart as radical.


precedence between elders and youngers,



Grow young series

Chang see line 39.

Yu see line 23.

Hsü is composed of 广 yen a shelter, a house, as radical, with 予 to give, to yield, as phonetic. It originally meant the eastern and western walls in a house, which separated the inner from the outer portions. It then came to mean a school or asylum, and also the preface to a book.


as between friend and friend,



Friend with friend

Yu see line 31.

see line 87.

P'êng is composed of two 月 yüeh moons, and is explained as "those who have the same principles in conduct" (line 31). According to the Shuo Wên it is said to have been a form of 鳳 fêng phoenix, because the latter is the leader which all other birds follow. It is defined as "of the same bent," recalling the "idem velle atque idem nolle" of Cicero. The p'êng, who is here regarded as the elder, should be kindly, and the yu should be trustful. The colloquial for friend is 朋友 p'êng yu. [For the above two lines Eitel gives 長則惠, 幼則順 chang2 tsê2 hui4, yu4 tsê2 shun4, kindliness on the part of elders, submissiveness on the part of youngers, which words he rightly says are omitted in ordinary editions. But he himself omits the lines here given, which will be found in the textus receptus of 王相 Wang Hsiang and also in that of 賀興思 Ho Hsing-ssŭ.]


respect on the part of the sovereign,
Chün1 tsê2 ching4

Prince then respect

Chün see line 54.

Tsê see line 99.

Ching is composed of the obsolete radical 攴 p'u to tap, and an obsolete character which looks like 苟 kou (line 5) but is really distinct. It means reverent; hence, the respectful attention which is due from a Prince to the representations of his Ministers and to the wishes of his subjects.


loyalty on the part of the subject.
Ch'ên2 tsê2 chung1

Minister then loyal

Ch'ên see line 54. The scope of this character need not be restricted here, as by Eitel, to officials.

Tsê see line 99.

Chung is composed of 中 (line 64) as phonetic and 心 hsin heart as radical, from which an idea of the sense may be deduced.


These ten obligations
Tz'ŭ3 shih2 i4

This ten duty

Tz'ŭ see line 59.

Shih see line 45.

I see line 14. Père Zottoli here translates i by "relationes," which word he had already used for 倫 lun in line 96. [The difficulty is to make out the ten. Wang Hsiang in his commentary enumerates them as follows:—2 in line 97, 2 in 98, 1 in 99, 1 in 100, 2 in 101, 102, 1 in 103, 1 in 104, which taken in groups of two are known as the 五倫 wu lun five moral relationships of man. That is to say, he blends lines 101, 102, and extracts two obligations therefrom. Any other course is fatal. Père Zottoli assigns one obligation to elders and youngers (line 101) and one to friends (line 102). But "friends" is one of the wu lun, and requires two obligations all to itself. Eitel has only eight obligations to show, including the two spurious ones mentioned under line 102.]


are common to all men.



Man what together

Jen see line 1.

So see line 22.

T'ung is composed of 口 k'ou mouth, now its radical, and an obsolete word which formerly played that part. It originally meant to come together; hence, with, same, identical, etc.


In the education of the young,



All teach dull

Fan is composed of 二 êrh two, a pair, and an old form of 及 chi to reach, to arrive. It originally meant to embrace fully, hence all, mankind, the world, earthly, etc.; and it is now classed under radical 几 chi a table or bench. Its literal sense may be allowed to vanish here, though of course its influence remains.

Hsün is composed of 言 yen words as radical, and 川 ch'uan streams (四川 ssŭ ch'uan the province of that name) as phonetic.
Mêng is composed of 艸 ts'ao vegetation and an important phonetic. It was originally defined as 王女 wang nü prince's daughter, a name for wistaria, and came to mean in the dark, dull, stupid, the young, and then to teach. [Père Zottoli wrongly renders by "Quicumque instruit rudes." For Eitel, see line 110.]


there should be explanation and elucidation,
Hsü1 chiang3 chiu4

Must explain investigate

Hsü is composed of 頁 yeh head as radical and 彡 shan hair, feathers. It was formerly a radical and a picture of whiskers or beard, which was its original meaning; hence the modern 鬚 hsü a beard. It appears to have been phonetically borrowed to express a word hsü to want, need, etc., and has now given up its sense of hair on the face to the more complicated modern character. Is often incorrectly written 湏.

Chiang is composed of 言 yen words with a phonetic which governs a larger group of characters pronounced like itself kou.

Chiu is composed of 穴 hsüeh a cave as radical with 九 chiu nine as phonetic. It is also used in the sense of judicial examination. [The phrase chiang chiu further means to analyse; to reject the coarse and take the fine; to be particular about, etc.]


careful teaching of the interpretations of commentators,



Minute teach research

Hsiang is composed of 言 yen words as radical and 羊 yang sheep as phonetic. It means to go into small details, to describe.

Hsün see line 107.

Ku is composed of 言 yen words as radical and 古 ku ancient (see line 261) as phonetic. It means to trace out original sources; hence, to adduce evidence in support of an interpretation, etc.


due attention to paragraphs and sentences.



Clear paragraph sentence

Ming is an ideogram formed by juxtaposition of 日 jih the sun, its modern radical, and 月 yüeh the moon (line 52), and means bright.

Chü was originally composed of 口 k'ou mouth and 丩 chiu to connect as phonetic, and meant crooked. It was pronounced chü and kou, for the latter sound 勾 being substituted later on, with diverging meanings. It is now classed under radical 勹 (line 85).

Tou is more commonly tu2 to read, to study. See line 134. [To mark off the proper paragraphs and sentences is one of the functions of a teacher in China, all punctuation being usually omitted from classical works such as the Canon. Eitel has a strange rendering of the above four lines. "Now in all cases, when instruction is given to the ignorant, Although it is well to explain characters orally and exhaustively, Yet, detailed moral instruction in the sayings of the ancients is just as necessary as precision regarding syntactic punctuation."]


Those who are learners
Wei2 hsüeh2 chê3

Be learn one

Wei see line 24.

Hsüeh see line 11.

Chê see line 49.


must have a beginning.



Must have beginning

Pi is composed of 八 pa to divide (line 88), its old radical, and 弋 i a sharpened stake, to shoot with a bow, as phonetic. It originally meant division to the uttermost limit, from which it is possible to obtain a glimmering of the modern sense of necessity.

Yu see line 14.

Ch'u see line 1.


The Little Learning finished,
Hsiao3 hsüeh2 chung1

Small learn end

Hsiao is said to be composed of 八 pa to divide (line 88), with a vertical line in the middle representing unity (line 30); hence, minute.

Hsüeh see line 11.

Chung is composed of 系 ssŭ silk as radical and 冬 tung winter (lines 58, 178) as phonetic. It was originally written without the radical silk; in other words, tung winter, the end of the year, was made to do duty for chung end. The latter character, as it stands, is explained in the Shuo Wên as 絿絲, and the point is further obscured by the definition of 絿 in the same work, namely = 急 chi flurried, wrongly rendered "remiss" by Dr. Legge in his translation of the Odes, p. 641. [The Little Learning is the name of an elementary treatise compiled by the famous classical commentator 朱熙 Chu Hsi, A.D. 1130—1200 (line 127). Eitel has here the "Filial Piety Classic" (line 131) instead of the Little Learning, as given in the best editions. The latter title is now in general use among foreigners, though the Chinese really means "Learning for the Young."]


they proceed to the Four Books.
Chih4 ssŭ4 shu1

Reach four book

Chih see line 94.

Ssŭ see title and line 37.
Shu was originally composed of 聿 or a stylus (line 124), with 者 chê (line 49) as phonetic, and meant to make known. This was subsequently contracted to the modern character and classed under 曰 yüeh to speak as radical. [The Four Books form the first portion of the Confucian Canon and are learnt by heart by all candidates who hope to do anything at the public examinations. They are enumerated in lines 115130. See also line 135.]


There is the Lun Yü,



Discuss speech one

Lun is composed of 言 yen words and an important phonetic (lines 96, 116).

is composed of 言 yen words as radical, and 吾 wu I (吾 wu five and 口 k'ou mouth) as phonetic, and means talk.

Chê see line 49. [The Lun Yü, Discourses or Analects, contains practically all we really know of the sayings and doings of Confucius. It is ascribed by the Chinese to the immediate disciples of the Sage.]


in twenty sections.
Erh4 shih2 p'ien1

Two ten tablet

Erh is the number of earth, though in 五 wu five (line 15) it is made to do duty for heaven and earth. It is the first of the female numbers, and represents the mating of 一 i one. See title and line 45.

Shih see line 45.

P'ien is composed of 竹 chu bamboo (line 87) as radical, with 扁 pien flat as phonetic. It means the flat bamboo tablet on which books were written with a stylus (line 124) before the invention of the hair brush, and is now used either of a section or of a single leaf of a book. [Pien flat is composed of 戶 hu the leaf of a door (line 22), and 册 ts'ê the tablets of authority granted to the feudal nobles, formerly written with five verticals, here regarded as tablets bearing inscriptions such as are seen at the entrance to a public office. It originally meant a public office, which idea can be readily deduced from gate and tablets as above. Of course there must have been a sound pien meaning flat long before there was a character meaning office; so that the gate-and-tablets must have been called pien because of flatness, rather than that pien could have extended its meaning from gates and tablets to anything flat.]


In this, the various disciples



Flock younger-brother child

Ch'ün is composed of 羊 yang sheep as radical, with 君 chün prince (line 54) as phonetic. It is the common term for a flock of sheep, a crowd of people, etc.

Ti see line 100.

Tzŭ see line 11. Ti tzŭ is a compound term meaning disciples. [Eitel strangely translates, "Wherein, however, the whole of the disciples and philosophers." But ch'ün cannot be pressed to mean whole (= all), and tzŭ has here nothing to do with philosophers. Père Zottoli too has "omnes discipuli."]


have recorded the wise sayings of Confucius.



Record virtuous words

Chi is composed of 言 yen words as radical with 己 i already (line 328) as phonetic. It originally meant to state, and now means to record, to remember.
Shan see line 2.

Yen is a common radical, attached to characters connected in any way with speech. Under its old form, the upper lines seem to issue from 口 k'ou mouth. [Confucius is of course understood.]


The works of Mencius



Mêng philosopher one

Mêng see line 9.

Tzŭ see line 11.

Chê see line 49.


are comprised in seven sections.



Seven slip stop

Ch'i see line 84.

P'ien see line 116.

Chih originally meant a base or foundation, and later the foot. It is now commonly used in the sense of only, derived from to stop.

[It is absurd to say, as Eitel does, that the works of Mencius "consist of seven sections only," the comparison being with the Lun Yü in twenty sections, since the former work is nearly twice the length of the latter. Another view is that Mencius' works end with the 7th section, as if more had been intended; but it is really quite unnecessary to press chih for any special value except that of jingle. Père Zottoli's command of Latin here stands him in good stead:—Mentsii liber septem capitibus absolvitur.]


These explain the WAY and the exemplification thereof,



Explain way exemplification

Chiang see line 108.

Tao see line 7. The WAY here is of course that of Confucius.
is composed of the double-man radical (line 67), with a phonetic. It seems to have originally meant a dry measure holding about a pint. It was used for 得 to get, to attain; and it is just possible that from the sense of attainment, achievement, it came to mean the exemplification of virtue in good works. [Its phonetic is a corruption of 直 chih upright and 心 hsin heart, and is explained by "the external is obtained from others, the internal from oneself."]


and expound charity and duty towards one's neighbour.



Expound charity duty

Shuo is composed of 言 yen words as radical, and 兌 tui which originally meant to speak, and now means to weigh, as phonetic. Its earliest meaning was to expound; now it is the common colloquial word for speak. Also read shui4 and yüeh; see line 206.

Jen see line 69.

I see line 14.


The Chung Yung was written



Make middle course

Tso is composed of 人 jen man as radical, and 乍 cha which originally meant to stop, and now means suddenly, etc. It covers all kinds of doing and making, even to writing a book (lines 153, 326). [The Peking dialect, here as elsewhere, fails to exhibit the true phonetic. Cha should be tsa.]

Chung see line 64.

Yung is composed of 庚 kêng to change, as phonetic, with 用 yung to use, as radical, which in turn was composed of 卜 pu to divine and 中 chung the middle. "Get your middle," says one luminary of the 1st cent. A.D., a not unworthy prototype of the famous Mrs. Glasse, "and then you can use it." It originally meant to use; hence the method to be used or followed, a course. [The Chung Yung is a short philosophical treatise in one section of thirty-three chapters. Its title has been rendered by Legge as The Doctrine of the Mean, by Julien as L'Invariable Milieu.]


by the pen of Tzŭ-ssŭ;



Tzŭ ssŭ brush

Tzŭ see line 11.

Ssŭ is composed of 心 hsin heart, the seat of intelligence, as radical, below an old word (not 田 t'ien fields) for the crown of the head, the fontanelle, and originally meant perspicacity. Read ssŭ4 it means thoughts; read sai1 the jowl. [Tzŭ-ssŭ was the style of 孔伋 K'ung Chi, grandson of Confucius.]

Pi is composed of 竹 chu bamboo, its modern radical, and 聿 or a stylus, the old radical, the latter being used to scratch characters on bamboo tablets until the invention of the brush which has been assigned to the 3rd cent. B.C. [In some editions this line reads 乃孔伋, nai k'ung chi, with the same meaning.]


Chung (the middle) being that which does not lean towards any side,



Middle not deflected

Chung see line 64.

Pu see line 5.

P'ien is composed of 人 jen man as radical, with 扁 pien flat as phonetic. See line 116.


Yung (the course) being that which cannot be changed.



Course not change

Yung see line 123.
Pu see line 5.

I is composed of 日 jih sun as radical and 勿 wu, which originally meant a kind of flag with three streamers for signalling, and so came to signify a negative, not, do not. Its primary sense seems to have been a chameleon, the creature of change, of which the character is thought by some to be a picture; hence its meaning as above, derived however by others from the radical sun, which brings about the changes of day and night. Here again the question discussed in line 116 arises. Was the word i change developed from the idea suggested by i a chameleon, or was the animal so called from a pre-existing word i to change? It would seem that the spoken word change must have preceded chameleon, and that the written character may well have been applied first to the animal and then to the idea. See also line 135. [The aim of the Chung Yung is to trace the ruling motives of human conduct from their psychological source. It originally formed § 31 of the Book of Rites (line 136), being taken thence to form one of the Four Books by Chu Hsi (line 113).]


He who wrote The Great Learning
Tso4 ta4 hsüeh2

Make great learn

Tso see line 123.

Ta under one of its old forms looked very like the rude picture of a man. This gave rise to the following explanation:—Heaven is great, earth is great, and man too is great; therefore great is a picture of man.

Hsüeh see line 11. [The Great Learning is Legge's translation of the title of a short treatise which teaches us "to illustrate virtue, to renovate the people, and to rest in the highest excellence." It is now the recognised rendering (Père Zottoli "magna scientia," Eitel “Great Learning”), although the term really means “Learning for Adults,” in which sense it was understood by the author of The Little Learning (line 113).]


was the philosopher Tsêng.
Nai3 tsêng1 tzŭ3

That Tsêng philosopher

Nai see line 6.

Tsêng see line 89.

Tzŭ see line 11. [This philosopher was 曾參 Tsêng Ts'an, vulg. Tsêng Shên, one of the most famous of the disciples of Confucius, B.C. 505—437. But it is by no means certain that he wrote The Great Learning, which was originally § 42 of the Book of Rites (line 136), being taken thence to form one of the Four Books by Chu Hsi (line 113).]


Beginning with cultivation of the individual and ordering of the family,
Tzŭ4 hsiu1 ch'i2

From cultivate order

Tzŭ see line 93.

Hsiu is composed of 彡 shan feather ornamentation as radical, with 攸 yu to move in water, as phonetic. It means to embellish, to repair, and has been classed by K'ang Hsi under radical 人 jen man, though its congener 脩 hsiu dried meat, salary of teachers, appears correctly under radical 肉 (月 in combination) jou meat. The character 身 shên (line 90) is here understood from the text of The Great Learning, which Dr. Legge renders by "the person;" but this is ambiguous, and destroys the numerical climax.

Ch'i originally meant the level of growing corn, of which the old form was a picture; hence to level, to regulate. The word 家 chia family (line 192) is here understood as above.


it goes on to government of one's own State and tranquillisation of the Empire.
Chih4 p'ing2 chih4

Arrive balance govern

Chih see line 94.

P'ing is composed of 于 (used for 於 line 35) and 八 pa to divide (line 88). It means even, smooth, etc., and with it is understood 天下 t'ien hsia beneath the canopy of heaven, the empire. The order of p'ing and chih is transposed for the jingle's sake.

Chih is composed of 水 shui water as radical, and 台 i to speak, I, to give (also read t'ai exalted) as phonetic, the latter being originally composed of 以 (line 8) over 口 k'ou mouth. How it comes to mean to govern, to cure, is somewhat obscure. With it is understood 國 kuo a State (line 155), in reference to which term it must be remembered that the work in question was written during the Feudal Age of China, when the country was split up into vassal States owning a nominal allegiance to a suzerain State. See also line 257.


When the Classic of Filial Piety is mastered,
Hsiao4 ching1 t'ung1

Filial classic pierce

Hsiao see line 41.

Ching see title. This work is ascribed to Tsêng Ts'an (line 128).

T'ung is composed of the walking radical and 甬 yung bursting vegetation as phonetic. It means to go through, free, not obstructed, to understand, etc.


and the Four Books are known by heart,
Ssŭ4 shu1 shu2

Four book cooked

Ssŭ see title and line 37.

Shu see line 114.
Shu is composed of 孰 shu, as phonetic, with 火 huo fire underneath as radical. This phonetic shu was the original character for cooked, ripe; but inasmuch as it was also used for another sound shu meaning who? what? the two senses were separated as time went on by the insertion of the radical fire whenever shu meant cooked or ripe, to distinguish it from shu who? what? Thus it was that the growing exigencies of the language called into existence new characters to divide the burden of meanings. [The commentary puts the study of the Four Books before that of the Filial Piety Classic, an order which is still observed. See line 113.]


the next step is to the Six Classics,






Ju is composed of 女 woman as radical, and 口 k'ou mouth. It is explained as a woman following the injunctions of her father and husband; hence, to go towards, to arrive. In later times it came to be used in the senses of like, as, if, and also in an introductory sense "with regard to," etc.

Liu see line 75.

Ching see title.


which may now be studied.






Shih is composed of 女 woman as radical, with 台 i (line 130) as phonetic. It is defined as "the beginning or birth of woman," and is the opposite of 終 chung (line 113). See also lines 200, 212, 293.

K'o is composed of 口 k'ou mouth as radical, and an obsolete word meaning vapour striving to free itself. It originally meant to be willing.
Tu is composed of 言 yen words as radical, and a phonetic which under its modern form is identical with 賣 mai4 to sell, but is really the corruption of an obsolete word pronounced . It means to hum over books, to study; with another reading tou4 (line 110) it means the completion of a sentence, in which sense it is said to be used for 逗 tou4 to stop. Mai to sell was originally composed of 出 ch'u to dispose of (line 210) and 貝 pei valuables (line 8), while 買 mai3 to buy was composed of 网 wang a net and pei valuables = to get valuables into one's net; see Mencius II. 下, X, 6, 7. [These two lines are rendered by Eitel, "Then perchance, as to the so-called Six Classics, a beginning can be made to read them." But there is no authority for translating ju by "perchance." Père Zottoli has "Quoad sex canonicos, tunc poterunt prælegi." But prælegi makes 讀 tu the act of the teacher instead of the pupil, prælegere meaning to read to others as a teacher, to show how a thing should be read, to lecture. See line 283 et seqq.]


The Books of Poetry, of History, and of Changes,






Shih is composed of 言 yen words and 寺 ssŭ (line 30). It seems to have originally meant purpose, will ; but its only known sense in the earliest records is poetry. Here it stands for the 311 ballads collected and edited by Confucius. 經 Ching (see title) is understood with each word in this line.

Shu see line 114. It here stands for a fragmentary historical work which is said to have been edited by Confucius and embraces a period extending from the middle of the 24th cent, to the 8th cent. B.C.

I see line 126. It is here the famous work (line 141), said to have been composed B.C. 1150, which contains a fanciful system of philosophy deduced from the combinations of the Eight Diagrams or eight sets of lines (line 179).


the Rites of the Chou Dynasty, the Book of Rites, and the Spring and Autumn Annals,
Li3 ch'un1 ch'iu1

Rites spring autumn

Li see line 32. It here stands for two separate works, as given in the translation; otherwise it would be impossible to account for the Six Classics in line 137. Eitel solves the difficulty by splitting the Annals into two, thus "the Spring and Autumn Annals"! The two sets of Rites may be regarded roughly as the official and social codes of ancient China.

Ch'un see line 57. This and the next character form the title of the annals of the native State of Confucius between B.C. 722 and 484. These annals are said to have been written by Confucius himself. Their name is derived from the custom of prefixing the season to each entry, spring including summer, and autumn winter (line 160).

Ch'iu see line 58.


are called the Six Classics,






Hao (read hao2) was originally composed of 号 hao a cry of pain and 虎 hu a tiger, and meant to call out, to wail, in which senses it is frequently seen. It came to mean a designation or mark, as above, and is now classed under radical 虍 hu a tiger.

Liu see line 75.

Ching see title.


which should be carefully explained and analysed.
Tang1 chiang3 ch'iu2

Ought explain seek

Tang see line 36

Chiang see line 108.

Ch'iu is classed under radical 水 shui water. With it is here understood the word 研 yen to grind (note the radical 石 shih stone). [The Six Classics are enumerated by Chuang Tzŭ (line 174) as the five given above, i.e. without dividing the Rites, and a Book of Music. Unfortunately the passage in question (ch. XIV, ad fin.) is undoubtedly an interpolation, and this classification must therefore be referred to a later date. It has been customary since the Sung dynasty (line 251), not the T'ang dynasty (line 239) as Wylie says, op. cit. p. 7, to speak of the complete Canon as consisting of 十三經 shih san ching Thirteen Classics. Such works as the Classic of Filial Piety (line 131), the 爾雅 Erh Ya, an ancient vocabulary of classical and other words and phrases, sometimes spoken of as the Literary Expositor, and the two less known commentaries on the Spring and Autumn Annals (lines 164, 166), have been included; but there is actually no fixed list, various editions of the Thirteen Classics having been published with varying contents. Mayers, in his Reader's Manual, p. 352, reaches the full tale of thirteen only by counting two of them twice over. The Rites of the Chou Dynasty (line 136) was set aside under the Ming dynasty (line 254K), and the number of so-called Classics reduced to five; hence we now speak of the Four Books (line 114) and the Five Classics.]


There is the Lien shan system,
Yu3 lien2 shan1

Have connected hills

Yu see line 14.

Lien is composed of 車 ch'ê a cart and the walking radical, and may possibly derive its meaning from a string of carts.

Shan see line 13. [Lien shan is the name of a system of philosophy of permutations (line 135) said to have been invented by the Emperor 伏羲 Fu Hsi, B.C. 2953—2838, who began with the Diagram for hills.]


there is the Kuei tsang,
Yu2 kuei1 tsang4

Have return storehouse

Yu see line 14.

Kuei is composed of a contraction of 婦 fu wife (line 56), 止 chih to stop (line 120) as radical, and an old form of 堆 tui a heap as phonetic. It originally meant the marriage of a woman, in which sense it will be found in the Odes.

Tsang was originally 臧 tsang which is composed of 臣 ch'ên (line 54) as radical inserted in 戕 ch'iang a spear, and which is now reserved for such meanings as good, right. The 艸 ts'ao vegetation was added later in order to mark the sense to conceal. In modern days it means a place for keeping things, a treasury; read ts'ang2, the character means to conceal, to store up. [Kuei tsang was the system of the Emperor 神農 Shên Nung, B.C. 2838—2698, who began with the Diagram for earth. Eitel, borrowing from Wylie (Notes on Ch. Lit. p. 2), translates this term by Reverting Deposit; and further, again from Wylie, he makes the system in force under the 商 Shang dynasty (line 188), and that of line 139 in force under the 夏 Hsia dynasty (line 187).]


and there is the system of Changes of the Chou dynasty;
Yu3 chou1 i4

Have chou change

Yu see line 14.

Chou is composed of 口 k'ou mouth as radical, with 用 yung to use (line 123), and originally meant close, dense, as population, etc. It is here the name of the dynasty which was really founded by 文王 King Wên, though he never mounted the throne, the first sovereign being his son 武王 King Wu, B.C. 1122—1115. The Book of Changes now in vogue is attributed to the pen of the father, who began with the Diagram for heaven.

I see line 126.


such are the three systems which elucidate the Changes.



Three change elucidate

San see title.

I see line 126.

Hsiang see line 109. [Eitel translates this line by "These three theories of Permutations must be studied in detail." But at the date of publication of the San Tzŭ Ching, the first two systems were no longer in existence, having disappeared many centuries before, so that it would be quite impossible to recommend them for study either in detail or otherwise. The word hsiang is often used as above, its position in the line being due to the jingle, and in any case presenting no syntactical difficulties.]


There are the Regulations, the Counsels,



Have regulation counsel

Yu see line 14.

Tien is composed of 册 ts'ê a tablet (see line 116), raised as a mark of respect upon 兀 chi a stand, which was formerly its radical; i.e. records of ancient sovereigns to serve as lessons or examples to posterity. Hence it came to mean statutes, laws, rules, and later, to hypothecate, to mortgage. It is now classed under radical 八 pa eight (line 88), and here refers, as also do the five following titles, to certain chapters in the Book of History (line 135).

Mo is composed of 言 yen words as radical, with 莫 mo not, do not, as phonetic. [The Regulations refer to the sayings and doings of wise Emperors, such as Yao and Shun (line 183), which have become a rule of life for all ages; the Counsels to advice of wise Ministers, such as the Great Yü (line 187).]


the Instructions, the Announcements,
Yu3 hsün4 kao4

Have teach announce

Yu see line 14.

Hsün see line 107.

Kao is composed of 言 yen words as radical, and 告 kao to tell.

[The Instructions were addresses of an admonitory character, delivered by some wise Minister to his Prince, on the occasion of the latter's accession to the throne. The Announcements were proclamations issued by the sovereign for various political purposes.]


the Oaths, the Charges;
Yu3 shih4 ming4

Have oath order

Yu see line 14.

Shih is composed of 言 yen words as radical, below 折 shê to break (from 手 shou hand and 斤 chin an axe) as phonetic, and originally meant to bind, hence an oath. [Shê to break was originally written with 艸 ts'ao grass, arranged vertically, on the left as radical, instead of the modern 手 shou hand (扌 in combination); the archaic form of the latter would be thus closely imitated.]

Ming is an ideogram composed of 口 k'ou mouth as radical, with 令 ling (line 271) an order. It means to cause to act, to employ; also later, divine commands, destiny. [The Oaths consisted of addresses to officials, calling for assistance and usually promising rewards and threatening punishment. The Charges were what the name implies, delivered to officials at important junctures.]


these are the profundities of the Book of History.
Shu1 chih1 ao4

Book 's mystery

Shu see line 114.

Chih see line 1.

Ao was originally composed of 宀 mien a shelter as radical, with 釆 pien to distinguish and 廾 kung folded hands below. It originally meant the south-west corner, where the lares were placed. Hence perhaps the modern meanings, retired, mysterious, obscure.


Our Duke of Chou
Wo3 chou1 kung1

I Chou duke

Wo is composed of 戈 ko a spear as radical, and a character on the left which is regarded by some as an old form of 殺 sha to kill.

Chou see line 141.

Kung is said to be composed of 八 pa the back turned (line 88) on 厶 ssŭ private interests; hence to divide evenly, just, public-spirited, which would be the correct attitude for the ruler of a State. [The Duke of Chou was younger brother of 文王 King Wên, the first sovereign of the Chou dynasty (line 141), whose empire he helped to consolidate. The mariner's compass is attributed to him by the Chinese. Died B.C. 1105.]


drew up the Ritual of the Chou dynasty,
Tso4 chou1 li3

Make chou ceremonial

Tso see line 123.

Chou see line 141.

Li see line 136. [This is the official set of Rites (see lines 136, 138). It deals with the ranks and duties of government servants, and was originally divided under six heads (line 149), the last of which was found to be missing early in the 1st cent. A.D.]


in which he set forth the duties of the six classes of officials,
Chu4 liu4 kuan1

Manifest six official

Chu is composed of 艸 ts'ao grass as radical and 者 chê (line 49). It is commonly used in the sense of to make or write a book.

Liu see line 75.

Kuan is composed of radical 宀 mien shelter, under which it is now classed, and an old word for heap, many. It is defined as officials serving their prince, the lower portion of the character giving the idea of plurality. [Père Zottoli's rendering "exhibuitque sex præfectos" is unnecessarily hard and fast. The six divisions under which the Duke of Chou ranged all officials were 天官 t'ien kuan State Counsellors, 地官 ti kuan Ministers of Finance, 春官 ch'un kuan Ministers of Sacrificial Worship, 夏官 hsia kuan Ministers of War, 秋官 ch'iu kuan Ministers of Justice, 冬官 tung kuan Ministers of Public Works. These were to some extent prototypes of the modern Six Boards. See lines 50, 57, 58.]


and thus gave a settled form to the government.
Ts'un2 chih4 t'i3

Keep govern body

Ts'un was originally composed of 子 tzŭ child as radical and 才 ts'ai (line 49), and meant to ask compassionately after. It is now used in the sense of to preserve, to put on record.

Chih see line 130.

T'i is composed of 骨 ku bones (line 162) as radical, and a common phonetic (line 32). It means the body, to embody, form, shape, style, etc. [Eitel is wide of the mark with, "And preserved the rules of controlling personal conduct," thus making chih govern t'i. The idea of course is that the promulgation of a definite system put an end to anomalies by securing fixity of procedure.]


The Elder and the Younger Tai
Ta4 hsiao3 tai4

Great small tai

Ta see line 127.

Hsiao see line 113.

Tai was originally composed of 異 i strange, with a phonetic pronounced ts'ai, and meant to increase things by dividing them. It now means to uphold, to wear on the head, and is classed under radical 戈 ko a spear, but is here a surname. [The two Tai were cousins, and both of them distinguished scholars of the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C.]


wrote commentaries on the Book of Rites.
Chu4 li3 chi4

Annotate ceremonies record

Chu is composed of 言 yen words with 主 chu master as phonetic. The latter character originally meant the wick of a candle, now written with fire 炷. Preceded by heaven, 天主 t'ien chu, it forms the term used by the Roman Catholics for God.

Li see line 32.

Chi see line 118. [These last two characters form the title of the work, by the Younger Tai, included among the Five Classics of modern times (lines 136, 138). It is called Chi and not 經 Ching (see title) because it was not the actual work of any of the great Sages of old, but merely a compilation based upon their utterances.]


They published the holy words,
Shu4 shêng4 yen2

Publish holy words

Shu is composed of the walking radical and a phonetic said to have formerly meant a kind of millet. It originally signified to follow, and in its later sense was expressly distinguished by Confucius from 作 (line 123), the former being simply the act of transmitting the sayings of others.

Shêng is composed of 耳 êrh ear as radical and 呈 chêng level, to offer to a superior, a common phonetic. It originally meant keen of apprehension, and is now almost the equivalent of inspired, being applied only to Confucius, Mencius, the great Sages of antiquity, and the Emperor. It is also employed by missionaries in Christian terminology. See line 269.

Yen see line 118.


and Ceremonies and Music were set in order.
Li2 yo4 pei4

Ceremony music prepare

Li see line 32.

Yo or yüeh was originally the picture of drums on a stand (note the 木 mu wood) as used at an ancient orchestral performance. It is defined as a general name for the combinations of the 5 notes of the ancient scale and the 8 musical sounds (line 88). Read lo4, it means pleasure, joy, content.

Pei was originally written without its present radical at the left, under which form it has been explained as an ideogram composed of 苟 kou if (abbreviated, see line 5) over 用 yung to use = if wanted for use, suggesting ready, prepared.


We speak of the Kuo fêng,
Yüeh4 kuo2 fêng1

Speak State wind

Yüeh see line 57.

Kuo is composed of 或 huo some one, perhaps, as phonetic, in an obsolete word meaning enclosure, as radical.

Fêng is composed of 虫 ch'ung insects, abbreviated from 蟲, and 凡 fan all (line 107) as phonetic. It is formed with insect because when the wind blows in spring, insects are called into existence. It was one of the 540 Radicals of the Shuo Wên retained among the 214 Radicals of K'ang Hsi's dictionary, and is here elliptical for 風俗 fêng su wind common = manners and customs. [Kuo fêng, the manners and customs of the States, is the title of the first section of the Book of Poetry (line 135). It is so called because it was customary for the various rulers of the Feudal States to forward to their suzerain, 天子 t'ien tzŭ the Son of Heaven, such ballads as were commonly sung by the people under their jurisdiction. These were then submitted to the Imperial Musicians, who were able to judge from their nature of the manners and customs prevailing in the various States, and the suzerain was thus enlightened as to the administration of his vassal Princes.]


we speak of the Ya and of the Sung.
Yüeh4 ya3 sung4

Speak odes panegyric

Yüeh see line 57.

Ya is composed of 隹 chui short-tailed birds (obsolete) as radical, and 牙 ya teeth as phonetic, and originally meant a crow, daw, etc., for which 鴉, with 鳥 niao birds, has been substituted. It came to mean refined, but is here the title of a section of the Book of Poetry, subdivided into Lesser Ya and Greater Ya, the former being sung at ordinary entertainments given by the suzerain, and the latter on grand occasions when the feudal princes were gathered together.

Sung is composed of 頁 yeh head as radical, with 公 kung (line 147) as phonetic. It originally meant the countenance and was pronounced jung. Later on it came to mean to praise, a sacrificial ode, and is now commonly used in letters to express a wish or prayer.


These are the four sections of the Book of Poetry,



Name four poetry

Hao see line 137.

Ssŭ see title.

Shih see line 135.


which should be hummed over and over.



Ought chant hum

Tang see line 36.

Fêng is composed of 言 yen words as radical, with 風 fêng wind (line 155) as phonetic. It has now come to mean to ridicule, to lampoon.
Yung has 永 yung everlasting (line 254P) as phonetic, the latter character being remarkable as containing all the elementary strokes used in writing. It is pretty much the same as fêng, the two characters signifying that peculiar method of crooning or humming over verses to oneself, almost universal in China. See line 263.


When odes ceased to be made,



Poetry when disappear

Shih see line 135.

Chi is composed of 旡 chi to hiccough as phonetic, with an obsolete radical said to mean the fragrance of grain. It originally meant a small meal, rations, but is now a particle of finality, = since, already, etc.

Wang is composed of 入 ju to enter and 乚 an old form of 隱 yin to conceal. It means to escape as a fugitive, to perish, lost, etc. Read wu = not. [The Rev. Eitel failed to seize the point of this line, to wit, "(As to the Spring and Autumn Annals) it was when the Book of Odes was already lost, that etc." But there is no suspicion that the Odes ever were lost, the true explanation being that with the decline of the suzerain's power over the Feudal States, the construction of Ya odes fell into desuetude. See Mencius, Book IV, Pt. II, ch. 21. Neither does Père Zottoli provide a very lucid rendering in "Carmen cum cessaverit," especially as elsewhere he speaks of the "carminum liber."]


the Spring and Autumn Annals were produced.



Spring autumn make

Ch'un see line 136.

Ch'iu see line 136.
Tso see line 123. [Père Zottoli here adopts a singular idiom, namely "chronicorum liber exurgit." If he employs "exurgit" (exsurgit for preference) to avoid the use of a passive, he misses a good chance of illustrating the powers of Chinese words, which readily lend themselves to any voice, mood, or tense, as required. For two interpolated lines see Appendix II.]


These Annals contain praise and blame,
4 pao1 pien3

Dwell praise blame

is composed of 宀 mien shelter as radical, with a common phonetic. It originally meant to sojourn, to be present in, and comes by extension to mean allegory, but Eitel is quite wrong in giving it here such an extended meaning as "Which, being metaphorically suggestive of either praise or censure."

Pao is now composed of 保 pao to guarantee as phonetic, with 衣 i clothes as radical (line 82). K'ang Hsi gives a different combination as the classical form, but the Shuo Wên gives another; in fact there are several ways of writing this character, of which the one adopted is the most common. It originally meant long robes, and these, conferred by the sovereign, may have come to embody the idea of praise.

Pien has 貝 pei pearl-oyster, valuables, as radical, with 乏 fa exhausted (said to be 正 chêng upright turned the wrong way round) as phonetic. It originally meant to injure. [This is the famous "praise-and-blame" theory, based upon the following words of Mencius, "Confucius completed the Spring and Autumn Annals, and rebellious Ministers and bad sons stood aghast." Hence it came to be said that "one word of such praise was more honourable than an embroidered robe, and one word of such censure sharper than an axe."]


and distinguish the good from the bad.
Pieh2 shan4 o4

Separate good bad

Pieh is composed of 刀 tao knife (in combination) on the right as radical, and an obsolete word which meant to scrape or cut a man's flesh from his bones. The latter is the phonetic of 過 kuo (line 18) less 口 k'ou mouth, and is 骨 ku bones less 肉 (月 in combination) jou flesh; it has nothing to do with 另 ling separate, as might be inferred from the way in which it is now written. [An old form of pieh was two 八 pa (line 88), and the modern 八 pa eight is now written in official documents 捌.]

Shan see line 2.

O see line 83.


The three commentaries upon the above
San1 chuan4 chê3

Three record one

San see title.

Chuan is composed of 人 jen man as radical, and 專 chuan (line 8) as phonetic, and means a chronicle, a biography. See line 269. Read ch'uan2, it means to transmit, to deliver as orders, to summon (line 213).

Chê see line 49.


include that of Kung-yang,
Yu3 kung1 yang2

Have kung yang

Yu see line 14.

Kung see line 147.

Yang see line 77. [Kung-yang is here a double surname, being that of the author of one of the three commentaries on the Spring and Autumn Annals, who flourished in the 5th cent. B.C. Like that of Ku-liang (line 166) it is much inferior to the great work of Tso (line 165); indeed, from striking similarities in the two former, it has been suspected either that one is a copy of the other or that both may be from the same hand.]


that of Tso,



Have tso family

Yu see line 14.

Tso is composed of the old form for 手 shou hand as radical, over 工 kung labour, its modern radical, and means the left hand, calling to mind the discredited position of the left hand among Hindus and other eastern nations. The left is now the place of honour in China, but in ancient times the right; hence left is found in literature with such senses as wrong, heterodox, etc. Here it stands for the surname of 左邱明 Tso-ch'iu Ming, the most important of the three commentators and a reputed disciple of Confucius. His commentary is of infinitely more value, from every point of view, than the original text, and is popularly known as the Tso Chuan.

Shih is said to be the picture of a landslip, with an obsolete phonetic added. It is now a radical meaning family name, family, clan, and is often tacked on to surnames. In the case of a woman, it then means her maiden name.


and that of Ku-liang.
Yu3 ku3 liang2

Have ku liang

Yu see line 14.

Ku see line 75.
Liang see line 73. [The last two characters are the double surname of the third commentator, who lived in the 5th cent. B.C.]


When the Classics are understood,
Ching1 chi4 ming2

Classic when clear

Ching see title. It may here be noted that the term Classics is not applied only to the works mentioned in lines 135, 136, but includes also the Four Books (line 115 et seq.). Eitel wrongly inserts "six," although the commentary particularly repudiates any such limitation: 四書六經皆經也 ssŭ shu liu ching chieh ching yeh the Four Books and Six Classics are all Classics.

Chi see line 159.

Ming see line 110.


then the writings of the various philosophers should be read.
Fang1 tu1 tzŭ3

Then read philosopher

Fang see lines 14, 30.

Tu see lines 110, 134.

Tzŭ see line 11. [This injunction includes 諸子 chu tzŭ (line 176) philosophers generally, orthodox and otherwise, line 169 guiding the student towards his right goal, the ultimate glorification of Confucianism. Eitel wrongly restricts it to "the ten philosophers," meaning the five philosophers mentioned in lines 171174, with five other lesser lights, the works attributed to some of whom are now recognised to be spurious, viz. 列子 Lieh Tzŭ, 管子 Kuan Tzŭ, 韓非子 Han Fei Tzŭ, 淮南子 Huai-nan Tzŭ, and 鶡冠子 Ho Kuan Tzŭ.]


Pick out the important points in each,
Ts'o4 ch'i2 yao4

Choose the need

Ts'o is composed of 手 shou hand as radical, and 最 tsui to collect (line 202) as phonetic.

Ch'i appears to have been written 兀 (see line 143) in early ages, meaning a stand for exhibiting things. It is defined as a word for pointing at things, a demonstrative, and is now classified under radical 八 pa (line 88). It is sometimes a demonstrative, and sometimes merely the article, definite or indefinite.

Yao is composed of an obsolete character representing the two hands as radical, and 交 chiao to interlace, originally a picture of crossed legs, as phonetic. The whole is a picture of a man standing with his arms akimbo, and meant waist, now written 腰 with 肉 jou flesh as radical: hence necessary, important, to need, etc. Read yao1 it means to meet, to intercept, to make an agreement, etc.


and take a note of all facts.



Record the affair

Chi see line 118. It is not meant that such facts should be learnt by rote, but rather noted for use.

Ch'i see line 169.

Shih is composed of 史 shih historian (line 176), its old radical, with a contraction of 之 chih (line 1) as phonetic, and originally meant duties of office, to serve. It is now classed under radical 亅 (obsolete), and means business, affairs, but here points towards facts, as opposed to theories, which facts heterodox writers may have simply misinterpreted.


The five chief philosophers
Wu3 tzŭ3 chê3

Five philosopher one

Wu see line 15. Chief is implied.

Tzŭ see line 11.

Chê see line 49.


are Hsün, Yang,
Yu3 hsün2 yang2

Have hsün yang

Yu see line 14.

Hsün is composed of 艸 ts'ao vegetation as radical, with 旬 hsün a period of ten days, a decade, as phonetic. It is the name of a plant, not identified, and here the surname of 荀況 Hsün K'uang (line 4).

Yang see line 16. It is here the surname of 楊雄 Yang Hsiung (line 4).


Wên Chung Tzŭ,
Wên2 chung4 tzŭ3

Wên chung tzŭ

Wên see line 44.

Chung see line 64. Sometimes wrongly written 仲.

Tzŭ see line 11. These three characters form the posthumous title conferred upon 王通 Wang T'ung, a philosopher who flourished A.D. 583—616.


Lao Tzŭ, and Chuang Tzŭ
Chi2 lao3 chuang1

Reach lao chuang

Chi is composed, under its old form, of 又 yu hand (line 18) as radical, and 人 jen man, and is explained as to seize the man ahead, hence to come up to. Here = and.

Lao see line 24.

Chuang is composed of 艸 ts'ao vegetation as radical, and 壯 chuang strong as phonetic. (The latter, composed of 士 shih a soldier as its old radical, with 爿 ch'iang or ch'uang a bedstead as phonetic, was the original character.) It is here the surname of a philosopher of the 4th cent. B.C., who wrote on the teachings of Lao Tzŭ.


When the Classics and the Philosophers are mastered,



Classic philosopher pierce

Ching see title and line 167.

Tzŭ see line 11.

T'ung see line 131.


the various histories should be read,



Read all historian

Tu see line 134.

Chu is composed of 言 yen words and 者 chê (line 49). It is not necessary always to translate it rigorously; sometimes it is a mere sign of the plural. It also has various prepositional values, such as at, on, in, to, etc.

Shih was composed, under its old form, of 又 yu hand (line 18) grasping 中 chung the middle (line 64), sc. impartiality. It is defined as one who records events, and was applied in early ages to the Grand Astrologer of the Court.


and the genealogical connections should be examined,
K'ao3 shih4 hsi4

Examine generation connect

K'ao is composed of 老 lao old (line 24) abbreviated, and an obsolete phonetic. It originally meant old; then it came to signify a dead father; now it is the common term for examination.

Shih is composed of three 十 shih tens, thirty years being the Chinese estimate of the length of a generation of men. It is also used in the sense of mankind, the world.

Hsi is 糸 ssŭ silk, with a dash at the top, and means to tie, to bind. [Eitel translates this line by "Searching their chapters on genealogy and their family records." But hsi has no such meaning as "records."]


so that the end of one dynasty and the beginning of the next may be known.
Chih1 chung1 shih3

Know end beginning

Chih see lines 28, 70.

Chung see line 113.

Shih see line 134. [Eitel continues "So as to know both the end and the beginning of history."]


From Fu Hsi and Shên Nung
Tzŭ4 hsi1 nung2

From vapour till

Tzŭ see line 93.

Hsi is composed of 兮 hsi separation of vapour, later a particle of emphasis (an old radical), with 義 i (line 14) as phonetic. It originally meant vapour, but here stands for the name of the legendary Emperor 伏 Fu (or 庖 P'ao) 羲 Hsi, who reigned B.C. 2953—2838, and is said to have developed the Diagrams (line 135) from the marks on the back of a tortoise. It is now classed under radical 羊 yang a sheep.

Nung appears under a dozen different forms, the original composition of which is obscure. It is now classed under radical 辰 ch'ên heavenly bodies, and seems to have been originally associated with the dim light of dawn, but here stands for the name of the legendary Emperor 神農 Shên Nung, the Divine Husbandman, who reigned B.C. 2838—2698, and is said to have first taught the art of agriculture.


on to the Yellow Emperor,—



Arrive yellow ruler

Chih see line 94.

Huang is composed of 田 t'ien fields and 光 kuang (line 51) under an old form. It is one of the five colours (青 ch'ing blue and green, 黃 huang yellow, 赤 ch'ih red, 白 pai white, 黑 hei black), and is assigned to earth. It is now the Imperial colour, which under the Chou dynasty (line 141) was red.

Ti is now classed under radical 巾 chin a napkin, but in early ages it was classed under 上 shang above, with 束 tz'ŭ a thorn as phonetic. It originally meant to investigate judicially, the ruler of the world, and so came to mean the Supreme Being, God, and also the deified spirits of Imperial ancestors. Some have traced it to the eight-pointed star of Babylon, but in the old form given in the Shuo Wên dictionary there are but seven points. [The Yellow Emperor reigned B.C. 2698—2598, and is the reputed inventor of clothes.]


these are called the Three Rulers,
Hao4 san1 huang2

Name three ruler

Hao see line 137.
San see title.

Huang was originally composed of 自 tzŭ from, with 王 wang prince (as though de par le roi) as radical, and means great. It is classed under radical 白 pai white (hence a suggested connection with the White Tsar), and is part of the term 皇 帝 huang ti Emperor. [Mr. Demetrius Boulger made an amusing blunder in his History of China, vol. I, p. 6, note, by confounding Huang ti Emperor, as above, with Huang ti the Yellow Emperor of line 180:—"Hoangti means the Yellow Emperor; but it henceforth became a usual title for the first ruler of a new dynasty to take."]


who lived in the early ages.
Chü1 shang4 shih4

Abide top generation

Chü is composed of 尸 shih a corpse as radical, and 古 ku ancient. It originally meant to squat on the heels, and is now classed under radical 口 k'ou mouth.

Shang see line 75.

Shih see line 177.


T'ang and Yu-yü
T'ang2 yu3 3

T'ang yu

T'ang is composed of 口 k'ou mouth as radical, with 庚 kêng to change as phonetic. It originally meant big words; hence, to boast. It here stands for tbe famous Emperor, better known from his canonisation as 堯 Yao, who reigned B.C. 2357—2258 and had previously been Marquis of T'ang.

Yu see line 14.

is composed of 虍 hu tiger as radical, with 吳 wu (line 223) as phonetic, and originally meant a fabulous animal. It now means to reckon, to be anxious, etc., and here stands, with yu = occupier, for the place of birth of the famous Emperor, better known from his canonisation as 舜 Shun, who reigned B.C. 2255—2205. [Eitel translates, "Next comes T'ang having Yü to follow him." Père Zottoli says in a note "Yeou yu vero dicitur Choen 舜 imperator, item a feudi nomine," which would appear to be incorrect.]


are called the Two Emperors.



Name two ruler

Hao see line 137.

Erh see title.

Ti see line 180.


They abdicated, one after the other,



Mutual yield withdraw

Hsiang see line 3. It is quite wrong here to squeeze out the usual sense of reciprocity. There was in fact no reciprocity in the case. Yao abdicated in favour of Shun, and Shun put the Great Yü (line 187) on the throne.

I is composed of 手 shou hand as radical, with a phonetic composed of 口 k'ou mouth and 耳 êrh ear, to whisper. It is now commonly used in the sense of to salute with the folded hands.

Hsün is composed of 孫 sun grandchild (line 92) as phonetic, with the walking radical.


and theirs was called the Golden Age.



Entitle prosperous age

Ch'êng is composed of 禾 ho grain and a phonetic which seems to have meant to pick up with the 爪 chao claws, fingers. It originally signified to weigh, hence to estimate, to entitle. Read ch'êng4 it is a weighing-machine.

Shêng is composed of 成 ch'êng (line 26) as phonetic, and an obsolete radical 皿 min dishes. Read ch'êng2 it means to hold, to contain.

Shih see line 177. [Père Zottoli seems to have pressed the hsiang too closely, "mutuique honoris observantia, nuncupatur florentissima ætas." Eitel misses the meaning of both lines, "who in mutual deference successively resigned, Though they were by reputation most prosperous rulers." He has evidently read 治 for 世 with "Chan Yo-han."]


The Hsia dynasty had Yü;
Hsia4 yu3 3

Hsia have

Hsia see line 57.

Yu see line 14.

originally meant insects, and 虫 ch'ung insects might well have been chosen as its radical. It is however classed under an obsolete word 內 jou the footprints of certain animals, and here stands for the wise Minister, afterwards first Emperor of the Hsia dynasty, popularly known as 大禹 ta yü the Great Yü, who reigned B.C. 2205—2197. He is chiefly famous for having drained the empire of a vast body of water, which some have tried to identify with Noah's flood.


the Shang dynasty had T'ang;



Shang have t'ang

Shang is composed of 內 nei inside, with 口 k'ou mouth inside it, the two forming an old radical, with 章 chang a document, abbreviated, as phonetic. It is now classed under radical 口 k'ou mouth, and is the name of a dynasty which lasted from B.C. 1766—1122.

Yu see line 14.

T'ang is composed of 水 shui water as radical, with a common phonetic (lines 16, 126), and originally meant hot water. It here stands for the first Emperor of the Shang dynasty, who reigned B.C. 1766—1753 and is popularly known as 成湯 ch'êng tang T'ang the Completer (line 26).


the Chou dynasty had Wen and Wu;—



Chou wên wu

Chou see line 141.

Wên see line 44.

Wu is composed of 止 chih to stop, as radical, and 戈 ko spear, weapons; stoppage of hostilities being the ultimate object of war. This etymology is dated back in the Tso Chuan (line 165) to B.C. 595.


these are called the Three Kings.
Ch'êng1 san1 wang2

Entitle three king

Ch'êng see line 186.

San see title.

Wang is composed of three horizontals which stand for heaven, earth, and man in the middle, the line for man being nearer to heaven than to earth, in token of his divine obligations. These are united by a vertical line which typifies the influence of the sovereign. The character was originally a radical, but is now classed under 玉 jade. Read wang4 = to rule. [The two in line 189, King Wên and King Wu, who were father and son, count only as one. For although King Wu was the first sovereign of the Chou dynasty (line 141), King Wên is regarded as its virtual founder, and is thus allowed to share posthumously in the honours of his son. Wên and Wu are the names under which they were severally canonised.]


Under the Hsia dynasty the throne was transmitted from father to son,



Hsia transmit child

Hsia see line 57.

Ch'uan see line 163.

Tzŭ see line 11. [Up to the time of the Great Yü, some virtuous man had always been chosen as successor to the reigning monarch, a system, which Yü himself strove to carry on. After his death, however, his nominee was set aside and his own son was appointed.]


making a family possession of the empire.



Family heaven below

Chia is composed of 冖 mien shelter as radical, and 豭 chia a boar, abbreviated, as phonetic. It is the equivalent of our word home, a pig under a roof forming an ideogram which should be especially suggestive to our neighbours in the sister isle.

T'ien see line 50.

Hsia is composed under its old form of a line below a line, thus forming an ideogram (line 75). It is now classed under radical 一 i one. [Under heaven, all beneath the canopy of the sky, is the common term for the empire, as being commensurate with the world. For the above two lines Eitel has, "(As to the time occupied by each Dynasty,) as the founder of the Hsia delivered the throne to his son (B.C. 2197), his family possessed all the country to Heaven subject."]


After four hundred years,
Ssŭ4 pai3 tsai3

Four hundred year

Ssŭ see title.

Pai see line 46.

Tsai4 is composed of 車 ch'ê cart as radical, and an obsolete phonetic (line 151), and originally meant to contain, to load, full, complete, etc. Read tsai3 it means a year, which sense seems to have been derived from full, complete. There are however other and more fanciful explanations. [Four hundred is a round number. The Hsia dynasty lasted from B.C. 2205—1766. Eitel says to 1818, but this was the date of the accession of the last Emperor.]


the Imperial sacrifice passed from the House of Hsia.
Ch'ien1 hsia4 shê4

Move Hsia sacrifice

Ch'ien see line 6.

Hsia see line 57.

Shê is composed of 示 shih divine manifestation as radical, and 土 t'u earth, and originally meant lord or spirit of the earth; hence, sacrifices to such spirits, the sacrificial communion of the Emperor, the Son of Heaven, with the Supreme Being. [Eitel has, "When at last Heaven removed Hia's tutelary altar." But there is no need to supply Heaven as a subject to ch’ien; the root idea is sufficient.]


T'ang the Completer destroyed the Hsia dynasty



T'ang fell hsia

T'ang see line 188.
Fa is composed of 人 jen man and 戈 ko a spear, and means to cut down, to destroy. See line 249.

Hsia see line 57. [Gradually the sovereigns of this dynasty, which had been founded under such brilliant auspices (line 187), began to degenerate, the climax being reached under the reign of 桀癸 Chieh Kuei, who came to the throne in B.C. 1818 and for many years indulged in cruel brutality and lust almost unparalleled in history.]


and the dynastic title became Shang.



State name shang

Kuo see line 155.

Hao see line 137.

Shang see line 188. [Shang was further changed to 殷 Yin in B.C. 1401.]


The line lasted for six hundred years,



Six hundred year

Liu see line 75.

Pai see line 46.

Tsai see line 193.


ending with Chou Hsin.



Arrive chou disappear

Chih see line 94.

Chou is composed of 糸 ssŭ silk as radical, and what appears to be 寸 ts'un an inch but is really an abbreviation of 肘 chou elbow, as phonetic. It originally meant crupper, but here stands for 紂辛 Chou Hsin, who was under this Yin or Shang dynasty precisely what Chieh Kuei (line 195) had been under the Hsia dynasty, the immediate cause of its downfall.

Wang see line 159.


King Wu of the Chou dynasty
Chou1 wu3 wang2

Chou wu king

Chou see line 141.

Wu see line 189.

Wang see line 190.


finally slew Chou Hsin.
Shih3 chu1 chou4

Begin slay Chou

Shih see line 134. [The value of shih in this combination seems to have been missed by translators. The character carries within it a reference to the previous opposition of King Wu's father (line 190), who however had not achieved any tangible result. Hence King Wu shih was the first = finally. Père Zottoli has "tunc occidit T'cheou;" but tunc is inadequate, and there is no aspirate in the proper name. Eitel has for the two lines, "The founder of the Cheu dynasty was Wu Wang, He having made a commencement by destroying the tyrant Cheu."]

Chu is composed of 言 yen words as radical, and 朱 chu a pearl as phonetic, and originally meant to punish.

Chou see line 198.


His own line lasted for eight hundred years,—
Pa1 pai3 tsai3

Eight hundred year

Pa see line 88.

Pai see line 46.

Tsai see line 193. [The Chou dynasty lasted from B.C. 1122–B.C. 255.]


the longest dynasty of all.
Tsui4 ch'ang2 chiu3

Very long lasting

Tsui is composed of 冃 mao an old word for a hat, as radical, over 取 ch'ü to take. It originally meant to seize, to collect; and from the idea of collecting many came its modern sense as a superlative. [Ch'ü to take is composed of 耳 êrh ear and 又 yu hand (line 18), and refers to the old custom of cutting off the left ears of prisoners in war for transmission to the victorious chieftain or prince.]

Ch'ang see line 39.

Chiu was an old radical, and was explained as a picture of cauterisation from behind, to cauterise being expressed later on by the addition of 火 huo fire as radical, thus 炙. How it came to signify length of time is not clear. It is now classed under radical 丿 p'ieh. ["Being peerless in length of duration" is Eitel's strange rendering of this line.]


When the Chous made tracks eastwards,



Chou cart-rut east

Chou see line 141.

Ch'ê is composed of 車 ch'ê cart as radical, and a common phonetic. It is colloquially read chê4.

Tung see line 62. [In B.C. 781, during the reign of 平王 King P'ing, the capital was transferred from 鎬 Hao in the modern province of Shensi to 洛邑 Lo-i in Honan. [Eitel wrongly gives B.C. 770 as the date, and Père Zottoli contents himself with a note explaining that the Court was moved "ad orientem."]


the feudal bond was slackened;
Wang2 kang1 chui4

Prince bond sink

Wang see line 190.

Kang see line 53.

Chui is composed of 土 t'u earth as radical, with 隊 tui4 a group, a regiment, as phonetic. [The idea is that the allegiance of the vassal States to the 王 wang suzerain began to grow weak, which Père Zottoli hardly seems to reach with "Regum disciplina corruit," as though wang referred to the feudal nobles. Eitel is nearer with "The sovereign's authority began to totter."]


the arbitrament of spears and shields prevailed;



Violent shield spear

Ch'êng is composed of the walking radical, and 呈 ch'êng, which now means to proffer or tender, as phonetic. It originally meant to go through, to move with speed, and then as here, to act with violence at slight provocation. [Eitel translates it "raised."]

Kan is composed, under its old form, of 入 ju to enter, upside down, and 一 i one. It originally meant to oppose, and must be distinguished from 千 (line 47).

Ko is supposed to be a picture, under its old form, of the particular kind of spear intended. It is composed of 弋 i a sharpened stake and 一 i one.


and peripatetic politicians were held in high esteem.



Esteem travel counsel

Shang is composed of 八 pa (line 88) and 向 hsiang towards, and originally meant to add to; hence its adverbial value still, notwithstanding. It is now classed under radical 小 hsiao small.

Yu is composed of the walking radical and a phonetic which originally meant a streamer or pennant. It is used with 游, which is now a distinct character but which appears to have been once only another form.

Shui (see line 122) means to stop, to halt, to counsel, and here refers to a class of adventurers who wandered from State to State, offering plans for vengeance etc. on rival rulers. This character is also sometimes read yüeh4 for 悅 to take pleasure in.


This period began with the Spring, and Autumn epoch,






Shih see line 134.

Ch'un see line 57.

Ch'iu see line 58. [With the transfer of the Court (see line 203) the period known later on as the Spring and Autumn may be roughly said to have begun, although the work of Confucius which gave its name to the epoch starts only from B.C. 722. Père Zottoli strangely mistakes the last two words for the book, and translates by "Initio apparuit Chronicorum liber." The book could scarcely have appeared at the beginning of the period it describes.]


and ended with that of the Warring States.
Chung1 chan4 kuo2

End fight state

Chung see line 113.

Chan is composed of 戈 ko spear as radical, with tan single as phonetic.

Kuo see line 155. [The Spring and Autumn period, as chronicled by Confucius, ended in B.C. 484, after which the States quarrelled among themselves for two hundred years, the greater coercing or absorbing the less powerful, until the event related in lines 211, 212. There is an historical work, the 戰國策 Chan kuo ts'ê, which records the troubles of these times, covering the period B.C. 362-255.]


Next, the Five Chieftains domineered,



Five chief strong

Wu see line 15.

Pa is composed of 月 yüeh moon, its old radical, and an obsolete phonetic, and originally referred to the new moon. It is now classed under radical 雨 rain. [The Five Chieftains were Dukes 桓 Huan, 文 Wên, 襄 Hsiang, 穆 Mu, and Prince 莊 Chuang. They were the rulers of various States under the Spring and Autumn period.]

Ch'iang is composed of 虫 ch'ung insect as radical, with 弘 hung the clang of a bow as phonetic, and originally meant a fierce kind of fly. It is now classed under radical 弓 kung a bow, and is also written 強.


and the Seven Martial States came to the front.
Ch'i1 hsiung2 ch'u1

Seven male come-forth

Ch'i see line 84.

Hsiung is composed of 隹 chui birds as radical, with 厷 kung the arm as phonetic, and is defined as 鳥父 niao fu the male of birds (line 18). [The States alluded to as flourishing during the second epoch were 秦 Ch'in, 楚 Ch'u, 齊 Ch'i, 燕 Yen, 漢 Han, 趙 Chao, and 魏 Wei.]

Ch'u was originally a picture of luxuriant vegetation, and meant to go in, a sense which is still, though rarely, attached to it. Its modern radical is 凵, an obsolete word meaning to contain. [Père Zottoli translates this line by "septem potentes exorti sunt," by which he refers to men and not to States, since he always translates the latter by "regna." He does not however mention in his notes the names of the seven heroes to whom he alludes. Ho Hsing-ssŭ gives them in his commentary as the Princes of the first six States given above, with the Prince of the 梁 Liang State as the seventh. The translation adopted is based on Wang Hsiang's commentary.]


Then the House of Ch'in, descended from the Ying clan,
Ying2 ch'in2 shih4

Ying ch'in family

Ying is composed of 女 woman, and 羸 lei thin with 羊 yang sheep left out, the latter being given in the Shuo Wên as phonetic. It was the family name of the Emperor 少昊 Shao Hao, B.C. 2958, and is classed like other old clan names, and like 姓 hsing surname (= woman-born, from 女 woman and 生 shêng to produce), under 女 as radical. See line 350.

Ch'in is composed of 禾 ho grain as radical, and a contraction of 春 ch'un spring (line 57) as phonetic. It was the name of a fief bestowed upon the descendants of a Minister under the Emperor Shun (line 183) and adapted for growing grain.

Shih see line 165. [Père Zottoli has "Yng e Ts'in familia," and shows by his note that he means "familia" to belong to "Yng." Eitel has "a man of the Ying clan, being the sovereign of the Ts'in family." The translation however must be based on the following facts. Ying was the name of an old family or clan, one member of which received the fief of Ch'in for services rendered to a sovereign of the Chou dynasty; 是爲秦氏 hence the House of Ch'in and the First Emperor (see line 212).]


finally united all the States under one sway.
Shih3 chien1 ping4

Begin together unite

Shih see line 134. [Eitel translates with fatal inaccuracy "Commenced to absorb and to unite etc."]

Chien is composed of a hand (old form) grasping two (= plurality) ears of grain, under which radical it was originally classed, now under 八 pa (line 88).

Ping is composed of 从 ts'ung to follow, its old radical, with 幵 ch'ien level as phonetic. It originally meant to follow; hence, two together, united, etc. It is also explained as two 人 jen men grasping two 干 kan shields, q.d. united. [The above union was accomplished in B.C. 221 by the then ruler of the Ch'in State. After vanquishing and absorbing the other States, he succeeded in proclaiming himself 始皇帝 Shih Huang Ti the First Emperor of a united China. He died B.C. 210.]


The throne was transmitted to Erh Shih,



Transmit êrh shih

Ch'uan see line 163.

Erh see title.

Shih see line 177. [Erh Shih, or Second Generation, is the title under which is known in history the youngest son of the First Emperor, the latter having declared that the line he founded should endure for ten thousand generations. His elder brother was murdered to clear the way, a fate he himself shared in B.C. 207. Eitel wrongly translates the title, with the following result, "the throne of which was delivered only to the second generation."]


upon which followed the struggle between the Ch'u and the Han States.
Ch'u3 han4 chêng1

Ch'u han contend

Ch'u is composed of 林 lin a forest (line 66), one half of which is the radical under which it is now classed, and 疋 (now p'i3 a piece or bale) an old form of 足 tsu foot, as phonetic. Its chief meanings are to punish, clear, perspicuous; but it is here only the name of a State (line 210).

Han is composed of 水 shui water as radical, and a contraction of 難 nan difficult as phonetic. It originally meant waves, and is the name of a famous river. It has also been applied to the Milky Way, and is here the name of a State.

Chêng is composed of 爪, chao claws, its modern radical, which is the picture of a hand with the back uppermost, 又 yu a hand (line 18), and an obsolete character meaning to drag, i.e. two hands tugging.


Then Kao Tsu arose,
Kao1 tsu3 hsing1

Kao tsu rise

Kao see line 89.

Tsu see line 89. [Kao tsu is a "temple name," often bestowed after death upon the first Emperor of a dynasty (line 239). The Emperor here in question was 劉邦 Liu Pang, a quondam beadle, who in B.C. 202, after a successful revolution, mounted the throne as first Emperor of the Han dynasty.]

Hsing is composed of 臼 chiu a mortar with 同 t'ung (line 106) inserted, the lower portion being originally a pair of hands holding up the mortar (cf. line 87). It means by extension to prosper. [Eitel wrongly translates "Kao Tsu, being victorious."]


and the House of Han was established.
Han4 yeh4 chien4

Han patrimony establish

Han see line 214.

Yeh was originally composed of 巾 chin a napkin below an obsolete radical meaning luxuriant vegetation, and meant a toothed board for a stand of bells. It is now classed under radical 木 mu wood, and means property, trade, calling, etc.

Chien is composed of 廴 yin to progress as radical, and 聿 (line 114), here a contraction of 律 statutes. It originally meant to fix the laws of a State.


When we come to the reign of Hsiao P'ing,
Chih4 hsiao4 p'ing2

Arrive hsiao p'ing

Chih see line 94.

Hsiao see line 35.

P'ing see line 130. [Hsiao P'ing is here the dynastic title of the Emperor who came to the throne in A.D. 1.]


Wang Mang usurped the throne.
Wang2 mang3 ts'uan4

Wang mang usurp

Wang see line 190.

Mang is composed of 犬 ch'üan a dog (line 78) lying down in the middle of 艸 ts'ao vegetation, doubled, under which radical it is now classed. It means jungle, and also rude, coarse, but is here merely part of the name of a famous usurper who occupied the throne between A.D. 9—23.

Ts'uan is composed of 算 suan to calculate as phonetic, and 厶 ssŭ an obsolete word meaning private, selfish, as radical. It is defined as to rebel and seize, which sense is fairly deducible from the component parts.


Then Kuang Wu arose,






Kuang see line 51.

Wu see line 189.

Hsing see line 215. [Kuang Wu is the dynastic title of a descendant of Kao Tsu (line 215) in the ninth degree, who destroyed Wang Mang the Usurper and placed himself upon the throne in A.D. 25. Here again Eitel wrongly renders hsing by victorious.]


and founded the Eastern Han dynasty.






Wei see line 24.

Tung see line 62.

Han see line 214. [Under the former dynasty, now known as 西漢 hsi han the Western Han or as the 前漢 ch'ien han Earlier Han, the capital was at 長安 Ch'ang-an in Shensi. It was moved eastward to 洛陽 Lo-yang in Honan by Kuang Wu; hence the term Eastern. This dynasty is also known as 後漢 hou han the Later Han, a name subsequently bestowed upon one of the Five Dynasties mentioned in lines 247250.]


It lasted four hundred years,






Ssŭ see title.

Pai see line 46.

Nien was originally written with 禾 ho grain as radical above ch'ien a thousand as phonetic, and meant ripe grain, from which it is not a very far cry to year. It is now classed under radical 干 (line 205).


and ended with the Emperor Hsien.
Chung1 2 hsien4

End with hsien

Chung see line 113.

see line 35.

Hsien is composed of 犬 ch'üan dog as radical, with an obsolete word meaning tripod as phonetic. It was originally a term applied to fat dogs offered in sacrifice at the ancestral temple. It means to present to a superior, but is here the dynastic title of the last Emperor of the Eastern Han dynasty, whose reign ended A.D. 221.


Wei, Shu, and Wu,



Wei shu wu

Wei is composed of 委 wei to depute as phonetic, with 鬼 kuei disembodied spirit as radical. It here stands for portions of modern Shansi and Honan, over which a son of the great 曹操 Ts'ao Ts'ao ruled as first Emperor.

Shu is composed, under its old form, of 虫 ch'ung insect as radical, below 目 mu eye as formerly written, with a curved line. It originally meant caterpillar or looper, the curved line being a picture of the loop formed by the insect when moving. It is here a name for modern Ssŭch'uan, over which 劉備 Liu Pei, a quondam artisan, ruled as first Emperor.

Wu is a common surname, and is popularly known as 口天吳 k'ou t'ien wu the wu which is made up of k'ou and t'ien, in allusion to its structure. It here stands for that part of the empire known as modern Kiangsu, over which 孫權 Sun Ch'üan ruled as first Emperor.


fought for the sovereignty of the Hans.
Chêng1 han4 ting3

Contend han tripod

Chêng see line 214.

Han see line 214.

Ting is a picture of a bronze vessel with three legs and two handles, used for burning incense. It is here figuratively employed, just as throne is often used in English.


They were called the Three Kingdoms,



Name three kingdom

Hao see line 137.

San see title.

Kuo see line 155. [The period covered by these rival Kingdoms was only about 45 years in all, yet it is one of the most famous in Chinese history and is the subject of a widely-known historical romance, based upon the tragedies enacted while the empire was thus torn by civil war.]


and existed until the Two Chin dynasties.



Reach two chin

Ch'i is composed of the walking radical with 乞 ch'i to beg as phonetic. It is also read hsi3, and commonly means until. [Eitel has "Followed by the reigns of the Two Tsin" but there is no authority for such a rendering.]

Liang is composed of 一 i one, with an obsolete word meaning again as both radical and phonetic; i.e. one taken again = two. It was originally the twenty-fourth part of an ounce, equal to the weight of 100 grains of millet, but now = 1/16 of a 斤 (line 3) and is classed under radical 入 ju to enter.

Chin was originally composed of 日 jih sun beneath a contraction of 至 chih to arrive, duplicated, and meant to go in. It was explained thus: "When the sun comes out, all things go in." It here stands for the Western Chin dynasty, A.D. 265—317, and the Eastern Chin, A.D. 317—420, so called because their capitals were at 洛陽 Lo-yang in Honan and 南京 Nanking in Kiangsu, respectively.


Then followed the Sung and the Ch'i dynasties,



Sung ch'i connect

Sung is composed of 宀 mien shelter as radical and 木 mu wood, and originally meant a hut, a dwelling. It is now a common surname, and here stands for a dynasty, A.D. 420—479, generally known as the 劉宋 Liu Sung, from the surname of its founder, to distinguish it from the great Sung dynasty (line 251).

Ch'i under its old form was a picture of ears of grain growing up level, and was intended to express the idea of evenness. It is here the name of a dynasty, A.D. 479—502.

Chi is composed of 糸 ssŭ silk and an old word which meant broken turned round as though mended; hence its meanings, to splice, to continue a line.


and after them the Liang and Ch'ên dynasties.
Liang2 ch'ên2


Liang ch'ên receive

Liang is composed of 木 mu wood as radical, with 水 shui water, and 刅 ch'uang to wound (= 創 line 242) as phonetic. It means a bridge, a beam, and is here the name of a dynasty, A.D. 502—557. See lines 73, 245.

Ch'ên is composed of 阜 fu4 or fou4 a mound, 阝 in combination, always on the left (line 230), as radical, 木 mu wood, and 申 shen to report as phonetic, and has apparently no connection with 東 tung east (line 62). It means to set forth, to state, and is here the name of a dynasty, A.D. 557—589.

Ch'êng is composed of 手 shou hand as radical, with 卩 chieh the half of an official seal or tally, and an obsolete character meaning the hands reverently folded. It signifies to receive from a superior.


These are the southern dynasties,



Be south court

Wei see line 24.

Nan see line 61. Referring to the four dynasties in lines 227, 228, to each of which the word nan southern is often prefixed.

Ch'ao is composed of 倝 kan dawn (into the composition of which enters 旦 tan the sun appearing above the horizon, dawn), an old radical, and 舟 chou boat as phonetic. It was originally read chao1, and meant early morning (line 265). Read ch'ao2 it means the Court, audiences being held at dawn, and so by extension a dynasty. In consequence of its change of form it is now classed under radical 月 yüeh the moon.


with their capital at Nanking.



Capital chin ling

Tu is composed of 者 (line 49) and 邑 i a town or hamlet, 阝 in combination, always on the right (line 228). It also means all, every.

Chin see line 66.

Ling is composed of 阜 fou a mound (line 228) as radical, with a common phonetic. It means a tumulus, especially of a tomb. Chin-ling is here an old name for Nanking, the southern capital, which had also been the capital under the Eastern Chin dynasty (line 226).


The northern dynasties are the Wei dynasty of the Yüan family
Pei3 yüan2 wei4

North yüan wei

Pei see line 61.

Yüan see line 94. Here a surname.

Wei see line 223. [The Northern Wei dynasty was founded in A.D. 386 by a Tartar of the 拓跋 Toba family, which name was changed by a later Emperor to 元 Yüan. Eitel wrongly translates "The northern (Toba, subsequently called) Yuen, family established the Wei dynasty." The construction however is peculiar, there being a pause at pei, the influence of which extends down to line 234.]

232. 西

which split into Eastern and Western Wei,
Fên1 tung1 hsi1

Divide east west

Fên is composed of 八 pa divide (line 88), its old radical, and 刀 tao a knife, its modern radical. Read fen4 it means share, portion.

Tung see line 62.

Hsi see line 62. [In A.D. 534 the Northern Wei came to an end, and from its ruins arose the short-lived Eastern and Western branches which were displaced by the Ch'i and Chou (see lines 233, 234) dynasties, respectively.]


the Chou dynasty of the Yü-wên family,
3 wên2 chou1

wen chou

is composed of 冖 mien an obsolete word meaning cover as radical, with 于 (= 於 line 35) as phonetic. It means space, the empyrean, but is here part of the surname of the founder of the Northern Chou dynasty, A.D. 557—589.

Wên see line 44.

Chou see line 141.


with the Ch'i dynasty of the Kao family.
3 kao1 ch'i2

With kao ch'i

see line 87. [Eitel, to get out of his previous difficulty, here translates by "whilst," a sense which can never under any circumstances be yielded by this character.]

Kao is supposed to be the picture of a raised terrace, and its common meaning is high, elevated; but here it is the surname of the founder of the Northern Ch'i dynasty, A.D. 550—589.

Ch'i see line 227.


At length, under the Sui dynasty,
Tai4 chih4 sui2

Reach arrive sui

Tai is composed of the walking radical, and an obsolete phonetic which is a picture of a hand catching hold of a tail, thus suggesting the idea of reaching. It is often written 迨.

Chih see line 94.

Sui, which is said to be a contraction of 隨 (line 254t), was originally composed of 肉 jou flesh as radical, with the contraction of an obsolete word meaning to destroy. It meant to tear or rend meat, and was pronounced t'o3 (line 20). It is now classed under 阜 fou a mound (line 228), and is the name of a dynasty founded A.D. 589.


the empire was united under one ruler.
I1 t'u3 3

One earth sky

I see line 45.

T'u see line 66.

see line 233. [Eitel says the Sui dynasty "united in one the central lands as well as the borders." There is no authority for this violence done to t'u yü, which simply means territory, i.e. the empire.]


The throne was not transmitted twice,
Pu1 tsai4 ch'uan2

Not twice transmit

Pu see line 5.

Tsai is composed of 一 i one, and a contraction of 冓 kou which is said to be a picture of mutually handing over in exchange, out of which some idea of two, second, etc., has been "chiselled." It is now classed under an obsolete radical 冂 meaning waste land on the very outskirts of the known world. [The line means that the dynasty ended with its second Emperor.]

Ch'uan see line 163.


succession to power being lost.
Shih1 t'ung3 hsü4

Lose control clue

Shih was origin ally composed of 手 shou hand as radical, with 乙 i a cyclical character as phonetic, and meant to relax, to let go; hence the modern signification. It is now classed under radical 大 ta great.
T'ung is composed of 糸 ssŭ silk as radical and 充 ch'ung to fill, to fulfil, as phonetic. It means to gather together, all, collectively, etc.

Hsü is composed of 糸 ssŭ silk as radical, and 者 chê (line 49) as phonetic, and is defined as one end of a skein of silk, giving the idea of continuity. In this sense it enters into the 年號 nien hao year-title of the reigning Emperor, who is popularly known as 光緒 Kuang Hsü Glory Continued.


The first Emperor of the T'ang dynasty



T'ang high ancestor

T'ang see line 183. [This dynasty flourished A.D. 618—907, and formed a brilliant epoch in Chinese history.]

Kao see line 89.

Tsu see line 89. [The founder's name was 李淵 Li Yüan.]


raised volunteer troops.



Raise duty soldier

Ch'i is composed of 走 tsou to walk as radical, and 已 i finished as phonetic. It also means to rise, to begin, etc.

I see lines 14, 69. [Eitel here translates "by raising loyal armies,"—loyal, that is, to a rebel, which in Chinese is a contradiction in terms. The word here rendered by volunteer has already been explained under line 14. Similarly, 義學 i hsüeh is a free school, 義山 i shan a free burying-ground, i.e. schools and cemeteries provided for the public from a sense of duty, and so on. Père Zottoli's translation "eduxit legitimum exercitum" seems to be equally reprehensible.]

Shih see line 20.


He put an end to the disorder of the House of Sui,
Ch'u2 sui2 luan4

Remove sui confusion

Ch'u is composed of 余 I, myself, as phonetic, with 阜 (line 228) as radical. It originally meant the steps to a hall, and then to take away, to subtract, as in modern Chinese.

Sui see line 235.

Luan is composed of 乙 i a cyclical character, said to have once meant to govern, as radical, with a phonetic which also meant to govern. It seems to have originally signified to put confusion in order, but now means sedition, rebellion, etc.


and established the foundations of his line.
Ch'uang4 kuo2 chi1

Establish nation foundations

Ch'uang is now composed of 刀 tao knife as radical, with 倉 ts'ang a granary as phonetic. It appears to have been a form of 刅 (line 228) and meant to wound, to cut into, in which sense it is read ch'uang3. The later reading ch'uang4 to begin, to lay the foundations of, etc., has probably been developed from the idea of cutting into.

Kuo see line 155. [Eitel deals with this line in evident ignorance of the fact that kuo is often used in the sense of family, line; e.g. 無子國除 wu tzŭ kuo ch'u having no son his house came to an end. He translates by "And created the modern Chinese empire's foundation." Père Zottoli too errs, but not so glaringly, with "jecit regni fundamenta."]

Chi is composed of 其 (line 169) as phonetic, with 土 t'u earth as radical, and means the beginning of a wall.


Twenty times the throne was transmitted
Erh4 shih2 ch'uan2

Two ten transmit

Erh see title.

Shih see line 45.

Ch'uan see line 163. [That is, there were twenty-one Emperors, the Empress who usurped the throne between A.D. 684—705 being excluded.]


in a period of three hundred years.



Three hundred year

San see title.

Pai see line 46.

Tsai see line 193. [The T'ang dynasty lasted from A.D. 618 to 907.]


The Liang State destroyed it,



Liang extinguish it

Liang see line 228. [It here stands for the name of a State, the Prince of which, by name 朱温 Chu Wên, assassinated the last Emperor of the T'ang dynasty, and placed himself upon the throne, A.D. 907. Eitel wrongly regards Liang as the name of the dynasty mentioned in line 247, thus, "Cheu Wen, the founder of the Heu Liang dynasty, destroyed it."]

Mieh is composed of a phonetic which originally meant to destroy by fire, the word 火 huo fire being present in it, and the radical 水 shui water, which seems to have been added to express the extinction of fire.

Chih see line 1.


and the dynastic title was changed.



Nation then change

Kuo see lines 155, 242.

Nai see line 6.

Kai is composed of 攴 p'u3 to rap, and 己 chi self, and is explained as to rap or remind oneself of one's faults, q.d. to change, to reform. [The name of the new dynasty was Liang, so called after the State of the founder, as above. Eitel has a serious mistake in "and the Empire thereby underwent a change." Père Zottoli too has regnumque tunc immutatum est," which puts the student equally off the track.]


The Liang, the T'ang, the Chin,



Liang t'ang chin

Liang see line 228. A.D. 907—923.

T'ang see line 183. A.D. 923—936.

Chin see line 226. A.D. 937—947.


the Han, and the Chou,



Reach han chou

Chi is composed of 又 yu a hand (see line 18) as radical, and 人 jen man, i.e. holding on to the man ahead. Its meaning here is simply and.

Han see line 214. A.D. 947—951.

Chou see line 141. A.D. 951—960. [All the above are distinguished from earlier dynasties of the same name by the prefix of 後 hou = Later.]


are called the Five Dynasties,



Entitle five dynasty

Ch'êng see line 186.

Wu see line 15.

Tai is composed of 人 jen man as radical, and 弋 i a stake, to shoot with bow and arrow. It means to exchange, in place of, dynasty, etc., and must be carefully distinguished from 伐 fa (line 195).


and there was a reason for the establishment of each.



All have cause

Chieh is composed of 白 pai white as radical, and 比 pi to compare.

Yu see line 14.

Yu is not given in the Shuo Wên dictionary. It means cause, source, because, from, by, etc. [Eitel quite misses the point of this line and translates by "All of them having their origin one in the other." It has been suggested to me that this line may mean that these Five Dynasties were all named in reference to earlier dynasties mentioned in lines 228, 239, 226, 216, and 199. The commentary however of Ho Hsing-ssŭ gives 五代皆有所來者也, which puts the question beyond doubt.]


Then the fire-led House of Sung arose,
Yen2 sung4 hsing1

Fiery sung rise

Yen is 火 huo fire doubled to convey an idea of intensity. There is no term by which this word can really be translated in this connection. The meaning is that the Sung dynasty ruled under the guiding influence of fire as its own especial element. Hence Zottoli's rendering, "Ignea Sung," gives no clue whatever to the real signification, while Eitel's "glorious Sung" is altogether wrong.

Sung see line 227.

Hsing see line 215.