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Got a trinket that has one or two decorative Chinese characters on it? Can't figure out what it says? Before you click that big ol' Ask Question button, please check out some commonly requested identifications here, as we don't do character identification or translation requests, unless prior research effort has been shown.

This is a work in progress, so if your character doesn't show up, don't panic! The community will point you in the right direction, and we will add the character to this page if it becomes a frequently requested character.

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  • This is my attempt at addressing chinese.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1553/… - suggestions/corrections welcome, and also suggest characters that we need to put on this page. My next target is「福」. – dROOOze Nov 23 '19 at 11:07
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    功德無量 :) would you include these : 之, 印, 寶 & characters of 10 天干, 12 地支 – 水巷孑蠻 Nov 23 '19 at 14:58
  • @水巷孑蠻 yes okay, sounds good. you're right, they occur alot on paintings – dROOOze Nov 23 '19 at 14:59
  • thanks, i must confess that i'm idiot in handling photos / pictures. – 水巷孑蠻 Nov 23 '19 at 15:38
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「壽」(longevity)


Orthodox character


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Glyph evolution sequence and older variants


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Core character components (for non-cursive characters)

If you've managed to spot at least both of these components in your character, regardless of whether other components are present, chances are you're looking at「壽」.

  • Top component:「耂」(ignore greyed out part)


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  • Bottom component:「𢏚」


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Regular script variants

Common


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More variants (including some common variants above)

(including uncommon


Seal script samples

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Cursive script samples

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Special mentions


Character structure

西周

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蔡姞簋
集成4198
西周

enter image description here
對罍
集成9826


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日書乙種75
睡虎地秦簡


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老部・壽
說文解字
東漢

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羊竇道碑
 


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「壽」(Baxter-Sagart OC: /*[N-t]uʔ/, /*[N-t]uʔ-s/, longevity) is composed of semantic「耂」(picture of an old person with unkempt hair > old, elderly, now written「老」) and phonetic「𢏚」(/*[d]ru/). 「口」and/or「又」were optionally added to the character.

The modern form「壽」comes from the inclusion of both「口」and「又」, with「又」later slightly changing into「寸」. Also, both semantic「耂」and phonetic「𢏚」became heavily corrupted.

「𢏚」is a picture of a divided farmland, and this word is now written as「疇」.



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2124
合集339


Example questions


References and image sources

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「福」(fortune, blessing, happiness)


Orthodox character


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Sample of older variants and regular script counterparts

  • 「福」+「宀」


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  • 「福」+「宀」+「玉」


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  • 「福」, replacing「畐」with「北」


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  • 「福」+「北」


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Core character components (for non-cursive characters)

「畐」(or some minor shape change from「畐」) is the most important component. If it isn't present, you're unlikely to be looking at「福」, although rare exceptions do exist (like the third form of the above section).「示」is the second most important component; if「宀」is present, without「示」the character is not「福」but「富」(wealthy) instead.

  • 「畐」


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  • 「示・礻」(a lot of variants for this one!)


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Regular script variants

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Seal script samples

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Cursive script samples

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Special mentions

  • 「福」may deliberately appear upside-down (see Why 福 is often used upside down?).

    福 upside down

  • Round seals. Stare at it closely and the resemblance to「福」should be evident; cut the join at the bottom of the character to separate it into the left and right sides. The top of the character is stylised to make the left and right sides appear symmetrical.

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    (from Google image search)

  • Diagram of a hundred「福」(Google image search)


Character structure

西周

enter image description here
士父鐘
集成145


enter image description here
示部・福
說文解字


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秦律十八66
睡虎地秦簡


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「福」(Baxter-Sagart OC: /*pək/, good fortune/blessing) is composed of semantic「示」(ancestral tablet, here indicating religious prayer rituals) and phonetic「畐」(/*[b]ək/).

The older variants have not survived. These are, specifically,

  • Additions of「宀」and「玉」, might be referring to「寶」(treasure) in the wealth fortune aspect (now clearly written as「富」)

    西周

    enter image description here
    B311鼎
    集成2280
    春秋

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    邾大宰鐘
    集成86

  • Addition of「北」(/*pˤək/) or replacement of「畐」with「北」.「北」serves as an additional or alternative phonetic component

    西周

    enter image description here
    周乎卣
    集成5406
    西周

    enter image description here
    󰙴者鼎
    集成2662


Example questions


References and image sources

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