ZiYuan's Classification: Exposition

The BuShou(部首) of KangXi Dictionary(康熙字典) has long been the basis of HanZi(漢字)’s classification. When Chinese of Qing Dynasty were editing and compiling the KangXi Dictionary, oracle-bones were still underground, and very few bronze wares with ancient inscription was uncovered, so the editors did not really understand the formation and evolution of Hanzi, they made the wrong classification. HanZi not only lost their true meanings, and were also difficult to be indexed.

For example, in KangXi Dictionary, 也(also) and九(nine) belong to the BuShou of乙(the second of Heavenly Stems天干), but both pronunciations and meanings of such three HanZi are different, they are put into the same group because of their similarities in shape, not their meaning.

Ancient HanZi had multiple meanings, someone added ideographic symbols next to the original characters to distinguish, thus generating new HanZi. 其 is the picture of a dustpan, since a dustpan can filtrate something, someone use其 to represent ‘exception’ or ‘this’ in writing. With a view to avoiding confusion, 竹 is added on the above of其, a new character, 箕 is created to represent dustpan.

Therefore, without destroying the natural structure but consistent with the foresaid evolution of HanZi, ChouMeiZai invents ZiYuan’s Classification(《字源分類法》), which has new BuShou and classification.

Take 也 as another example, in ZiYuan’s Classification, 也 itself is a BuShou with地(land) and池(pond) under it. 也 is the picture of vagina, it has the meaning of fertilization, land breeds animals while pond breeds fishes, three HanZi have similar pronunciations and meanings.

One more example, in ZiYuan’s Classification, 韋, 衛and 偉. 韋 is the picture of two feet patrolling around an enclosure, it has the meaning of guarding someone’s homeland, 衛 means guarding, 偉means bigness or greatness, a guard need to be big if he want to guard his country, three HanZi have similar pronunciations and meanings.

ZiYuan’s Classification will become perfect step by step, hope it can deepen your understanding of HanZi, thus revealing its real features.