Category: Chinese Culture

May 13 2011

Hidden Ancient Mysteries Inside Chinese Characters ?

What happened in mans history 1000s of years ago for all intense purposes is a complete mystery.  Sure, we have some ideas and theories about what happened back then based on archaeological findings but can one really be sure that those documents/carvings are telling the truth ?  Of course not, therefore our knowledge of history is based on faith.  Faith that what those people wrote was the truth.  However, history has also taught us that people tend to lie or at least exaggerate the truth.  Therefore in order to get as close to the truth as possible we need to look to many sources to find where these different sources agree.  If we find that many different sources agree, then we feel confident that these consistent points contain truth and the rest are possibly truth or possibly spurious.  With ancient history one can never really know, we just accept what is most likely based on the evidence we have at hand.

Modern history of course is a different kettle of fish.  Modern technology allows us to see videos of things that happened and therefore creates a more reliable and accurate record of history.  The information age too has made it easy for many different people to record their version of history giving us more records to compare in our search for the “truth”.

Regardless, one has to admit that what we learn today as “truth” is only what we think or believe is truth.  Actual “truth”, as in absolute truth, may or may not be known.

What is particularly interesting is the long lost history of the most ancient of humans long ago.  We have few sources of information for that history outside of the Bible and various legends.  These stories, or legends (however you choose to view them) from the Bible are regarding by some as actual history, and by others as fairy tales.  Regardless of whether the stories are true or not they must be taken into account when trying to discover the actual ancient history of mankind.

As a westerner growing up with these stories I never imagined that I would find further cooberative evidence to these stories locked away in the characters of one of the most ancient civilizations on earth – China.

Most, if not all, Chinese regard the Bible as a western book.  The reality is the Bible is not a western but a middle eastern book.  It just so happens that it has become widely accepted by the west and therefore has become regarded as a western book.  However, if we were to consider the possibility that the history in the Bible were true, then that would mean that ancient (the most ancient) of Chinese history would take us to the time in the Bible book of Genesis.   China boasts a history of about 5000 years.  This again is of course impossible to prove, we just have to trust the researchers and the people who wrote those ancient documents to have not made any mistakes when calculating dates.  Regardless, we can be sure that the beginning of Chinese culture and civilization was founded not long after the flood of Noah in the Bible (if we take the history of the Bible as a true reliable reference point).  If the above can be considered true, then we can also expect that the history that was orally passed down to Moses (the writer of Genesis) was also in the minds of the founders of the Chinese civilization.  Now the question that we would naturally ask is why didn’t those Chinese founding fathers write about Adam and Eve and the flood like Moses did ?  Fact of the matter is, they very well may have possibly done so.  There is no proof that they didn’t record that history which ended up getting lost after thousands of years.  It’s interesting to note however that there are strange correlations in Ancient Chinese legends with the bible.  For example Chinese legend has it that the first humans were formed from clay (or earth) which is how Genesis says the first man Adam was created.  China also has an ancient flood legend where people were destroyed except those who were preserved in a vessel.  Not only China, but all over the world exist flood legends that in some way or another agree with each other.  Although it may be hard to believe that such an event actually occurred, according to our method of figuring out what happened in the ancient past we must accept that there was a global flood in mans history.  Otherwise how could we account for the widespread flood legends existing in many different cultures which had no way to communicate with one an other ?

Most interesting of all however has been the hidden stories that I have come to know about in Chinese characters.  Although there is no actual written history by the ancient Chinese confirming the accounts in Genesis, it is extremely interesting to find that Chinese characters may hold the secrets to the past.  Chinese characters in themselves are like little miniature history books.  By analyzing these characters we can almost have a conversation with the very first Chinese people ie the ones who invented the characters themselves.  Therefore, Chinese characters can give us a glimpse into the most ancient of Chinese history, older than any Chinese book out there because Chinese books were obviously written with Chinese characters and logically the characters are older than any book written using them.

First one must understand how Chinese characters were invented.  They obviously don’t use letters like Latin based languages.  There are 10,000s of different characters in Chinese.  They are made up of various “radicals” or components.  Many of these are very basic like man, water, fire etc.  These different components are then combined in order to convey abstract ideas.  ie it’s very easy to invent a character for “man” or “tree” because you can just draw something that looks like a man or tree and that’s exactly what the ancient Chinese did.  However things got a little tricky when you wanted to create a character to describe a concept or verb ie something non material or abstract for example “rest”.  In order to solve this problem the ancient Chinese just used logic or common knowledge to create characters.  A prime example is the character for “rest” it is simply a man beside a tree.   We can see the logic here that when one was tired he would likely find a tree to rest by as it would give him shade from the sun.  Similarly the character for “good” is a boy and a girl.  We can therefore deduce that the ancient Chinese thought it was “good” to have a son and a daughter.  Further the character for “home” is a pig under a roof, allowing us to know that it was common for ancient Chinese people to have pigs in their houses.   To the chagrin of feminists, the character for “wife” is a woman under a broom.  So obviously the ancient Chinese viewed a wife’s primary duty to be cleaning.

The list of characters and their meanings could go on for hours.  There are many books about this topic which make for a very interesting read.  But what is most intriguing is the characters that seems to support the history recorded in the Bible book of Genesis.  If those stories are true then it is perfectly logical that the ancient Chinese had such stories fresh in their minds, since the Chinese characters would have been invented before Moses actually wrote the book of genesis.  Which means it’s actually possible the Chinese were the first to create a basic written account of mankind’s earliest history.

Take for example the ancient Chinese character for “garden” (we are only referring to traditional characters here of course, simplified characters are a modern alteration and are of no use when trying to understand the minds of the most ancient Chinese people).  The character for “garden” is a square which could be understood as a location and inside that square we see some dust, a mouth and 2 people, the 2nd person appears to be coming from the first person.  This may be the ancient Chinese’s way of telling the story of the “garden” of Eden and the creation of Adam and Eve.  Adam was formed from the “dust” and God used his “mouth” to blow life into the first man.  The second person, Eve, was created from Adam (using his rib) so it could be said that Eve came from Adam.  This story appears to be told in a pictoral way in the ancient Chinese character for “garden”.  Further, the Chinese refer to their wives as their “inner/inside” person, i.e “nei4 ren2”, but the husband is never referred to in this way.  So again we see this concept of the wife coming from “inside” the husband.  So one has to ask himself why did the ancient Chinese choose to create the character for “garden” in this way ?  What was common knowledge back then 1000s of years ago that would strike a chord with other Chinese who would see this character and try to deduce it’s meaning by seeing the components “dust” “mouth” and 2 people ?

Of course such reasoning can never be proven, as the inventors of the Chinese characters and their counterparts are long gone.  However, it also must be admitted that such reasoning and theorizing cannot be dis-proven either and is worth considering based on its logic, just as all ancient history is based on logic and cannot be absolutely proven without a shadow of a doubt.

Some more characters that have strange common characteristics with the Genesis account are as follows.  First of all we have the character for “forbid/ban” it consists of 2 trees and the radical for “show/indicate”.  According to Genesis the first time humans were ever forbidden from doing something is when they were forbidden from eating from one of the two special trees in the garden ie the tree of knowledge.   This “2 trees” theme is found in other characters.  For example the character for “devil” consists of the radical meaning location or place, and in the location or place there are the 2 trees and the radical for “ghost”.  So we ask ourselves why did the first Chinese person think that a ghost in a certain location where there were 2 trees have anything to do with a “devil” ?  The next character is “greed” which consists of 2 trees and something else, can you guess it ?  Who was the first greedy person in human history according to Genesis ?  It was Eve and she was a woman, hence the character for “greed” is a woman underneath 2 trees.

Next we have the character for “naked” which is actually written in a few different ways however they all have 1 common radical in all of them which is “fruit”.  So what does fruit have to do with nudity ?  In the Genesis account it wasn’t until after they had eaten the forbidden fruit that they realized they were naked.   In the Genesis account nakedness and fruit are closely linked, the same as they are in the Chinese character for nudity, why ?  Perhaps we will never know.

Next we have the character for “righteousness”.  It consists of the character of “me” below a “sheep”.  It paints the mental picture of someone holding a sheep above their head.   In the Genesis account the very first righteous man was Abel and he was famous for sacrificing a sheep to God.  The sheep held above the head could easily be understood as giving the sheep to the sky or sacrificing it to above.  So why did the early chinese think it was righteous to hold a sheep up to the sky ?

Now we come to the flood.  The Genesis account says that 8 people survived the flood.  The Chinese character for flood has the radical for “water” (of course) and the number 8 in the bottom right corner.  Further, the character for “boat” has the radical for “ship” and “8” and “mouth” ie 8 mouths or 8 people.  Striking resemblance to the Genesis account.  What is more is the Chinese have a famous proverb about “8 immortals crossing the sea each displaying their unique talents”.  The modern meaning and usage of this proverb is that people today have their own unique abilities and can work together to achieve a common goal.  No need to compare our abilities.  Naturally one wonders if this proverb has ancient roots in the flood story.

Finally we have the tower of Babel.  Famous for when God confused the languages of the people.  If this story is true then it would be at this time that the Chinese language (or it’s ancient counterpart) was born.  This is when people apparently started spreading around the earth, of which China wasn’t too far away.  Interestingly the character for “tower” includes the radicals “person”, “one” and “mouth”.  This could easily be understood to mean people having 1 language or “mouth”.  The first tower to built in history was the last time that humans spoke 1 language.  This concept appears to be conveyed in the Chinese character for tower.

Naturally after this point in history the Genesis account and Chinese history part ways as the Chinese leave Babylon with their new language but with the same memories and history that everyone else has.  It looks possible that this history, which would have been common knowledge to the very first Chinese, may have played an influence on some of their character creations as those concepts would have made logical sense to those ancient Chinese.  Today, we can only speculate as to whether this is true or not.  Either way, it’s a very interesting, mysterious coincidence.

Jan 01 2010

Chinese Asking Personal Questions

Living in China has enabled me for the first time in my life experience “culture shock”.  I had heard about this and thought I had experienced it when I moved from Canada to the UK.  But now that I have lived here I truly know what it is.

There are so many things about life here that is entirely different from what I am used to.  One thing that any foreigner will notice about life in China is the lack of “personal space” and privacy.

It’s very common for Chinese people to ask what us westerners would consider “personal questions”.  Things like “how much money do you make?”, “how much did your …. cost ?” etc.  Financial matters are normally a very private and personal thing in the west, but not here.  They ask each other these questions all the time and us foreigners are even more interesting as they are curious about our financial matters.

If you are a woman you will be asked “how old are you?”, “are you married?” – questions normally that are inappropriate to ask complete strangers.  You may even be asked “how much do you weigh?”.  I am not actually sure what questions are considered inappropriate here.  Maybe anything can be asked of anyone, I am not sure.

In any event, if a Chinese person asks you a question that you think is too personal don’t take offense.  It’s just what they do.  If it happens outside of China you could kindly inform them that such questions aren’t appropriate as they likely have no idea and you can save them any future embarassment.  If you are inside of China you won’t be able to change everyone but you could still explain that such questions are personal in your culture and you’d prefer not to answer.  Just don’t take offense if you are asked something you’ve never been asked before.

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