One of My Favorite Chinese Characters

March 29, 2017 Updated: May 20, 2017

One of the Chinese characters I like most is 安 (an), which refers to safety, peace, serenity, comfort, and consolation.

安 (an) is simple, but it has philosophy within. It brings resonance to people from all backgrounds and cultures.

In the lower part of the character sits a female, the character 女, in a traditional Chinese kneeling and sitting posture. The upper part is the radical 宀, symbolizing the roof of a house.

The woman is sitting comfortably in her own home. Perhaps that is the moment when she feels safest and most serene.

The image on the left is the Chinese Character 安 (an) in oracle bone script.  (Courtesy of NTD Television)
The image on the left is the Chinese Character 安 (an) in oracle bone script.
(Courtesy of NTD Television)

However old we are, when we recall coming home from school in our childhood, we remember Mom at home awaiting our return. It was a comforting image that gave us peace of mind.

In the character 安 (an) written in oracle bone script, we see the classic posture and demeanor of a woman in the eyes of ancient Chinese people, with both hands resting on the knees, transmitting peace and a message of ease.

Modern Chinese women, however, carry a very different disposition and bearing. If Cangjie, the inventor of Chinese script, were still alive, I don’t know how he would describe a woman.

The theory of equality for both sexes went to the extreme in China after the communists took power.

Through systematic job assignments all controlled by the government, women have been forced to pick up professions which were traditionally dominated by men, such as butchering, mining, construction work, and truck driving, to name a few. The workloads of these jobs have far exceeded women’s natural abilities, both physically and mentally.

 Edited by Sally Appert

Read More