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Mysterious Chinese Characters (4): Yi — Justice, Honesty, Loyalty

Character- Yi

Character- Yi

The symbol (義) has broad inner content, and includes values such as justice, honesty, loyalty and reliability. It is composed of 羊 (sheep) on top and 我 (I, myself) on the bottom. The sheep is obedient and kind, and mutton tastes good and is nutritious.

Given those characteristics, the sheep was considered to be a symbol for good luck and prosperity. “我” was originally developed from the oracle bone script where it denoted a fighting implement with a sharp tooth. 我 and 羊 going to together to make 義 can be interpreted literally to signify “I am a sheep.”

It means that it is possible to make sacrifices in the name of justice, similar to sacrificing a sheep to honor the gods. The Chinese character 義 reminds people how they should be conduct their lives, that is, selflessly. 義 belongs to a special category of ideograms, called huiyi characters (multiple meanings brought together); they are composed of ideograms with different meanings and their inner contents are a fusion of the several meanings.

The Epochtimes



One thought on “Mysterious Chinese Characters (4): Yi — Justice, Honesty, Loyalty

  1. I think this character rather refers to the rural-culture origins of justicie in all legal systems…. at the end the first forms of justice were always refered to sheep and other basic disputes, where the role of justice was to decide what belonged to who, thus this combination meaning MY SHEEP.. as justice being made… Likewise, esthetically, it looks quite well centered, and the sign is almost symetrical on both sides.. meaning justice is at the middle … Regards, Emmanuel

    Posted by Emmanuel A. Cárdenas R. | May 16, 2009, 7:38 pm


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