The King (王) of Chinese Characters

'King' is written '王' and pronounced 'wáng.' (Image: Vision Times)
'King' is written '王' and pronounced 'wáng.' (Image: Vision Times)

Kings ruled societies in ages past. Just a few centuries ago, a hundred thousand kings ruled a hundred thousand kingdoms on Earth. China, too, was a land of kings. The emperor was the supreme king, but not every period in history had an emperor. Those were the times dominated by kings.

If you want to understand the rule of kings, you must understand the Chinese concept of a king. This concept can be learned by understanding the way Chinese people write the word for “king.” “King” is written “王” and pronounced “wáng.”

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“王” evolved from a pictograph in ancient Chinese oracle bone script. It’s a depiction of a giant standing on the ground, but this inferred a giant of distinguished virtue, knowledge, and character. (Image: VisionTimes)

“王” evolved from a pictograph in ancient Chinese oracle bone script. It’s a depiction of a giant standing on the ground, but this inferred a giant of distinguished virtue, knowledge, and character. The top horizontal stroke symbolizes Heaven, the Heaven that always stands above the king. The middle and bottom horizontal strokes symbolize humankind and Earth. Together, the three strokes symbolize what is known as the three realms: Earth, humankind, and Heaven. The vertical stroke indicates that kings are mediators between these realms. It’s their divine mission to establish order on Earth for humans. As you can probably see, there are multiple layers of meaning.

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