Boat thingy

Karlgren: Analytic Dictionary of Chinese and Sino-Japanese

The character for boat is the last character in the list on the left. The first columns are the modern Mandarin and modern Cantonese pronunciations. The third column is Karlgren's reconstruction of the pronunciation for Middle Chinese. The column where the first character is < and then a character is Karlgren's reconstructed initial for the pronunciation of the characters shown for Old Chinese. An explanation of the characters are shown in English on the right.


This is the character for drain as given in Shuowen. Shuowen is an abbreviation for ShuoWen JieZi, which was originally written between 100 AD and 121 AD by Xu Shen. It contains some 9353 entries with each character given in Small Seal form and a meaning and an etymology given. This book came after the Qin Dynasty work by Li Si, (the minister to First Emperor of China), called XiaoZhuan. Xiaozhuan is known through commentary as containing around 3300 characters. In the three hundred years that spanned the two periods, the number of characters had tripled.

The etymology clearly says that the character means a gully or ditch.


This comes from the Song Dynasty rhyme dictionary Guangyun. It is one of the texts which have been used to reconstruct Middle Chinese pronunciations. In this edition, the work is annotated by the modern scholar Yu NaeWing, where he gives the initial dz the -3 refers to the type of rhyme (not shown).

Note the alternate or variant character for boat.


This is the meaning given in GuangYun for the gully character.

KangXi Dictionary

KangXi Dictionary was finished in 1716 and took 5 years to complete. It gathered over 47000 character enteries under 214 significs (radicals).

The gully character is shown with it's ancient form, as given in seal script form under Shuowen also. The cartouche like references are titles to works which KangXi sources.

KangXi again

This are the seal characters for this gully character which appear above the entry in Kangxi.

KangXi - boat entry

The entry for boat is rather verbose.

Four Styles of Chinese Calligraphy

The same character can be written in different styles. Note that /\ can be hand written as \/.

ShuoWen JieZi - Duan YuCai

Shuowen has many versions. Duan Yucai was a Qing Dynasty scholar who systematically worked through the whole of Shuowen. His aim was to fix the correct form of the XiaoZhuan or Small Seal character forms. He also gives some commentary about the character, its etymology and pronunciation.

The character for boat is here.

The same source, but for the gully character.


These entries come from Shuowen in the Song Dynasty edition for the entry for boat and other vessels.

The gully character from the same source.

XinZiDian - New Character Dictionary

A modern dictionary, shows that there are variants of the same character.

Dictionary for Seal Carving

I've a passing interest in seal carving, and a dictionary of seal forms is quite useful. Note that there are some empty gaps. The leftmost column is missing, that is the modern kaishu or regular form. In the scan, we see the XiaoZhuan or Small seal form, three different seal forms, a form found on bronzes (Jinwen) and the right most column being the oracle bone type form. Note there isn't an oracle bone form of the boat character.

© Dylan W.H. Sung.

The above scans are taken as fair use for the discussion of this particular character.