Lily explains 安 like this:
An unmarried girl in ancient Chinese view should be reserved and demure in manner or behavior and stay in her private bedroom most of her day. That’s because women were not allowed to choose the person they married. Instead, the family of the bride picked the prospective husband, and she was for none other than her future husband and his family. So, in her father and future husband’s eyes, the young lady would and must feel at ease and lead a peaceful and calm life in house instead of hanging around on the streets.
Until her marriage day, the woman was allowed to walk out of her boudoir. However, she went nowhere outside to enjoy her own life but stepped in to her husband’s family house and stayed in there. The woman had just gone on with her invariably indoor life, staying at her new home to take care of the husband and the children and do all the housework as well. Therefore, a woman to be placed in a safe and secure house would enable his husband and herself to have domestic harmony and live in peace and contentment.
Reviewer: Eugenio Llorente
Congratulations. I think your site will prove to be a great contribution to Chinese language teaching and learning. However, one must be very careful with etymological interpretations, let me tell you that Lily's interpretation of the Chinese character 安 THE POWERFUL CHINESE SYMBOL FOR PEACE, although I have seen similar interpretation to hers elsewhere, it is far fetched, inaccurate and prone to misinterpretation, and it is subject to be labeled as "politically incorrect". Such interpretation could easily mislead the non-specialist into getting a negative view of Chinese culture. Even if such interpretation were possible, we would have to avoid it, the aim is to learn Chinese characters and getting a positive view of Chinese culture, and not to get a negative view of it, nor bring up a controversy (note that my computer is set for traditional characters and can't give simplified ones).
The etymology, or rather the explanation 解字, of 安:
The 說文解字，explains 安 as: 靖也。从在宀中，會意。(You give: 会意字，从女从在宀(mián)下。)
So we have that 安 means 靖. 靖 means quiet, peaceful,安靜,平安. Furthermore, both the formal and old use of 靖 means "to make tranquil", to pacify, 舊指評定，使秩序安定。Como en a) 綏靖 appease; b) 靖亂, quell a rebellion; and c) 靖邊 pacify a border region.
One could hardly imagine that "imprison" a woman in a hose, could render such positive results, as "making peace".
Accordingly we can give a more accurate, natural and consistent with Chinese traditional interpretation characters, and without any negative connotations. Let's just have a few examples from Chinese etymology authorities on the meaning of 安:
1.- "After a man's marriage, a family is formed, living in peace and contentment. The ancient form of this character depicts a woman sitting on kneeled legs in a room indicating peace".
Picture within a picture, by Shi Zhengyu.
2.- "The ancients used the image of a woman sitting peacefully in a house, signaling there is no war or other disasters and life is quiet and comfortable. Hence its meaning "peaceful", "safe", "easy and comfortable" and "satisfied".
古人用女子靜作家 中操持家務，表示沒有戰爭，沒有災禍，生活過得很平安，很舒適。 所以安字的本以爲安定，安權，安逸，引申為習慣，滿足。
The Composition of Common Chinese Characters, An Illustrated Account by 謝光輝。
3.- "Woman 女 under a roof 宀. Peaceful, tranquil, pacify, console, place, arrange, a surname".
My own simple explanation is that the powerful character for peace, 安, is self evident: a reclining woman under a roof, a house: peace, quiet stability. A woman 女 in a house 宀, that is, when a family can be formed. A woman in a house, a woman, master of the house, a family, children, peace and quiet (the unique prerogative and power of women).
What's more, in Lily's explanation we have male, man 男 (which funnily enough does not appear in the character 安) prevailing over female 女. This is a Western dichotomy sort of thinking. It's very unchinese to oppose contraries. In the Chinese tradition the opposites, the contraries don't contend, but complement each other. That is, woman is of a Yin 陰 nature, while man is of a Yang 陽 one. Yin 陰 (shade) and Yang 陽 (light), 乾 (sky, man) 坤 (earth, woman) are equally powerful. And they are totally depending on each other to subsist.
Congratulations and thank you again for your site.
Eugenio Llorente, from Madrid, Spain.
Come on, if you want to remember stuff you have to spice it up!
The first person to teach me Mandarin, my Taiwanese ex-neighbour (and then consul of Taiwan, so a guy who knows what he's talking about) told me that:
"one woman under the roof is peaceful, but if you have more than one the peace will break..."
Reviewer: Jane Dwight
I just get a square box where a character should be? Do I need more software to access these characters?
I saw the character. I read the history of the character. Until I read the reviewers view of your description did I know that the character meant peace.
Reviewer: Chinh do
Your site is the first site I want to find when start learning Chinese. Thanks.
I WOULD LIKE EASY LEARNING OF MANDARIAN
Reviewer: John Tatum
I enjoyed this...both the first explanation and the reviewer's explanation....a very important character...hey it would be nice if the whole world could understand it!
just one character, and a whole page of explanation:( i prefer latin alphabet, but i have to learn this language for my chinese love...
Reviewer: Fredrik Pettersson
The idea behind this is exactly what I've been searching for! Very valuable. When do you think the coverage of characters will increase to cover more of the frequently used ones?
I'm sure with all this explanations I'll remember it very easy
The first thing that scares anybody who wants to learn Chinese is the complexity of its characters. Your website makes one feel that such fears are unfounded. Great work!
That's raelly shrewd! Good to see the logic set out so well.
Hi Lily and the team. Thanks for taking the effort to explain the meaning of the characters it is much easier to remember them. But I would like to make a small request for other readers. Please can you make the character LARGER?! For someone who speaks Chinese they are easy to read, but for people unfamiliar with the construction of the symbols, they are very small! Thanks again and I will try to persevere!
Tão acabando com a imagem do meu time, cacete. O cara roubou 5 calcinhas e 5 soutiens. Dá prá usar de segunda a sexta-feira. Como ele vai fazer no sábado e domingo? Andar sem roupa de baixo?
This is crytsal clear. Thanks for taking the time!
aajivikako meso milauna muburhamiko baluwama jindagika harafharu koriraheka shramjivi nepali dajubhaiharule bideshma dekhayeko sahityik jagarukta sachhi nai salam garna layakko chha. tapaiharuko prayasle nepali sahityalai euta naya aayam ra naya uchai diyeko chha.subinjiko abhibyakti shaili ramro chha tara kahikahi fela parne barnabinyasko kamjori daatma baluwa lage jasto bhayo. karyakramma bachan gariyeka anya kabitaharu pani sametnu bhayeko bhaye ramro hune thiyo. wish u all the best.