The Money Cowrie in Chinese Characters

The entire Chinese culture is IN the Chinese characters. As I dig deeper into them, I get more fascinated each day because I uncover all that make up who I am, what I’ve been taught in my childhood by the people around me, the festivals I have celebrated all my life without really knowing how they came about and why on earth certain things were said and done and why they are explicitly not done.

The Chinese people, and by this, I encompass the Chinese race, are very good at maths, accounts, counting & calculating. Without a doubt, they do very well in any trade. As a race, they keep records and also records of wrongdoings as they make an example of what not to follow in the 成語 (idioms in 4 characters) that best describes them. I for one, don’t like Maths, hate accounts even more and can’t for the life of me, keep record of what others have borrowed or what I’ve spent on. (More on idioms in my next article. I had spent countless hours trying to rebuild my website that got hacked several weeks back in the midst of my studies and assignments so please bear with me.)

Then I discovered the word and radical (bèi) which means shellfish or cowrie and currency. In ancient times, money cowrie (Cypraea moneta) was used as a trading currency (money) in the shipping trade routes from Tarshish all along the way to China. So no surprise there that any word that has to do with buying/selling or monies and any association with it, had a in it! Look at the word – buy, – sell, – fees, – resources, – price, – shopping, – luck, fortune, – goods, supplies, – to bear/shoulder, – debt, – responsibility, – precious, – expensive, – substance, 貿 – trade, – reward/award, – loan, borrow/lend, – profit/gain, earn, – greed and many more. Of the words listed, the character for debt, contains a person and responsibility, denoting the debt comes with the obvious burden of the inflicted self! Even substance and greed stems from this ‘money!’

While I love the idea of 購物 (shopping) being described, what resonates with me is the word (reward, award) that comes with 負擔 (bearing the burden). I see how God had kept the generations recorded through the characters that were formed long before there were these sophisticated words. And He is teaching me about the origins of finances and the burden of life through this money cowrie (mollusc/shell) that I can identify with being someone who has carved out a profession working in the ocean. Each of these discoveries make me want to learn more and I hope it inspires you to take up Chinese so that we can do this discovery together! The next time I see a money cowrie when I go diving, I am going to call it 我的主的寶貝教育– my Lord’s precious education! #Taiwan #Mandarin501 #Chinese #characters #nolongerbanana #nowmango #謝謝林老師

Category: Must Read
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