Chinese Characters


Main meanings:

①base; foundation.

②basic, key; primary.

HSK - 4




Elements  ----  basket 其 + earth 土. Phonetic series - 其.

The original meaning was the foundation of a wall, and also of a city. The JGW pictogram shows a basket (with offerings) and the image of a phallus. The phallus could refer to the god of the soil, the shè 社 represented as a phallus, the original owner of all lands; to which men must present offerings before occupy a new place. A phallus later changed to earth, interpreted as baskets 其 of earth 土 used to make the foundation of a building.

Main Words:

①base; foundation.

基础 jīchǔ base; foundation.
基地 jīdì base.
根基 gēnjī foundation; basis.
基金 jījīn fund; endowment.
基因 jīyīn gene.

②basic, key; primary.

基本 jīběn basic; fundamental; main.
基层 jīcéng  basic level; primary level.

Discussion and sources

The old shape of this character is the one shown in Wang Benxing and other Oracle Bone Characters’ books. It the book the two elements (basket and phallus) are perfectly distinguished. The other characters of this series, possibly related to a religious ceremony in which the basket has the role of carrier of offerings, made me thing in a foundational ceremony.

Wang Benxing (王本兴). Dictionary of the Oracle Bone Characters (甲骨文字典). Beijing Handicrafts and Arts Publishing House. Beijing. 2010.

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