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Chinlingo Chinese character: 父 (fù)

It is hand shadow time!

Guess what is it in the hand? A prize to get!!!

A carrot?


An ice cream?


A bottle of water!?


Actually, it is an axe! The most important instrument of labor in the Stone Age! The image of holding an axe profiles an ancient Chinese character: 父 (fù). 



"父" originally referred to "a laboring man". Since the patrilineal society, the laboring man had become "a male with children", or "father" indeed.


"爸爸" is the oral and affectionate appellation of "父" or "父亲", which is used in writing to show respect.


Speaking of "父亲", what comes into your mind first will surely not be the strange pictographic character you saw above.


There are brilliant images of "父亲" presented by the media in their massive reports, like David Beckham, the handsome British footballer who has deep affection for his children, and Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, who set up a foundation for his daughter after her birth.



However, you can also get impressed by such "父亲" in the world: They are honest, kind and hard working. They love their children as well. They are not born handsome, or elegantly dressed. They are deprived of the eminent social status. They are still great despite of being common, at least, they are loved and respected by their children.  


The above picture is an oil painting titled Father, a piece of work by Luo Zhongli, an oil painter from Chongqing.


The father is a typical Chinese farmer.


After years of primitive and heavy farm work, his hands are fully marked with scars, and his face is weathered with deep wrinkles.


He is neither handsome nor decent, but doesn't look unhappy either.


He spends all of his life on farming and pinches pennies in his limited earnings. His knitted brows and sunken eyes reveal the hardships and heavy burdens on Chinese farming fathers.  


Fathers' genes and characters shape their children. Based on the biological characteristic, "父亲" is used figuratively to mean "the founder of a great cause". For example, "民主之父" (mín zhǔzhī fù) means "father of democracy". We can say "Sun Yat-sen is the father of democracy in China".

父亲的基因和性格造就了下一代。汉语也巧妙借助这一生物特征来形容某项伟大事业的开创者。比如,汉语词组,"民主之父(dǎo dàn zhī fù )"。我们可以说"孙中山先生是中国民主之父。"

In the Han-culture families, male peers or seniors of "父亲" are obliged to raise their own children and support the families as well. Thus, appellations of male sibs suffixed with "父" have been derived, like "姨父" (yí fù, husband of mother's sister), "姑父" (ɡū fù, husband of father's sister), "叔父" (shū fù, father's younger brother), "岳父" (yuè fu, wife's father) and "祖父" (zǔ fù, father's father).

在汉文化的家族中,与"父亲"同辈或更高一辈有子女的男性,同样负有生儿育女,肩抗生计的属性。因此,在汉语中,男性亲属的名称以"父"为词根派生出了, "姨父(yí fù )"、"姑父(ɡū fu )"、"叔父(shū fù )"、"岳父(yuè fu )"、"祖父(zǔ fù)"等等词语。

In modern China, there are fewer and fewer people engaged in the primitive work. It is hard for one to associate the image of "父" with the laboring tool. However, wherever "父亲" is and whatever job he takes, he is always your unique love!




[Original Meaning] laboring men

1. 有子女的男性。

Man who has his own children

2. 尊称男性长辈。

Honorific for a male senior

3. 某项事业的开创者。

Founder of a cause 

The article is translated and editted by Chinlingo. Please indicate the source for any use, reproduction or transfer. 



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