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S049: The Three Forces

49. 三才者

San 1 ts'ai 2 che3

Three force ones 

The Three Forces 

San see title. The three lines of which this character is composed have been said to stand for heaven, earth, and man. 

Ts'ai was originally written as a vertical line dividing two parallel horizontals, and meant vegetation sprouting. It came to mean force, power, talent, and is now classed under radical 手 shou hand. 

Che is composed of 白 tzu (= g see line 46) as radical, and a contraction of 旅 lu a body of 500 men (not a contraction of 老 lao old as in line 41). It is impossible to say what was its original meaning; perhaps a leader of 500 men. It is now a particle imparting various forces, substantival (as here), adjectival, adverbial, etc, to words and phrases, and is classed under radical 老 lao old. For its phonetic value, based probably upon some older sound, see lines 149, 176, 230, 238. 

50. 天地人 

Tien 1 ti4 jen 2 

are Heaven, Earth, and Man. 

Heaven earth man

T'ien is composed of — i one, its original radical, and 大 ta great, its present radical. Originally meaning the top, that which is above, the physical sky, it soon came to mean the invisible Power beyond, God; popularly, the old man in blue clothes. See line 79. 

Ti is composed of 土 t'u earth, soil, as radical, and 也 yeh female, heaven being regarded as male. See line 79. 

Jen see line 1. [When chaos resolved itself into the universe, the lighter gas rose and formed the sky, while the heavier congealed and formed the earth. From the interaction of these two, "the bridal of the earth and sky," all things were produced,of which the chief was man, endowed with reason.] 

51 三光者

San 1 huang 1 che z 

Three bright ones 

The Three Luminaries 

San see title. 

Kuang is composed of  火  huo fire aboveen 人 man ( line 40 )' The former used to be, the latter is now, its radical. 

Che see line 49. 

52. 日月星

Jih4 yueh4 hsing 1  

Sun moon star 

are the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Jih was originally a circle containing an irregular line, and may be regarded as a picture character. It came to be used also in the sense of day. 

Yueh was originally, picture of the crescent moon, which may be faintly traced even in its modern form. It came to be used for lunar month, twelve of which go to the year, the difference between the lunar and solar years being made up by seven intercalary months in nineteen years. 

Hsing was originally 生 sheng to produce as phonetic, with three circles at the points of its then trident-like form. Under a later form these circles became three 日 jih suns, which combination was then the radical of the character. These were reduced to one, its modern radical. It is explained as the pure, ethereal portion of the universe, which rises to heaven and manifests itself as stars.