The Great King of Chinese Characters

Graphic of a golden crown, a bar of gold, and the Chinese character for 'king', 'wáng.'

'King' is written '王' and pronounced 'wáng.' (Image: Mikel Davis / Nspirement)

Kings ruled societies in ages past. Just a few centuries ago, a hundred thousand kings ruled a hundred thousand kingdoms on Earth. China, too, was a land of kings. The emperor was the supreme ruler, but not every period in history had an emperor. Those were the times dominated by kings and the great king symbol. Thus, the great king of Chinese characters arose.

If you want to understand the rule of kings, you must understand the Chinese concept of a king and the great king.

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This concept can be learned by understanding the way Chinese people write the word “king.” It is written “王” and pronounced “wáng.”

The great king of Chinese characters (王)

How the great king of Chinese characters came about.
The great king symbol, “王” evolved from a pictograph in ancient Chinese oracle bone script. It’s a depiction of a giant standing on the ground, but this inferred a giant of distinguished virtue, knowledge, and character. (Image: via VisionTimes)

“王” evolved from a pictograph in ancient Chinese oracle bone script. It is a depiction of a giant standing on the ground, but this inferred a giant of distinguished virtue, knowledge, and character.

The top horizontal stroke symbolizes Heaven, the Heaven that always stands above the king. The middle and bottom horizontal strokes symbolize humankind and Earth.

Together, the three strokes symbolize what is known as the three realms: Earth, humankind, and Heaven. The vertical stroke indicates that kings are mediators between these realms.

It’s their divine mission to establish order on Earth for humans. As you can see, there are multiple layers of meaning.

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