Thanks to me unexpectedly* contracting Covid on my trip abroad and having my holiday reduced to a confinement in a very expensive hotel on the equator, Hanzi of the day is back with a new edition! Today's topic is a bit biblical in nature as it includes chalices filled with blood.

* Not really unexpectedly, as my astronomically bad luck has recently raised a dispute among senior statistitians regarding the notion of Independence in probability theory.

Blood Chalice
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20)"

Today's character blood xuè is actually just a chalice mǐn with a single drop of animal blood in it. Originally the logogram 血 depicts a bronze container with animal blood used in ritual sacrifice. The two characters never lose their connection through the centuries and have evolved in parallel:

Character Evolution
I wish I could say no animals were harmed in the making of these characters, but the leftmost script is oracle bone script, and no, it's not called like that because of oracles using their own bones.

The concept of animal sacrifice is pretty much universal across cultures. Evidence of it exist in:

  • Prehistoric Ancient Egypt.
  • It features prominantly in all of the Abrahamic religions.
  • It's common across the vast majority of pagan religions (For example the Celtic people).
  • And of course, it appears in Ancient China, where the value of each animal sacrifice was formalised in a strict hierachical structure. Thanks Confucious, really not sure what we would've done without it.

Now, the best part of it all is that nowadays we do have a mass produced 3D version of the 血 character, which conveniently serves as a mnemonic for Chinese learners across the globe:

Diva Cup
That's what those are for, right?

Don't catch Covid on your holidays... Or at all.


Image sources: pexels pixabay wiktionary wiktionary pexels