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Is Held And In Whose Hand? An Etymological Reexamination Of Shi

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Chapter Summary

The reading of shi as a hand holding a text emerged from the Qing dynasty as a skepticism against the age-old definition given in Xu Shen's Explanation of Graphs and Analysis of Characters. Although Xu?s abstraction represents an advanced political and historiographic ideal from the spring and autumn period, it could not satisfy the Qing philologists. It is now generally believed that the upper portion of shi differs from zhong in their ways of writing, particularly because in the middle of zhong is a rectangular, circle, or oval instead of a mouth-shaped symbol. When Chen Mengjia?s article on shi first appeared in the mid- 1930s, Darwinism and Marxism were prevalent in China. With Marxism established as the state ideology in communist China, most mainland scholars maintain that the object in grasp is a means of production as well as a weapon used in territorial expansion.

Keywords: Qing dynasty; Shi; Xu Shen; Zhong



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