zāi disaster; calamity

Made up of [ huǒ fire radical 86, mián roof radical 40]


What could be more a potent picture of a disaster? Just 'fire' put under a 'roof' and you have the concept of 'calamity'
Number of strokes: 7

Related characters

Also uses huǒ component: dēng (lamp) kǎo (to roast) miè (to extinguish) pào (cannon) qiú (autumn) zhà (to explode)
Also uses mián component: ān (peace) bǎo (jewel) dìng (to set) fù (rich) gōng (palace) guān (official) hán (cold) jiā (house) kè (customer) nìng (better) róng (to hold) shì (room) shí (real) song (Song) tā (it) xué (cave) yí (proper) yuàn (courtyard) zì (letter)

Different tone

zài (again) zài (exist) zài (to carry)

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Middle Kingdom

The concept of China as center of the civilized world came about in the Zhou dynasty about 3,000 years ago. The dynastic capital at Luoyang, Henan was considered to be the very center with concentric rings of increasing barbarism the further out you traveled. The feeling of the only 'real' civilization centered in China persisted into the 19th century when military superiority of the European 'barbarians' was proved in warfare. There is a deep-rooted feeling that the philosophic traditions developed in the Zhou period are still relevant and still superior to other systems elsewhere.
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Citation information: Chinasage, 'Chinese character zāi 灾 disaster', , Web, http://www.chinasage.info/chars/fch_zai_disaster.htm.

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