T of C 
Qin as
Qin in
/ Song
Analysis History Ideo-
Personal email me search me
Brief Introduction to the Guqin 首頁
Best of Luck for the Year of the Dog: 2018 年大吉=狗年大吉
Music: At Cock's Crow Going through the Pass1 (a dog had barked)2 Image from 毛詩名物圖說3

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Music: Opening phrase of the guqin melody At Cock's Crow Going through the Pass (1525)
This melody was also used for 2017, the Year of the Cock. It is used again here because, as mentioned above, it also relates a dog story.

2. Another dog story
The only other qin melody I have studied that mentions a dog is one of the two surviving versions of Xiangyang Song (Xiangyang Ge). I have not completed my reconstruction of either version but, although the two have what appears to be completely different melodies, they do have a connection. Thus, although the one dated 1579 has no lyrics, the one dated 1618 sets its melody to lyrics by Li Bai, and these lyrics include two phases telling of a man who regrets that he did not stay at home drinking with his yellow dog (中文). These lyrics can, in turn, be paired to the 1579 melody using using the common pairing method.

3. Image: A dog (狗 gou or 犬 quan) and her pups 徐鼎,毛詩名物圖說      
The first character upper left is copied from the top of the page at right; the larger dog illustration can also be seen under the character. In the image at top this character is followed by and sized to three modern characters. As explained in commentary with the book, it is an old form of 犬 quan, meaning dog, the common form of which today is 狗 gou. In general the older forms are more pictorial than newer ones such as 犬. This is also certainly true of the "pups": the smaller figures surrounding the central image; these are actually four other old forms of the character quan3, respectively a seal character, bronze inscription, oracle bone and Chu bamboo slip, as copied from ctext.org.

The book from which the first character and main image were taken, shown at right, is a work by(清)徐鼎 Xu Ting (Qing dynasty) called Commentary on Illustrations from Mao's Edition of the Shi Jing (毛詩名物圖說 Mao Shi Ming Wu Tu Shuo). See Volume 1, p 66 of 82, under Wild Animals (獸 Shou). This work, like the 毛詩品物圖改 Revised Nature Illustrations for Mao's edition of the Book of Songs, purports to illustrate animals as depicted in the Book of Songs.

As for the pictorial nature (or lack thereof) of 犬 , Wieger, 134A, says ,

"The character represents a dog; 拘也,像形. According to tradition, Confucius found the representation a very faithful one: 孔子曰:視犬之字如畫狗也. This induces us to believe that the dogs, in the times of the philosopher, were strange animals."

Given the image at top, perhaps what this does suggest is that Confucius was referring to one of the older forms of the character rather than the more standard 犬.

The online article Dogs in Chinese Culture and Art has interesting information. That article also has a copy of the above image (comparing it to one of a wolf), crediting Berthold Laufer’s Chinese Pottery of the Han Dynasty. For further information it also recommends V.W.F. Collier, Dogs of China and Japan in Nature and Art.

Many people seeing the character at the top left of the greeting card will think it is a form of 龙, which is a simplified version of 龍 long [dragon]). In fact there seems to be some disagreement about this, with online sources actually giving up to four possible interpretations. The four are:

  1. 尨 [lóng]
  2. 尨 [máng]
  3. 尨 [méng]
  4. 尨 [páng]
The first says it is a form of 龍 long, the second says that the character is pronounced "mang" and specifically refers to a hairy dog. In this regard the final words in the paragraph on the right side of the image at right are, "尨, 犬之多毛者也: mang (?): a dog with more hair".

Thanks to Sun Xiaoqing for sending me this reference.