I've always been curious about the process of simplifying 蘭 to 兰. I'm not really familiar with the simplification process, but this one is shocking to me. From what I've seen (I've studied only simplified characters), it's usually easy for me to recognize the similarities between traditional and simplified characters. But here, there appears to be no common basis at all.

  • What exactly is your question?
    – Alf
    Jun 1, 2012 at 4:23
  • I'm wondering why it's so drastically different. It's different in two ways (to my eye, having learned simplified): 1) The simplified has markedly fewer characters, not just a simplified radical 2) The simplified bears no resemblance to the tradition. It's like a completely different character. Jun 2, 2012 at 4:30

2 Answers 2


Like a few other simplifications, 兰 is derived from the grass script for the traditional form. The first three strokes are derived from the 草字头 (the grass radical).

Various character forms can be seen on this site.

  • Never knew there was a calligraphy database thingy. Nice to know. Jun 25, 2012 at 13:56

One thing that's frustrating about this particular simplification is that it's not consistent:

蘭 -- 兰

闌 -- 阑

What about all the character which have (no grass radical) as a component? Some of them are consistent with the simplification of 闌 -- 阑:

瀾 -- 澜

斕 -- 斓

襴 -- 襕

讕 -- 谰

鑭 -- 镧

Others replace the component with the simplification of :

欄 -- 栏

爛 -- 烂

攔 -- 拦

This doesn't make any sense to me. I think the nicest thing I can say is that there are some ancient character variants ( and ) where these simplifications make sense.

  • 1
    i've been greatly irked by the inconsistencies in the /lan/ characters more than once. my guess is that it is the result of a design by committee—that the 文字改革委員會 couldn't agree on this character field and resorted to a call for raised hands character by character. the result is stupidifying. adding to this, the 柬 component gets simplified in 拣炼练 but not when standing alone or appearing in e.g. 阑. this is crazy.
    – flow
    Dec 16, 2013 at 12:59
  • Other examples of inconsistency: 盧->卢,鱸->鲈,but 蘆-> 芦 and 驢->驴
    – ltux
    Jan 6, 2020 at 7:10

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