3

Seal script inscription on an ancestral shrine

Hi, this four character inscription is on an ancestral altar which contains two spirit tablets. I am unsure of the more modern equivalents of these characters and would be grateful for any assistance.

4

as @drooze revealed, it's "孝思維則"

reading from right to left:

孝: http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/lexi-mf/search.php?word=孝

思: http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/lexi-mf/search.php?word=思

維: http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/lexi-mf/search.php?word=維

則: http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/lexi-mf/search.php?word=則

the verse is original from 詩經 大雅 文王之什 下武:

成王之孚

下土之式

永言孝思

孝思維則

the ctext.org has a translation:

He secured the confidence due to a king,

And became a pattern of all below him.

Ever thinking how to be filial,

His filial mind was the model [which he supplied].

https://ctext.org/book-of-poetry/xia-wu

4

The characters are 孝思維則, which comes from a line in a poem called 《下武》 in the anthology Classic of Poetry - Major Court Hymns.

《詩經・大雅・下武》:「永言孝思,孝思維則

As an idiomatic expression removed from the context of the poem, this translates to:

[Man] must forever abide by filial piety, for filial piety is the moral code [of Man].


enter image description here

「孝」(Baxter-Sagart OC: /*qʰˤuʔ-s/ > Middle Chinese: /hˠauH/, Fanqie: 呼敎切, filial piety) is composed of

  • 「老」(Baxter-Sagart OC: /*C.rˤuʔ/ > MC: /lɑuX/, Fanqie: 盧晧切, old), both a semantic and a phonetic component;
  • 「子」(child), a semantic component.

「老」was later abbreviated to「耂」, as seen in the transition between forms A1 and A2.

A1
西周

enter image description here
曶鼎
集成2838
A2


enter image description here
郭・語3・61
 
A3


enter image description here
說文解字
 
A4


enter image description here
102
 
A5
現代

enter image description here

 


「老」was originally a depiction of an old, hunched person with unkempt hair grasping a walking cane. The cane later detached from the character (transitioning from B1-B2) and changed to the shape of「匕」(form B2 onwards).

B1


enter image description here
8896
合集22246
B2


enter image description here
2.2.6
合集36416
B3
西周

enter image description here
殳季良父壺
集成9713
B4


enter image description here
睡・雜32
 
B5
現代

enter image description here

 


「子」depicts a young child.

C1


enter image description here
2903
合集20576
C2


enter image description here
包2・66
 
C3


enter image description here
睡・秦62
 
C4
現代

enter image description here

 

enter image description here

「思」(Baxter-Sagart OC: /*[s]ə/ > MC: /sɨ/, Fanqie: 息兹切, to think about / to miss) is composed of

  • 「囟」(Baxter-Sagart OC: /*[s]ə[r]-s/ > MC: /siɪnH/, Fanqie: 息晉切), a phonetic component;
  • 「心」(heart/mind), a semantic component.

The original form of the character is「恖」; in this character,「囟」was later merged into the shape of「田」, which is easily identifiable in the image.

D1
戰國

enter image description here
五年龏令思
集成11348
D2


enter image description here
睡・為49
 
D3
現代

enter image description here

 


「心」depicted a heart. The heart chambers later became exaggerated (E1-E2), then heavily abbreviated (E5 onwards).

E1


enter image description here
3510
合集6
E2
西周

enter image description here
史墻盤
集成10175
E3


enter image description here
包2・218
 
E4


enter image description here
說文解字
 
E5


enter image description here
上尊號奏
 
E6
現代

enter image description here

 

enter image description here

「維」(Baxter-Sagart OC: /*ɢʷij/ > MC: /jiuɪ/, Fanqie: 以追切, to bind/tie > to maintain/preserve) is composed of

  • 「糸」(fine silk), a semantic component;
  • 「隹」(Baxter-Sagart OC: /*ɢʷij/), a phonetic component.

/*ɢʷij/ for「隹」is a lost phonetic line; the current pronunciation derives from /*tur/ > /t͡ɕiuɪ/, 職追切.

F1
春秋

enter image description here
蔡侯墓殘鐘
集成224
F2


enter image description here
說文解字
 
F3


enter image description here
123
 
F4
現代

enter image description here

 


「糸」depicts fine silk threads.

G1


enter image description here
京津4487
合集28401
G2


enter image description here
說文解字
 
G3
現代

enter image description here

 


「隹」depicts a bird.

H1


enter image description here
660
合集2317
H2
戰國

enter image description here
陳侯午敦
集成4647
G3


enter image description here
說文解字
 
G4
現代

enter image description here

 

enter image description here

「則」(patterns > norms/rules) is composed of

  • 「鼎」(cauldron), a semantic component;
  • 「刀・刂」(knife), a semantic component.

The structure「則」originally described the carving of patterns onto bronzeware. Later on,「鼎」was abbreviated into「貝」, which is easily identifiable in the image.

J1
西周

enter image description here
曶鼎
集成2838
J2
春秋

enter image description here
曾子𡱵簠
集成4528
J3


enter image description here
說文解字
 
J4


enter image description here
睡・日甲39
 
J5
現代

enter image description here

 


「刀・刂」depicts a knife.

K1


enter image description here
3092
合集20349
K2


enter image description here
說文解字
 
K3


enter image description here
睡・日甲26
 
K4
現代

enter image description here

 


References:

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