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This energy flow is a fundamental concept of traditional Asian culture.氣 is romanized as "Qi" or "Chi" in Chinese, "Gi" in Korean, and "Ki" in Japanese.Chi is believed to be part of everything that exists, as in "life force" or "spiritual energy". It is most often translated as "energy flow", or literally as "air" or "breath". Some people will simply translate this as "spirit" but you have to take into consideration the kind of spirit we"re talking about. I think this is weighted more toward energy than spirit.The character itself is a representation of steam (or breath) rising from rice. To clarify, the character for rice looks like this:
Steam was apparently seen as visual evidence of the release of "life energy" when this concept was first developed. The Qi / Chi / Ki character is still used in compound words to mean steam or vapor.The etymology of this character is a bit complicated. It"s suggested that the first form of this character from bronze script (about 2500 years ago) looked like these samples:
However, it was easy to confuse this with the character for the number three. So the rice radical was added by 221 B.C. (the exact time of this change is debated). This first version with the rice radical looks like this:
The idea of Qi / Chi / Ki is really a philosophical concept. It"s often used to refer to the "flow" of metaphysical energy that sustains living beings. Yet there is much debate that has continued for thousands of years as to whether Qi / Chi / Ki is pure energy, or consists partially, or fully of matter.You can also see the character for Qi / Chi / Ki in common compound words such as Tai Chi / Tai Qi, Aikido, Reiki and Qi Gong / Chi Kung.In the modern Japanese Kanji, the rice radical has been changed into two strokes that form an X.
The original and traditional Chinese form is still understood in Japanese but we can also offer that modern Kanji form in our custom calligraphy. If you want this Japanese Kanji, please click on the character to the right, instead of the “Select and Customize” button above.
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More language notes: This is pronounced like “chee” in Mandarin Chinese, and like “key” in Japanese.This is also the same way to write this in Korean Hanja where it is Romanized as “gi” and pronounced like “gee” but with a real G-sound, not a J-sound.Though Vietnamese no longer use Chinese characters in their daily language, this character is still widely known in Vietnam.