Issue No 6: May 2003
Research growth continues
Quick reaction to SARS
Translation strategies lead to Chinese version of Buddhism
Database of 35 million characters helps scholars and writers
Confucius’ poetry collection delivers insights into symbolism
3D model smoothes problems in creating ultra-precision surfaces
Nano views of electrolyte behaviour
Sun block ‘skin’ applied to textiles
Greater efficiency for clean building formula
Spin-offs from world’s smallest nanotube
New generation of electrical ceramics

The classic Book of Poetry compiled by philosopher Confucius from ancient Chinese text has given Hong Kong researchers insights into the significance of animal symbolism found on bronze vessels dating back more than 3,000 years ago.
“Contrary to what might be expected,” said co-Principal Investigator Dr Shun- yee Ho from The University of Hong Kong, “the ox rather than the dragon was the most important animal symbol in ancient China.” In the period between the 1100 and 600 BC covering the Zhou Dynasty, the Chinese worshipped a single High God of the heavens, Dr Ho explained. An ox was often sacrificed “to bring wealth and blessing” as in harvests and battle; and “in gratitude” for plenty and fortune.
The more than 300 poems compiled by Confucius were first transmitted orally and then written on bamboo sticks in ancient Chinese text. Today they are written in modern characters but it is still possible to see how the ancient character evolved, said Dr Ho.
Co-PI with Dr Ho is Dr Cecilia Chan from City University of Hong Kong.
Their research reveals that the ox represented four main meanings:
As a precious gift to the High God to express gratitude for rain, food, wealth, children and all the good things in life.
As a medium of communication between the spiritual and human worlds.
To delight the spirits.
Expectations of blessings from the High God.

Co-Principal Investigators
Dr Cecilia Y H Chan :
Dr Shun-yee Ho :

How characters for fish and ox evolved from symbols to ancient and moden text