Op verzoek van Irene ;-)

(uit The Yak, second edition…)

The name of the yak – a historical

In the Tibetan language, yak is pronounced as “yag”; although
in that form, it usually applies to the yak bull – with dri the
equivalent Tibetan term for the female yak. Other languages follow this name
closely. This use of the same name in numerous languages is considered
The ancient Chinese people called the animal Ya Niu. In
the Shang dynasty (before 3 000 B.C.), yak was vividly written as
, denoting the yak’s large body,
outstretched horns, long hair and big tail. In time, the name was reduced to a
word pronounced as “ya”. Later still, this was mispronounced as “mao” – and many
homophones began to appear after the Qin and Han dynasties. These words referred
not only to the yak but also to yak hair products (because
mao means “hair” in Chinese).
Some people wrote , pronounced “mao”,
as , pronounced “li”, and then called
the yak Li Niu. The tiny alteration in the script led to a change of
name. And this provides an interesting object lesson for good handwriting! A
distinction between Li and Mao to denote yak was first made in the
Compendium of materia medica, published by Li Shizhen in 1578. Li
was said to live in the mountains and denoted the wild yak, while Mao
was used to denote the domestic yak (Li Ruimin, 1986).

  • Irene zei: Gee whiz. :-)