Bushou (Kangxi radicals)


K'ang-hsi classification of characters

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Introduction The most commonly used dictionary classification method is the K'ang-hsi or bushou, a classification system based upon the logical composition of Chinese characters. Every characters is classified into one of 214 bushou or K'ang-hsi keys. These 214 radicals have a standardised numbering system as show in the chart.

Radical chart

How to look up a character

  1. First you need to determine what under what key the character is classified.
  2. Then you can click on chart which brings you to a new screen specifically for that bushou key enabling you indicate how many residual strokes the character has.
  3. Count the number of strokes necessary to complete the character without counting the strokes for the bushou or radical itself.
  4. Indicate the number of residual strokes in the selection box.
  5. Continue completing the search form by modifying the output data section or keep the default settings.
  6. Click Search to start your query.
Example 1 For example, the character can be decomposed to radical 64 () and phonetic , having 4 residual strokes. To search in the dictionary click the chart on radical 64 and select the number of residual strokes 4 in the next page. This will display all hits, including the one you are looking for.
Example 2 Likewise the character can be found under radical 213 with 17 residual strokes for the remainder . Select radical 213 in the radical chart and in the next page select 17 for the residual strokes.
More info Besides phonetic classifications by sound, Chinese/Japanese/Korean dictionaries can be arranged according various logical classifications such as character composition (e.g. bushou), character stroke buildup (e.g. four corner), or artificial classifications (e.g. Cangjie). Most popular is the arrangement according K'ang-hsi radicals or bushou. Chinese characters can be logographically decomposed into a meaning element and a phonetic element. The meaning element can be disposed by logical series, under keys called radicals (bushou), according to the number of character strokes. The Shuowen was the first lexicon thus disposed. The K'ang-hsi dictionary also contained 214 of such keys and this system is still in use today. The remainder of the character is generally indicated by counting the remainder of the character strokes (without radical).
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