Chinese characters were created over 3,000 years ago in a prehistoric, magical time. The Chinese were interested in the origins of the characters from an early age. This is documented in the shuowen jiezi, the first dictionary of Chinese characters. It was compiled by the scholar Xu Shen during the Han Dynasty, around AD 100, and published in 121. The shuowen jiezi records and explains 9,353 characters and provides information on their origins.
In the meantime, the level of knowledge has increased considerably through recent excavations and we gain an insight into the magical thinking of early cultures through the history of the origins of the signs.
Together with Rosi Ventre, I made an animation for the example of the character 顕 “appear” (Chinese xian, Japanese KEN). Run animation.