||*sreːl, *srel, *sri
Phono-semantic compound (形聲, OC *sri): semantic 犭 (“dog; beast”) + phonetic 師 (OC *sri).
Originally written as 師. Earliest written attestations in the Eastern Han era include the Book of Han [before 111], the surviving portion of the Dongguan Hanji [c. 150], and Lokakṣema's translation of the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā . The term is possibly of Iranian origin. In the Book of Han, the lion was described as indigenous to the historical 烏弋山離 (OC *qaː lɯɡ sreːn rel, “Alexandria”), possibly Alexandria Prophthasia (Yu, 1998), which was part of the Parthian Empire at the time. The Dongguan mentions a lion as a gift from the Shule Kingdom in the year 133, where a Saka language was spoken then. Earlier definite dates associated with the lion mentioned in the Book of the Later Han include the year 87, when a gift lion from the Yuezhi was recorded.
Compare Proto-Iranian *cárguš (“lion”). Possibly related to 狻猊 (OC *sloːn ŋeː).
Meanwhile, Adams (2013) postulates possible Tocharian connections; cf. Tocharian B ṣecake and etymologies.
Dialectal synonyms of 獅子
獅: Hán Nôm readings: sư
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- Thiều Chửu : Hán Việt Tự Điển Hà Nội 1942
- Trần Văn Chánh: Từ Điển Hán Việt NXB Trẻ, Ho Chi Minh Ville, 1999
- Vũ Văn Kính: Đại Tự Điển Chữ Nôm, NXB Văn Nghệ, Ho Chi Minh Ville, 1999