This is the second post on kanji that originated from a container with a lid. We are going to look at three types of containers with a lid–吉缶去. The kanji we explore are 吉結詰, 缶陶 and 去却脚法.
The kanji 吉 “good luck; joy; auspicious”
Various interpretations on the origin of the kanji 吉 are found in references, including (1) “a heap of food for celebratory feast,” – thus “joyous”; (2) “a warrior’s weapon” placed the blade side down in a ceremony and “a prayer box to confine evils” – “benediction” and (3) and “a container that is full inside which was securely plugged with a double lid,” and being full was “good.” When we look at the ancient writing all of those interpretations may make sense — (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, could be a heap of food for a feast; The top of (b) and (c) in bronze ware style, in green, and (d) in seal style, in red, appear to correspond with 士 “warrior; man” from a warrior’s axe, particularly (c) in which the thick blade at the bottom was thicker; and perhaps (e) could be viewed as (3), a container with a secure double plug at the top. Which account makes sense to us best? It does not matter to me but in this blog I just pick one “a container with a tight lid” to move on. The kanji 吉 means “good luck; joy; auspicious.”
There is no kun-yomi in the Joyo-kanji. The on-yomi /kichi/ is in 吉日 (“lucky day” /kichijitsu; kitsujitsu/), 大吉 (“great good luck” in omikuji, an oracle on a strip of paper at a temple and shrine /daikichi/), and /kip-/ is in 吉報 (“good news” /kippoo/). Another on-yomi /kitsu/ is in 不吉な (“ominous” /hukitsu/-na).
The kanji 結 “to tie; end; congregate into one”
The seal style writing of the kanji 結 had 糸, a bushu itohen “a skein of threads.” The right side 吉 was used phonetically for /kitsu; ketsu/ to mean “to be tightly contained in a jar.” The kanji 結 means “to tie; end; congregate into one.”
The kun-yomi /musubu/ means “to tie a knot; conclude.” Another kun-yomi結う /yuu/ is in 髪を結う or 髪を結わえる (“to dress up one’s hair” /kami’-o yuu; kami’-o yuwae’ru/) and is in 結納 (“betrothal present; engagement gifts” /yuinoo/). The on-yomi /ketsu/ is in 結論 (“conclusion” /ketsuron/), 結果 (“result; outcome” /kekka/), 凍結する (“to freeze up” /tooketsu-suru/) and in the phrase 一致団結 (“solidarity” /i’tchi danketsu/).
The kanji 詰 “to pack; full; rebuke; blame; squeeze; stand by”
The seal style writing of the kanji 詰 comprised 言, a bushu gonben “word; language; to speak” and 吉 used phonetically for /kitsu/ to mean “containment.” Together pressing someone with accusing words meant “to blame; rebuke; criticize.” In Japanese it is also used to mean “to pack; cram; full” and “to stand by” from a room where on-duty gurds stays. The kanji 詰 means “to pack; full; rebuke; blame; squeeze; stand by.”
The kun-yomi /tsume’ru/ means “to pack; stand by” and is in 詰め物 (“packed things; packing” /tsumemono/), 詰所 (“guard station; crew room” /tsume’sho/) and 詰まる (“to clog up; conjest” /tsuma’ru/). The on-yomi /kitsu/ is in 詰問する (“to rebuke; cross-examine /kitsumon-suru/).
The kanji 缶 “can; tin”
For the kanji 缶 in (a), (b) and (d) it was “a teraccotta container with a secure double lid to hold water and wine.” In (c) had the addition of 金 “metal” suggested a metal or bronze ware container that appeared later. In (f) 罐, in kyuji in blue, 雚 was added for /kan/ phonetically. From the writing (c) with a “metal” component, in Japanese it meant “metal container; can.” The kanji 缶 means “can; tin.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kan/ is 缶 (“tin container; can” /ka’n/), 缶詰 (“canned food” /kanzu’me/) and 缶入りコーヒー (“canned coffee” /kan-iri-ko’ohii/) and アルミ缶 (“aluminum can” /arumikan/).
The kanji 陶 “ceramic; to educate”
For the kanji 陶 in the two bronze ware style writings the left side was “a hill-like mound of dirt” placed vertically. The right side had double images of “a person bending his back, kneading clay.” Together they meant people making pottery near an ascending kiln. 3 in seal style comprised a bushu kozatohen “hill” and 缶 “a clay container” wrapped in 勹 that signified “ceramics.” Together they meant “making ceramic in a kiln.” It also meant “to educate” from “kneading.” The knaji 陶 means “ceramic; to educate.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /too/ is in 陶器 (“pottery; earthenware” /to’oki/), 薫陶を受ける(“under someone’s tutelege; be taught by” /kuntoo-o uke’ru/) and 陶酔する (“to be fascinated; be intoxinated” /toosui-suru/).
The kanji 去 “to leave; remove; past”
For the kanji 去 the oracle bone style and bronze ware style writings had “a person” above “an area; box” 口. Together “a person’s legs crossing over an area” signified “leaving and going far away.” The kanji 去 meant “to leave; remove.” In seal style the bottom became 凵 “receptacle”. In kanji 大 “a person” became 土 and the bottom ム. The kanji 去 means “to leave; remove; past.”
The kun-yomi /saru/ means “to leave,” and is in 立ち去る (“to leave; go away” /tachisa’ru/). The on-yomi /kyo/ is in 去年 (“last year” /kyo’nen/) and 除去する (“to remove” /jo’kyo-suru/).
The kanji 却 “to withdraw; retreat; on the contrary”
The seal style writing of the kanji 却 comprised 去 “to leave” and 卩 “a person kneeling down” signifying “receding.” Together they meant “to make a retreat; withdraw.” It is also used to mean “on the contrary; all the more” in a phrase 却って. The kanji 却 means “to withdraw; retreat; on the contrary.”
The kun-yomi /ka’ette/ means “on the contrary; all the more.” The on-yomi /kyaku/ is in 返却する (“to return (something)” /henkyaku-suru/), 退却する (“to retreat” /taikyaku-suru/), 売却する (“to sell; sell off” /baikyaku-suru/). /kyak-/ is in 却下する (“to dismiss; reject” /kyak’ka-suru/).
The kanji 脚 “leg; foot”
The seal style writing of the kanji 脚 comprised 月, a bushu nikuzuki “a part of one’s body” and 却 “to retreat” used phonetically for /kyaku/. From the posture of legs knelt down one one backing down, it signified “leg; foot.” The kanji 脚 means “leg; foot.”
The kun-yomi /ashi’/ means “leg; foot,” and is in 椅子の脚 (“chair leg” /isu-no-ashi/). The on-yomi /kyaku/ is in 三脚 (“tripod (for camera)” /sankyaku/), 脚色する (“to dramatize” /kyakushoku-suru/) and 脚本 (“play script; scenario” /kyakuhon/). Another on-yomi, which is a go-on /kya/ is in 脚立 (“stepladder” /kyatasu/) and 行脚 (“pilgrimage; travel around on foot” /a’ngya/).
The kanji 法 “law; legal; court of law; method”
The kanji 法had a history of complex writings. One view of (a) and (b) is that the left side had 去 “to remove” and “water” and that the right side was “an imaginary animal that was believed to be used for divine judgment.” Together they meant “fair judgment; justice.” From that it meant “law.” In seal style in (c) 去 became more prominent, whereas in 4 an imaginary animal for justice was totally dropped. 灋 in 5 in Correct style is the kanji that reflected 3. The current kanji 法 reflects 4. The kanji 法 means “law; legal; court of law; method.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 法 (“law” /hoo/), 法律 (“law” /hooritsu/), 方法 (“method” /hoohoo/), 司法 (“judiciary” /shiho’o) and 違法行為 (“illegal act” /ihooko-oii/). /-Poo/ is in文法 (“grammar” /bunpoo/) and 立法 (“legislation; law making” /rippoo/) and 民法 (“Civil law” /mi’npoo/) and 憲法 (“constitutional law” /ke’npoo/). Another on-yomi /hat-/ is in ご法度 (“prohibition” /gohatto/).
Together with the last post, we have picked up five shapes 合今吉缶 and 去 that originated from a container with a lid. It is quite surprising. In fact there are more to be looked at. I expect that we may have a couple of more posts to cover the remaining kanji. Thank you very much for your reading. -Noriko [January 20, 2018]