The Kanji 実貫慣賛鎖価賜唄- Cowrie (2)

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This is the second post on kanji that originated from precious cowries — the kanji 実(實)貫慣賛鎖朋価賜唄. We also touch upon ‘a strand of small cowries” in kanji, such as 小少朋豊.

  1. The kanji 実 “substance; nut; berry; reality”

History of Kanji 実The top of (a) and (b) in bronze ware style, in green, was a house or a family mausoleum. The top of the inside, 毌, meant “small cowries pierced through and strung together,” and the bottom 貝 was “cowrie,” signifying valuable items or money. Valuable offerings at a mausoleum signified fullness of wealth having “substance” and wealth displayed, signifying “real; actual.” It also came to be used to mean “fruit; nut; berry.” The kyuji 實, (e) in blue, reflected (d) in seal style, in red. In shinji 実, the inside of the bushu ukanmuri was replaced by a much simpler shape that had no meaning attached. The kanji 実 means “substance; contents; fruit; nut; berry; contents; reality.”

The kun-yomi 実 /mi/ means “fruit; nut; berry; substance; ingredient,” as in 実がなる (“to produce a crop or fruit” /mi-ga-na’ru/). The on-yomi /jitu/ is in 実は (“as a matter of fact; in truth” /jitsu’-wa/), 現実 (“actuality; a hard fact” /genjitsu/), 実現する (“to realize; materialize; come true” /jitsugen-suru/), 実務 (“practical business; administrative work” /ji’tsumu/) and 誠実な (”sincere; truthful” /seejitsu-na/). /Jit-/ is in 実際に (“really; truly; in practice” /jissai-ni/).

  1. The kanji 貫 “to pierce through; penetrate”

History of Kanji 貫The kanji 貫 was a component of the kyuji of the kanji 実 above, but the earliest writing appears to be in seal style. So I suspect that this kanji was derived from the kanji 實. (If that is the case it is a curious reverse process.) The top 毌 of the seal style writing came from two cowries pierced through, and was used phonetically for /kan/. With the bottom 貝 “cowrie,” they meant “to pierce through; penetrate; carry through.”

The kun-yomi 貫く /tsuranu’ku/ means “to pass through; pierce; keep (one’s faith),” and is in 貫き通す (“to stick with; follow” /tsuranukito’osu/). The on-yomi /kan/ is in 貫通する (“boring through” /kantsuu-suru/), 初志貫徹 (“carrying out one’s original intention” /sho’shi kantetsu/). The word 一貫 (“consistency” /ikkan/) forms various compound word or phrase, such as 一貫教育 (“all-through education; education that has a unified program of elementary and secondary schools” /ikkan kyo’oiku/), 一貫作業 (“work in a continuous process; integrated linear operation of work” /ikkan sa’gyoo/) and 終始一貫して (“be consistent from beginning to end” /shu’ushi ikkan-shite/).

  1. The kanji 慣 “to become used to; familiar”

History of Kanji 慣The seal style writing of the kanji 慣 comprised扌, a bushu tehen “hand; an act that one does using a hand,” and 貫, which was used phonetically for /kan/ to mean “linking things.” Together they signified “to accumulate.” Doing things many times makes one’s mind being accustomed to it, and in kanji the left side was replaced by忄, a bushu risshinben “heart.” The kanji 慣 means “to become used to; custom.”

The kun-yomi 慣れる /nare’ru/ means “to become used to; grow accustomed to,” and is also in 場慣れする (“to be used to a situation” /banare-suru/) and 耳慣れた (“familiar” /miminareta/). The on-yomi /kan/ is in 習慣 (“(personal) habit; custom” /shuukan/), 慣習 (“(social) custom” /kanshuu/), 慣例 (“general practice; precident” /kanree/), 慣性 (“inertia” /ka’nsee/) and 生活習慣病 (life-style related disease” /seekatsu shuukanbyoo/).

  1. The kanji 賛 “to agree”

History of Kanji 賛The top of the kanji 賛 in seal style, (a), was used phonetically for /shin; san/ to mean “offer; present.” The bottom was 貝 “cowrie.” Together they meant “to present valuable goods at an audience or meeting.” The kyuji (c) had two 先 at the top, which in kanji was replaced by two 夫. The kanji 賛 means “to present; help; laud.”

Interestingly, despite of the shape at the top in (a), (b) in the green box, which came from a seal made during the Chin Han era, had two strands of small cowries, which signified valuable things. I would imagine that this might have been due to a decorative and creative element that a seal maker chose to make it more auspicious.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /san/ is in 賛成する (“to agree” /sansee-suru/), 賛同する (“to approve of; subscribe to” /sandoo-suru/) and 協賛会社 (“support company” /kyoosan-ga’isha.)

  1. The kanji 鎖 “chain; link; to shut down”

History of Kanji 鎖For the kanji 鎖, the left side of the seal style writing was 金 “metal.” The right side comprised small shells at the top (小) and 貝 at the bottom, and was used phonetically for /sa/. Together small metal things linked together meant “chain” and “to lock down.” The top right component小flipped upside down and became a shape called sakasashoo “flipped 小.” (This flipping of 小 in shinji happened in other kanji such as 消.) The kanji 鎖 means “chain” and “to lock.”

The kun-yomi 鎖 /kusari/ means “chain.” The on-yomi /sa/ is in 鎖国 (“national isolation; national seclusion” /sakoku/) and 閉鎖する (“to shut down” /heesa-suru/).

Notes on the origin of the kanji 小 and 少

History of Kanji 少For a long time I treated the origin of 小 as just small markers, rather than having a specific origin. But after going over kanji such as 貫, 鎖, 朋 in the context of cowries that ancient people valued, the account by Shirakawa, which explains that those were small shells, makes some sense to me now. History of Kanji 小 In the bronze ware style writing (b) for the kanji 少, shown on the left, the last long stroke of the kanji is viewed as a string that would have linked the small cowries. The history of the kanji 小 is shown on the right.

History of Kanji 朋To have a better image of the small cowries that were made into strands, the history of the kanji 朋 shown on the right may be helpful. The kanji 朋is not a Joyo kanji but we are familiar with it because it is used in a given name. In the kanji 豊 “abundance” might have had two strands of cowries that were among offerings on an altar table (Ochiai 2014: 236).

  1. The kanji 価 “value”

History of Kanji 価For the kanji 価, the right side in seal style had “person.” The right side 賈 comprised “cover” (襾) and “cowrie” (貝), and was used phonetically for /ka/ to mean “to sell and buy.” A value is something people apply. The kyuji 價 was replaced by 価. The kanji 価 means “value; price.”

The kun-yomi /atai/ means “value.” The on-yomi /ka/ is in 価値 (“value” /ka’chi/), 価格 (“price” /kakaku/), 定価 (“fixed price; manufacturer’s suggested price” /teeka/) and 地価 (“land value; land price” /chi’ka/).

  1. The kanji 賜 “to bestow; confer”

History of Kanji 賜The kanji 賜 is not a daily kanji that we would need at all. It describes an act of giving by royalty. (a) in oracle bone style had a rice wine pitcher pouring wine in a wine cup. An emperor giving a cup of wine out of a wine pitcher called shaku (爵) personally meant “to confer; bestow.” (b) in oracle bone style and (c) and (d) in bronze ware style was for 易. The origin of 易 could have been the sun’s ray and a lizard on the right, but the association is not clear. In seal style (e), 貝 was added to mean a valuable thing.  The kanji 賜 means “to bestow; confer.”

The kun-yomi 賜る /tamawa’ru/ means “to bestow; confer by a king.” The on-yomi /shi/ is in 賜杯 (“trophy given by an emperor” /shihai/) and 恩賜財団 (“royal endowment foundation” /onshiza’idan/).

  1. The kanji 唄 “folk song; song”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 唄. The kanji is comprised of 口 “mouth; speaking,” and 貝, which is used phonetically for /bai/. It was a phonetic rendition of a Sanskrit word pathaka, which meant chanting in praise of Buddha’s virtues. In Japanese it is used for “popular song.”  The kanji 唄 means “folk song; song.”

The kun-yomi 唄 /uta’/ means “song; folk song.” There is no on-yomi.

The ancient writings for 貝 and 鼎 looked very much like each other, and sometimes they appear to be mingled. In the next post, we shall be exploring kanji that originated from a bronze ware cooking pot with three or four legs that was used to cook sacrificial animal meat for an offering in ancestral worship. Thank you very much for your reading.  — Noriko [June 24, 2017]

The Kanji 貝貨貯貢賃得負貿貴遺潰- cowrie (1)

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The shape 貝 in kanji is used in two unrelated meanings. One is from a cowrie, and it carried the meaning “monetary value,” and another is from a bronze ware tripod (鼎), which carried the meaning of “tripod; pod.” We start our exploration with those that originated from a cowrie. The post this week is on the kanji 貝貨貯貢賃得負貿貴遺潰.

  1. The kanji 貝 “shell”

History of Kanji 貝For the kanji 貝, (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, and (c) and (d) in bronze ware style, in green, was a cowrie, a spiral shell that has an opening in the back. A cowrie was found in the southern sea of China, a long way from the inland where the civilization was situation. It was treasured and valued and was used for an exchange of goods and as money. A majority of kanji that means “value; money” contain a component 貝 “cowry,” as we shall see in a few posts now.  By itself the kanji 貝 means “shell; shellfish,” inclusive of all shapes of shells.

In Japanese a cowrie is called 子安貝 /koyasu’gai/. In the early Heian period story called Taketori Monogatari 竹取物語, one of the impossible riddles that the beautiful young lady, called Kaguya-hime, gave to her five noble suitors was to bring to her a koyasugai that a swallow mothered. In the end none of the riddles for the five suitors was answered successfully including the one involving a koyasugai, and Kaguya-hime returned to the Moon where she came from.

The kun-yomi 貝 /kai/ means seashell,” and is in 二枚貝 “bivalve” /buna’igai/), 子安貝 (“cowrie” /koyasu’gai/), 貝殻 (“shell” /kaiga’ra/) and 貝塚 (“shell mound; Kaizuka” /ka’izuka/). There is no on-yomi in Joyo kanji.

  1. The kanji 貨 “goods”

History of Kanji 貨For the kanji 貨, the left side of the seal style writing, in red, was a standing person (イ), and the right side had ヒ as a phonetic feature /ka/ to mean “change” and 貝 “cowrie; valuable.” Together they meant something that could be exchanged as money or for goods. In kanji the top became 化 (“to change” and phonetically /ka/). The kanji 貸 means “goods; money.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ka/ is in 貨物 (“freight; cargo” /ka’motsu/), 貨幣 (“money” /ka’hee/), 金貨 (“gold coin” /kinnka/), 雑貨 (“sundries; miscellaneous goods” /zakka/), 百貨店 (“department store” /hyakka’ten/) and 硬貨 (“coin” /ko’oka/).

  1. The kanji 貯 “to save; store”

History of Kanji 貯For the kanji 貯 (a) in oracle bone style was a container, the inside of which showed a cowrie. It meant “to store valuable things.” In (b) and (c) in bronze ware style the container and the cowrie became two separate components top and bottom, which were later placed side by side in seal style, (d). Cowries were so important that they were kept in an elaborate bronze ware container called 貯貝器 /choba’iki/. In kanji the right side 丁 seems to be out of place but in fact one of the origins of the kanji 丁 was a square shape.  The kanji 貯 means “to save up; lay up; make cash of.”

The kun-yomi 貯める /tameru/. The on-yomi /cho/ is in 貯金 (“saving; deposit (in a bank)” /chokin/), 貯蓄 (”saving up; putting aside” /chochiku/), 貯蔵庫 (“storage; depository” /chozo’oko/) and 貯水池 (“water reservoir” /chosu’ichi/).

  1. The kanji 貢 “tribute”

History of Kanji 貢The top of the seal style writing for the kanji 貢, 工, was used phonetically for /koo/ to mean “product; skilled work,” and the bottom 貝 was “cowrie; money.” Many kinds of products of value were paid as a tribute.  The kanji 貢 means “tribute; contribution.”

The kun-yomi 貢ぐ /mitsu’gu/ means “to pay a tribute; support financially,” and is in 貢物 (“present” /mitsugimono/). The on-yomi /koo/ means 貢献 (“contribution” /kooken/). Another on-yomi /gu/ was in 年貢 (“land tax; tribute” /nengu/).

  1. The kanji 賃 “wage”

History of Kanji 賃For the kanji 賃, in (a) and (b) in bronze ware style and (c) in seal style the left side and the top of the right side made up 任, which was used phonetically for /jin/ to mean “work.” The bottom right was 貝 “cowrie.” Together they meant paying money to hire a person to do work for wages. The kanji 賃 means “wages.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /chin/ is in 賃金 (“wage; pay; salary” /chi’ngin/), 家賃 (“house-rent” /ya’chin/), 運賃 (“fair; tariff” /u’nchin/) and 賃貸住宅 (“rental housing” /chintaiju’utaku/).

  1. The kanji 得 “gain; profit; benefit”

History of Kanji 得For the kanji 得, (a) in oracle bone style and (c) in bronze ware style had a cowrie and a hand, whereas (b) and (d) in bronze ware style had a crossroad added. Together they mean one going “to obtain something valuable.”  In seal style, on the left side a crossroad was added to a cowrie, and a hand was on the right side. From “going out to gain something valuable” it meant “to gain; make a profit.” In kanji the cowrie became a 旦 “sunrise” and a hand became 寸.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /toku/ is in 得をする- 得する (“to profit; benefit; gain” /toku-osuru; toku-suru), 得意になる(“to preen; become proud” /toku’i-ni naru/), お買い得 (“great deal; bargain” /okaidoku/), 納得する (“to understand” /nattoku-suru/) and 得心する (“to consent to; realize” /tokushin-suru/).

  1. The kanji 負 “to carry on one’s back; be defeated; negative”

History of Kanji 負The seal style writing of the kanji 負 had a person with his back bent at the top, and “cowrie,” signifying “money” at the bottom. Together they meant a man carrying something on his back, or a debt, on his bent back. The kanji 負 means “debt; to lose; owe; carry on one’s back.”

The kun-yomi 負ける /makeru/ means “to be defeated; lose,” and is in 勝ち負け (“victory and defeat” /ka’chimake/) and 負けず嫌い (“hating to lose; unyielding; competitive.”)  Another kun-yomi 負う/ou/ means “to carry on the back; have a debt,” and is in 背負う “to carry on one’s back.”  The on-yomi word 負 /hu/ means “negative (number); minus,” and is in 負債 (“debt; liabilities” /husai/). /-Bu/ is in 勝負 (“match; contest; game” /sho’obu/).

  1. The kanji 貿 “trade”

History of Kanji 貿For the kanji 貿 in bronze ware style and seal style, the top was used phonetically for /boo/ to mean “to divide in two,” and the bottom was “cowrie.” Together they signified “to trade goods” The kanji 貿means “to trade.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /boo/ is used only in the word 貿易 (“foreign trade; commerce” /booeki/), such as 貿易風 (“trade wind” /booekihuu/), 貿易収支 (“balance of trade” /booeki-shu’ushi/), 貿易自由化 (“liberalization of trade; deregulation of trade” /booeki-jiyuuka/) and 貿易摩擦 (“trade friction; trade dispute” /booeki-ma’satsu/).

  1. The kanji 貴 “noble; precious”

History of Kanji 貴In seal style writing, the kanji 貴 had two hands holding something reverently. The bottom was a cowrie. Together they signified “to handle something valuable carefully.” It means “precious; valuable; of high value.” It is also used for people to mean “noble; august.” The kanji 貴 means “precious; valuable; noble; venerable.”

The kun-yomi 貴い /tooto’i/ means “august; venerable; noble.” Another kun-yomi 貴ぶ /tatto’bu/ means “to appreciate; treasure.” The on-yomi /ki/ is in 貴重な (“precious; valuable” /kichoo-na/), 高貴な (“noble” /ko’oki-na/) and 貴族 (“aristocracy” /ki’zoku/).

  1. The kanji 遺 “to leave behind; give”

History of Kanji 遺In bronze ware style, (a) had “two hands holding something carefully” (top), “crossroad” (left) and a cowrie (bottom right).  In (b) a hand was at the bottom, and a footprint was added at the bottom left. Together they meant someone leaving something precious behind. In (c), underneath two hands holding a thing carefully, were a crossroad and footprint, which in (d) in seal style became 辵 “to go forward,” a precursor of a bushu shinnyoo.  The kanji 遺 means “to leave behind; bequest.”

The kun-yomi 遺す /noko’su/ means “to leave behind.” The on-yomi /i/ is in 遺品 (“article left behind (after one’s death); memento” /ihin/), 遺失物 (“lost-and-found article” /ishitsu’butsu/), 遺跡 (“remains; historical spot; ruins” /iseki/) and 遺書 (“a will; a note left by a dead person” /i’sho/).

  1. The kanji 潰 “to crush; collapse”

History of Kanji 潰The seal style writing of the kanji 潰 had “water” and 貴, which was used phonetically for /kai/ to mean “to collapse.” Together their ogirinal meaning was  “a breach of water; bursting a bank.” It described a forceful destruction such as one made by a collapse of a bank –“collapse; crush; smash.” The kanji 潰 means “a breach of water; collapse; crush.”

The kun-yomi 潰す /tsubusu/ means “to crush; break down; squash,” and its intransitive verb counterpart 潰れる (“to tumble; crumble; collapse” /tsubureru/). The expression シラミ潰しに・しらみつぶしに means “(to check) thoroughly; one by one” /shirami-tsu’bushi-ni/). (シラミ /shirami/ means “lice.”) The on-yomi /kai/ is in 決潰 (“collapse; rip” /kekkai/), 潰滅 (“annihilation; total demolition” /kaimetsu/) and 潰瘍 (“ulcer” /kaiyoo/).  The kanji 潰 was not in the previous Joyo kanji, and the kanji 壊 was substituted until the revision.

There are many more kanji with a cowrie. I expect we shall need a couple of more posts on this topic. Thank you very much for your reading. — Noriko [June 17, 2017]

The kanji 掃婦帰寝浸侵 – Religious matters (5)   

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In this fifth post on kanji that originated from something pertaining to religious matters, we are going to explore six kanji that contain the full or partial shape of 帚 “broom; brush” — the kanji 婦掃帰・寝浸侵. The component 帚 is not a Joyo kanji but we have the history as shown on the right.

History of Kanji 帚The component 帚 — (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, and (3) and (4) in bronze ware style, in green, was a broom for sweeping an altar table in an ancestral mausoleum. It has also been interpreted as something that sprinkles rice wine to sanctify offerings. 帚 meant “broom; to sweep; to cleanse.”

  1. The kanji 婦 “woman; lady; female”

History of Kanji 婦For the kanji 婦, in oracle bone style (a) and (b) were the same as 帚 above, which was a broom for sweeping or cleansing an altar. In bronze ware style, (c) and (d) had a broom on the left and a woman (女) on the right. Together they signified the mistress of a household, who was responsible for keeping an ancestral mausoleum in good order. It originally meant the wife of one’s son. The kanji 婦 means “lady; woman; female.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hu/ is in 婦人 (“woman; lady” /hujin/), 主婦 (“housewife” /shu’hu/), 夫婦 (“husband and wife” /hu’uhu/) and 産婦人科 (“obstetrics and gynecology” /sanhujinka/).

  1. The kanji 掃 “to sweep; brush on”

History of Kanji 掃For the kanji 掃, in oracle bone style (a) had a broom and a hand holding it whereas (b) was the same as 帚 “broom; brush” and (a) and (b) in 1. 婦 “woman” above.  It meant “a hand sweeping with a broom.” In (d) in seal style, in red, 帚 was used for a secular mundane purpose, and 土 “soil; ground” was added to mean “to sweep the ground; clean.” In kanji, 扌, a bushu tehen –“hand; an act that one does using a hand” — was restored. The kanji 掃 means “to sweep; brush on; broom.”

The kun-yomi 掃く /ha‘ku/ means “to sweep; brush on,” and is in 掃き掃除 (“sweeping and cleaning; cleaning up” /hakiso’oji/). The on-yomi /soo/ is in 掃除 (“cleaning; dusting; wiping; scrubbing” /sooji/), 掃除機 (“vacuum cleaner; sweeper” /sooji’ki/), 清掃車 (“garbage truck; refuse truck” /seeso’osha/) and 一掃する (“to sweep away; get rid of” /issoo-suru/).

  1. The kanji 帰 “to return; go home”

History of Kanji 侵For the kanji 帰, In (a) and (b) in oracle bone style and (c) in bronze ware style, the left side was a sacrificial meat offering to a deity before a military force went out for a battle. The right was a broom, signifying a purified family altar. Together they originally meant a military force returning to the family mausoleum to give a battle report on a safe return. (e) in bronze ware style and (f) in seal style had a footprint at the bottom left to signify a return. From that it meant “to return home.” The kyuji 歸, (g) in blue, reflected (f) closely. In shinji the left side became two slightly curved lines, perhaps signifying the original two pieces of sacrificial meat offerings. The kanji 帰 means “to return; come/go home; belong to.”

The kun-yomi 帰る /ka’eru/ means “to return home,” and is in 日帰り (“returning on the same day” /higaeri/). The on-yomi /ki/ is in 帰宅する (“to go home; head home” /kitaku-suru/), 帰化 (“naturalization” /ki’ka/), 帰省 (“homecoming” /kisee/), 帰路 (“return way; return circuit” /ki’ro/), 帰京する (“to return to Tokyo” /kikyoo-suru/) and 帰依する (“to become a devout believer” /ki’e-suru/).

  1. The kanji 寝 “to sleep”

History of Kanji 寝For the kanji 寝, (a) in oracle bone style and (c) in bronze ware style had a house or family mausoleum, inside of which was a broom or brush. Together they originally meant a mausoleum that was purified. On the other hand, (b) in oracle bone style had a sick bed with a few droplets signifying perspiration on the left, and the right side was a hand holding a broom, which signified a cleansed mausoleum. Together they meant a sick person waking up from in bed with a nightmare. (d) in seal style was very different but had a similar story – inside a mausoleum (a house and a broom) the left side was a bed, and the top right was a medium who was believed to cause a nightmare/dream. An illness was considered something that an evil spirit caused, and purification was necessary. In kyuji 寢, (e), the dream component was dropped, and a hand (又) was added at the bottom. The kanji 寝 means “to sleep.”

The kun-yomi /neru/ means “to lie down; sleep,” and is in 朝寝坊する (“to rise late in the morning” /asane’boo-suru/), 寝言を言う (“to talk in one’s sleep” /negoto-o iu/) and 寝ぼける (“to be still only half asleep” /neboke’ru/). The on-yomi /shin/ is in 寝室 (“bedroom” /shinshitsu/), 寝具 (“the bedding” /shi’ngu/) and 就寝時間 (“sleeping time” /shuushinji’kan/).

  1. The kanji 浸 “to soak; immerse”

History of Kanji 浸For the kanji 浸, in oracle bone style inside a family mausoleum was a broom shaking drops of sanctifying aromatic liquor. From the aroma of liquor permeating the room strongly, it meant “to soak; immerse.” The kanji 浸 means “to immerse; soak.”

The kun-yomi 浸す /hitasu/ means “to soak; immerse” and is in its intransitive verb counterpart 浸る (“to be soaked in; be drowne in” /hitaru/) and 酒浸り (“being steeped in alcohol” /sakebitari/). The on-yomi /shin/ is in 浸水 (“flood; inundation” /shinsui/), 浸透する (“to permiate” /shintoo-suru/) and 浸食作用 (“erosion; corrosive action” /shinshoku/).

  1. The kanji 侵 “to invade; infiltrate”

History of Kanji 侵For the kanji 侵, in oracle bone style (a) had an ox with sanctifying liquor droplets on the left and a hand holding a broom on the right. (b) had an ox ­and a broom only.  [Incidentally, (a) and (b) were copied from Akai (2010), but were not included Shirakawa (2004). I suspect that it is possible that Shirakawa treated (a) and (b) belonging to other kanji.]  (c) in bronze ware style had a sitting person on the top right and a broom in hand at the bottom. The meaning of 浸 “to permeate; immerse” was adopted for an act people do (signified by イ, a bushu ninben “person; an act that a person does”) in a military sense, and it meant “to invade.”

The kun-yomi 侵す /oka’su/ means “to invade; violate.” The on-yomi /shin/ is in 侵略 (“invasion; aggression” /shinryaku/), 侵入 (“infiltration; incursion” /shinnyuu/), 人権侵害 (“violation/infringement of human rights” /jinken-shingai/) and 領土侵犯 (“violation of territorial sovereignty; intrusion into territory” /ryo’odo-shinpan/).

With this post we leave the topic of the origins that pertained to religious matters. For our next exploration I am thinking about the component shape 貝, which came from two totally different origins — a cowry (貝) and a bronze ware tripod (鼎).  Thank you very much for your reading. –Noriko [June 10, 2017]

The Kanji 斉済剤斎帝締諦嫡敵適摘滴

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Kanji that pertained to religious matters mostly involved an altar table. We continue our exploration of kanji that originated from an altar table in this fourth post.  The kanji we are going to look at are 斉済剤斎 with 斉, 帝締諦 with 帝 and 嫡敵適摘滴 with 啇.

  1. The kanji 斉 “to be in good order; gather well”

History of Kanji 斉For the kanji 斉, in (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, (b) and (c) in bronze ware style, in green, and (d) in seal style, in red, there were three beautiful hair accessories of women involved in a religious rite in a uniformly neat appearance. It meant “to be in good order; gather properly.”

There is a slightly different acocunt– Setsumon’s account on (d) was that it came from three plants, such as barley, of equal length that were offerings to a deity. Either account pertained to  religious matter. The kyuji 齊, (e) in blue, was simplified to 斉. The kanji 斉 means “to be in good order; gather well.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /see/ is in 斉唱 (“singing in unison” /seeshoo/), 一斉に (“all at once; simultaneously” /issee-ni/) and 一斉休暇 (“all employees taking the days off at the same time” /issee-kyu’uka/).

  1. The kanji 済 “to complete; finish up”

History of Kanji 済The seal style writing was comprised of “water” and 斉. It was the name of a river. From crossing the river, it was borrowed to mean “to rescue people” and further “to be accomplished.” The kyuji 濟 was simplified to済. The kanji 済 means “to complete; finish up.”

The kun-yomi /su/ is in 済む /su‘mu/ “to end” and 済ます (“to compete; settle” /sumasu/).  /-Zu/ is in使用済み (“already finished being used; second-hand” /shiyoozumi/), 返済 (“payback” /hensai/) and 救済する (“to give relief; save” /kyuusai-suru/). /-Zai/ is in 経済 (“economy; economics” /ke’ezai/).

  1. The kanji 剤 “medicine; drug”

History of Kanji 剤The seal style writing was comprised of 斉 and 刂 “knife.” Together they meant engraving on a bronze ware vessel to inscribe a contract. Later on it was borrowed to mean “medicine.” In kyuji the knife, being used on the right side, became刂, a bushu rittoo “knife.” The kanji 剤 means “medicine; drug.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /zai/ is in 薬剤師 (“pharmacist; chemist” /yakuza’ishi/), 錠剤 (“tablet” /joozai/) and 洗剤 (“detergent” /senzai/).

  1. The kanji 斎 “votive abstinence”

History of Kanji 斎For the kanji 斎the bronze ware style writing was comprised of an altar table added to 斉, which was used phonetically for /sai/ to pertain to religious rite. Together they meant the discrete reverential manner of areligious rite. In seal style the altar table was placed inside 斉.  The kanji 斎meant “votive abstinence; .”

There is no kun-yomi. The om-yomi /sai/ is in 斎場 (“funeral parlor” /saijoo/) and 書斎 (“study; library” /shosai/).

The next eight kanji — in two groups, 帝締諦 and 嫡敵適摘滴 — do not appear to share anything common. However, surprisingly, they all came from a principal alter table at which a ruler conducted a rite for his ancestral deities.

  1. The kanji 帝 “emperor; imperial”

History of Kanji 帝For the kanji 帝, (a) in oracle bone style (b) in bronze ware style, and (c) and (d) in seal style was an altar table that had three crossed legs for stability. It was the most important altar table on which to place offerings for the ancestral gods, in comparison to another alter (示), which was for general meaning of religions matters. A person who was the primary celebrant was an emperor. In kanji the bottom 巾 was probably the remnant of three legs. The kanji 帝 meant “emperor; imperial.”

The kun-yomi /mikado/ means “emperor.” The on-yomi /tee/ is in 帝王 (“emperor” /teeo‘o/), 帝国 (“empire; conglomerate” /teekoku/) and 皇帝 (“emperor” /kootee/).

  1. The kanji 締 “to fasten; tie up”

History of Kanji 締The seal style writing for the kanji 締 was comprised of 糸 “thread,” signifying “tying,” and 帝, which was used phonetically for /tee/. The kanji 締 they meant “to fasten; sign a treaty.”

The kun-yomi /shi/ is in 締める(“to fasten; tie up” /shime’ru/), its intransitive verb締まる (“to become closed; become fastened” /shima’ru/), 引き締める (“to tense up; tighten” /hikishime’ru/), and 取り締まる (“to crack down; keep in line” /torishimaru/. The on-yomi /tee/ is in 締結する (“to conclude z treaty; enter into” /teeketsu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 諦 “to resign oneself”

History of Kanji 適The seal style writing for the kanji 諦was comprisee of 言 “word; language,” and 帝, which was used phonetically for /tee/. Together they meant “to make clear (with words); reveal the truth.” In Japanese it also means “to resign to one’s fate; despair.” The kanji 諦 means “to resign to one’s fate.”

The kun-yomi /akirameru/ means “to give up; drop out.” The on-yomi /tee/ is in 諦観する (“to resign oneself” /teekan-suru/) and 諦念 (“understanding and acceptance of the basis of things; resignation” /teenen/).

The Component 啇–The next five kanji all have 啇 /teki/. Its history is shown on the right.– The two bronze ware style writings had a principal altar table for an emperor, which eventually became the kanji 帝, and 口 “prayer vessel; mouth.” Together they signified an emperor or someone who conducted a religious rite in ancescral deity worship. We shall see in the next five kanji that the original meaning of 帝 is more directly reflected in those kanji with 啇 /teki/, which was used phonetically as well, than in kanji with 帝 /tee/ in 6 and 7.

  1. The kanji 嫡 “legitimate”

History of Kanji 嫡For the kanji 嫡 the bronze ware style writing was the same as 啇. In seal style a woman was added to indicate a line of legitimate heirs to a throne. The kanji 嫡 means “legitimate line.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /chaku/ is in 嫡男 (“male heir” /chaku’nan/), 嫡子 (“legitimate child; heir” /cha’kushi/) and 嫡流 (“direct line of descendant” /chakuryuu/).

  1. The kanji 敵 “enemy; opponent”

History of Kanji 敵For the kanji 敵, the bronze ware style writing was the same as 啇 “emperor; imperial” or 嫡 “legitimate heir.” In seal style, 攴, a bushu bokuzukuri “to beat; hit,” was added. Someone who attacked an heir was “enemy; foe.” Someone who was an good match to be one’s enemy also gave the meaning “equal to; match; opponent.”

The kun-yomi 敵 /kataki’/ means “enemy,” and is in 敵役 (“villain’s part in play” /katakiyaku/) and 商売敵 (“rival in trade” /shoobaiga’taki/). The on-yomi 敵 /teki/ means “enemy,” and is in 宿敵 (“old enemy” /shukuteki/), 敵意 (“hostile feeling; animus” /te’kii/) and 匹敵する (“comparable to; equal to” /hitteki-suru/).

  1. The kanji 適 “suitable; to fit”

History of Kanji 適For the kanji 適, again, the bronze ware style writing was the same as in 8 and 9. It suggests that all those meanings were once expressed in one writing. In seal style, 辵, the precursors of shinnyo/shinnyu “to move forward; move on.” The right side was used phonetically for /teki/ to mean “a legitimate person.” The meaning of being suitable to conduct worship rites was used for this writing. The writing 適 meant “suitable; to fit.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /teki/ is in 適切 (“appropriate” /tekisetsu/), 適度な (“moderate” /te’kido-na/), 快適な (“comfortable; pleasant” /kaiteki-na/) and 適用する(“to apply” /tekiyoo-suru).

  1. The kanji 摘 “to pick up”

History of Kanji 摘The seal style writing was comprised of扌 “hand” and 啇, which was used phonetically for /teki/. Together they meant a hand picking or plucking something. The kanji 摘 means “to pick; pluck.”

The kun-yomi 摘む /tsumu/ means “to pick up; pull up.” The on-yomi /teki/ means 摘要 (“abstract” /tekiyoo/), 摘発する (“to expose; unmask” /tekihatsu-suru/) and 指摘する (“to point out; indicate” /shiteki-suru/).

  1. The kanji 滴 “drop; to trickle”

History of Kanji 滴For the kanji 滴 the two writings (a) and (b) in oracle bone style were taken from Akai (2010). In (a) and (b) next to “water” was a tattooing needle and a table or base to place it on, which was the origin of the kanji 商. This puzzles me. Shirakawa (2004) did not list them in 滴. I suspect that it is due to the difference in view on which writings should be taken as for origin of a particular kanji. Generally speaking the writings listed in Akai, a calligrapher and kanji compiler, are in line with Shirakawa’s view, but this is one of very few discrepancies. The seal style writing, (c), was comprised of , a bushu sanzui “water,” and the right side 啇 was used phonetically for /teki/. It is believed to be an onomatopoetic use for the sound of water dripping. The kanji 滴 means “to drop; drip.”

The kun-yomi 滴る /shitata’ru/ means “to dribble; trickle.” Another kun-yomi 滴 /shizuku/ means “drop.” The on-yomi /teki/ is in 水滴 (“water droplet” /suiteki/) and 一滴 (“driblet; drop” /itteki/).

There is one more component that originated from an altar table that I would like to explore, but that has to be in the next post.  Thank you very much for your reading this rather long post.  – Noriko [June 3, 2017]

The Kanji 卜占外貼店点訃赴・兆跳挑逃眺桃

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This is the third post on kanji whose origin pertained to religious matters. We have looked at kanji that contain 示 and a bushu shimesuhen, both of which came from an altar. In this post we are going to explore kanji that originated from divination – – 卜占外貼店点訃赴 and 兆跳挑逃眺桃.

1. The kanji 卜 “divination”

History of Kanji 卜The kanji 卜 is not among the Joyo kanji. But it appeared in many kanji as a component. In oracle bone style (a) and (b), in brown, bronze ware style (c), in green, and seal style (d), in red, the two lines signified cracks (vertical and horizontal) that appeared on a heated underside shell of a turtle or tortoise or a piece of animal bone that was used for divination. On the back of a bone heat was applied to a small hole that had been drilled in advance, and heat cracks that appeared were read as oracle on the topic that a ruler was seeking. The kanji 卜 meant “oracle; divination.”

The kun-yomi 卜う /urana’u/ means “to tell someone’s fortune; forecast.” The on-yomi /boku/ is in 卜辞 (“inscription on bones and tortoise carapaces” /bokuji/), synonymous to oracle bone style writing.

  1. The kanji 占 “divination; to occupy”

History of Kanji 占The kanji 占 in oracle bone style (a) was comprisee of a bone with divination cracks (卜), and a mouth (口) at the bottom. In (b), the two components in (a) were in an enclosure. It meant “oracle; divination.” The kanji 占 means “to tell someone’s fortune; divine.” Another interpretation of the bottom 口 is an “area,” which meant asking a deity which area one should take. From that it also meant “to occupy.”

The kun-yomi 占い  /uranai/ means “fortune telling,” and is in 星占い (“horoscope” /hoshiu’ranai/). Another kun-yomi 占める /shime’ru/ means “to occupy; hold; make up” and 買い占める (“to buy out; buy up” /kaishime’ru/). The on-yomi /sen/ is in 占有地 (“occupied land” /sen-yu’uchi/), 独占 (“monopoly” /dokusen/) and 占拠する (“to occupy” /se’nkyo-suru/).

  1. The kanji 外 “outside; others; to take out”

History of Kanji 外For the kanji 外, the oracle bone style writing had 工, which was probably used phonetically, and 卜 “oracle.” The left side of the bronze ware style writing and seal style writing had an early moon (夕), which would appear outside, or a piece of meat (月) offering for divination. The divination appeared on the surface or outside the bone. The kanji 外 means “outside; exterior,” and its extention “others; else; to take out.”

The kun-yomi 外 /so’to/ means “outside.” Another kun-yomi 外 /hoka/ means “others; else.” The third kun-yomi /hazusu/ means “to take out; omit.” The on-yomi /gai/ is in 外国 (“foreign country” /gaikoku/), 以外 (“other than; except” /i’gai/) and 予想外 (“unexpectedly” /yoso’ogai/). Another on-yomi /ge/ is in 外科医 (“surgeon” /geka’i/).

  1. The kanji 貼 “to stick; paste”

History of Kanji 貼The seal style writing was comprised of 貝 “cowry,” and 占, which was used phonetically for /choo; ten/.  Together they meant “to stick on; affix over something.” The kanji 貼 means “to stick; paste.”  The kanji 貼 was added to the Joyo kanji in 2010, and before that 張 was used instead.

The kun-yomi 貼る /haru/ means “to stick; paste.” The on-yomi /ten/ is in 貼付する (“to paste” /tenpu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 店 “store; shop”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji 店 is comprised of  广, a bushu madare “a house with one side open for easy access,” and 占, which was used phonetically for /ten/. Together they meant a kiosk or a place to put things. The kanji 店 means “shop; store.”

The kun-yomi 店 /mise’/ means “store; shop.” The on-yomi /ten/ is in 店内 (“inside a store” /te’nnai/) and 閉店時間 (“store’s closing time” /heetenji’kan/).

  1. The kanji 点 “small dot; point; to add a small note”

History of Kanji 点For the kanji 点, the left side in seal style was the same as 黒 “black,” which had a chimney with soot and two fires. The right side占 was used phonetically for /ten/ to mean “small dot.” Together they signified “small (black) dots.” Adding small points also gave the meaning “score.” The kyuji 點, in blue, had 黑 and 占. In kanji “black” was dropped except the “fire” underneath 占 as a bushu renga/rekka. The kanji 点 means “small dot; point; to add a small note.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ten/ is in 点 (“points; dot” /ten/), 点火する (“to light a fire; ignite” /tenka-suru/, 点検 (“inspection; overhaul” /tenken/) and 点滴 (“drip-feed” /tenteki/).

  1. The kanji 訃 “the news of someone’s death”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji 訃 is comprised of 言 “word; language,” and 卜, which was used phonetically for /hu/. Together they meant “the news of someone’s death.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hu/ is in 訃報 (“the news of someone’s death; obituary” /huhoo/).

  1. The kanji 赴 “to go somewhere for a new post”

History of Kanji 赴For the kanji 赴, the seal style writing was comprised of 走 “to run,” and 卜, which was used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “the news of someone’s death.” Together they originally meant “to tell” and “to rush in a distance.” From that the kanji 赴 means “to go somewhere at a distance; proceed; head for (a destination).”

The kun-yomi /omomu’ku/ means “to proceed; head for (a destination).” The on-yomi /hu/ is in 赴任する (“to go to start a new post” /hunin-suru/).

9. The kanji 兆 “sign; omen; trillion”

History of Kanji 兆For the kanji 兆 (a) in Old style and (b) in seal style was a pictograph of a oracle bone writing, possibly signifying the whole image of a tortoise shell with cracks. It meant “sign; indication; omen.”  兆 is also used to mean “trillion.”

The kun-yomi /kizashi/ means “indication; omen.” The on-yomi /choo/ means 予兆 “omen; indication,” 吉兆 (“auspicious sign” /kicchoo/) and 二兆円 /nichooen/ “two trillion yen.

10. The kanji 逃 “to run away; evade”

History of Kanji 逃For the kanji 逃 the bronze ware style writing had a crossroad on the left, and crosses scattered, which was also used phonetically for /too/.  The way in which a crack ran through rapidly in divination was similar to soldiers in defeat in a battle running away in all directions. It meant “to run away.” The seal style writing was comprised of 辵 “to move forward” and 兆, which was used phonetically for /choo/. From “a hasty retreat” the kanji 逃 meant “to run away; dodge; evade.”

The kun-yomi /nigeru/ means “to run away.” Another kun-yomi /nogare’ru/ means “to evade; miss.” The on-yomi /too/ is in 逃亡する (“to run away; fly” /tooboo-suru/) and 逃走する (“to escape” /toosoo-suru/).

11. The kanji 跳 “to leap; jump”

History of Kanji 跳The seal style writing was comprised of 足 “leg” and 兆, which was used phonetically for /choo/ to mean “leaping,” from the manner in which cracks appeared in a heated bone in divination. Together from legs leaping up and down, the kanji 跳 means “to leap; jump.”

The kun-yomi 跳ぶ /tobu/ means “to leap; bound; vault.” The on-yomi /choo/ is in 跳躍 (“spring; jump; leap” /chooyaku/).

12. The kanji 挑 “to challenge; confront; go after”

History of Kanji 挑The seal style writing was comprised of “hand”and 兆, which was used phonetically for /choo/ to mean “to bend.” Together they meant a hand bending something forcefully which met a push back. The kanji 挑 means “to challenge; confront; go after.”

The kun-yomi 挑む /ido’mu/ means “ to challenge.” The on-yomi /choo/ is in 挑戦 (“challenge” /choosen/) and 挑発する (“to provoke” /choohatsu-suru/).

13. The kanji 眺 “view”

History of Kanji 眺The seal style writing was comprised of 目 “eye” and兆, which was used phonetically for /choo/ to mean “to disperse.” Together they meant “to look at a distance; see.”

The kun-yomi 眺める /nagame’ru/ means “to look; examine,” and is in 眺めがいい (“to have a good view” /nagame’-ga i’i/). The on-yomi /choo/ is in 眺望 (“view; lookout” /chooboo/).

14. The kanji 桃 “peach”

History of Kanji 桃The seal style writing of the kanji 桃 was comprised of 木 “tree” and 兆, which was used phonetically for /too/ to mean something to split in half. Together they meant “peach.”

The kun-yomi 桃 /momo/ means “peach,” and is in 桃色 (“pink” /momoiro/). The on-yomi /too/ is in 白桃 (“white peach” /hakutoo/).

The two shapes that came from oracle bone writings, 卜 and 兆, were in the midst of the very things we are exploring –writings on oracle bones. They had been buried in the ground for over three thousand years and were fragile and broken to pieces. Being the oldest writing that connects to kanji, oracle bones provide crucial clues for us to conjecture about how each kanji was created in the extraordinarily imaginative minds of ancient creators.

We shall continue in the next post our exploration of kanji having religious origins. Thank you very much for your reading. -Noriko [May 27, 2017]

The Kanji 社礼福祉禅祝禍祖 — しめすへん (ネ)

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In the last post (The Kanji 示宗禁祭際察擦崇奈–“altar table”) we looked at kanji that contain a component 示 “an altar table with offerings,” where the will of a god was viewed to appear — thus signified “pertaining to religious matter.” In this post we are going to explore kanji in which the original altar table changed to ネ, a bushu shimesuhen “religious matter” in shinji — the kanji 社礼福祉禅祝禍祖.

  1. The kanji 社 “shrine; company of people; corporation”

History of Kanji 社

sThe oracle bone style writing for the kanji 社, in brown, was a pack of dirt placed on the ground with sprinkles of rice wine that was sanctifying the ground. It meant the god of the earth or a place of worship or a shrine. In bronze ware style, in green, it was the same as 土  “soil; earth; ground” (the bulge indicated a pack of dirt). In seal style, in red, an altar table was added to the left. The kyuji, in blue, reflected seal style. In shinji 社, 示 on the left side changed to ネ, a bushu shimesuhen. A place of worship was where many people congregated, and 社 also meant “company of people,” and, in Japanese, “corporation.” The kanji 社 means “shrine; company of people; corporation.”

The kun-yomi 社 /ya’shiro/ means “shrine.” The on-yomi /sha/ is in 社会 (“society” /sha’kai/), 会社 (“corporation” /kaisha/), 結社 (“establishment; organization” /kessha/), 社交的 (“sociable; gregarious” /shakooteki/) and 社会人 (“member of society; working adult” /shaka’ijin/).

  1. The kanji 礼 “propriety; a bow”

History of Kanji 礼For the kanji 礼 in (a) in bronze ware style, the top was two strings of cowries strung together or jewelries, and the bottom was a tall container. Together they meant abundant offering to a deity. The two Old style writings, in purple, came from an entirely different origin– (b) was an altar table with the offering on top, and (c) had a person kneeling to worship added on the right side. It meant “propriety (of ceremony).” (d) in seal style was comprised of 示 and 豊, which came from (a). The kyuji 禮, (e), reflected seal style (d), and is still used in formal occasions. The shinji uses 礼, in line with Old style (b) and (c).  The kanji 礼 means “propriety; a bow.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 礼 /re’e/ means “salute; bow,” and is in 一礼する (“to make a light bow to” /ichiree-suru/), 敬礼 (“salute” /keeree/), 失礼 (“discourtesy; impoliteness /shitsu’ree/), 礼儀正しい (“gracious; civilized; well-mannered” /reegitadashi’i/) and 儀礼的な (“ceremonious” /gireetekina/).

  1. The kanji 福 “blessing; good luck”

History of Kanji 福For the kanji 福, (a) in oracle bone style was comprised of an altar table at the top left and a rice wine cask that was raised by two hands. Placing a full wine cask on the altar, one prayed for blessing from the god. (b) ddid not have two hands. In bronze ware style, (c) and (d) had an altar table and a wine cask that was filled with wine (the cross at the bottom indicated that it was not empty.)  In seal style (e) reflected (c), in line with the general arrangement of a semantic-phonetic formation of kanji (keisei-moji) –a left component for meaning and a right component for sound. The kanji 福 meant “blessing; good luck.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 福 /huku/ means “blessing; good fortune,” and is in 祝福 (“benediction; blessing” /shukuhuku/), 幸福な (“happy” /koohukuna/), 福音 (“the Christian gospel; good tidings” /hukuin/) and 福袋 (“grab bag; mystery shopping bag” /hukubu’kuro/).

  1. The kanji 祉 “blessing”

History of Kanji 祉The oracle bone style writing of the kanji 祉 had an altar table for “deity,” and 止 was used phonetically for /shi/ to mean “to remain.” Together they meant “the god’s blessing remained.”  The kanji 祉 means “blessing; happiness given by a god,” but in the current Japanese the use is limited to the word 福祉.  There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /shi/ is in 福祉 (“welfare; well-being” /huku’shi/).

  1. The kanji 禅 “Zen sect; to pass on a throne peacefully”

History of Kanji 禅The seal style writing of the kanji 禅 was comprised of an altar table, signifying “worshipping,” and 單, which was used phonetically for /tan; zen/. Together they originally meant a platform or a raised area where a deity was worshipped. Following a god’s will one passed on a throne to someone else peacefully, and it meant “to pass on power peacefully.”  Later on it also came to be used to mean a Buddhist sect. In shinji the left side 示 became ネ a bushu shimesuhen. The kanji 禅 means “Zen sect; to vacate a throne (peacefully).”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /zen/ is in 禅宗 (“Zen sect of Buddhism” /zenshuu/) and 座禅を組む (“to sit in Zen meditation” /zazen-o ku’mu/).  The word 禅譲 (“peaceful evacuation of a throne” /zenjoo/) is a highly specialized word.

  1. The kanji 祝 “to celebrate”

History of Kanji 祝For the kanji 祝 the writing in oracle bone style, bronze were style and seal style all was comprised of 示 “altar table” and 兄 “elder brother;  elder person.” Together from an elder person worshipping and celebrating the god, the kanji 祝 meant “to celebrate.”

The kun-yomi 祝い /iwai/ means “celebration,” and is in 祝い酒 (“celebration drink” /iwai’zake/). The on-yomi /shuku/ is in 祝賀会 (“celebratory party” /shukuga’kai/). Another on-yomi /shuu/ is in 祝言 (“marriage ceremony” /shu’ugen/) and 祝儀 (“tip on celebratory occasion” /shu’ugi/).

  1. The kanji 禍 “misfortune; calamity”

History of Kanji 禍For the kanji 禍 what the shape in oracle bone style was about is not clear. The source from which I have taken this writing (Shirakawa) does not appear to be addressing it. The bronze ware style writing was comprised of an altar table and bones of a deceased (咼). Together they meant “affliction; catastrophe.” The kanji 禍 meant “misfortune; calamity.”

The kun-yomi 禍 /wazawai/ means “calamity.” The on-yomi /ka/ is in 戦禍 (“the turmoil of war; wartime chaos” /se’nka/) and 舌禍 (“unfortunate slip of the tongue” /ze’kka/).

  1. The kanji 祖 “ancestor”

History of Kanji 祖In oracle bone style (a) was an altar table and a stack of similar things. They could be ancestral tombstones or representations of many ancestors to be worshipped at an altar. In (b) and in bronze ware style (c) an altar table disappeared, but in (d) in seal style it reappeared. The kanji 祖 means “ancestor.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /so/ is in 先祖 (“forefather; ancestor” /so’sen/), 祖先 (“ancestor; ascendant” /so’sen/), 祖国 (“mother country” /so’koku/), 祖父 (“grandfather” /so’hu/), 祖母 (“grandmother” /so’bo/) and 元祖 (“originator; founder” /ga’nso/).

All the kanji that contain a bushu shimesuhen that we looked had 示 in most of the ancient writing through as recent as kyuji. It is only in shinji that, when 示 was placed on the left side of kanji, it became a bushu shimesuhen. Other kanji such as 神, 視 and 祈 have been previously discussed. We will continue to explore more kanji that pertained or still pertain to religious matters.  Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [May 20, 2917]

The Kanji 示宗禁祭際察擦崇奈 – “altar table”

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In this and next few posts we are going to explore kanji that pertained to religious matter. The kanji we look at in this post are示宗禁祭際察擦崇奈, which originated from an altar table.

  1. The kanji 示 “to display; indicate”

History of Kanji 示For the kanji 示, in oracle bone style, in brown, it was an altar table with an offering placed above. An altar was where the god showed his message. From that it meant “to show; demonstrate.” In seal style, in red, a line was added on each side of the stand. Setsumon’s explanation of these three lines was the sun, the moon and a star by which the god showed himself to people.

The kun-yomi shimesu means “to show; display; indicate.” The on-yomi /ji/ is in 表示する (“to display” /hyooji-suru/), 暗示 (“hint; indication; suggestion” /anji/), 展示場 (“exhibition  hall; show room” /tenjijoo/), 示談 (“out of court settlement; private settlement” /ji’dan/) and 指示する (“ton instruct; order” /shi’ji-suru/). Another on-yomi /Shi/ is in 示唆する (“to suggest” /shi’sa-suru/).

  1. The kanji 宗 “religion; sect; head of a group”

History of Kanji 宗For the kanji 宗, in oracle bone style it was an altar table inside a house or shrine. In bronze ware style, in green, and seal style the altar table had three lines. Together they meant “religious belief,” and “the head or founder of a religious group; group.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /shuu/ is used in the sense of Bhuddist practice such as 宗教 (“religion” /shu’ukyoo/), 改宗 (“conversion of one’s religion” /kaishuu/) and 宗旨 (“tenets of of a religious sect” /shu’ushi/). Another on-yomi /soo/ is used in the sense of “a group of people” such as 宗家 (“head of family” /so’oke/) and 宗廟 (“ancestral mausoleu” /soobyoo/).

  1. The kanji 禁 “to prohibit”

History of Kanji 禁In seal style of the kanji 禁, the top had two trees that signified “forest.” The bottom was “altar table,” signifying something sacred. Together they signified a sacred forest that was forbidden to enter. From that it meant “to prohibit; forbid.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kin/ is in 禁止する (“to prohibit” /kinshi-suru/), 禁句 (“tabooed word or phrase” /kinku/), 禁断 (“strict prohibition” /kindan/), あゆ漁の解禁  (“the opening of an ayu fish fishing season” /ayu’ryoo-no kaikin/) and 立ち入り禁止  (“Off-limit; Closed to the public” /tachiiri-kinshi.)

  1. The kanji 祭 “festival; feast day”

History of Kanji 祭For the kanji 祭, (a) in oracle bone style was comprised of a “hand” on the left sprinkling “rice wine” over an offering of a “piece of meat” on the right to sanctify it. (b) was the mirror image of (a). In (c) and (d) in bronze ware style an altar table replaced the sanctifying rice wine. (e) in seal style remained in kanji. (The top left of the kanji is not タ “moon” but has two short strokes inside, from 肉.) The kanji 祭 meant “celebration; festival.”

The kun-yomi 祭り or 祭 /matsuri/ means “festival; celebration,” and is in 祭り上げる (“to set someone on a pedestal” /matsuriage’ru/). The on-yomi /sai/ is in 祭日 (“holiday” /saijitu), 司祭 (“Catholic priest or clergy” /shi’sai/), 映画祭 (“film festival” /eega’sai/) and 感謝祭 (“Thanksgiving Day” /kansha’sai/).

  1. The kanji 際 “boundary; edge of an area; contact”

History of Kanji 際rIn the seal style writing of the kanji 際, an earthen wall for a boundary  was added to the left of 祭 “celebration of a god.” The area where the god and people come to meet was edge of an area; contact. In kanji the left side became simplified to 阝, a bushu kozatohen. The kanji 際 meant “boundary; edge of an area; contact.”

The kun-yomi 際 /kiwa’/ means “side; edge; verge,” and /-giwa/ is in 窓際 (“window side” /madogiwa/), 間際に (“just before; at the brink” /ma’giwa/) and 出際に (“at the moment of going out” /degiwa-ni/) and 手際よく (“skillfully; deftly” /tekigayo’ku/). The on-yomi /sai/ is in 国際的 (“international” /kokusaiteki/), 交際する (“to go steady; socialize with” /koosai-suru/) and 実際 (“truly; indeed; in point of fact” /jissai/). /-Zai/ is in 分際 (“position; social standing” /bunzai/).

  1. The kanji 察 “to perceive; conjecture”

History of Kanji 察The seal style writing was comprised of “house” and 祭 “celebration of a god.” In a house that enshrined a god one looked for a god’s will carefully and reflected on it. The religious meaning was dropped and the kanji 察 means “to perceive; look thoroughly; conjecture.”

There is no kun-yomi. On-yomi /satsu/ is in 観察 (“observation; supervision” /kansatsu/), 警察 (“police station; constabulary; police” /keesatsu/), 察する (“to perceive; gather” /sassuru/), 察知する (“infer from; gather from” /sa’cchi-suru/) and 洞察力 (“insight” /doosatsu’ryoku/).

  1. The kanji 擦 “to rub; scrub; scour”

The kanji 擦 was created much later, so no ancient writing existed. The kanji 擦 is comprised of 扌, a bushu tehen “an act that one does using a hand” and 察, which was used phonetically for /satsu/. Together they meant a hand rubbing something. The kanji 擦 meant “to rub; scrub; scour.”

The kun-yomi 擦る /su’ru/ means “to rub; scrub; scour” and 擦れる (“to be rubbed; be worn” /sure’ru/), and is in 擦り切れる (“to be worn out; become threadbare” /surikire’ru/). The on-yomi /sa’tsu/ is in 摩擦 (“friction; rubbing” /masatsu/).

  1. The kanji 崇 “high; to revere”

History of Kanji 崇The seal style writing of the kanji 崇 was comprised of 山 “mountain” that signified “high” and 宗, which was used phonetically for /suu/ to mean “main.” Together from the highest mountain in the mountain range, it meant “high; supreme.”

The kun-yomi /agame’ru/ means “to hold someone in reverence; adore.” The on-yomi /suu/ is in 崇高な (“lofty; sublime; grand” /suukoo-na/) and 崇拝する (“to worship; idolize” /suuhai-suru/).

  1. The kanji 奈 “(interrogative)”

History of Kanji 奈The seal style writing was comprised of 木 “tree” and 示 “altar table.” Together they meant the name of a tree. It was used for an interrogative word. The Correct writing 柰 reflected the seal style, but in kanji the top became 大. The kanji 奈 was used for “how; why” in some kanbun-style writing, but is no longer used except in a very limited word related to Buddhism.

The use of the kanji 奈 is quite limited. There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /na/ is in 奈落 (“Hell; the infernal regions; a trap cellar in a theater” /naraku/) and in a proper noun 奈良 (“Nara” /na’ra/), the old capitol of Japan before Kyoto.

The component 示 in the kanji 票標漂 did not come from an altar table but came from “fire.”  In the next post we are going to explore kanji that contain ネ, a bushu shimesuhen, which came from 示.  Thank you very much for your reading.  -Noriko [May 14, 2017]

The Kanji 巾布怖希飾帥・帯滞・幣弊蔽

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This is the 8th posting on kanji that originated from “a skein of silk thread” (糸), “a collar,” which became 衣 and 衤, and something that pertained to “fabric.” In this post we are going to look at the kanji 巾布怖希飾帥・帯滞・幣弊蔽.

  1. The kanji 巾 “cloth”

History of Kanji 巾For the kanji 巾 in all the three ancient writing styles (oracle bone, in brown; bronze ware, in green; and seal, in red) and the kanji, it basically remained the same shape. It was a piece of ceremonial scarf that was worn around the waist by a man. From that it meant “a piece of cloth.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji, even though 巾 has been used informally for the word  /haba/ “width” (幅).  The on-yomi /kin/ is in 布巾 (“kitchen cloth” /huki’n/), 頭巾 (“hood; headscarf” /zu’kin/) and 三角巾 (“triangular bandage” /sanka’kkin/).

  1. The kanji 布 “cloth; to lay flat; spread”

History of Kanji 布For the kanji 布, in bronze ware style it had a hand holding an axe or a rock at the top, which was used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “to pound.” Our reader may recognize this shape as the bronze ware style writing of the kanji 父 “father.” (A person holding an important axe or a rock in his hand was a father or paternal head.) Underneath was 巾 “cloth or scarf that a man wore around the waist.” In ancient times before cotton was introduced cloth was made of fibrous stems and stalks of a plant such as hemp by pounding it flat with a stone. The kanji 布 meant “cloth.” A piece of cloth covered a wide area, and it also meant “to spread.”  The kanji 布 means “cloth; to lay flat; spread.”

The kun-yomi 布 /nuno/ means “cloth.” The on-yomi /hu/ is in 毛布 (“blanket; woolen blanket” /mo’ohu/), 布教 (“missionary work; propagation of religion” /hukyoo/) and 布団 (“futon; padded mattress; bedding” /huton/). /-Pu/ is in 散布する(“to spray; scatter” /sanpu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 怖 “fear; scary”

History of Kanji 怖For the kanji 怖 in seal style, (a) was comprised of 心 “heart” and 甫, which was used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “fear,” whereas (b) was comprised of 心 “heart” and 布, which was also used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “fear.”  (a) became the kanji 怖 in which “heart” became a bushu risshinben “heart.” The kanji 怖 means “afraid; frightening; terrifying; fear.”

The kun-yomi /kowa’i/ means “frightening; petrifying; scary.” The on-yomi /hu/ is in 恐怖 (“terror” /kyo’ohu/) and 畏怖の念 (“sense of the awe” /ihu-no-ne’n/).

  1. The kanji 希 “rare; wish”

History of Kanji 希History of Kanji 爻In seal style the top meant “to mix.” The history of the shape 爻 is shown on the right. Many  threads crossing made woven cloth. Fine thin woven cloth would have a light coming through between threads, and thinness signified “rare.” The bottom, 巾, was a piece of cloth. Together they meant something that was “rare.” One makes a “wish” for something that is not commonly around. The kanji 希 means “wish; to beseech; rare.”

There is another kanji that uses 希, with , a bushu nogihen — the kanji 稀 “rare; thin,” in words such as 稀な (“rare” /mare-na/), 稀薄 (“thin” /kihaku/) and 稀少価値 (“rarity value” /kishooka’chi/). Another on-yomi /ke/ is in 稀有な (“rare” /ke’u-na/). Because the kanji 稀 is not Joyo kanji, 希 may be substituted in some words.

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /ki/ is in 希望 (“hope; wish” /kiboo/), 希薄な (“thin” /kihaku-na/) and 希少価値 (“scarcity value” /kishooka’chi/).

  1. The kanji 飾 “to decorate; embellish”

History of Kanji 飾In the seal style writing of the kanji 飾, 食 “eat; food” and 人 “person” together were used phonetically for /shoku/ and meant someone at a banquet table. With 巾 “cloth” below added, they originally meant “to wipe” (dishes).  Wiping something with a piece of cloth meant to make it clean or pretty. Thee kanji 飾 meant “to decorate; embellish.”

The kun-yomi 飾 /kazaru/ means “to embellish; decorate.” The on-yomi /shoku/ is in 装飾品 (“ornament; decorative thing” /shooshokuhin/) and 修飾語 (“modifier; qualifier” in grammar  /shuushokugo/).

  1. The kanji 帥 “general; commander”

History of Kanji 帥For the kanji 帥 in bronze ware style writings, (a), (b) and (c) was “a door or panel to open a family altar,” and the right side 巾 was “cloth.” Together wiping one’s family altar signified one following a god, and an exemplar. The flipside of following someone was “to lead; to take command.” [Shirakawa] The kanji 帥 means “general; commander.” In seal style (d) was a piece of cloth for a woman. In (e) the left side became simplified. Another view [Kadokawa dictionary] takes the left side of 帥 as signifying “band of people,” and together with 巾 “flag,” they meant commanding a troop with a flag.

The use of the kanji 帥 is limited. There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /sui/ is in 元帥 (“general; commander” /ge’nsui/).

  1. The kanji 帯 “belt; sash; long, narrow stretch of area”

History of Kanji 帯For the kanji 帯 the top of the seal style writing was a belt with accessory, and the bottom was a cloth in front, such as an apron. A rope that helped to keep clothes on was a “sash.” A sash is something you put on yourself. From that it also meant “to have on oneself.” The top of the kyuji 帶 was slightly simplified. The kanji 帯 also meant a “long, narrow stretch of area; strip; sash.”

The kun-yomi 帯 /o’bi/ meant “sash; band.” The on-yomi /tai/ is in 一帯 (“whole area” /ittai/), 温帯 (“temperate zone” /ontai/) and 携帯 (“portable type; carrying” /keetai/), which is now used as an abbreviated word for 携帯電話 (“cell phone; portable phone” /keetaide’nwa/).

  1. The kanji 滞 “to stagnate; be delayed”

History of Kanji 滞For the kanji 滞 the seal style writing was comprised of “water” and 帯, which was used phonetically for /tai/ to mean “belt; strip.” Together “water in an area” gave the meaning “to stagnate,” which further meant “to be delayed; be behindhand with.”

The kun-yomi /todokoo’ru/ means “to stagnate; fall behind (in payment).” The on-yomi /tai/ is in 滞納 (“failure to pay” /tainoo/), 停滞する (“to stop moving; stagnate” /teetai-suru/) and 沈滞ムード (“depressed mood; slum” /chintaimu’udo/).

History of Kanji 敝The shape 敝— The next three kanji 幣弊蔽 share the shape 敝. The history of 敝 is shown on the right. In bronze ware style the top left 巾 had two short lines inside, signifying that cloth is worn and torn. The bottom right was a hand holding a stick, signifying an action. In seal style they became 㡀 and攴. The kanji 敝 meant “cloth becomes rag; torn; to break; tire.”

  1. The kanji 幣 “money; sacred strips of paper”

History of Kanji 幣For the kanji 幣 the top 敝 was used phonetically for /hee/. The bottom was 巾 “cloth.” Together they meant “sacred piece of cloth for offering to a god.” An offering was sometimes money. From that the kanji 幣 meant “money.” It is also used to mean strips of hanging paper to mark a sacred area in Shinto to ward off evils.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hee/ is in 貨幣 (“money” /ka’hee/) and 紙幣 (“paper currency; note” /shi’hee/) an 御幣 (“paper strips” in Shinto. /gohee/).

  1. The kanji 弊 “to collapse; perish; our (humble)”

History of Kanji 弊For the kanji 弊 in seal style (a) and (b), the top was 敝, which was used phonetically for /hee/. The bottom of (a) was “dog” (犬), and (b) had “death” (死). A dog was said to have been used for poison testing. Together they meant “to collapse; perish; die; harmful.” The Correct writing (c) reflected (a) with 犬 at the bottom. The kanji 弊 was also used to mean “our (company)” in humble style. The kanji 弊 means “to collapse; to become exhausted; harmful; our (humble),” and is in 疲弊 (”impoverishment; exhaustion” /hihee/), 弊害 (“bad practice; harmful influence” /heegai/) and 語弊がある (“to be misleading” /gohee-ga-a’ru/).

  1. The kanji 蔽 “to conceal”

History of Kanji 蔽The seal style writing of the kanji 蔽 had 艸 “plant; grass” on top of 敝, which was used phonetically for /hee/. They meant that grass grew rampantly and covered or hid things. The kanji 蔽 means “to hide; cover; conceal.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /-pee/ is in 隠蔽する(“to conceal; hide” /inpee-suru/).

With this post we end our exploration on kanji that originate from thread, a collar and clothes.  We will start another topic next topic. Thank you very much for your reading. — Noriko [May 7, 2017]

The Kanji 初袖襟裾裕・卒・経径軽茎

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This is the third post on kanji that originated from a collar and mean “clothing” – 衣. We have seen in the last two posts that when used as a component in ancient writing a collar may appear as it was (衣) or split in two parts with another component in the middle. In kanji another shape was created –a bushu衤, which is called koromohen. In this post we are going to look at the kanji 初袖襟裾裕 with a koromohen, and 卒, which also came from a collar. Then we are going to look at kanji that had 巠 in kyuji that originated with a warp (straight threads placed vertically) set on a loom in weaving –経径軽茎.

The first two kanji 初 and 袖 have been discussed before, but here we look at them again from the standpoint of the development of a collar into different component shapes.

  1. The kanji 初 “first time; beginning”

History of Kanji 初All the ancient styles (oracle bone style, in brown, bronze ware style, in green, and seal style, in red) had the full shape of a collar (衣) on the left side and a knife (刀) on the right side. In order to make clothes, fabric first had to be cut. From that it meant “first time; beginning.” When 衣 appeared on the left side in kanji, it became 衤, a bushu koromohen “clothing.” /Koromo/ is the kun-yomi of the kanji 衣, as we saw last week. The shape 衤 is not to be confused with ネ, a bushu shimesuhen “religious matter,” which is related to the kanji 示 /shimesu/.  It is interesting to me to see how the two very different kanji 衣and 示 could end up with such similar shapes as bushu.

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koromo-hen

The stroke order of a bushu koromohen is shown on the right.  (For word samples, please refer to the earlier post.)

  1. The kanji 袖 “sleeve”

Thistory-of-kanji-%e8%a2%96he three writings for the kanji 袖 on the left demonstrate that there have been three different shapes for a collar and all meant the same thing – In one, (a), a collar was split into two, the top being the back of the neck and the bottom a front in which two sides meet; another one, (b), kept the original shape; and the third one as bushu had an abbreviated to衤(katakana ネ with an extra stroke as a fourth stroke added). The right side of (b) as well as that of  the kanji 袖 was 由 “coming out of” (a ripe gourd). When you put on clothes arms would come out of sleeves, and it meant “sleeve.”

  1. The kanji 襟 “collar”

History of Kanji 襟In the bronze ware style of the kanji 襟, inside the wide-open collar was 金, which was used phonetically for /kin/. It meant “collar.” In seal style the same two components 衣 and 金 were placed side by side.  In kanji the left side became a bushu koromohen and the right side was replaced by 禁, which was used phonetically for /kin/ to mean “to close.” The kanji 襟 means “collar.”

The kun-yomi 襟 /eri’/ means “collar,” and is in 襟巻き (“muffler; neck scarf” /eri’maki/). The on-yomi /kin/ is in 開襟シャツ (“open-necked shirt” /kaikinsha’tsu/) and the expression 胸襟を開く (“to open one’s heart; have a heart-to-heart talk with someone” /kyookin-o hira’ku/).

  1. The kanji 裾 “hem; foothills of mountain”

History of Kanji 裾The seal style writing of the kanji 裾 was comprised of koromohen and 居, which was used phonetically for /kyo/. It appears that the meaning was originally inclusive of parts of clothing, such as the hem, the bottom of clothes, the collar, the sleeve and the edge of the front panel of clothes. But now the kanji 裾 is used only for “the bottom of clothes; hem; skirts”

The kun-yomi 裾 /suso/ means “bottom of clothes; hem” and is in 山裾 (“foothills of mountain” /yamasuso/) and in 裾模様 (“kimono with design on the skirt” /susomo’yoo/). There is no practical word using the on-yomi.

  1. The kanji 裕 “leeway; plentiful; room”

History of Kanji 裕For the kanji 裕 in bronze ware style a collar that was opened wide had 谷.  Several kanji that contain谷 are difficult to explain from the origins, because their ancient writings do not appear to have come from the same source. Rather than going into unsolved issues in my mind, I am going to leave it as being used phonetically for “roomy; ample.” Together the original meaning of “roomy; loose clothes” came to be used more generally to mean “leeway; plentiful; room.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /yuu/ is in 余裕 (“additional coverage; room” /yoyuu/) and 裕福な (“rich; wealthy well-to-do” /yu’uhukuna/).

  1. The kanji 卒 “soldier; sudden; rash; to end”

History of Kanji 卒The kanji 卒 has seemingly different meanings, and that may have affected the interpretations of its origin. In both bronze ware style and seal style, it was a collar that had a slanted line. One view is that the slanted line across the right and left front panels of clothes that were closed signified that soldiers wore the same clothes that were given to them. From that the kanji 卒 meant “low-ranking soldiers.” Another view is that a deceased person’s collar was tied so that the spirit would not stray out – thus the slanted line signified “tied tightly.” The kanji 卒meant “sudden death,” and this sudden happening gave the meaning “rash; hasty.” It also meant “to end after one does everything to be done.”  The kanji became 亠, two 人 and 十. The kanji 卒 means “low-ranking solder; sudden; to end.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /sotu/ is in 兵卒 (“private (soldier); enlisted man” /heesotsu/), 卒業 (“graduation” /sotsugyoo/), 軽率な (“careless; hasty,without serious thought” /keesotsu-na/). /Sot/- is in 卒中 (“stroke; apoplectic seizure” /socchuu/) and 卒倒する (“to faint; fall unconscious” /sottoo-suru/).

Now we move on to other shapes that are related to fabric or clothes. We begin with the shape 巠 in kyuji (I do not have the kanji for the shinji, which is 又 and 土.)

  1. The kanji 経 “to pass through; experience; sutra”

History of Kanji 経The first kanji is 経. In bronze ware style, (a), a loom that had threads (warps) was placed vertically to the wooden frame. In weaving, warp has to be placed straight so that other threads (the weft) can pass through to make a cloth. So it signified “straight; to go through.” In (b) a skein of threads was added. In (c) in seal style the threads were three wavy lines and the wooden frame became 工 ”craft” at the bottom. The kyuji 經, in blue, reflected seal style. Experience is something one goes through, so it means “experience.” A Buddhist sutra is a long continuous chanting, and the kanji also is used to mean “sutra.”  In shinjitai, the right became the kanji 又 and 土. The kanji 経 means “to go through; (time) passes; Buddhist sutra.”

The kun-yomi 経る means “(time) passes; to experience; go through.” The on-yomi /kee/ is in 経験 (“experience” /keeken/), 経済 (“economy” /ke’ezai/), 経緯 (“detail of history; longitude and latitude” /ke’ei/), 経歴 (“personal history” /keereki/), 経理 (“accounting” /ke’eri/). Another on-yomi /kyoo/ is in 経典 (“sacred scripture” /kyooten/) and お経 (“Buddhist sutra” /okyoo/).

  1. The kanji径 “pathway; straight line connecting two points”

For the kanji 径 in seal style the left side was a “crossroad.” The right side 巠 signified “lines that go strait.” The shortest way to get somewhere is a straight line, which would involve narrow path, not a major road. It meant “narrow path; pathway.” 径 is a line that connects two points, and a straight line that goes through circle is also 径. The kyuji 徑 reflected seal style. In shinjitai the right side became the kanji 又 and 土.

The kun-yomi /michi’/ is in 小径 (“pathway” /komichi/), 直径 (“diameter” /chokkee/) and 半径 (“semidiameter; radius” /ha’nkee/).

  1. The kanji 軽 “light; frivolous”

History of Kanji 軽For the kanji 軽 in seal style the left side was a “wheel; military vehicle.” The right side 巠 was used phonetically for /kee/ to mean “light.”  It meant a military vehicle that was not transporting heavy equipment. From that it meant “light.” The kyuji 輕 reflected seal style.

The kun-yomi /karui/ means “light.” /-Garu/ is in 身軽に (“lightly; with agility” /migaru-ni/), 手軽な (“easy; offhand; convenient” /tegaru-na/), 軽々しい (“thoughtlessly; frivolous; imprudent” /karugarushi’i/). The on-yomi /kee/ is in 軽量 (“light-weight” /keeryoo/), 軽視する (“to make light of” /ke’eshi-suru/) and 軽蔑する (“to scorn; contempt” /keebetsu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 茎 “stem; stalk”

History of Kanji 茎For the kanji 茎 the seal style writing was comprised of 艸 “plant; grass” and 巠 “something straight across.” The part of a plant that was straight was a stem. It meant “stem.” The kanji 茎 means “stem; stalk.”

The kun-yomi /kuki/ means “stem; stalk.” The on-yomi /kee/ is in 地下茎 (“subterranean stem” /chika’kee/), a rather specialized word for a gardener and vegetable grower.

In the next post, we are probably going to look at kanji that contain 巾, and perhaps a few more if we finish with the topic of threads and cloth.  For people who reside in Japan, please enjoy ゴールデンウィーク (“Golden Week” /goorudenwi’iku/) — consecutive holidays from April 29 (originally Showa Emperor’s old birthday, eventually renamed as Showa Day) through May 5 (Children’s day).  Thank you very much for your reading.  -Noriko [April 30, 2017]

The Kanji 懐壊・遠園・還環・醸壌譲嬢-衣 (2)

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In exploring kanji that came from 衣, which originally was “collar,” we are going to look at kanji that contain something complex inside 衣 that was split top and bottom. The etymology of 懐壊・遠園・還環・醸壌譲嬢 is incredibly complex. I wish I could just skip them in our exploration, but I cannot avoid going into the murky intrigue in ancient writing history to cover all Joyo kanji. So, let us explore them, with the help of our trusted old ancient writings.

  1. The kanji 懐 “heart; chest; inside jacket; to hold sentiment”

History of Kanji 懐For the kanji 懐 in (a) and (b) in bronze ware style, in green, the top was “back collar.” In the bottom the center was an “eye” and “drops of water coming down,” signifying “tears pouring out,” and the outside was the right and left sides of a front collar. Under a collar there is one’s heart, so together they appear to signify hiding one’s tears or feelings inside. Shirakawa explains that the right side of the kanji 懐 alone, which was phonetically /kai/, meant “grieving for a deceased person at a funeral,” and that the kanji 懐 with a “heart” meant “sentiments and thoughts cherished in one’s mind,” rather than lamenting someone’s death. (c) in seal style, in red, had a heart. On the right side the two sides of a front collar became overlapping. In kyuji (4) 懷, in blue, the tears were still there, and by the shinji 懐 the tears were gone. The kanji 懐 meant “chest; heart; inside jacket; to hold sentiment.”

The kun-yomi 懐 /hutokoro/ means “heart; chest,” and is in 懐具合 “one’s financial standing; state of one’s purse” /hutokorogu’ai/ and (“dagger; one’s right-hand man” /hutokoroga’tana/). The on-yomi /kai/ is in 懐古的 (“nostalgic” /kaikoteki/), 懐疑的 (“skeptic; incredulous” /kaigiteki/) and 懐中電灯 (“torch; flash light” /kaichuude’ntoo/).

  1. The kanji 壊 “to break; destroy; tear”

History of Kanji 壊The earliest writing that we have for the kanji 壊 was Old style, (a) in purple on the left, which predated (small) seal style. The left side of (a) had an eye with tears pouring down, which was used phonetically for /kai/, and the right side was a mound of soil (土) that signified celebrating the god of earth. It is difficult to get the meaning of the kanji 壊 “to break; destroy” from (a). However, in seal style, in red, in (b) the right side was the same as (c) for 懐, but in (c) the right side had 攴 “to hit by hand using a stick.”  This would be in line with the current meaning. However, the kyuji (d) took after (b). The kanji 壊 means “to break; destroy; tear.”

The kun-yomi 壊す /kowa’su/ and 壊れる /koware’ru/ means “to break” in a transitive verb and “to be broken” in an intransitive verb. The on-yomi /on/ is in 破壊 (“destruction; demolition” /hakai/), 崩壊 (“collapse; cave-in” /hookai/) and 倒壊家屋 (“collapsed house” /tookaika’oku/).

  1. The kanji 遠 “distant; far”

Usually the kanji 遠 is explained as:  辶 “to go” and 袁 “a long road” or “spacious,” together meaning walking a long road–thus “far; distant.” This suffices for the kanji shape, but our interest is to find an explanation of the origin from the earliest shape. Here Shirakawa’s account comes in.

History of Kanji 遠Shirakawa proposed a unique explanation. In bronze ware style in (a) “crossroad” on the left and “footprint” at the bottom together signified “to move forward” (This became辵 in (c), and eventually辶, a bushu shinnyoo in kanji.) In both (a) and (b) the top right was a “footprint” and below that was a collar with a circle, signifying “jewel.” Together, Shirakawa explained, the bottom right (which became 袁) was jewel inside a deceased person’s clothes. The top footprint (止) signified the departure of a deceased person for a long journey. From a long journey of a deceased person it meant “far; distant.”

The kun-yomi 遠い /tooi/ means “far; distant,” and is in 遠出 (“an outing; trip” /toode/). The on-yomi /en/ is in 遠路 (“long distance” /e’nro/), 遠方 (“distant place; faraway land” /enpoo/), 遠慮する (“to keep someone at a respectful distance; avoid” /enryo-suru/) and 敬遠 (“reserve; discretion” /keeen/). Another on-yomi /on/ is in 久遠 (“eternity” /kuon/).

  1. The kanji 園 “park; garden”

History of Kanji 園For the kanji 園, the inside (袁) was used phonetically for /en/ to mean “spacious; roomy.” The outside (囗) was an enclosure. An enclosure that had a lot of roomy space was a garden or park. The kanji 園 means “park; garden.”

The kun-yomi 園 /sono/ means “garden” in literary style. The on-yomi /en/ is in 公園 (“park” /kooen/), 庭園 (“garden” /teen/), 園芸 (“gardening; horticulture” /engee/) and 幼稚園 (“kindergarten” /yoochi’en/).

  1.  The kanji 還 “to return; circular”

History of Kanji 還Usually the origin of the kanji 還 is explained as being comprised of “to go” (辶) and that /kan/ was used phonetically to mean “to go around; round.” Together they meant “to go around and return to the beginning.” The kanji 還 means “to return; circle back to the original point.”

Shirakawa’s account was closer to the ancient writing. (a) in oracle bone style had a “crossroad” on the left. The right side was used phonetically for /kan/, and it had an “eye,” signifying “awake,” and “collar.” In bronze ware style in (b) a “jewel; ring” was added inside the collar. (c) was (b) flipped sideways, with a footprint added at the bottom. Together, Shirakawa explained, a deceased person, when departing, was given an eye as a symbol of becoming live again and returning. From that the kanji 還 meant “to return; circle back to the original point”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kan/ is in 生還 (“returning alive” /seekan/), 返還 (“restoration; restitution” /henkan/), 還元 (“return; reconstitution; resolution” /kangen/), and 還暦 (one’s sixtieth birthday” /kanreki/).

  1. The kanji 環 “ring; circular”

History of Kanji 環The kanji 環 is usually explained as 王 “jewel” and the right side, which was used phonetically for /kan/ to mean “a ring.” The eye signified to look around. Later on it came to be used for “something round” or “to circle.”

Shirakawa explained that 王 “jewel” symbolized what the right side signified – wishing a departing deceased person be returning. In archeological sites a ring of jewels was often found in a burial place.  Returning gave the kanji 環 the meaning of “circular; round; surrounding.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /kan/ is in 環境 (“environment” /kankyoo/), 環状線 (“circular road” /kanjoosen/) and 循環 (“circulation” /junkan/).

The component 襄 that appears in the kyuji of the next four kanji –壌醸譲嬢– is also a puzzling one. None of these four kanji has ancient writing earlier than seal style. Fortunately 襄 existed earlier. So, we look at the history of 襄.

History of Kanji 襄For 襄, (a) in bronze ware style had many things inside a collar. We can see “soil” (土) on the left and a hand on the right, which coincided with (b) – more precisely speaking, (b) had 攴 “action.” What the center was in (a) and (b) is hard to interpret. (b) did not have a collar. In (c) in Old style two hands holding something at the top, and the bottom is not clear other than having a “backward foot.” In (d) in seal style, inside the collar were two 口 “mouths” or “prayer boxes” at the top, and below was a lightning-like shape and 爻 “to mix.” Again no clue for me. The kanji 襄, which is not Joyo kanji, is said to have assorted unrelated meanings — “rich; soft; to squeeze in; face forward; wave off; help; to rise.” Well, a little excursion to the history of 襄 did not produce much, but at least we covered the ground. In fact in all of the four kanji the right side was used phonetically for /joo/ whose meanings may or may not have contributed to the kanji.

  1. The kanji 壌 “soil; earth”

History of Kanji 壌The left side of the seal style of 壌 had “soil” on the left, and the right side was used phonetically for /joo/.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /joo/ is in 土壌 (“earth; soil” /do’joo/).

  1. The kanji 醸 “to ferment”

History of Kanji 醸The kanji 醸 had 酉 “rice wine vessel.” The right side 襄 was used phonetically for /joo/ to mean “to put things in,” — together putting rice and yeast in a vessel and brewing or fermenting the contents. The kanji 醸 means “to ferment; brew.”

The kun-yomi 醸し出す /kamoshida’su/ means “to bring about.” The on-yomi /joo/ is in 醸造 (“fermented food production; brewing” /joozoo/) and 醸成する (“to bring about; arouse; ferment (unrest).”

  1. The kanji 譲 “to grant; give way; pass on”

History of Kanji 譲The kanji 譲 had 言 “language; word.”  The right side was used phonetically for /joo/ to mean “to blame; condemn.” It was borrowed to mean “to grant; give way; pass on.”

The kun-yomi 譲る /yuzuru/ means “to give way; pass on.” The on-yomi /joo/ is in 譲渡する (“to assign and transfer” /jo’oto-suru/), 譲与する (to hand over; cede” /jo’oyo-suru/) and 譲位 (“abdication (of the throne)” /jo’oi/).

  1. The kanji 嬢 “daughter; girl”

History of Kanji 嬢The kanji 嬢 had 女 “female.” The right side was used phonetically for /joo/ to mean “plentiful; abundant.” Together they meant “daughter; young lady.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /joo/ is in お嬢さん (“daughter; young lady” /ojo’osan/) and 令嬢 (“young lady of good family” in honorific style /reejoo/).

Well, it has taken me some time to arrive at this about those problematic kanji.  What I have is not complete, but those ancient writings give us something to think about. We will have another post on kanji that came from 衣 next time.  Thank you very much for your reading.  Happy Easter!  — Noriko [April 15, 2017]

P.S. Due to my small trip the next post will be in two week’s time.  Thank you for your interest and patience.  -N

The Kanji 衣依褒表俵裏哀衷衰-衣 “clothes” (1)

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In this and next two posts we are going to look at kanji that contain a component that originated from a collar. We begin with kanji 衣依褒表俵裏哀衷衰.

  1. The kanji 衣 “clothes”

History of Kanji 衣For the kanji 衣, in oracle bone style, in brown, bronze ware style, in green, and seal style, in red, it was a single image of a collar — the top was the back of a collar that would be behind one’s neck and the bottom was the front part of a collar where two front sections of clothes were folded in a V-shape. In kanji a back collar became 亠 and a front collar became rather complex. (Please see the stroke order at the bottom of this post.) The kanji 衣 meant “clothes.”

The kun-yomi /koromo/ means “clothes,” and is in 衣更え (“change clothes for the season” /koromogae/). Another kun-yomi /ki’nu/ is in the expression 歯に衣を着せぬ (“not mince matters” /ha’-ni ki’nu-o-kisenu/). The on-yomi /i/ is in 衣服 (“clothes” /i’huku/), 衣類 (“clothes” /i’rui/), 衣食住 (“food, clothing and shelter”– three primary conditions to secure a basic living /ishoku’juu/), 更衣室 (“dressing room” /kooi’shitsu/), 衣装 (“costume” /i’shoo/) and 白衣 (“white garment; white uniform worn by medical or lab staff” /ha’kui/).

  1. The kanji 依 “to depend; follow”

History of Kanji 依For the kanji 依 in oracle bone style the two writing samples had a standing person inside a collar. A person was protected by clothes, and being inside someone’s protection meant “to depend.” In seal style the person was taken out of the collar and was placed to the left side, which became イ, a bush ninben. The kanji 依 means “to depend; follow.”

The kun-yomi 依る /yoru/ means (“to depend; follow” /yoru/). The on-yomi /i/ is in 依頼する (“to make a request; commission to do” /irai-suru/), 依然として (“still; as it was before” /izentoshite/), 旧態依然 (“remaining unchanged; none the better for the change” /kyuuta iizen/) and 依願退職 (“request resignation” /i’gan taishoku/).

  1. The kanji 褒 “to praise; commend”

History of Kanji 褒The oracle bone style writing of the kanji 褒 had a collar split to the top and the bottom, and a middle. In the middle was a hand holding a baby wrapped in diapers, used phonetically for /hu/ (孚) and /hoo/ to mean “to wrap loosely.” Together they meant “robe.” In the kyuji 襃 the collar 衣 was split into two parts, a back collar () and a frontal collar, and the middle changed to 保. Later it was borrowed to mean “to praise; commend.” The kanji 褒 means “to praise; commend.”

The kun-yomi 褒める /home’ru/ means “to praise; commend.” The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 褒美 (“reward; compensation” /hoobi/).

  1. The kanji 表 “outside; surface; public; front; table”

History of Kanji 表The seal style writing had a collar inside which had animal fur. Fur clothes were worn with the fur side out. From that the kanji 表 meant “outside.” Something that is outside becomes “public.” What is shown is “in front” of something. What is seen is the “surface” of something. Something that is shown to be understood at first sight is a “table.” The kanji 表 means “outside; surface; public; front; table.”

The kun-yomi 表 /omote’/ means “outside; surface; front.” Another kun-yomi 表れる /araware’ru/ means “to show up; appear.” The on-yomi /hyoo/ is in 表現 (“expression” /hyooge’n/), 表情 (“facial expression” /hyoojo’o/), 表札 (“nameplate on a outside door” /hyoosatsu/) and 表にする (“to tabulate” /hyoo-ni-suru/. /Pyoo/ is in 発表 (“presentation; making it public” /happyoo/) and 年表 (“time line table” /nenpyoo.).

  1. The kanji 俵 “straw bag”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji is comprised of イ, a bushu ninben “person,” and 表, which is used phonetically for /hyoo/. Together the kanji 俵 originally meant “share the profits equaly.”  But in Japan it is used to mean “straw bag.”

The kun-yomi 俵 /tawara/ means “straw bag” and 米俵 (“rice bag” /komeda’wara/), which has been replaced by a paper or plastic bag nowadays. The on-yomi /hyoo/ is in 土俵 (“sumo wrestling ring” /dohyoo/), which was originally made with a straw rope, and 一俵 (one bag” /i’ppyoo/).

  1. The kanji 裏 “inside; wrong side; hidden”

History of Kanji 裏For the kanji 裏 in bronze ware style (a) had 田 “rice paddies” and 土 “dirt,” which was phonetically /ri/. In (b) 里 was placed inside a collar. From “the inside of clothes” it meant “wrong side; inside; hidden.” In (c) in seal style 里 was placed in 衣 which was split up to the top and the bottom. The kanji 裏 means “wrong side; back; inside; hidden.”

The kun-yomi 裏 /ura’/ means “back; wrong side,” and is in 裏返す (“turn the other around; reverse” /uraga’esu/), 裏切る(“to betray; double-cross” /uragi’ru/), 裏話 (“story behind a story” /uraba’nashi/) and 裏書き (“endorsement (of a check)” /uragaki/). The on-yomi /ri/ is in 裏面 (“wrong side; back” /ri’men/).

  1. The kanji 哀 “sorrow; pity”

History of Kanji 哀For the kanji 哀 in bronze ware style inside a collar was a mouth. The muffled sound of wailing meant “sorrow.”

The kun-yomi /a’ware/ means “to feel pity.” Another kun-yomi 哀しみ /kanashimi/ means “sorrow.” The on-yomi /ai/ is in 悲哀 (“sorrow” /hi’ai/) and 哀悼の意を表する (“to express condolences” /aitoo-no-i’-o hyoosu’ru/).

  1. The kanji 衷 “genuine sentiment”

History of Kanji 衷For the kanji 衷 in the seal style 中 “center; inside” in the middle was used phonetically for /chuu/ to mean “center; middle.” What was inside a collar was underclothes worn under outerwear. Underclothes touch one’s skin. What was hidden under clothes was true feelings. The kanji 衷 means “true feeling; genuine sentiment.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /chuu/ is in 苦衷 (“predicament; mental suffering” /kuchuu), 折衷案 (“compromise plan” /secchu’uan/) and 衷心より (“from the bottom of my heart” in a formal letter /chuushin-yo’ri/).

  1. The kanji 衰 “to weaken; decline; diminish”

History of Kanji 衰For the kanji 衰 in bronze ware style it was a collar at the top and strands of grass or plants hanging down from the neck. It was a straw raincoat.  The Old style writing, in purple, is more descriptive because the wet straws were wilted with rain. It meant “to droop down.” In seal style the drooping straws was placed between the split collar. In kanji the straw became simplified. The kanji 衰 means “to slack; die away; fade; decline.”

The kun-yomi 衰える /otoroe’ru/ means “to weaken; decline; diminish.” The on-yomi /sui/ is in 衰退 (“atrophy; degeneration” /suitai/) and 衰弱 (“weakening” /suijaku/).

衣筆順

Stroke Order of 衣

The stroke order of the kanji 衣 is shown on the left.

We will continue exploring other kanji that contained a component inside a collar, most likely complex kanji such as 遠園・還環・懐壊・壌醸嬢譲 that have been given an intriguing explanation.  Thank you for your reading.  -Noriko [April 9, 2017]

The Kanji 幼玄畜蓄幽率滋慈磁屯純頓鈍-幺 and 屯

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History of Kanji 幺In this post we are going to look at kanji that contain幺 “skein of threads”–幼玄畜蓄幽率滋慈磁. The history of 幺 is shown on the right. Then we will look at the four kanji that contain 屯 “threads knotted”– 屯純頓鈍.

  1. The kanji 幼 “very young; immature”

History of Kanji 幼For the kanji 幼 in oracle bone style, in brown, it was a skein of threads with a long stick that was used to twist the threads. Shirakawa wrote that it was the original shape for the kanji 拗 “to twist” (a non-Joyo kanji), and was borrowed to mean “very young; immature.” On the other hand Setsumon 2000 years ago explained the origin to be 幺 and 力. Oracle bones were first entered into scholarly discussion at the very end of the 19th century so Setsumon’s account naturally did not take oracle bone writing into consideration. Nonetheless Setsumon’s account still influences many kanji dictionaries today. For instance, the Kadokawa dictionary and Kanjigen followed Setsumon’s account — with 幺 “fine small thread,” phonetically for /yoo/, and 力 “power” together, they meant “fragile, young child.” This view does not explain the oracle bone style writing shown above. In the Key to Kanji (2010) I took the latter view.

The kun-yomi 幼い /osana’i/ means “very young; young and fragile” and 幼馴染 (“childhood friend” /osanana’jimi/). The on-yomi /yoio/ is in 幼稚園 (“kindergarten” /yoochi’en/), 幼稚な (“immature” /yoochina/) and 幼虫 (“larva” /yoochuu/).

  1. The kanji 玄 “deep dark color; black”

History of Kanji 玄For the kanji 玄, the bronze ware style writing was the same as 糸 “skein of threads.” The Old style writing that predated seal style, in purple, had dots inside the skein, possibly indicating that it was not raw color. The seal style writing, in red, was a skein of threads with an apparatus for dyeing at the top. Threads that were dyed dark meant “deep color; black.” In Japanese the meaning was applied to a person–someone who became skilled by experience.

The kun-yomi /ku’ro/ is in 玄人 (“expert; master hand” /kuro’oto/). The on-yomi /gen/ is in玄米 (“brown rice; husked rice” /genmai/) and 玄関 (“door; entryway” /ge’nkan/), originally for the entry to a Bhuddist temple. It came from the Bhuddist Zen sect notion that the entrance to the temple symbolized profound darkness leads to enlightenment.

  1. The kanji 畜 “livestock”

History of Kanji 畜For the kanji 畜 the oracle bone style writing was a skein of threads that was tied at the top (玄) and an urn that contained dye (田) at the bottom. In Old style there were two skeins, signifying many skeins together. They were soaked in an urn of dye for some length of time. Leaving the skeins in the urn to pick up the color originally meant “to keep; accumulate.” Animals were kept inside a fence, and it came to be used to mean “animal; livestock.” The kanji 畜 means “animal; beast.”

There is no kun-reading. The on-yomi /chiku/ was in 家畜 (“domestic animal; livestock” /kachiku/), 牧畜 (“stock farming; cattle raising” /bokusan/), 畜産 (“stock farming” /chikusan/). 畜生 (“a beast; brute” /chikusho’o/) is also used as cursing word by a rough male (“The hell with you. Damn it”).

  1. The kanji 蓄 “to accumulate; store”

History of Kanji 蓄For the kanji 蓄 the seal style writing had 艸 “plant” at the top and 畜 “accumulate.” Together they originally signified “to accumulate or pile up plants.”  From accumulating or piling up things, it meant “to store; save.” The kanji 蓄 means “to save up; stock up; learn.”

The kun-yomi 蓄える /takuwae’ru/ means “to save up; accumulate,” and is in 蓄え (“savings” /takuwae/). The on-yomi /chiku/ is in 貯蓄する (“to save; lay put aside” /chochiku-suru/) and 蓄積する (“to accumulate; amass” /chikuseki-suru/).

  1. The kanji 幽 “dark; subtle and profound; obscure”

History of Kanji 幽For the kanji 幽 in oracle bone style and bronze ware style, it had skeins of threads (the two 幺) on top of a fire for smoking. Smoke dyed threads darkened gradually. The smoking room was dark and visibility was obscured. The kanji 幽 meant “dark; subtle and profound; obscure.”

The kun-yomi 幽かな /kasu’kana/ meant “faintly.” The on-yomi /yuu/ was in  幽玄 (“elegant simplicity; the subtle and profound”), 幽霊 (“ghost; phantom” /yu’uree/) and 幽閉する (“to confine someone in a place; lock someone up” /yuuhee-suru/).

  1. The kanji 率 “to lead; rate”

History of Kanji 率The kanji 率 was a bundle of wet threads being wrung tightly. In oracle bone style the six dots were water droplets. In seal style both ends of the skein had an apparatus to wring. Wringing a bundle of threads tightly gave the meaning of “pulling many things into one strongly” and was applied to people too to mean “to lead; head a party of people.” It was also used to mean “rate.” The kanji 率 means “to lead or head a party of people; rate.”

The kun-yomi 率いる /hikiiru/ means “to head a party of people; lead.” The on-yomi /ritsu/ meant “rate.” Another on-yomi /so’tsu/ is in 率先して (“to take the initiative” /sossen-shite/), 引率する (“to be in charge of (a party) /insotsu-suru/) and 統率する (“to command” /toosotsu-rusu/).

  1. The kanji 滋 “nutrient”

History of Kanji 滋For The kanji 滋, the oracle bone style writing had two skeins of thread in the middle of running water. The seal style had water on the left, and the right side was 茲 “(plant) to grow thick; rampart,” which was phonetically used for /ji/.  Together they meant “to become moistened; profit; flourish.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ji/ is in 滋養 (“nutrient” /jiyoo/).

  1. The kanji 慈 “to treat tenderly”

History of Kanji 慈For the kanji 慈, the bronze ware style writing had two 幺, which was used phonetically for /ji/ and 心 “heart.” In seal style it was茲 and 心. Together they meant “to nurture a child; treat tenderly.”

The kun-yomi /itsukushi’mu/ means “to care tenderly; be affectionate toward.” The on-yomi /ji/ is in 慈悲深い (“merciful; charitable” /jihibuka’i/), 慈善 (“charity” /jizen/) and 慈愛 (“parental affection” /ji’ai/).

  1. The kanji 磁 “earthen ware; magnet”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 磁. The left side 石 means “stone; rock.” The right side 茲 was used phonetically for /ji/ to mean “something black.” Things that were black meant magnet. It also means “earthen ware; magnet.”

The next four kanji 屯純頓鈍 share 屯.

  1. The kanji 屯 “camp; barracks of soldiers”

History of Kanji 屯For the kanji 屯in oracle bone style and in bronze ware style it was the knotted end of threads in woven fabric. Pulling many threads together into one also meant a place where many people congregate, such as “camp; barracks of soldiers.”

The kun-yomi 屯する /tamuro’su/ “to gather in large numbers (of people); hang out (as a large group)” is not in Joyo kanji reading. The on-yomi /ton/ is in 駐屯する (“to be stationed” /chuuton-suru) and 駐屯地 (“army post; camp” /chuuto’nchi/).

  1. The kanji 純 “pure; genuine”

History of Kanji 純For the kanji 純 the two bronze ware style writings were same as those of 屯. In seal style 糸 “skein of threads” was added. A knot of threads of same quality meant “pure.”

The kanji 純 meant “pure; genuine.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /jun/ is in 純粋 (“genuinely; truly; pure” /junsui/), 純正品 (“genuine product; manufacturer’s project” /junseehin/), 純毛 (“pure wool” /junmoo/) and 純真な (“pure; naïve; sincere” /junshin-na/).

  1. The kanji 頓 “to make a deep bow; prostrate oneself”

History of Kanji 頓In 頓 the left side of the seal style writing (屯) was “knotted end of threads; fringe” that hangs down. The right side (頁) was a person with headgear in formal attire, and it meant “head.” Together a kneeling person in a formal attire bowed his head down to the ground. The kanji 頓 meant “to make deep bow; prostrate oneself.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ton/ is in 無頓着な (“unconcerned” /muto’nchaku-na/) and 頓服薬 “medicine taken only when necessary; medicines to be taken only once.”

  1. The kanji 鈍 “dull; bunt; dumb; slow”

History of Kanji 鈍For the kanji 鈍, the left side (金) was “metal.” The right side (屯) “knotted end of threads; fringe” signified something round.  Cutlery whose blade is not sharp (that is “round”) is “dull; blunt.” Applied to a person, it meant “dumb; slow.” The kanji 鈍 meant “dull; bunt; dumb; slow.”

The kun-yomi /nibu’i/ means “slow; dumb; dull.” The on-yomi /don/ was in 鈍器 (“blunt instrument” /do’nki/), 鈍感 (“insensible; unaffected” /donkan/), 鈍痛 (”dull pain” /dontsuu/), 鈍行 (“local” /donkoo/) and 鈍角(“obtuse angle” /do’nkaku/).

Well, this post ended up rather long. I have squeezed in more kanji than usual because I wanted to finish with kanji for “thread.”  In the next post on we are going to look at kanji that contain 衣 that originated from “collar.”   Thank you very much for your reading.  — Noriko [April 2, 2017]

The Kanji 素索紫累系綿孫遜係県懸 –“thread” (3) and “lineage”

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In this post, we first look at kanji in which 糸 “thread” is placed at the bottom- 素索紫累-, and then kanji that has 系 “lineage,” which poriginally came from “a hand pulling a few skeins of threads together” -系綿孫遜係県懸.

  1. The kanji 素 “raw materials; crude; natural”

History of Kanji 素In bronze ware style, in green, the center was a skein of raw silk threads with the top twisted tightly for dyeing, which was handled with two hands from the sides at the bottom. From “threads that were to be dyed” it meant “raw; materials.” In seal style, in red, the two hands were dropped but the tip of the threads remained more prominent, which became the top of the kanji 素. The kanji 素 meant “raw materials; crude; natural.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /so/ is in 色素 (“pigment” /shiki’so/), 質素 (“simplicity; frugally” /shi’sso/), 酸素 (“oxygen” /sa’nso/) and 水素 (“hydrogen” /su’iso/).  Another on-yomi /su/ is in 素顔 (“natural face; a face with no makeup” /su’gao/), 素性 (“birth; blood; one’s history” /sujoo/) and 素通りする (“to pass through; pass by” /sudoori-suru/).

  1. The kanji 索 “to search”

History of Kanji 索The seal style writing was an apparatus to make a rope by twisting threads or other fibers. Twisting a rope started from the top. Pulling a rope signified searching for something. The kanji 索 meant “to search.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /saku/ is in 検索する(“to search for; look up” /kensaku-suru/), 探索 (“exploration” /tansaku/) and 索引 (“index” /sakuin/).

  1. The kanji 紫 “purple”

History of Kanji 紫In seal style the top 此 was used phonetically for /shi/, and the bottom 糸 was “thread.” It meant the color in which red and blue were mixed– “purple.” The kanji 紫 meant “purple.”

The kun-yomi 紫 /mura’saki/ means “purple.” The on-yomi /shi/ is in 紫外線 (“ultraviolet ray” /shigaisen/).

  1. The kanji 累 “to connect; accumulate”

History of Kanji 累In seal style the top of 纍, three 田, was used phonetically for /rui/ to mean “to accumulate,” and the bottom was 糸 “thread.” Together they meant “to connect; heap up; put one on top of another.” In kanji the top became a single 田 and 糸. The kanji 累 meant “to connect; pile up.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /rui/ is in 係累 (“dependents; relatives and in-laws” /keerui/), 累計 (“the total; the aggregate” /ruikee/) and 累進課税 (“progressive taxation; graduated taxation” /ruishinka’zee/).

  1. The kanji 系 “system; faction; family line; lineage”

History of Kanji 系In oracle bone style, in brown, and bronze ware style, a hand at the top was pulling three skeins of threads together. From “pulling things into one” the kanji 系 meant “system; faction; family line; lineage.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kee/ is in 系統 (“pedigree; line” /keetoo/), 家系図 (“family lineage chart; pedigree chart” /kake’ezu/), 文系 (“humanities; liberal arts” /bunkee/) and 系列 (“business grouping” /keeretsu/).

  1. The kanji 綿 “cotton”

History of Kanji 綿rThe kanji 綿 has 糸, a bushu itohen, rather than系, but if we look at the seal style writing it was 系, threads that were connected. In seal style the left side 帛 meant “silk cloth.” The right side was a skein of threads tied together. Together they originally meant “silk cloth.” Silk was produced in ancient times but was always expensive. Cotton is believed to have been introduced in China in the late first millennium or the turn of the second millennium. The correct kanji 緜 reflected seal style. When cotton gained popularity, the kanji 綿 came to mean “cotton.”

The kun-yomi 綿 /wata’/ means “cotton.” The on-yomi /men/ is in 木綿 (“cotton” /momen/), 綿羊  (“sheep” /men-yoo/), 綿棒 (“cotton swab” /me’nboo/) and 綿密な (“detailed” /menmitsu-na/).

  1. The kanji 孫 “grandchild; offspring”

History of Kanji 孫In oracle bone style and bronze ware style, the left side was a child, and the right bottom was a skein of threads. A thread is long and continuous. With a child together they meant “offspring; grandchild.” In seal style the right side became 系 “lineage.” The kanji 孫 meant  “grandchild; offspring.”

The kun-yomi /mago’/ means “grandchild.” The on-yomi /son/ is in 子孫 (“descendants” /shi’son.)

  1. The kanji 遜 “to humble oneself; condescend.”

History of Kanji 遜In seal style the left side辵 meant “to go forward.” The center and the right side together, 孫, was used phonetically for /son/. It originally meant “to back off,” then was borrowed to mean “to humble oneself; condescend.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /son/ is in 謙遜する (“to humble oneself” /kenson-suru/) and 遜色のない (“not inferior; to measure up” /sonshoku-no-na’i/).

  1. The kanji 係 “a person in charge; relationship”

History of Kanji 係In seal style the left side イwas a person standing, and the right side was the kanji 系, “connection.” From “someone who was connecting matters,” it meant “a person in charge; relationship.”

The kun-yomi 係 /ka’kari/ means “a person in charge.” The on-yomi /kee/ is in 関係 (“relationship” /kankee/) and 係争 (“dispute” /keesoo/).

  1. The kanji 県 “prefecture”

History of Kanji 県The origin of the kanji 県 is a gruesome one.  In (a) and (b) in bronze ware style it was comprised of three elements: A tree and a rope to which a head was attached. It was the severed head of someone who was executed for a crime. The gruesome origin was dropped, and it meant “to hang down.” In seal style (c) the left side was a head upside done with the hair hanging, and the right side 系retained the original meaning of a rope attached to something, even though the tree was dropped. The kyuji (d 縣) reflected seal style, and in shinji, 系 was dropped. The authority that had the power to execute was a jurisdiction. The kanji 県 meant “prefecture.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ken/ is in 神奈川県 (“Kanagawa prefecture” /kanagawa’ken/) and 県庁 (“prefectural office” /ke’nchoo/).

  1. The kanji 懸

No ancient writing is available. After the original meaning of 県, “to hang,” was taken to mean “prefecture,” a new kanji 懸 was created by adding 心 to 縣, which was also used phonetically for /ken/. The kanji 懸 meant “to attach; hang.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ken/ is in 懸垂 (“overhang; suspension” /kensui/), 懸賞 (“price competition” /kenshoo/), 懸命に (“hard; strenuously; assiduously” /kenmeeni/) and 懸案 (“pending issue” /ken-an/).

We will continue to explore kanji components that are related to thread, weaving, cloth, etc,.  in the next several posts, if not more. Thank you very much for your reading.  –Noriko [March 26, 2017]

The Kanji 網綱縄総紋紅紺縁級給 – itohen “thread” (2)

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  1. The kanji 網 “net”

History of Kanji 網For the kanji 網, (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, was a net and was also used phonetically for /moo/.  It meant “net.” (c) in seal style, in red, the outside was a net and inside was a skein of thread (糸) and 亡 for /boo; moo/. In kanji, (d), a skein of thread was taken outside the net as a bushu itohen, and the right side became 罔. The kanji 網 meant “net; net-like thing.”

The kun-yomi 網 /ami’/ meant “net.” The on-yomi /moo/ is in 連絡網 (“contact network” /renraku’moo) and 網羅する (“to contain all the points; cover thoroughly” /mo’ora-suru/).

  1. The kanji 綱 “cable; principle”

History of Kanji 綱The seal style for the kanji 綱 had 岡, which was used phonetically for /koo/. 岡 was originally a hard mold that was baked at a high temperature and signified “strong.” Together with 糸, they meant “cable; line.” Something that was strong gave a principle for an order, thus it meant “principle.”  The kanji 綱 meant “cable; principle.”

The kun-yomi 綱 /tsuna’/ means “rope,” and is in 横綱 (“grand champion sumo wrestler” /yokozuna/) and 綱渡り (“tightrope; ropewalking” /tsunawa’tari/). The on-yomi /koo/ is in 綱領 (“platform; principles; directive” /kooryoo/).

  1. The kanji 縄 “rope”

History of Kanji 縄In the seal style writing of the kanji 縄, the right side originated from a fly, but was used phonetically for /joo/ to mean a “twisted thing.” Together they meant “rope.” The kyuji, in blue, reflected seal style. In kanji the right side became simplified. The kanji 縄 meant “rope; cord.”

The kun-yomi 縄 /nawa’/ meant “rope.” The on-yomi /jo’o/ is in 縄文時代 (“Jomon pre-historic era in Japanese history” /joomonji’dai/). The name came from pottery that had the embossed pattern of a rope, and it preceded 弥生時代 /Yayoiji’dai/).

  1. The kanji 総 “to gather all; all; general”

History of Kanji 総In the seal style writing of the kanji 総, next to the skein of threads (糸) was  悤, which was used phonetically for /soo/ to mean “to bundle up hair.” Together they meant to bundle threads into one. From that it meant “to gather all” and “all.” In kanji the right side悤became忩. The kanji 総 meant “to gather all; all; general.”

The kun-yomi 総て /su’bete/ meant “all”. Another kun-yomi /husa/ is in a name. The on-yomi /soo/ is in 総合 (“total; synthesis” /soogoo/), 総称 (“general name; name for all” /sooshoo/), 総務 (“general administration” /so’omu/) and 総理大臣 (“prime minister” /soorida’ijin/).

  1. The kanji 紋 “pattern; (family) crest”

History of Kanji 紋The bronze ware style writing for the kanji 紋 had a skein of threads (three rounds), and the right side was a hand holding a stick, signifying “action by hand.” Together they signified a hand making a pattern with threads. Setsumon did not give any seal style writing. The right side (文) of the kanji 紋 was used phonetically for /bun; mon/ to mean “design.”  With 糸 and 文 together they meant a pretty pattern in woven fabric.  In Japanese 紋 is also used to mean “family crest.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 紋 /mon/ meant “family crest,” and is in 波紋 (“ripple” /hamon/), 指紋 (“finger print” /shimon/) and 家紋 (“family crest” /ka’mon/).

  1. The kanji 紅 “red”

History of Kanji 紅The seal style writing was comprised of 糸, a skein of threads, and 工, which was used phonetically for /koo/. Together they meant “red.”  The kanji 紅 meant “red.”

The kun-yomi 紅 /be’ni/ is in 紅色 (“red” /beniiro/), 口紅 (“lipstick” /kuchibeni/). The on-yomi /koo/ is in 紅茶 (“black tea” from the color of brewed tea /koocha/) and 紅一点 (“only female in the company” /ko’o itten/).

  1. The kanji 紺 “dark blue”

History of Kanji 紺The seal style writing was comprised of 糸 and 甘, which was used phonetically for /kan/. Together they meant “dark blue.” The kanji 紺 meant “dark blue.”

The kun-yomi /kon/ is in 紺色 (“dark blue” /kon-iro/), 濃紺 (“dark blue” /nookun/) and 紺碧の空 (“the azure sky” /konpeki-no-so’ra/).

  1. The kanji 縁 “edge; to be linked by fate”

History of Kanji 縁The right side of the seal style writing (彖) was used phonetically for /tan; en/ to mean “edge.”  With the left side 糸, together they meant “edge of clothes; fringe.” From that it also meant something connecting. In Buddhism this kanji means “to be linked by fate.” The kyuji, in blue, reflected the seal style. In shinji the right top was simplified. The kanji 縁 meant “edge; to be linked by fate.”

The kun-yomi 縁 /huchi’/ means “edge; border; brim,” and 額縁 (“picture frame” /gakubuchi/) and 縁なし眼鏡 (“a pair of rimless eyeglasses” /huchinashi-me’gane/). The on-yomi /e’n/ is in 縁起がいい (“of good omen; boding well for” /engi-ga-i’i/), 縁談 (“marriage proposal; marriage prospect” /endan/), 縁故採用 (“hiring through personal connection” /enko-sa’iyoo/) and 縁がある (“to be linked by fate” /e’n-ga-aru/).

  1. The kanji 級 “class; order”

History of Kanji 級The kanji 級 had 糸and 及, which was used phonetically for /kyuu/. The history of 及 by itself is shown on the right. The image was a person and a hand of another person catching the person in front. The sense of “order” from these two people, front and behind, signified order. With threads added, they originally meant setting up threads in the right order on the loom. From that it was extended to mean “phase; stage.” The kanji級 meant “class; order.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kyuu/ is in 等級 (“rank; class” /tookyuu/), 上級生 (“upper class student” /jookyu’usee/) and 一級品 (“first-rate goods” /ikyuuhin/).

  1. The kanji 給 “to supply; be given”

History of Kanji 給The right side合 of the kanji 給 was used phonetically for /kyuu/ to mean “to fill a gap.” With the left side 糸, they meant “to meet what is deficient.” The kanji 給 meant “to supply.”

The kun-yomi 給う /tama’u/ means “to be given (by a superior person)” humble style; “(a superior person) to give.” The on-yomi /kyuu/ is in 給料 (“salary; wage” /kyu’uryoo/), 給与 (“salary; wage” /kyu’uyo/), 支給する (“to pay; provide” /shikyuu-suru/) and 給油 (“refueling; oil supply” /kyuuyu.)

We will continue with a bushu itohen in the next post.  Thank you very much. -Noriko [March 18, 2017]

The Kanji 糸糾約絵紀継絶絹紡—itohen “thread”

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With this post we are going to start kanji that is related to thread, binding, weaving, cloth, etc., in connection with 糸 “thread.” We will see that when 糸 is used as a component, it is rarely used for phonetic value but it adds the meaning that pertains to characteristics of thread, such as continuity and binding. The kanji this week are 糸糾約絵紀継絶絹紡.

  1. The kanji 糸 “thread”

History of Kanji 糸For the kanji 糸, (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, and (b) and (c), in bronze ware style, in green, had two or three silkworm cocoons strung together with filaments coming out at two ends. An alternative view is that it was a skein of raw silk threads.  It meant “thread.” The two round shapes in (d) in seal style, in red, became the shape that had two 糸side by side in (e) in kyuji, in blue. In shinji (f) it became a single skein of threads. The kanji 糸 meant “thread.”

The kun-yomi 糸 /i’to/ means “thread,” and is in 糸口 (“the end of a thread; clue” /ito’guchi), ミシン糸 (“sewing machine thread” /mishin-i’to/), 毛糸 (“yarn” /keeto/) and 生糸 (“raw silk” /ki’ito/). The on-yomi /shi/ is in the expression 一糸乱れず (“in perfect order” /i’sshi-midare’zu/).

  1. The kanji 糾 “to entwine; investigate; scrutinize”

History of Kanji 糾The seal style writing of the kanji 糾 had “thread” on the left. The right side was two ropes that were twisted or entwined, and was used phonetically for /kyuu/. Threads that were twisted or entwined also signified to lump things together or to make things right. The kanji 糾 meant “to twist something; entwine; investigate; scrutinize.”  When糸 is used as a bushu on the left side it is called a bushu itohen.

The kun-yomi 糾す /tadasu/ means “inspect; scrutinize.” The on-yomi /kyuu/ is in 紛糾 (“to become entangled; be thrown into confusion” /hunkyuu-suru/), 糾明する (“to examine closely” /kyuumee-suru/) and 糾弾する (“to denounce” /kyuudan-suru/).

  1. The kanji 約 “promise; abridge”

History of Kanji 約The seal style writing of the kanji 約 is comprised of 糸 “thread” and 勺 “ladle scooping up something,” which was used phonetically for /shaku; yaku/. Together binding with threads what was raised meant “to promise.” Binding things in a bundle also gave the meaning to shorten or cut back. The kanji 約meant “to promise; shorten; cut back.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /yaku/ is in 約束 (“promise” /yakusoku/), 予約 (“reservation” /yoyaku/), 条約 (“treaty” /jooyaku/), 要約 (“summary” /yooyaku/) and 節約する (“to cut down; curtail” /setsuyaku-suru).

  1. The kanji 絵 “painting; picture”

History of Kanji 絵The seal style writing of the kanji絵 had 糸 “thread” and 會 “steamer with a lid.” A lid meets the steamer tightly, thus meant “to meet,” and it was also used phonetically for /kai/. Both sides together pulling threads of various color together originally signified brocade or embroidered cloth. Later it came to be used to mean “painting.” The kyuji 繪, which reflected seal style, was simplified to 絵, just as the kanji會 was replaced by 会 in shinji. The kanji 絵 meant “painting; picture.”

The kun-yomi 絵 /e/ means “picture; painting,” and is in 浮世絵 (“ukiyoe print” /ukiyo‘e/) and 絵文字 (“emoticon; emoji” /emoji/), a new word that seems to have been accepted in electronics communication nowadays.  The on-yomi /kai/ is in 絵画 (“painting; picture” /ka’iga/).

  1. The kanji 紀 “beginning; to chronicle”

History of Kanji 紀己, the bronze ware style writing for the kanji 紀, was phonetically /ki/, and has been given various interpretations — a tool used for spinning threads; a crooked end of a thread or rope; a motion in which a person in a crouched position was about to get up, etc. In seal style 糸 “thread” was added on the left to clarify the meaning. Gathering threads into one signified a beginning of a long-lasting event – thus, “to begin.” Making a chronicle of events was like gathering different lines of events into one – thus, “to chronicle.” The kanji 紀 meant “to begin; chronicle.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ki/ is in 紀元 (“starting point of years” /ki’gen/), 紀元前 (“before Christ; before common era” /kige’nzen/), 世紀 (“century” /se’eki/) and 風紀 (“public moral” /hu’uki/).

  1. The kanji 継 “to succeed; inherit: continue”

History of Kanji 継For the kanji 継, the bronze ware style writing had a pair of skeins of threads on two separate levels with a line in-between. That line signified that the threads were cut short (幺). In seal style another thread 糸 was added on the left, and together they signified “a thread (on the left) connecting the threads that are cut.” The four 幺 in kyuji was replaced by 米 in shinji.  The kanji 継 meant “to succeed; inherit: continue.”

The kun-yomi 継ぐ /tsugu/ means “to succeed; inherit,” and is in 受け継ぐ (“to follow; inherit” /uketsugu/) and 引き継ぎ (“taking over; transfer of (control)” /hikitsugi/). The on-yomi /kee/ is in 継続する (“to continue” /keezoku-suru/) and テレビ中継 (“television broadcast” /terebichu’ukee/).

  1. The kanji 絶 “to cut; die out”

History of Kanji 絶RThe bronze ware style writing of the kanji 絶 was similar to 継 in 6– a pair of skeins of threads on two shelves to mean “short thread” The Old style, in purple, was the same as the right side of the kanji 継, except that it was a flip-side. In seal style the right side (色) was added and used phonetically for /zee; zetsu/. The top of 色 had a knife (刀). Together they meant “to cut; die out.”

The kun-yomi 絶える /tae’ru/ means “to die out,” and is in 絶え間なく (“constantly; perpetually; endlessly” /taemana’ku/).  The on-yomi /ze’tsu/ is in 絶滅 (“extinction; eradication” /zetsumetsu/), 断絶 (“severance; extinction” /danzetsu/), and /zet-/ is in 絶対に(“absolutely” /zettai-ni/).

History of Kanji 断The combination of “four skeins of short threads” and “knife” reminds us of another kanji 断 in the earlier discussion. [December 6, 2016]  The kanji 断 in seal style had a hand axe (斤), a more powerful sharp object- thus, the kanji 断 meant “to cut drastically.”

  1. The kanji 絹 “silk”

History of Kanji 絹The writing in light color (time unknown) and seal style writing had 糸 on the left, and the right side was used phonetically for /ken/. The top of the right side was generally viewed as a round silkworm. The kanji 絹 meant “silk.”

The kun-yomi 絹 /ki’nu/ means “silk” and is in 絹豆腐 (“tofu of fine texture” /kinudo’ohu/).  The on-yomi /ken/ is in 人絹 (“imitation silk; rayon” /jinken/), a word somewhat outdated because レーヨン is used.

  1. The kanji 紡 “to spin”

History of Kanji 紡The seal style of the kanji 紡 had 糸 “skein of thread” and 方 for a phonetic /hoo; boo/.  The kanji 紡 meant “to spin.”

The kun-yomi /tsumugu/ means “to spin.” The on-yomi /boo/ is in 紡績業 “the spinning and weaving industry; textile manufacturing” /booseki’gyoo/) and 紡織機 (“spinning and weaving machine; spindles and looms” /booshoku’ki; boosho’kkuki/.)

We are going to continue with the kanji that have a bushu itohen in the next post.  Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [March 12, 2017]