The Kanji 食飯餓館飽飾飲餌養 – “to eat; food”

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食と食へんThe new area of topics we are going to explore in the this and next several postings is around a kitchen, cooking, measuring, etc. We start kanji with a bushu shokuhen “eating; food” – 食飯餓館飽飾飲餌養. A bushu shokuhen has one stroke fewer than the kanji 食, as shown on the right. We shall also see that not all the kanji with a bushu shokuhen originated from 食.

  1. The kanji 食 “to eat; meal”

History of Kanji 食For the kanji 食, in (a), (b) and (c) in oracle bone style, in brown, it was “food in a raised bowl with a lid.” (b) had the dotted lines on both sides. I am unable to find the account for this in reference, but I am wondering if they signified that there was so much food that it was spilling over. It meant “food; to eat.” (d), in green, was in bronze ware style. In seal style (e), in red, some scholars analyze it as 皀 with 𠆢 — “a cover” (𠆢), “food” (白) and “a spoon; ladle” (ヒ). The kanji 食 means “to eat; food.”  <The composition of the kanji: 𠆢 and 良>

The kun-yomi 食べる /tabe’ru/ means “to eat,” and is in 食べ物 (“food” /tabe’mono/). Another kun-yomi 食う /ku’u/ has many uses — 食う (/ku’u/ “to eat” – a male speaker’s style; or used for an animal), 電池を食う (“to use up battery” /de’nchi-o ku’u/), 足止めを食う or 食らう (“to be prevented leaving” /ashidome-o-ku’u; kura’u/), 虫が食う (“to be eaten by worms” /mushi-ga-ku’u/), 食い止める (“to stop; hold back” /kuitome’ru/), 食ってかかる (“to go at someone; lash out at someone” /ku’ttekakaru/) and 食い違う (“do not match; go wrong” /kuichigau/). The on-yomi /shoku/ is in 食事 (“meal” /shokuji/), 朝食 (“breakfast” /chooshoku/), 食材 (“food; ingredients” /shokuzai/), 粗食 (“plain food” /soshoku/), 食料品 (“foodstuffs; groceries” /shokuryoohin/) and 給食 (“school lunch” /kyuushoku/).

  1. The kanji 飯 “cooked rice; meal”

History of Kanji 飯For the kanji 飯, in bronze ware style and seal style it comprised “food in a raised bowl with a lid,” and 反, which was used phonetically for /han/. Together they originally meant “cooked grains such as rice and millet.” The kanji 飯 means “cooked rice; meal.” <The composition of the kanji 飯: a bushu shokuhen and 反>

The kun-yomi 飯 /meshi’/ means (“mea” /meshi’/ by a male speaker), and is in 昼飯 (“lunch” /hirumeshi/ by a male speaker), 握り飯 (“rice ball” /nigirimeshi/) and 朝飯前 (“piece of cake; snap” /asamashima’e/). The on-yomi /han/ is in (お)赤飯 (“steamed sticky rice with red azuki beans” for a celebratory meal /oseki’han/ or /sekihan/), 炊飯器 (“(electric) rice cooker” /suiha’nki/), 五目ご飯 (“rice cooked with a few other ingredients” /gomoku-go’han/) and in the expression 日常茶飯事 (“daily occurrence” /nichijoosaha’nji/). /-Pan/ is in 残飯 (“leftovers from a meal” /zanpa’n/).

  1. The kanji 餓 “to starve”

History of Kanji 餓For the kanji 餓, the seal style writing comprised “food in a raised bowl with a lid,” and 我, which was used phonetically for /ga/ to mean “to starve.” The kanji 餓 means “to starve.” A few postings ago, we looked at another kanji that meant “to starve” – the kanji 飢. The kanji 飢 focuses on lack of food (such as in famine).   <The composition of the kanji 餓: a bushu shokuhen and 我>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ga/ is in 飢餓 (“starvation” /ki’ga/), 餓死 (“death due to starvation” /ga’shi/) and 餓鬼 (“imp” /ga’ki/; “young mischievous kid; brat” spoken by a male speaker” /gaki’/).

4. The kanji 館 “building; large house”

History of Kanji 館For the kanji 館, the seal style writing had “food in a raised bowl with a lid” (食), and 官 “a place where military officers stay,” which was used phonetically for /kan/. Together they originally meant “a place where many people gather and eat.” The kanji 館 means “a large building; mansion.”  <The composition of the kanji 館: a bushu shokuhen and 官>

The kun-yomi 館 /yataka/ means “a mansion; a large house.” The on-yomi /kan/ is in 旅館(“Japanese-style inn” /ryokan/), 会館 (“hall; clubhouse; building” /kaikan/), 図書館 (“library” /tosho’kan/), 大使館 (“embassy” /taishi’kan/) and 水族館 (“aquarium” /suizoku’kan/).

  1. The kanji 飽 “to grow tired; weary; be fed up; full”

History of Kanji 飽For the kanji 飽, in Old style the left side of (a), in purple, had “a covered bowl of food.” The right side had “a hand” over “a baby.” Together they meant “feeding a baby to full stomach.” The top of (b) is not clear, but it could be two doors to an altar, and (b) means “to offer food to satisfy a god.” In seal style in (c) the right side was replaced by 包 “to wrap up completely,” from a baby in mother’s womb, and was used phonetically for /hoo/ to mean “full.” After eating much food one’s stomach was full. With too much of anything one gets weary of. The kanji 飽 means “to become tired of; be saturated; weary; full.”  <The composition of the kanji 飽: a bushu shokuhen and 包>

The kun-yomi 飽きる /aki’ru/ means “to grow weary of; become tired of.” It is in 飽きが来る (“to grow tired of” /aki’ga-kuru/), 飽き足らない (“unsatisfying” /akitaranai/), 聞き飽きた (“I got tired of hearing it” /kikia’kita/) and 飽くまで (“to the bitter end; to the last; stubbornly” /aku’made/). The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 飽和 (“saturation” /hoowa/).

  1. The kanji 飾 “to decorate”

History of Kanji 飾For the kanji 飾, the left side of the seal style writing had 食 “food in a raised bowl with a lid” and 人 “person” on the right top, and 巾 “cloth” at the bottom. Together they meant “a person in front of a bowl of food wiping the bowl with a piece of cloth.” It meant “to make it clean or pretty.” The kanji 飾 meant “to decorate; embellish.”  <The composition of the kanji 飾: a bushu shokuhen, a short ノ, 一 and 巾>

The kun-yomi 飾る /kazaru/ means “to decorate,” and is in 髪飾り(“hair accessory” /kamika’zari/), 飾り付け (“decoration” /kazaritsuke/) and 着飾る (“to dress up” /kikazaru/). The on-yomi /shoku/ is in 修飾語 (“modifier” in grammar /shuushokugo/), 服飾デザイナー (“dress designer” /hukushoku-deza’inaa/) and 粉飾決算 (“fraudulent account; window dressing settlement” /hunshoku-ke’ssan/).

In the next three kanji – 飲餌養, the bushu shokuhen originated from something other than “food in a raised bowl with a lid.”

  1. The kanji 飲 “to drink; swallow”

History of Kanji 飲For the kanji 飲, in oracle bone style (a) had “a person trying to drink wine from a large wine cask.” If we look at (a) closely, the tongue was a forked shape, as was in the ancient writings of the kanji 舌 “tongue,” indicating eating. It meant “to drink (wine).” (b) in oracle bone style was a large wine cask (酉) with a stopper at the top. The left side of (c) and (d) in bronze ware style and (e) in seal style had a wine cask with a stopper. The right side was a person trying to drink or opening his mouth wide. In the kyuji 飮, (f) in blue, the cask was replaced by a bushu shokuhen “to eat; food.” The reason could be that a bushu 酉 was primarily used for fermented liquid and the kanji 飲 is more inclusive of liquids and food that one drinks or swallows without chewing. The kanji 飲 meant “to drink; swallow.”  <The composition of the kanji 飲: a bushu shokuhen and 欠 >

The kun-yomi 飲む /no’mu/ means “to drink; swallow,” and is in 飲み込む (“to swallow; understand” /nomiko’mu/), 飲み込みがいい (“quick to comprehend” /nomikomi-ga-ii/), 飲食店 (“restaurant” /inshoku’ten/), 飲料水 (“drinking water” /inryo’osui/) and 誤飲 (“drinking or swallowing by mistake” /goin/).

  1. The kanji 餌 “bait; feed”

History of Kanji 餌For the kanji 餌, the two seal style writings, (a) and (b), had totally different shapes. (a) was “a vessel to keep grains” (鬲) with 耳 on top, which was used phonetically for /ji/ to mean “flour dumpling.” Together they originally meant “steamed dumpling.” (b) had “food on a raised bowl with a lid” on the left side, and 耳 “ear,” which was used phonetically for /ji/. The kanji 餌 means “animal feed; bait; lure.”  <The composition of the kanji 餌: a bushu shokuhen and 耳>

The kun-yomi 餌 (“bait; lure; animal feed” /esa’; e’/), and is in 餌付ける (“to feed (to domesticate)” /ezuke’ru/) and 餌食になる (“to become a victim” /e’jiki-ni-naru/). The on-yomi /ji/ is not on the Joyo kanji list.

  1. The kanji 養 “to support; nourish; foster”

History of Kanji 養For the kanji 養, (a) in oracle bone style and (b) and (c) in bronze ware style had a sheep on the left, which was used phonetically for /yoo/ to mean “to feed.” The right side was “a stick held by a hand,” signifying “action.” Together they signified sheep farming. The right side would have become 攴 in kanji, but in seal style, (d), the kanji 食 “to eat; food” replaced it. The kanji 養 means “to support (by providing food); nourish; foster.”  <The composition of the kanji 養: 羊 with a short last stroke, 八 and 良>   (P. S. — Actually (a) was “a cow; ox,” judging from the shape of the horns. August 20, 2017)

Other kanji such as 飼 “to keep animal,” 飢 “to starve” and 餅 “rice cake” do not have ancient writing and are phonetic-semantic kanji, in which a bushu shokuhen signified “food.”

In this posting we have seen in all the kanji that a bushu shokuhen, which is one stroke fewer than the kanji 食, pertains to food, eating or drinking.  Some kanji even did not contain 食 in earlier writings, but for the meaning of “food; eating” a bushu shokuhen took over as a semantic feature.  We shall continue exploring the topic around food preparation and eating in the next several postings. Thank you very much for your reading. – Noriko [August 19, 2017]

The Kanji 病痛疾疲疫痴嫉痩療痢痘症- “table” (4) 疒

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In this fourth posting on kanji that originated from different sorts of tables, we are going to explore kanji with “a sickbed”– 病痛疾疲疫痴嫉痩療痢痘症. What is common among those twelve kanji is 疒, a bushu yamaidare (/yamai’dare/). /Ya’mai/ (病) is an old word for “sickness” and /-dare/ is a voicing assimilation of /tare/ that means “to hang down; droop.” A bushu whose name ends with /-dare/ has a shape that begins with a top component that hangs down to the bottom left.

  1. The kanji 疾 “sickness; very fast”

History of Kanji 疾For the kanji 疾 (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, was “a sick person with perspiration due to high fever or blood (indicated by the three dots) lying in bed” that was placed vertically. On the other hand, (b) in bronze ware style, in green, was “a person” and “an arrow” at the bottom right, together signifying “a wounded person shot with an arrow.” An arrow was also used phonetically for /shitsu/. (c) in seal style, in red, was (a) and (b) combined – “a sick bed” and “an arrow.” In (d) in Old style, in purple, an arrow was placed under 厂. The kanji 疾comprises a bushu yamaidare (疒) and “an arrow” (矢). Having an arrow as its component, it also meant “very fast.” The kanji 疾 means “illness; very fast.”  <the composition of the kanji 疾: 疒 and 矢>

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /shitsu/ is in 疾患 (“disease; malady; ailment” /shikkan/), 疾病 (“disease; malady” /shippee/), 疾走する (“to sprint; run at full speed” /shissoo-suru/) and 疾風 (“gale; strong wind” /shippuu/).

  1. The kanji 病 “illness; sick”

History of Kanji 病For the kanji 病, the seal style writing comprised “a bed” that was vertically placed, and 一, signifying “a person lying down” on the right side, and 丙, which was used phonetically for /hee; byoo/ to mean “to add; increase.” Together they originally signified someone’s illness had deteriorated or “ill; sick.” In kanji “a person lying in a sickbed” became 疒, a bushu yamaidare. The kanji means “illness; sick; something unhealthy.”  <the composition of the kanji 病: 疒 and 丙>

The kun-yomi 病 /ya’mai/ means “sickness; illness,” as in 病に倒れる (“to fall ill” /ya’mai-ni taore’ru/. The on-yomi /byoo/ is in 病気 (“illness; disease” /byooki/), 病床 (“one’s sickbed” /byooshoo/), 病欠 (“absence due to illness” /byooketsu/), 病死 (“death from an illness; natural death” /byooshi/), 病的な (“morbid; unsound; unhealthy; abnormal” /byooteki-na/) and 金欠病 (“having little money” colloquial among friends /kinketsubyoo/). Another on-yomi /pee/ is in 疾病 (“disease” /shippee/).

  1. The kanji 痛 “pain; severe; acute”

History of Kanji 痛For the kanji 痛, the seal style writing had the elements of a bushu yamaidare. On the right side below a line, 甬 “a wooden pail,” was used phonetically for /tsuu/ to mean “to pass through.” In sickness what passed through one’s body was “pain; ache.” A pain running through a body could be “piercing and severe.” The kanji 痛 means “pain; ache; severe; piercing.”  <the composition of the kanji 痛: 疒, マ and 用>

The kun-yomi 痛い /ita’i/ means “to ache; be in pain,” 痛々しい (“pitiful; pathetic” /itaitashi’i/) and 手痛い (“serious; costly” /teita’i/). The on-yomi /tsuu/ is in 苦痛な (“painful” /kutsuu-na/), 沈痛な (“grave; sad” /chintsuu-na/), 痛感する (“to feel acutely; take something to heart” /tsuukan-suru/) and 痛切に (“keenly; poignantly; acutely” /tsuusetsu-ni/).

  1. The kanji 疲 “fatigue; to be tired”

History of Kanji 疲For the kanji 疲, the seal style writing had the components for 疒, a bushu yamaidare, and 皮, which was used phonetically for /hi/ to mean “to be tired.” The kanji 疲 means “fatigue; to become tired; worn out.”  <the composition of the kanji 疲: 疒 and 皮>

The kun-yomi 疲れる /tsukare’ru/ means “to become fatigued; become tired,” and is in the expression お疲れ様でした (“Thank you for your hard work” /otsukaresama-de’shita/). /-Zukare, -づかれ/ is in 気疲れ (“mental fatigue; nervous exhaustion” /kizukare/. The on-yomi /hi/ is in 疲労 (“fatigue” /hiroo/), 金属疲労 (“metal fatigue” /kinzokuhi’roo/) and 疲弊する (“to grow impoverished; become exhausted” /hihee-suru/).

  1. The kanji 疫 “epidemic”

History of Kanji 疫For the kanji 疫, the seal style writing comprised the elements of a bushu yamaidare. The right side under a line (“a person”) was “a hand holding a weapon” (殳, a bushu hokozukuri), which was /eki/ phonetically, and is believed to be an abbreviated form of the kanji 役. The kanji 役, when pronounced as /eki/, meant “conscripted for a battle or frontier work,” and it had the connotation that it was something everyone did reluctantly. So, 疒, a bushu yamaidare and 殳 together meant “illness that everyone unwillingly got” – that is, “an epidemic.” The kanji 疫 means “epidemic.”  <the composition of the kanji 疫: 疒 and 殳>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /eki/ is in 疫病 (“an epidemic” /ekibyoo/) and 検疫 (“quarantine” /ken-eki/).

  1. The kanji 痴 “foolish; idiocy”

History of Kanji 痴The seal style of the kanji 痴 comprised the components of a bushu yamaidare, and 疑 “to doubt; unsure,” which was used phonetically for /chi/. The kanji 疑 had the origin that someone stood still not knowing which way to go or what to do. Together someone who was in such a sick condition that he could not judge correctly meant “foolish; idiocy” The kyuji reflected the seal style, but in the shinji 痴, 疑 was replaced by 知 “to know,” which was phonetically /chi/. It is interesting to see that components (疑 and 知) that had almost opposite meanings were used to carry the same meaning.  <the composition of the kanji 痴: 疒 and 知>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /chi/ is in 痴呆症 (“dementia” /chihooshoo/), 白痴 (“idiocy; an idiot” /hakuchi/) and 愚痴 (“silly complaint; grumble” /guchi/), as in 愚痴をこぼす (“to whine; grumble” /guchi-o-kobo’u/).

  1. The kanji 嫉 “jealous”

History of Kanji 嫉The seal style writing of the kanji 嫉 had 女 “a woman” and 疾, which was used phonetically for /shitsu/, as we have just seen in 1 above. According to Shirakawa, Setsumon gave the writing with イ, a ninben “a person,” rather than 女 “woman” as on the left side of 疾 to be the Correct writing, but Setsumon did not seem to have given any seal style sample. (The seal style on the left is from Shirakawa.) Together they meant “jealous.” The kanji 嫉 means “to be jealous; envy.”  <the composition of the kanji 嫉: 女 and 嫉>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /shitsu/ is in 嫉妬する (“to be jealous” /shitto-suru/) and 嫉妬心 (“jealous feeling; envy” /shitto’shin/).

 8. The kanji 痩 “to become haggard; become emaciated; slim”

History of Kanji 痩For the kanji 痩 the seal style writing had “a table” on the left, and the right side had a line on top, and 叟 “an elder person” was used phonetically for /soo/. “A sick old person” gave the meaning “to become haggard; emaciated.”  <the composition of the kanji 疲: 疒 and 皮>

The kun-yomi 痩せる /yaseru/ means “to become thin; lose weight.” The on-yomi /soo/ is in 瘦身 (“slim figure; lean figure” /sooshin/).

  1. The kanji 療 “medical treatment”

History of Kanji 療In seal style (a) and (b) had the components for a bushu yamaidare. The right side 尞 of (a) underneath 一 was used phonetically for /ryoo/. 2 had 樂 “comfort,” which is the kyuji for the kanji 楽. Together they meant “relieving pains of a sick person.” The kanji 療 means “medical treatment.”  <the composition of the kanji 疲: 疒 and 尞>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ryoo/ is in 治療 (“treatment; care; remedy” /chiryoo/), 療法 (“therapy; treatment” /ryoohoo/) and 療養中 (“under medical treatment” /ryooyoochuu/).

  1. The kanji 痢 “diarrhea”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji 痢 comprises “a person in sick bed” and 利, which was used phonetically for /ri/ and to mean “quick.” The kanji 痢 mean “diarrhea.”  <the composition of the kanji 痢: 疒 and 利>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ri/ is in 下痢 (“diarrhea” /geri/) and 赤痢 (“dysentery” /se’kiri/).

  1. The kanji 痘 “smallpox”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji 痘 comprised a bushu yamaidare, and 豆, which was used phonetically for /too/ and meant “bean.” 豆 originally meant “a raised tall bowl” that was /too/ phonetically, as seen in kanji such as 頭 “head.” It came to mean “bean.” A disease that gave pustules is smallpox. The kanji 痘 means “smallpox.  <the composition of the kanji 痘: 疒 and 豆>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /too/ is in 種痘 (“smallpox vaccine” /shutoo/).

  1. The kanji 症 “symptom of illness”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 症. The kanji 症 comprises 疒 “sick bed,” and 正, which was used phonetically for /shoo/ to mean “sign.” Together they meant “how an illness manifests.” The kanji 症 means “symptom of illness.” <the composition of the kanji 症: 疒 and 正>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /shoo/ is in 症状 (“symptom” /shoojo’o/), 既往症 (“past illnesses” /kiooshoo/), 炎症を起こす (“to cause inflammation” /enshoo-o oko’su/) and 重症 (“severely ill” /juushoo/).

In the last four postings we have explored various shapes that originated from a table with legs — 几・其・丙・爿・ 疒.  I am surprised at the extent of the use of a table in kanji, some even given a 90-degree turn. In the next posting we shall move onto another topic. I am thinking about the area of a kitchen and cooking. Thank you very much for your reading. – Noriko [August 6, 2017]

The Kanji 将奨状壮荘装床 – “table” (3) 爿   

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This is the third post on kanji that originated from “a table.” We are going to explore a table with two legs that were placed vertically – 爿.  The kanji in this post are 将奨状壮荘装 and 床.

  1. The kanji 将 “military leader; immediate future”

History of Kanji 将For the kanji 将, in bronze ware style, in green, it had爿”a vertically placed two-legged table,” 月 “a piece of meat,” and 刀 “a knife.” Together they signified placing the offering of sacrificial animal meat on an altar table right before a battle. The person who conducted the rite was a military leader – thus it meant “military leader; general.” It was conducted right before embarking on a battle – thus it meant “immediate future.” In seal style, in red, and the kyuji 將, in blue, the bottom became 寸 “hand.” In shinji 将, the legs of the table were simplified to a ハ shape, vertically placed, and the piece of meat was replaced by “a hand with fingers showing from above.” The kanji 将 means “a military leader; general; immediate future.”  <the composition of the kanji 将: the reduced shape of 爿, a small ノ, a truncated ツ and 寸>

The kun-yomi /ma’sa/ is in 将に (“just; precisely” /ma’sa-ni/), not included in Joyo kanji kun-reading. The on-yomi /sho’o/ is in 将軍 (“general; shogunate in Japanese history” /shogun/), 大将 (“admiral; general; chief” /ta’ishoo/), 将校 (“commissioned officer” /sho’okoo/), 主将 (“captain” /shushoo/) and 将来 (“near future” /sho’orai/).

  1. The kanji 奨 “to urge; commend; encourage”

History of Kanji 奨For the kanji 奨 the seal style writing had a vertically placed  table (爿), “ a piece of meat” (月), which was used phonetically for 將 /shoo/, and “dog” (犬) at the bottom right. Together they meant “to recommend; encourage.” The role of a dog is not clear, but some scholars view it that “setting a dog on” gave the meaning “to instigate; encourage.” (Personally I do not feel this explanation sits well.) In the kyuji 奬 the bottom was replaced by 大 “person.” (In many of the kanji that contained 犬 “a dog” in ancient writing, it lost the short stroke, and became 大 “person” or “big.”) The kanji 奨 means “to urge; commend; encourage.” <the composition of the kanji 奨: 将 and 大>

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /sho’o/ is in 奨励する (“to give encouragement to; promote” /suishoo-suru/), 推奨する (“to recommend; endorse”) and 奨学金 (“scholarship; stipend” /shoogakukin/).

  1. The kanji 状 “state; condition; letter”

History of Kanji 状For the kanji 状 the seal style writing comprised “a vertically placed table” (爿), which was used phonetically for /joo/, and “a dog” (犬). For this kanji Setsumon explained it as “the shape of a dog.” It meant “shapes; conditions.” One reported the condition of a matter by a letter, thus it also meant “letter; a piece of paper.” The kanji 状 means “state; condition; letter.”  <the composition of the kanji 状: the reduced shape of 爿 and 犬>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /joo/ is in 状態 (“condition” /jootai/), 状況 (“situation” /jookyoo/), 白状する (“to confess” /ha’kujoo-suru/), 状差し (“letter holder” /joosa’shi/), 紹介状 (“letter of introduction” /shookaijoo/), 令状 (“warrant” /reejoo/) and 礼状 (“thank you letter” /reejoo/).

  1. The kanji 壮 “grand; manly; strong”

History of Kanji 壮For the kanji 壮 the seal style writing comprised 爿 “a table with legs that was placed vertically” and was used phonetically for /shoo; soo/.  The right side 士, “man; warrior,” came from an ceremonial axe to signify that a man belongs to the “warrior class.” Together they meant “grand; manly; strong.”  <the composition of the kanji 壮: a reduced shape of 爿 and 士>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /soo/ is in 壮大な (“grand; magnificent /soodai-na/). 勇壮な (“brave; heroic; valiant; gallant” /yuusoo-na/), 壮観 (“thrilling sight; spectacle view” /sookan/), 壮行会 (“farewell party; a rousing send-off” /sooko’okai/) and 悲壮な (“in the midst of grief; tragic but courageous” /hisoo-na/).

  1. The kanji 荘 “villa; manor; solemn; grand”

History of Kanji 荘For the kanji 荘, (a) in bronze ware style had爿“a vertically placed table,” 由 and 口, together having the meaning “grandness in religious ceremony, and meant “grand; solemn.” (b) in Old style, in purple, had a table (爿), deceased bones (歹) on a table (几). (For the Old style (b) I have not been able to find an analysis in references.) (c) in seal style had 艸 “grass” and 壮, which was /soo/ phonetically. Together a place where many trees and plants vigorously grew gave the meaning “villa; manor.” The kanji 荘 means “villa; manor; solemn; grand.”  <the composition of the kanji 荘: 艹 and 壮>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /soo/ (in kan-on) is in 別荘 (“villa; vacation home; country place” /be’ssoo/), 荘重な (“solemn; imposing” /soochoo-na/) and 荘厳な (“solemn; majestic” /soogon-na/).’’ Another on-yomi /shoo/ (in go-on) is in 荘園 (“a private estate owned by a noble, temple or shrine” /shooen/).

  1. The kanji 装 “to wear clothes; equip; pretend”

History of Kanji 装For the kanji 装 in seal style the top 壮 was used phonetically for /soo/ to mean “grand; manly,” and the bottom 衣 meant “clothes” from “collar.” From putting on a good outfit to look grand it meant “to put on good clothes; equip with gear.” It also meant “to pretend.” The kanji 装 means “to wear clothes; equip; pretend.”  <the composition of the kanji 装: 壮 and 衣>

The kun-yomi 装う /yosooo/ means “to dress oneself; be attired; feign; pretend.” The on-yomi /soo/ (in kan-on) is in 偽装する (“to camouflage something as” /gisoo-suru/), 装備する (“to equip” /so’bi-suru/), 装飾 (“decoration” /sooshoku/), and 正装 (“formal attire” /seesoo/). Another on-yomi /shoo/ (in go-on) is in 衣装 (“clothing; attire” /i’shoo/) and 装束 (“costume; attire” /sho’ozoku/), as in 白装束 (“white shroud” /shirosho’ozoku/).

  1. The kanji 床 “floor; bed”

History of Kanji 床There is one more kanji that I would like to bring in – the kanji 床, even though 爿 does not appear on the surface. The kanji 床 had the Correct writing style 牀, in green, on the left. The kanji 牀 comprised 爿 “table; wooden plank,” which was used phonetically for /shoo/, and 木 “wood.” Together they meant “wooden floor; wooden bed.” The kanji 床 became a popular writing for 牀 in much later times. The kanji 床 means “floor; bed.”  <the composition of the kanji 床: 广 and 木>

The kun-yomi 床 /yuka/ means “floor.” Another kun-yomi 床 /toko/ means “sleeping futon laid out,” 床を取る (“to lay futon” /toko-o to’ru/), perhaps a slightly old expression, and is also in 床の間 (“alcove; the recess in a Japanese room in which a scroll may be hung” /tokonoma/) and 床屋 (“barber shop” /tokoya/). /-Doko/ is in 寝床 (“sleeping bed; berth” /nedoko/). The on-yomi /shoo/ is in 温床 (“hotbed” /onshoo/),  起床時間 (“the hour of rising; the time one gets up” /kishooji’kan/), 病床 (“sick bed” /byooshoo/) and 臨床試験 (“clinical trial” /rinshoo-shi’ken/).

It seems that we need one more posting before finishing this topic. In the next posting we shall look at kanji that originated from 疒 “illness” from “a person lying on a bed.”  Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko  [July 29, 2017]

The Kanji 丙柄商更梗硬便 – “a table” (2)丙

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In this post we are going to explore another table shape – 丙. The seven kanji 丙柄商更梗硬便 have either 丙 in kanji 丙柄 or in earlier writings of the kanji 商更梗硬便.

  1. The kanji 丙 “poor grade”

History of Kanji 丙The kanji 丙 has quite limited use in the current writing system, but it had a longer history than some other kanji. (a) in oracle bone style and (b), (c) and (d) in bronze ware style was a pictograph of a table or a pedestal to place something on. Unlike 几, the legs were fortified with diagonal supports. It was used phonetically for /hee/ and was borrowed to mean a certain time in the Chinese calendar. In (e) another line was added to indicate that this table was a place to put something on or a pedestal.  In Japanese 丙 was also used to indicate a lowest grade  in 甲乙丙 /ko’o o’tsu he’e/ “Top, Medium and Low.” The kanji 丙 means “the third-class; poor grade.”   <the composition of the kanji 丙: 一 and 内>

The kun-yomi /hinoe/ is a name of the calendar time. The on-yomi /koo/ is in 丙種 (“C-grade; third grade” /he’eshu/).

  1. The kanji 柄 “handle; power; demeanor; pattern”

History of Kanji 柄(a) in oracle bone style had a tree on top of a base, whereas in (b) in seal style the two components were placed side by side.  Together they signified a ladle with a long wooden stick. A long wooden stick or handle could be a tool to manipulate something or even a person. From that it also meant “power; to handle power; manner in which a matter is handled.” In Japanese it also means “pattern.” The kanji 柄 means “a handle; power; to manipulate; demeanor; pattern.”  < the composition of the kanji 柄: 木 and 丙>

The kun-yomi 柄 /e/ means “handle.” Another kun-yomi /gara/ means “pattern,” and is in 大柄な (“a person with a large build; large pattern,” /oogara-na/), 人柄 (“a person’s character; disposition” /hitogara/), 家柄 (“social standing of a family; good family” /iegara/), 柄の悪い (“vulgar” /gara-no-waru’i/) and 間柄 (“relationship” /aidagara/). The on-yomi /hee/ is in 横柄な(“arrogant; disdainful” /o’ohee-na/). It is also used in 柄杓(“ladle with a long handle” /hishaku/).

  1. The kanji 商 “commerce; trade; business”

History of Kanji 商(a) and (b) in oracle bone style comprised “a tattooing needle” at the top and “a table” at the bottom. In (c) and (d) in bronze ware style and (e) in seal style, 口 “mouth or a box of benedictions” was added. There have been various views on the origin of 商. One view is that a person who had the power to tattoo criminals also talked or prayed to a god to ask the will of a god. The meaning of god was dropped but the meaning of asking someone if he is interested in trading business. It meant “commerce.” Another view, which is often cited, is that 商 /sho’o/ (Shang in Chinese) was the capital of the ancient dynasty 殷, Yin (Shang).  When the Shang dynasty fell they became merchants travelling around the country. From that the kanji 商 meant “trade; commerce.”  <the composition of the kanji 商: 立 without the last stroke, 冂, 八 and 口>

The kun-yomi 商い /aki’nai/ means “sale.”  The on-yomi /shoo/ is in 商品 (“merchandize” /sho’ohin/), 商売 (“business; trade; transaction” /sho’obai/), 商談 (“business negotiation” /shoodan/), 商才 (“business acumen” /shoosai/) and 年商 (“annual turnover; annual business volume” /nenshoo/).

  1. The kanji 更 “again; further; to change”

History of Kanji 更In oracle bone style (a) had “a table” at the top and “a hand with a stick” signifying “to hit; cause something.” In bronze ware style in (b) and (c) another table was added, signifying “repeat” or “replacing.” (d) in seal style became 丙 at the top and 攴 at the bottom. In kanji, the two components were coalesced into one, in which an elongated shape of a hand (又) may be recognized in the last two strokes.  The kanji 更 means “again; further; to change.”

The kun-yomi 更に (“in addition to; furthermore” /sa’ra-ni/), 今更 (“at this late time; afresh”  /imasara/). Another kun-yomi 更ける /huke’ru/ means “to grow late; (time) advance,” and is in 夜更け (“deep in the night; late at night” /yohuke’/). The on-yomi /koo/ is in 更衣室 (“a clothes changing room; locker room” /kooishitu/), 更新する (to renew”  /kooshin-suru/) and 更生 (“rehabilitation; regeneration” /koosee/).

  1. The kanji 梗 “hard”

History of Kanji 梗The seal style writing was comprised of 木 on the left, and 丙 and攴 (which became 更 in kanji), which was used phonetically for /koo/. It is used for a mountain elm tree, which was thorny and hard. The kanji 梗 means “hard.”  <the composition of the kanji梗: 木 and 更>

There is no kun-yomi. This kanji is rarely used, except in medical terms such as 脳梗塞 (“cerebral infarction” /nooko’osoku/) and 心筋梗塞 (“cardiac infarction; heart infarction”/shinkinko’osoku/), and a flower called 桔梗 /kikyoo/ “balloon flower; platycodon,” an elegant dark blue-purple flower that appears in Japanese design. (I have never seen any in the U. S., except on a nursery catalogue.)

  1. The kanji 硬 “hard; stiff”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 硬. The kanji is comprised of 石 “rock; stone” and 更, which was used phonetically for /koo/ to mean “hard.” Together they meant something solid and hard like a rock.   The kanji 硬 means “hard; rigid.”  <the composition of the kanji硬: 石 and 更>

The kun-yumi 硬い /katai/ means “hard; rigid.” The on-yomi /koo/ is強硬な (“strong; firm; aggressive” /kyookoo-na/), 生硬な (“raw; crude; unrefined” /seekoo-na/), 硬貨 (“coin; metallic money” /ko’oka/), 硬直した (“rigid; stiff” /koochokushita/) and 態度を硬化させる (“to stiffen one’s attitude” /ta’ido o ko’oka-saseru/).

  1. The kanji 便 “convenient; service; bowel movement”

History of Kanji 便The seal style writing comprised イ“person” and 更 “to renew.” From the meaning of “a person changed something to make it better,” it meant “convenient; service.” It is also used for something that happened regularly such as “service; bowel movement.” The kanji 便 means “convenient; service; bowel movement.”  <the composition of the kanji便: イ and 更>

The kun-yomi /ta’yori/ means “letter.” The on-yomi /ben/ is in 便利な (“convenient; handy” /be’nri-na/), 不便な (“inconvenient” /hu’ben-na/), 便宜を図る (“to accommodate” /be’ngi-o haka’ru/), バスの便がいい (“to have good bus service” /ba’su-no-bn-ga i’i/), 小便 (“urin” /shoobe’n/) and 大便 (“excrement” /daiben/). Another on-yomi /bin/ is in 全日空001便 (“the All Nippon Airways flight number 1” /zenni’kkuu ichibin/), 航空便 (“airmail” /kookuubin/), 便乗する (“yo avail oneself of; jump on the bandwagon; take a ride” /binjoo-suru/) and 穏便な (“amicable; peaceful” /onbin-na/).

There are a couple of more “table shapes” that developed into kanji components (爿 and 疒). We shall continue with these shapes in the next post. Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko  [July 23, 2017]

The Kanji 机処拠飢其基期棋碁欺-“table; base”(1)几其

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There are different components of kanji that originated from “a table.” In this posting two types of tables, 几 and the bottom of 其, are discussed: the kanji 机処拠飢 and 其基期棋碁欺.

  1. The kanji 机 “desk”

History of Kanji 机For the kanji 机, in seal style (a) was a low table with a leg on each side. It was used as a low table, a chair to sit on or an armrest. In (2) “wood” (木) was added on the left side. A wooden low table (机) meant “desk; writing table.”

The kun-yomi 机 /tsukue/ means “desk,” and is in 文机 (“low writing table” /huzu’kue/) and 学習机 (“a desk with shelves, a lamp and other features  that are designed for a grade school pupil” /gakushuuzu’kue/). The on-yomi /ki/ is in 机上の空論 (“impractical theory” /kijoo-jo-kuuron/).  <The composition of the kanji 机: 木 and 几>

  1. The kanji 処 “place”

History of Kanji 処For the kanji 処, (a) and (b) in bronze ware style, in green, had a person wearing a tiger headdress for a votive play sitting on a chair, with his legs stretched in front. The foot was facing sideways, which might have signified “not moving forward.” Together they meant “to stay; be at a place; do something so that it goes better.” From that it meant “to handle; deal with.” In seal style, in red, in (c) a tiger (虎) was dropped, leaving a backward/backward foot (夂) and a chair (几), whereas in (d) a tiger became the top that enclosed 夂 and几. The kyuji 處, in blue, reflected 4, whereas the shinji 処 reflected 3. The kanji 処 means “place; situation; to handle; deal with.”   <The composition of the  kanji 処: 夂 and 几>

The kun-yomi 処 /tokoro/ means “place.” The on-yomi /sho/ is in 処理 (“to process; handle” /sho’ri/), 処分 (“to dispose; punish” /sho’bun/), 対処する (to deal with; handle” /ta’isho-suru/), 処世 (“conduct of life” /shosee/), 処刑 (“to execute; put to death” /shokee/) and 処する (“to deal; manage; punish” /shoru’ru/).

  1. The kanji 拠 “to be based on”

History of Kanji 拠The seal style writing had “hand” on the left side. The right side had “a tiger” and “a boar; pig,” but was used phonetically for /kyo/. Together they meant “to be based on a (particular) place.” The right side of the kyuji 據 was different from the kyuji 處 for 処, as in (e) in 2 above, but in kanji (拠) it became 処.   <The composition of the kanji 拠: 扌, 夂 and 几>

The kun-yomi 拠る /yoru/ means “to be caused by; based on” and 拠り所とする (“to rely on; make it as its base” /yoridokoro-to-suru/). The on-yomi /kyo/ is in 拠点とする (“to be based in ~” /kyoten-to suru/), 拠点 (“base; strong foothold” /kyoten/), 拠出する (“to contribute; donate” /kyoshutu-suru/) and 典拠 (“authority; reliable source” /te’nkyo/).

History of Kanji - Bottom of 其The next shape for a table or base appears as a component only. (There is no font on MS Word for Mac that we can use in text. It is shown on the right in a graphics file. (It is like 六 without the top.) It meant “a place to put something on; base.” This shape is seen in 其基期棋碁欺.

  1. The kanji 飢 “to starve; hunger”

History of Kanji 飢For the kanji 飢 in seal style, (a) comprised covered food on a raised bowl (食)  and 几, which was used phonetically for /ki/. It meant “hunger; to starve.” (b) had 幾 on the right, which was used phonetically for /ki/ to mean “little.” The kanji 飢 reflected (a).  <The composition of the kanji 飢: a bushu shokuhen (one fewer stroke than 食) and 几>

The kun-yomi 飢える /ue’ru/ means “to be starved; famished.” The on-yomi /ki/ is in 飢饉 (“famine” /ki’kin/), 水飢饉 (“water shortage; drought” and 飢餓 (“starvation” /ki’ga/).

  1. The kanji 其 “that; the”

History of Kanji 其The kanji 其 is not a Joyo kanji. (a) in oracle bone style and (b) in bronze ware style was a winnowing basket for removing chaff from grain, and was /ki/ phonetically. In (c) in bronze ware style and (d) in seal style the basket was placed on a base. The writing was borrowed to mean “the; that.”

The kun-yomi /so/ is in 其の他 (“other than it” /sono’ta/) and 其の件 (“the matter” /sonoke’n/). There is no on-yomi.

  1. The kanji 基 “base; foundation”

History of Kanji 基For the kanji 基, the bronze ware style writing comprised a winnowing apparatus with its base (其), which was used phonetically for /ki/, and “soil; ground” (土). Together they meant the ground on which a building was built — “foundation; base.” In seal style, the same components were kept. The kanji 基 means “basis; base; foundation.”  <The composition of the kanji 基: 其 and 土>

The kun-yomi 基 /moto/ means “base; foundation.” The on-yomi /ki/ is in 基本 “base; foundation; basis” /kihon/), 基盤 (“base; foundation” /kiban/), 基準 (“criterion; standard; reference” /kijun/), 基金 (“fund; monetary fund” /ki’kin/), 基地 (“base; military base” /ki’chi/) and 基礎 (“base; pedestal; groundwork” /ki’so/).

  1. The kanji 期 “specific time; period­; to expect”

For the kanji 期 the bronze ware style writing had “the sun” at the top, and 其, which was used phonetically for /ki/ at the bottom. Together they meant “a specific time or period.” In Old style, in purple, the sun was inside the base. In seal style, on the right side the sun was replaced by a moon (月).  A moon had a cycle of waxing and waning — “thus, a cycle of time.” The kanji 期 means “specific time; period­; cycle of time; to expect.”  <The composition of the kanji 期: 其 and 月>

There is no kun-yomi. There are two on-yomi. The kan-on /ki/ is in 期日 (“term; due date” /ki’jitsu/), 期間 (“duration; period” /ki’kan/), 任期 (term of service; term of office” /ni’nki/), 期待する (“to hope for” /kitai-suru/) and 予期する (“to anticipate; expect” /yo’ki-suru/). The go-on /go/ is in 末期 (“the hour of death; the end of one’s life” /ma’tsugo/). (末期 in kan-on /ma’kki/ means “end stage; advanced stage,” not necessarily connoting one’s death.)

The next two kanji 棋 and 碁 have rather specialized use– a checkerboard or a game that was played on a square board. It came from a square shape of a winnowing apparatus.

  1. The kanji 棋 “checkerboard”

History of Kanji 棋The seal style writing comprised 其, which was used phonetically for /ki/ to mean “square shape,” and “wood” (木) below. Together they meant a square checkerboard. The kanji 棋 is only used for the words that are related to Japanese shogi play 将棋 /shoogi/, in which the kanji 将 /sho’o/ means “commander; general.”  <The composition of the kanji 棋: 木 and 其>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /gi/ is in 将棋 (“Japanese chess” /shoogi/).

  1. The kanji 碁 “go play”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 碁. The kanji comprised 其 “square” and 石 “stone.” A game that uses a square board and small stones is a game of go. The kanji 碁 means “play of go; game of go.”  <The composition of the kanji 碁: 其 and 石>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /go/ means “a play of go/, and is in 囲碁 (“game of go” /i’go/), a more formal name than just /go/, 碁盤 (“go board; checkerboard” /goban/) and 碁石 (“small round stones in black or white used for go play” /goishi/).

  1. The kanji 欺 “to deceive”

History of Kanji 欺The seal style writing comprised 其, which was used phonetically for /gi/, and a person with his mouth open wide (欠).  Setsumon stated that the kanji 欺 meant “to deceive.” (I feel this is not exactly an explanation, but I do not have any better one for now.)  <The composition of the kanji 欺: 其 and 欠>

The kun-yomi /azamu’ku/ means “to deceive; cheat.” The on-yomi /gi/ is in 詐欺 (“fraud; swindle” /sa’gi/) and 欺瞞 (“deception” /giman/).

In this posting I experimented with a new feature as a study guide – <the composition of the kanji …>. I thought it might give our exploration in ancient writing a better “landing” on the shape we want to learn. That is the goal of our exploration after all.  Because we cannot embed graphics in the middle of a WordPress sentence, I do not know if we can do this with all kanji in the future or not. We shall see how far we can do. Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [July 15, 2017]

The Kanji 則側測賊 and 墳噴憤 – 貝(4) 

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This is the fourth posting on kanji that contain the shape 貝. In the first two postings, we explored the shape 貝 related to a “cowrie” that signified “money; value.” In the third posting we explored the shape 貝 related to a “three-legged bronze vessel.” In this posting we are continuing with a three-legged bronze vessel – the kanji 則側測賊. I have realized this week that there is another shape, 賁, that contains 貝 and can be explained as a cowrie. The 墳噴憤 are added to conclude our exploration of the shape 貝.

  1. The kanji 則 “rule; law”

History of Kanji 則For the kanji 則, we have three writing samples in bronze ware style, in green, here. (a) had two three-legged bronze ware vessels whereas (b) and (c) has just one vessel. The right side was a knife. The knife next to the vessel has been given different accounts — It was a knife used as a utensil for eating food that was cooked in the vessel. Sacrificial animal meat and other food that was offered to a deity was also shared by participants in a religious rite. Something that always accompanied the vessel signified “the rules always to be abided by.” Another account is that a knife signified inscription on the vessel [Shirakawa]. What was inscribed on a bronze ware stayed for a long time and was to be abided by — thus “rules; laws.” The double vessels in (a), and (d) in Old style, in purple, are explained by Shirakawa as signifying the fact that important contracts were inscribed in two vessels for each party to keep as proof. In kanji the knife became刂, a bushu rittoo “a knife placed vertically.”

In the last post in discussing the kanji 敗 we touched upon ambiguity of interpreting 貝 as a cowrie or a three- or four-legged bronze vessel. We can see that the kanji 則 is another example. Kyoshin (許慎 Xu Shen), the compiler of Setsumon Kaiji at the turn of the second century A.D., took them (in (d) in 則, I believe) as cowries.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /soku/ is in 規則 (“rules; bylaw; statutory instrument” /ki’soku/), 法則 (“law; principle; rule” /hoosoku/), 鉄則 (“ironclad rule; inviolable rule” /tessoku/) and 変則的な (“irregular” /hensokuteki-na/).

  1. The kanji 側 “close by; side; aspect”

History of Kanji 側For the kanji 側, the bronze ware style writing, and the seal style writing, in red, had a “person” (イ), a “three-legged bronze ware vessel” (貝) and a “knife” (刀).  則 was used phonetically for /soku/. A person standing next to the vessel meant “by the side.” The kanji 側 means “close by; side.”

The kun-yomi /-kawa; -gawa/ is in 向こう側 (“opposite side; the other side” /mukoogawa/), 裏側 (“behind; the back side” /uragawa/) and 片側 (“one side” /katagawa/). The on-yomi /soku/ is in 側面 (“aspect; side view; profile; flank” /sokumen/) and 側近 (“close adviser; member of one’s entourage”).

  1. The kanji 測 “to measure”

History of Kanji 測The seal style writing of the kanji 測 comprised “water” and 則, which was used phonetically for /soku/ to mean “standard.” Together they signified measuring the depth of water or in a more general sense of “to measure.” The kanji 測 means “to measure.”

The kun-yomi 測る /haka’ru/ means “to measure. The on-yomi /soku/ is in 測量 (“location survey” /sokuryoo/), 推測する (“to guess; presume; speculate” /suisoku-suru/) and 目測 (“eye-estimation; measurement with the eye” /mokusoku/).

  1. The kanji 賊 “damage due to a robbery; thief”

History of Kanji 賊In the bronze ware style of the kanji 賊. we see a halberd (戈) on the top right and a three-legged vessel (貝) underneath. But what was the small piece on the left side of the vessel?  Was it a “knife” or a “person”?  As I mentioned in earlier posts, a knife and a person looked so alike in bronze ware style that they caused some confusion. History of Kanji 戎(frame)Then when I looked up the ancient writing for 戎 (“soldier; weapon” /e’bisu; kai/), which was the right side of the kanji 賊, it became clear that it was a shield or armor (The history is shown on the right). The kanji 戎 had a halberd (戈) and a shield, making up the meaning “weapons.” So, the kanji 賊 comprises 貝 “three-legged vessel” and 戎 “weapons; soldier.” Together they meant scraping an inscription of an oath out of bronze ware to revoke it. It was also used to mean injuring a person. The kanji 賊 means “to damage; damage due to a robbery; robber.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /zoku/ is in 賊が押し入る (“a robber breaks into it” /zoku-ga-oshiiru/), 海賊 (“pirate” /kaizoku/), 海賊版 (“pirated edition” /kaizokuban/), 盗賊 (“robber; thief” /toozoku/), 盗賊の一味 (“a pack of thieves” /toozoku-no ichi’mi/) and 賊軍 (“rebels; rebel army” /zokugun/).

History of Kanji 賁(frame)We leave the exploration of the kanji that originated from a legged bronze ware vessel here. The last shape we are exploring in this group of four posts is the shape 賁. The kanji 賁 /hi; hun/ is not a Joyo kanji but we have the history shown on the right side. The bronze ware style was richly decorated ornament. In seal style a cowrie was added to indicate decoration with cowries. The kanji 賁 means “to decorate colorfully,” and when it is used as a component it meant “to burst out.”

  1. The kanji 墳 “burial mound”

History of Kanji 墳The seal style writing of the kanji 墳 comprised 土 “soil; dirt” and 賁, which was used phonetically for /hun/ to mean “causing something to swell; rise.” Together they meant a burial mound of ancient times. In kanji 土 became a bushu tsuchihen “ground; dirt.” The kanji 墳 means “burial mound.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hun/ is in 古墳 (“ancient burial mound; ancient tomb” /kohun/), 古墳時代 (“tumulus period; Kofun period” /kohunji’dai/) and 墳墓 (“tomb; grave” /hu’nbo/).

  1. The kanji 噴 “to spout out; erupt; blow out”

History of Kanji 噴The seal style writing of the kanji 噴 comprised 口 “mouth; opening” and 賁, which was used phonetically for /hun/ to mean “to burst out; gush out.” Together they meant “to gush out.”

The kun-yomi 噴き出す /hukida’su/ means “to spout out; erupt; blow out.” The on-yomi /hun/ is in 噴出 (“to gush out; eject” /hunshutu/), 噴水 (“fountain” /hunsui/) and 火山の噴火 (“volcanic eruption” /kazan-no hunka/).

  1. The kanji 憤 “to anger; outrage; indignation”

History of Kanji 憤The seal style writing of the kanji 憤 comprised “heart” and 賁, which was used phonetically for /hun/to mean “to burst out.” Together a heart gushing out with emotions meant “to anger; rancor ; outrage; indignation” In kanji, a heart became 忄, a bushu risshinben “heart.” The kanji 憤 means “anger; rancor; outrage; indignation.”

The kun-yomi 憤る /ikidoo’ru/ means “to be furious about; seethe with anger.” The on-yomi /hun/ is in 憤慨する (“to get very angry; feel indignant” /hungai-suru/), 義憤 (“righteous indignation” /gihun/) and 憤激する (“to flare up; explode with anger” /hungai-suru/).

We shall move to another topic in the next post.  Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [July 8, 2017]

The Kanji 鼎員円損貞偵具敗–貝 (3) “three-legged cooking vessel”

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  1. The kanji 鼎 “three-legged bronze cooking vessel”

History of Kanji 鼎The kanji 鼎 is not a Joyo kanji, but it is the base of many kanji that contain the shape 貝 that meant “three-legged bronze vessel.” It generally had three or four legs at the bottom and two “ears” at the top. It was used to cook various foods together, including sacrificial animal meat. The food in this vessel was prepared to be used as offerings to an ancestral deity. (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, and (c) in bronze ware style, in green, had the features of “ears” and three or four legs. The top of (d) in bronze ware style and (e) in seal style, in red, became 目.

The kun-yomi 鼎 /kanae/ means “three-legged bronze vessel,” and is in the phrase 鼎の軽重を問われる /kanae-no-keechoo-o toware’ru/ means “to have one’s ability called in question.” The on-yomi /tee/ is in 鼎立する (“to be a three-cornered contest” /teeritsu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 員 “number of people; one’s occupation; person”

History of Kanji 員(a) and (b) in oracle bone style and (c) in bronze ware style was a three-or four-legged bronze ware vessel. It was originally used as a counter for such vessels, and later for “number of people” or just “person.” A rounded or square shape at the top was interpreted as a shape of the opening at the top. A three-legged vessel had a rounded opening whereas a four-legged one had a square opening. (e) in seal style kept the opening as a square shape, and the legs became two. The kanji 員 meant “member; staff; people.” It is also used for a word to describe a person’s occupation, or a person who is engaged in that occupation.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /in/ is in 人員 (“number of people or staff” /jin-in/), 会社員 (“company employee” /kaisha’in/), 公務員 (“government employee” /koomu’in/). 事務員 (“administrative staff; clerical worker” /jimu’in/), 満員 (“full house; no vacancy” /man-in/) and 定員 (“seating capacity; quota” /teein/).

  1. The kanji 円 “round; circle”

History of Kanji 円The seal style writing and the kyuji (圓), in blue, had 員, a round top three-legged vessel, inside an enclosure (), which signified something all around. It meant “round; circular.” It is also used for the unit of Japanese currency “Japanese yen.” The shinji is 円. The Japanese currency unit (円 /en/ “Japanese yen”), Chinese currency (元yuan), and Korean currency (wong) all originated from the kanji 圓. Japanese yen’s symbol is ¥, a letter “Y” and an equal sign (=) through it.

The kun-yomi 円 /maru/ is in 円みのある (“rounded” /marumi-no-a’ru/). The on-yomi /en/ is 日本円 (“Japanese yen” /nihon-en/), 百円 (“a hundred yen” /hyaku-en/), 円形 (“round shape; ring shape” /enkee/), 楕円形 (“ellipse; oval” /daenkee/), 円周 (“circumference of a circle” /enshuu/) and 円熟した (“matured; mellowed” /enjuku-shita/).

  1. The kanji 損 “loss”

History of Kanji 損The seal style writing comprised , a bushu tehen “hand; an act that one does using a hand” and 員 “three-legged bronze ware vessel” to cook food for offering to a deity. Together they meant a hand damaging the contents of a pot or, perhaps, one of the legs. (Those bronze ware vessels were extraordinarily heavy, and we can easily imagine that the legs could have been damaged.) The kanji 損 means “to damage; impair; loss.”

The kun-yomi 損なう /sokona’u/ means “to suffer; impair; mar.” Another kun-yomi 損ねる /sokone’ru/ means “to hurt; offend,” as in 気分を損ねる (“to hurt one’s feeling” /ki’bun-o sokone’ru/). It also makes up a verb to mean “failed,” as in やり損ねる (“to fail to do” /yarisokone’ru/). The on-yomi /son/ is in 損害 (“damage; harm” /songai/), 損失 (“loss” /sonshitsu/) and 破損する (“to suffer damage; suffer breakage” /hason-suru/).

  1. The kanji 貞 “right; faithful”

History of Kanji 貞Oracle bone style (a) and (b) was smilar to 員, which was a bronze ware cooking vessel for offerings, and was used phonetically for /tee/ to mean “to inquire about a god’s will; divination.” In bronze ware style (c) and (d) had 卜 “divination” on top of the vessel. It originally meant “to hear the will of a god by divination.” Seeking the god’s will gave the meaning “right; straight; faithful.” The kanji 貞 means “right; upright; faithful.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /tee/ is in 貞淑な “feminine modesty; virtuous” /teeshuku/), 貞操 (“chastity; honor; virtue” /teesoo/) and 貞女 (“virtuous woman; good faithful wife” /teejo/).

  1. The kanji 偵 “scouting; detective work; to investigate secretly”

History of Kanji 偵The seal style writing comprised イ “person” and 貞, which was used phonetially for /tee/ to mean “to listen to deity’s voice; inquire.” Together they meant a person investigating carefully by listening and inquiring. The kanji 貞 means “right; straight; faithful.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /tee/ is in 探偵 (“detective” /tantee/), 偵察 (“scouting; reconnaissance; patroling” /teesatsu/) and 内偵 (“private scouting; secret investigation” /naitee/).

  1. The kanji 具 “contents; be amply provided”

History of Kanji 具(a) in oracle bone style and (b) and (c) in bronze ware style had a bronze ware vessel at the top and two hands held up at the bottom. Together a vessel that was full of offerings of food was held out reverentially with both hands. Two upward hands generally signified reverence or a polite act. Full contents of a vessel gave the meaning “contents” and also “being amply provided.” In (d) in seal style the legs dissappeared. The kanji 具 means “contents; to be amply provided (often in a set).”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /gu/ is in 具 (“topping; main ingredients” /gu/) as in ちらしずしの具 (“toppings for chirashi-zushi” /chirashizu’shi-no gu/), 具体的な (“concrete; specific” /gutaiteki-na/), 道具 (“tool” /doogu/), 家具 (“furniture” /ka’gu/) and 器具 (“equipment” /ki’gu/).

The shapes of the two different origins, “cowrie” and “three-legged bronze ware vessel,” were distinctively different in oracle bone style as well in bronze ware style. It is only seal style that the two merged and became 貝 (except the kanji 鼎).

There is one kanji that I held back from the last week’s article — the kanji 敗.

  1. The kanji 敗 “to lose; loss”

History of Kanji 敗For the kanji 敗 in oracle bone style the right sides of (a) and (b) were the same — “a hand holding a stick,” which signified “to hit; cause an action.” The left sides, however, came from two different origins. (a) was a bronze ware legged cooking vessel to prepare for an offering, whereas (b) was a cowrie. A bronze ware vessel being used for cooking for offering to a deity and a cowrie being used as money signified something valuable. In bronze ware style, (c), the left side had two cowries. Or, could they be two vessels? Then when I compared the bronze ware style writings for a cowrie and those of a legged-bronze ware vessel in other kanji, there appeared to be a difference — a legged bronze ware vessel had short sideways lines, signifying legs of the vessel.  So (c) in 敗 can be interpreted as having two cowries. A valuable cowrie broken in two by a hand meant “loss.” The right side 攴 in (e) became 攵, a bushu bokuzukuri “to do; cause something to happen” in shinji. The kanji 敗 means “loss; to fail.”

The kun-yomi 敗れる /yabure’ru/ means “to lose a fight.” The on-yomi /hai/ is in 勝敗 (“victory and defeat; result of a match” /shoohai/), 敗北 (“defeat” /haiboku/), 失敗する (“to fail; fail; make a mistake” /shippai-suru/), 腐敗する (“to become corrupt; degenerate” /huhai-suru/) and 成敗する (“to punish” /se’ebai-suru/), a slightly archaic word.

The history of the kanji 敗 having both a cowrie and a legged bronze ware vessel in oracle bone style puzzled me a little, and I wondered if there was any significance to it. Another reason why I held back the kanji 敗 from the last post was that I wondered if the double shapes in (c) and another kanji (則) shared the same origin or not. I am inclined to sort the kanji 敗into a sub-group “cowrie” of 貝 for the time being. I shall discuss the double shapes in the kanji 則 in the next post. Thank you very much for your reading. -Noriko [July 2, 2017]

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 verb 実る/mino’ru/ means “to ripen; show results.” 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]