2014 Year of the Horse 午年


午年のぼり東京目黒2014 is the year of the horse, umadoshi in Japanese, and 午年 in kanji. In Chinese zodiac signs, the kanji for umadoshi is not 馬, but 午 is used. The kanji 午 means “noon” and is used in words such as 正午 (sho’ogo “noon,”) 午前 (go’zen “in the morning,” literally; “before noon”) and 午後 (go’go “afternoon.”)

The photograph on the left, taken along a street near the Meguro station in Tokyo this month, is of New Year’s banners showing 迎春 (geeshun “Happy New Year,” literally: “Welcoming a new spring”) and 馬 (uma’ “horse.”)

[In my posting I use an apostrophe to indicate the location of word accent.]

Kiyomi Akai (2010: 1012)

Kiyomi Akai (2010: 1012)

On my trip to Japan this time, I also obtained a copy of Tenrei Daijiten 篆隷大辞典 (2010), a photo anthology of ancient Chinese writing compiled by Kiyomi Akai (赤井清美.) It is the revised edition of Tenrei Jiten (1985) from which I recreated the images to be used for the upcoming kanji study web site (tentatively entitled “Learn 1100 Kanji by Radicals and Origins”).  Please read my earlier posting Hand-copied Kanji Precursors for 1100 Kanji.

The page (Akai 2010: 2012) on the right shows photos of various ancient writing for the kanji 馬, including oracle bone style (甲骨文), bronze ware style (金文), and ten-style (篆文, official seal style, here 「説文解字」 more specifically.)  You can see how ancient Chinese tried to capture the image of a horse into a shape to be used for messages to their gods and among themselves.

(rev. 1/19/2014 Japan time)

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