The kanji 里 “village; one’s parents home”
For the kanji 里, the top of the bronze ware style writings, in green, was rice paddies which had neatly arranged grids. Under that the vertical line had a bulge which signified a ball of dirt on the ground (土.) Together they meant a land where people grew rice and produce. It meant a “village; one’s parents’ home.” In the two bronze ware style samples, the center line in the two elements “rice paddies” and “ground” was continuous, rather than two discrete images. In fact none of the eight bronze ware writing samples in Akai (2010) shows a separation between the two elements. We do not have oracle bone style writing. Ten style, in red, had lines that were even thickness.
The kun-yomi 里 /sato/ means “village,” and 里帰り /satogaeri/ means “return to parents home; homecoming.” /Sato/ also is used by a married woman talking about her parents home, in a more humble style than saying 実家 /jikka/. The expression 里心がつく /satogo’koro-ga tsu’ku/) means “to start feeling homesick.” The on-yomi /ri/ was a unit of distance measurement. In Japan one ri was about 4 km. The expression 千里の道も一歩から /se’nri-no-michi-mo ip’po-kara/ means “A long journey begins with the first step.”
The kanji 野 “fields; outside”
For the kanji 野, the oracle bone style sample (a), in brown, and the bronze ware style sample (b) had two “tree” 木, signifying woods 林, and “soil; ground” 土. Together they signified “wooded land.” Another bronze ware style sample (c) had rice paddies and the origin of 予 “roomy; latitude” at the top, instead of a wooded land. The bottom was “soil.” Together a land that stretched like many rice paddies meant “fields.” While in (c), 田 and 土 were placed in two separate locations, in ten style (e) the two elements became one shape 里 “village.” The right side was 予 “roomy; latitude.” Setsumon also gave the shape (d) as its old style, in gray. The shape (d) consisted of 林 “wooded area,” 予 “roominess” and 土 “soil.”
The Kanji 予; The origin of 予 was explained as a weaving shuttle with a thread attached at the bottom. A weaving shuffle pushed through the loom between the threads that were loosened a little. In order to get the shuttle to pass through, threads were pulled to make room. From “making room in advance of a shuttle’s passing” the kanji 予 meant “in advance; preliminary.” As a kanji, 予 only had the ten style sample, as shown on the right. But as a component of 野, we can see a couple earlier shapes in (c) and (d) in the history of the kanji 野 above.
So, the left side of the kanji 野 was 里 “village,” and the right side 予 was “roominess.” Together a spacious piece of land in the field meant “field.” A field was outside of a town where important business was conducted. From that it meant “outside the power; outsider; opposition.”
The kun-yomi /no/ is in 野原 (”a green field” /no’hana/). The on-yomi /ya/ is in 野球 (“baseball” /yakyuu/), 野党 (“opposition party” /ya’too/), 在野 (“outside government; outside power” /zaiya/), 野蛮な (“barbaric” /yaban-na/).
The kanji 理 “logic; rational”
For the kanji 理, the left side of the ten style writing 王 was jewels strung together. Splitting a gem neatly along the natural cleavage signified the rational way to do something. The right side 里 was used phonetically for /ri/, and also contained 田 “rice paddies.” Rice paddies had levees that went through. Both components had the meaning of something going straight through. From that the kanji 理 meant “logic; rational.”
There is no kun-yomi in the Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /ri/ is in 理解する (“to understand” /ri’kai-suru/), 理由 (“reason” /riyuu/), 無理な (“unreasonable” /mu’ri-na/) and 論理 (“logic” /ro’nri/).
The kanji 玉 and 王: The kanji 王 means “king; crown” and the kanji 玉 means “jewel; ball.” Jewels could also signify the crown jewels of a king. In a traditional kanji dictionary, 王 and 玉 are treated as one bushu. However the two shapes have totally different lines of history.
The kanji 王 came from a large ornamental axe of a ruler that signified power, such as the drawing on the right. In the history of the kanji 王 on the right, in oracle bone style it was an outline of an axe that was placed with the blade side down. In bronze ware style the first example showed a thick blade. The bronze ware style and ten style samples showed the middle horizontal line closer to the top line to emphasize the importance of the bottom, the blade. In kanji the three horizontal lines were distributed evenly.
The kanji 玉 came from a string of jewels. The oracle style sample had three jewels with a string going through with a knot at the top. In bronze ware style and ten style, the three horizontal lines were evenly placed, unlike the kanji 王. In kanji a dot was added to differentiate it from 王.
Among the Joyo kanji the component 玉 is used in just a few kanji, such as the kanji 玉, 宝 and 璧. Most kanji use the component 王 even when it originated in, and/or still means, “jewel,” including the kanji 現珍班球環 and 珠.
The kanji 裏 “back; inside; wrong side”
For the kanji 裏, in bronze ware style, the left sample (a) was the same as that of the kanji 里. In (b), 里 was placed inside a collar and was used phonetically for /ri/. Together something inside the collar meant the wrong side of clothes (a collar). The kanji 裏 meant “the back; inside: the wrong side.”
The kun-yomi 裏 /ura’/ or 裏側 /uragawa/ means “the back; inside; the wrong side,” and is in 裏工作 (“behind-the-scene maneuvering” /urako’osaku/) and 裏話 (“story behind; inside story” /uraba’nashi/). The on-yomi /ri/ is in 裏面 (“back side” /ri’men/).
In this last post on kanji that came from 田 “rice paddies,” let us look at two more that may have a different origin here — 畜蓄.
The kanji 畜 “livestock”
The kanji 玄: The bronze ware style of 玄 was a skein of threads. (The one in gray is the old style before ten style given in Setsumon.) In ten style the top was added to signify the tied knot for dyeing. From dyeing threads dark, it meant “black” and “mysterious.”
For the kanji 畜, there are different views on what was under 玄 “skein of threads.” Shirakawa treated it as a pot to dye threads. From soaking the skein of threads for a duration of time to pick up pigments better, it meant “to accumulate.” The Kadokawa dictionary treated the top not as the skein of threads but as an abbreviated shape of the kanji that meant “to nurture (the right side of the kanji 滋),” and the bottom as rice paddies. Together from leaving rice field uncultivated to regain the nutrients in the soil, it meant “to accumulate; store.” Later on the kanji 畜 came to be used to mean “livestock.” For the original meaning “to accumulate; store” a bushu kusakanmuri was added 蓄.
There is no kun-yomi in the Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /chi’ku/ is in 家畜 “livestock.” The word 畜生 originally meant “animals” (in the sense of below humans) and is used as a strong cursing word “You brute!” by an angry male speaker with a variation of こん畜生 /konchikisho’o; konchikisho’o/.
The kanji 蓄 “to accumulate; store”
The kun-yomi 蓄える /takuwae’ru/ means “to stash away; store.” The on-yomi /chi’ku/ is in 貯蓄 (”saving” /chochiku/), 蓄積する (”to accumulated; heap up” /chikuseki-suru/), 蓄電 (“to charge electricity” /chikuden/).
There are other kanji among the Joyo kanji that contain 田 that originated from the rice paddies. The presence of the meaning from “rice paddies in the kanji 畔 (“levee; ridge” /u’ne/ in kun-yomil /ha’n/ in on-yomi), and 苗 (“nursery plant; seedling” /na’e/ in kun-yomi, /byo’o/ in on-yomi) are self-evident. The kanji 描 (“to describe; depict” /ega’ku/ in kun-yomi and /byo’o/ in on-yomi) and 猫 (“cat” /ne’ko/ in kun-yomi and /byo’o/ in on-yomi) are phonetically related to 苗 /byo’o/. Another kanji 奮 (“to muster one’s courage/strength” /huruu/ in kun-yomi and /hu’n/ in on-yomi came from the rice paddies.)
We have had three postings on kanji that contain 田 “rice paddies.” There are kanji that contain the shape 田 but do not mean “rice paddies.” I will try to put some of them together in the next post. [July 18, 2015]