The Kanji 国(國)或域惑図(圖)園遠 -くにがまえ(1)

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In this post and the next, we are going to look at kanji that have a bushu kunigamae (囗) “an enclosure; boundary” and other related kanji.

1 The Kanji 国 (國) “country”

The kanji 国 has the kyujitai 國. The inside of the kyujitai is 或. 或 appeared in other Joyo kanji such as 或 域 and 惑 without a kunigamae. Because the four kanji shared the same origin, we are going to look at them all here, staring with 或.

(1-a) The kanji  或 “perhaps; or; maybe”

History of Kanji 或The oracle bone style sample of the kanji 或, (a) in brown, consisted of a box which represented a wall around a fortress or town, and a long stake to mark the boundary of a capital. In the bronze ware style sample, (b) in green, the area or city wall was marked with a line at the top and the bottom to emphasize the range or outline of an area. The right side became a halberd (戈), signifying “weapons.” In ten style, (c) in red, the top boundary line and the top of the halberd became a continuous line. Setsumon’s explained that 或 was weapon (戈) protecting land (一). Setsumon also gave the shape with a bushu tsuchihen (土) “soil” on the left as its variant, as in (d), which became the kanji 域. So, 或 originally meant “area; domain.” Then later on 或 came to be used to mean “to exist.” “To exist” also extended to mean “certain” in the sense “specific but not explicitly stated.” The kanji 或 meant “or; perhaps; maybe; alternatively.”

The kun-yomi /a/ or /a’ru/ is in 或る人 (“certain person” /a’ruhito/) and 或は /aru’iwa/ means “or; perhaps; maybe; alternatively.” There is no on-yomi.

The original meaning of “area; range” remained in two Joyo kanji — 域and 國 (国), which we are going to look at next.

(1-b) The kanji 域 “area; limit; range”

History of Kanji 域As we have just seen, 或 and 域 shared the same origin. The first bronze ware style sample shown on the left was exactly the same as that of 或 in (1-a). In the second bronze ware style sample, a new component was added — a small circle signifying an “area,” and a “person” at the bottom. In the history of kanji, generally speaking if we see a small circle or a box placed above a person in bronze ware style, we can expect them to become the kanji 邑 “village” or a bushu oozato “village,” as in the right side of 都, 部. But in this case, a bushu tsuchihen (土) “soil; ground” appeared in ten style, probably to focus on the land itself, rather than people. The kanji 域 meant “area; limit; range.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /i’ki/ is in 地域 (“area; region” /chi’iki/), 区域 (“zone; segment” /ku’iki/) and 領域 (“domain; territory” /ryooiki/).

(1-c) The Kanji 国 (國) “country; territory; realm; homeland”

History of Kanji 国(國)Another kanji that retained the meaning “area; domain” that 或 originally had is the kanji 國, which is the kyujitai for 国. In the history of the kanji 国 shown on the left, the oracle bone style writing (a) and the first bronze ware style (b) were the same as those of 或, as in (1-a) above. Another bronze ware style sample (c) had an enclosure (囗) around 或. Sometime during the bronze ware style time when 或 changed its meaning to “to exist; certain,” a new kanji for country 國 was created by adding an enclosure line, to mean “country; domain.” The ten style sample (d) and the kyujitai (e), in blue, reflected that shape. In shinjitai (f), however, 玉 “jewel,” instead of 或, was adopted for the inside. It seems that 国 had been used as an abbreviation of 國, but I have not been able to find in the references when the simplified kanji emerged.

The kun-yomi 国 /kuni/ means “country; nation; one’s hometown; home country.” It is also in 国元 (“one’s home country” /kunimoto/). The on-yomi /ko’ku/ is in 日本国 (the official name of Japan /niho’nkoku/), 国民 (“people” /kokumin/), 国語 (“national language; Japanese” /kokugo/), 国際 (“international” /kokusai/), and /kok-/ is in 国家 (“nation; state; country” /kok’ka/), 国交 (“diplomatic relations” /kokkoo/).

(1-d) The kanji 惑 “to be bewildered; to be confused”

History of Kanji 惑There is one more kanji we discuss that contains 或 here. For the kanji 惑, in bronze ware style and ten style the top 或was used phonetically for /waku/. When 心 “heart” was added, they described the state of mind of the heart wondering about existence. An oscillating state of mind means “to be bewildered; confused.”

The kun-yomi 惑う/mado’u/ means “to be bewildered; confused,” and 戸惑う /tomado’u/ means “to become disoriented; become perplexed.” The on-yomi /wa’ku/ is in 疑惑 (“suspicion; doubt; mistrust” /giwaku/), 誘惑 (“temptation” /yuuwaku/), 当惑する (“to feel lost; to be confused” /toowakusuru/). An interesting use for this kanji is in 惑星 (“planet” /wakusee/) because the planet circles around the sun as if being lost.

  1. The kanji 図 (圖) “drawing; to plan; scheme; contrive”

History of Kanji 図(圖)For the kanji 図 in both bronze ware style samples (a) and (b), there was a granary inside the enclosure. The whole image was a map or drawing that showed where the granary was located in the village. The drawing served an important role in managing farming fields. From “discussing how to manage the land using the plan of the field,” it also meant “to plan; scheme.” The ten style sample (c) was reflected in the kyujitai (d). In shinjitai, the inside component was replaced by a katakanaツ and a short slanted stroke, a device that was seen in other simplified kanji. The kanji 図 means “drawing; to plan; scheme; contrive.”

The kun-yomi 図る /haka’ru/ means “to plan; attempt,” and is in 図らずも (“unexpectedly; accidentally” /hakara’uzumo/). The on-yomi (go-on) /zu/ is in 地図 (“map” /chi’zu/), 図星 (“the bull’s eye” /zuboshi/), 図式 (“diagram; graph” /zushiki/). Another on-yomi (kan-on) /to/ is in 図書 (“book” /to’sho/) and 意図 (“intention” /i’to/).

  1. The kanji 園 “garden”

History of Kanji 園For the kanji 園, the inside of an enclosure (囗) in the ten style sample had 袁, which was used phonetically for /en/ to mean “roomy.” (More on the origin of 袁 in the next kanji 遠.) Together they meant an enclosed area that was roomy. From that it meant “garden,” and a roomy place where people gather such as a school.

The kun-yomi is 園 /so’no/ and is in 花園 “flower garden” /hanazono/). The on-yomi /e’n/ is in 公園 (“park” /kooen/), 庭園 (“(large) garden” /teeen/), 動物園 (“zoo” /doobutsu’en/), 幼稚園の園児 (“kindergarten pupil” /yoochi’en-no e’nji) and 学園 (“(private) school” /gakuen/).

  1. The kanji 遠 “far; distance”

History of Kanji 遠The Kanjigen dictionary explained that 袁 came from “clothes/collar (衣) loosely wrapped around the body (○),” and that the kanji 遠 was “辵 (semantic composite) + 袁 (phonetically /en/ and means roomy and having latitude).” Together they meant “far; distant.” I am a little troubled by the fact that this view does not appear to touch upon 土 in 袁. On this point, Shirakawa’s explanation is more inclusive of all the elements in the bronze ware style sample — The upper left was a “crossroad” (); the upper right was a footprint that signified “footwear”; the middle had a collar with a jewel that was used for awakening the dead; and the bottom was another “footprint.” According to Shirakawa in ancient times, before sending the deceased on the long journey to the afterlife a jewel was placed inside the collar of the deceased and footware was placed above the head (which would explain 土); the crossroad and the bottom footprint signified a journey. Altogether they meant “far; long.”

Those who criticize Shirakara’s etymological analyses are primarily concerned about his premise that the meaning of kanji and the origins of writing derive from the practices of magic and incantation that were prevalent at the time the kanji were created. Our readers may have noticed this tendency in some of the earlier posts as well as on 遠 here. We cannot contribute to the discussion among kanji historians about whether that premise is correct. We can only note it, and in his instance it seems to explain more of the kanji than other views.

By the time the writing had reached ten style, the crossroad and footprint were aligned vertically, which eventually became the bushu shinnyoo, “to move forward.” The kanji 遠 meant “far; distant.”

The kun-yomi 遠い /tooi/ means “far; distant.” In hiragana it is とおい, rather than とうい. It is also in 遠出する (“to go for outing” /toodesuru/). The on-yomi /en/ is in 遠距離の (“distant” /enkyo’rino/), 遠慮する (“hold back; be modest” /enryo-suru/), 敬遠する (“to keep at a respectful distance” /keeen-suru/).

We will continue to look at kanji that have a bushu kunigamae – 困因囚固個団回 and others – in the next post. [October 3, 2015  Japan time]

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