The Kanji 尚常巾堂賞償党黒当-尚

  1. The Kanji 尚 ”high; and yet; revered’

History of Kanji 尚For the kanji 尚, in the oracle bone style, in brown, and bronze ware style, in brown, it was a house with a window or a kitchen stove with a door to the hearth. The two short lines above that were rising smoke. Smoke rising and staying for a long time gave two meanings. One is that from rising smoke staying for a long time it means “and yet; in additions to.” Another is that it means someone in high respect, or “to revere.” The kanji 尚 meant “high; revered; and yet.”

The kun-yomi /na’o/ is in 尚 “furthermore; additionally,” 尚且つ (“and yet; but at the same time” /na’okatsu/) and 尚の事 (“all the more” /naonokoto/). These words are often written in hiragana. The on-yomi /sho’o/ is in 高尚な (“advanced; sophisticated” /kooshoona/) and 和尚 (“Buddhist priest in charge of a temple” /o’shoo/) from a revered Buddhist priest.

  1. The Kanji 常 “always; usual”

History of Kanji 常For the kanji 常, the bronze ware style writing (a) shown on the left was same as that of the kanji 尚. Even though it was used phonetically in this kanji, sharing the same earlier writing indicated that the meanings of 尚 was inclusive of 常. Setsumon listed two samples of ten style writings for this kanji (b) and (c). (b) had 尚 with its sides stretched down very long and 巾 was placed inside. 巾 was a long ceremonial scarf that was worn around the waist. The meaning “lasting long” from 尚 and long piece of cloth got the meaning “always; constant.” (b) became the kanji 常 (d).

On the other hand (c) had 衣 “clothes” from the shape of a collar that was folded in the front. Together with 尚 they formed the meaning a piece of clothes that trailed long. (c) became the kanji 裳 (e). I do not know how 裳 /mo/ was used in Chinese, but in the history of Japanese clothes it meant a formal trailing skirt-like kimono” that was worn to show respect. The kanji 常 meant “always; constant.”

The kanji 巾  “cloth; (width)”

History of Kanji 巾All three ancient writing styles and the kanji were basically the same shape. It was a piece of ceremonial scarf that was worn around the waist. From that it meant “a piece of cloth.” There is no kun-yomi in shinjitai, even though 巾 was used informally for the kanji 幅 /haba/ “width” in the kyujitai system. The on-yomi /ki’n/ is in 布巾 (“kitchen cloth” /huki’n/), 雑巾 (“(quilting) cleaning cloth; dust cloth” /zookin/) and 頭巾 (“hood; headscarf” /zu’kin/)

  1. The Kanji 堂 “temple; hall”

History of Kanji 堂For the kanji 堂, the ten style writing sample had 土 “soil” under 尚, a house with smoke rising high. A tall house that was built on a foundation of soil meant a “hall; temple.” A tall building was impressive, so it also meant “stately.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /do’o/ is in 講堂 (“lecture hall” /koodoo) and お堂 (“temple; shrine” /odoo/). The expression 堂々巡り (“going around in circles” /doodoome’guri/) originated with the practice of monks circling around the temple many times in praying. 堂 is also in 堂々とした (“stately; dignified” /doodootoshita/), 堂に入る (“to become master of; be quite at home at” /do’o-ni iru/).

  1. The Kanji 賞 “award; reward”

History of Kanji 賞For the kanji 賞, the bronze ware style top had 尚 “high,” even though it lacked the window, and it was used phonetically for /sho’o/. The bottom was a cowry “money; valuable items.” Money or prizes given to praise someone’s achievement or merit meant “to give an award; reward.” The ten style writing consisted of 尚 and 貝. The kanji 賞 meant “award; prize; reward.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 賞 /sho’o/ means “award; prize,” and is in 入賞する and 受賞する (“to become an awardee” /nyuushoo-suru/ and /jushoo-suru/). It is also in the word 賞与 (“bonus payment” /sho’oyo/). In a Japanese company, an employee receives /sho’oyo/ in June or July and December based on the company’s previous semi-annual performance. Every employee receives relatively same amount within the company, usually varying from a month to three month’s payment depending on their company performance. It is not a reward for individual achievement but it is a part of the wage system.

  1. The kanji 償 “to compensate; atone for”

History of Kanji 償The kanji 償 consists of a bushu ninben “person” and the kanji 賞. The bronze ware style writing was the same as 賞. The other side of 賞 “award; reward” is that the awardee made some sacrifice in order to make that achievement. By adding a ninben, the kanji 償 differentiated the two sides of one thing. In order to correct a wrong, one also needs to make a right. The kanji 償 meant “to make up; compensate; stone for.”

The kun-yomi 償う /tsuguna’u/ means “to atone for; compensate.” The on-yomi /sho’o/ is 弁償する (“to compensate; make up for” /benshoo-suru/), 賠償 (“compensation; indemnity” /baishoo/) and 補償 (“compensation” /hoshoo/).

  1. The Kanji 黒 “black; dark” and 党 (黨) “party; a fan of”

The kyujitai 黨 for 党 consisted of 尚 and 黒 (黒). We have a bronze ware style sample of 黒, shown below, which will be helpful to understand 党. So, Let us look at the kanji 黒 first.

The Kanji 黒 “black; dark”

History of Kanji 黒 (黑)For the kanji 黒, in bronze ware style the bottom was a flame. The top had different interpretations – One is that it was a chimney that was viewed from the top and the soot was visible as dots. In this interpretation the origin of the kanji 黒 was a stove with a sooty chimney. Soot is black; thus the kanji 黒 meant “black.” Another interpretation, by Shirakawa, is that the top was a bag of stuff or fabric that was wrapped up by a string to be smoked. The smoking dyed the fabric a dark color or black. In this view the origin was a smoker for dyeing cloth. In ten style the top looked more like a chimney top, and the bottom became two fires. In kyujitai 黑, in blue, there were two black dots for soot, and the fire at the bottom became four dots. In most cases of kanji having a fire, when a fire appeared at the bottom of a kanji, it became four dots, and it is called a bushu renga or rekka. We will look at this bush later when we discuss nature. The kanji 黒 means “black; dark.”

History of Kanji 党(黨)Now the kanji 党. In ten style, the writing for 黑 was completely enclosed inside 尚 that was used phonetically. The two sides of 尚 were elongated, but I think this was just a stylistic modification common to ten style. The two meanings — smoke rising high and a cooking stove (with sooty chimney) –signified a group of people who shared food that was prepared in this kitchen. It meant “party; a group of people who share the same idea and act together.” In kyujitai 黨, the side of 尚 became very short and the bottom was 黑. In shinjitai, the shape for “black; dark” was replaced by a bushu ninnyoo “person.” Together with a window in 尚, they ended up in the shape of the kanji 兄. The kanji 党 means “political party; a group of people banded together.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 党 /to’o/ means “party,” and is in 政党 (“political party” /seetoo/), 与党 (“ruling party” /yo’too/), 野党 (“opposition party” /ya’too/) and 悪党 (“villain” /akutoo/). It is also used to mean “a person who is fond of” in the words such as 甘党 (“a person who prefers sweets to alcoholic beverages” /amatoo/) and 辛党 (“a person who prefers alcoholic to sweet things” /karatoo/.)

  1. The Kanji 当 (當) “just; right”

History of Kanji 当 (frame)The origin of the kanji 当 has been discussed earlier in the context of 田 “rice paddies” (The Kanji 略各当(當)尚番米券巻 – 田 (2) on July 11, 2015). In the ten style sample we can see that it consisted of 尚 and 田. In this kanji 當 (the kyujitai for 当) 尚 was used phonetically to mean “to be appropriate.” The bottom was rice paddies. From an appropriate value for rice paddies it meant “to be appropriate; correct.” It was also used to mean “this; the very X.” In shinjitai, the top three strokes remained the same but the bottom got simplified to a katakana /yo/.

Since June last year we have been looking at the kanji that originated from things that people built in ancient life. It encompasses life and things constructed varying from a kitchen stove, a door in a house to village to a country. It also included infrastructure such as roads and agricultural fields. From the next post, I would like to start exploring the kanji that originated from nature. [February 14, 2016]

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