In this and the next posts we are going to look at kanji that originated from 火 “fire” — the kanji 火炭炭災炎談, and the kanji 煙炊焼燥灯煩 with a bushu hihen, a narrower 火 on the left side.
The kanji 火 “fire; Tuesday”
For the kanji 火, the oracle bone style writing, in brown, was a fire burning with three peaks of flames. There is no bronze ware style sample available. By the time of ten style, in red, the picture-like image was lost and became like a kanji. The kanji 火 meant “fire.”
The kun-yomi /hi’/ means “fire,” and is in 火花 (“spark” /hi’bana/) and the expression 火の車だ (“in financial difficulties; in dire strait” /hi’nokuruma-da/). /-Bi/ is in 花火 (“firework” /ha’nabi/). The on-yomi /ka/ is in 火事 (“fire” /ka’ji/), 出火する (“a fire breaks out” /shukka-suru/) and 火力 (“heating power” /karyoku/).
The kanji 灰 “ash”
For the kanji 灰, the ten style writing had a “hand” on the upper right side and a “fire” at the bottom. Together they signified “gathering by hand what was left after a fire dies out,” which is “ash.” In kanji the hand was replaced by a bushu gandare 厂. The kanji 灰 meant “ash.”
The kun-yomi /hai/ means “ash,” and is in 灰皿 (“ash tray” /haizara/) and 灰色 (“gray” /haiiro/). The on-yomi /ka’i/ is in 石灰 (/se’kkai/ “lime”). 灰 is also used in 灰汁 (“scum; lye; harshness” /aku/), as in 灰汁を取る (“to remove scum” /aku-o-to’ru/) and the expression 灰汁の強い (“poisonous; harsh” /aku-no-tsuyo’i/).
The kanji 炭 “charcoal”
Even though the kanji 炭 consists of 山 and 灰, its origin was slightly different from 灰 in 2. In ten style, below 山 “mountain” were a cliff (厂) and a fire (火) underneath. Together they meant someone burning wood under an overhang of a mountain to make charcoal. The kanji 炭 meant “charcoal.”
The kun-yomi 炭 /sumi’/ means “charcoal,” and is in 炭火 (“charcoal heat” /sumibi/). The on-yomi /ta’n/ is in 炭素 (“carbon” /tan’so/), 一酸化炭素 (“carbon monoxide” /issankata’nso/), 二酸化炭素 (“carbon dioxide” /nisankata’nso/), 石炭 (“coal” /sekita’n/), and 炭化する (“to become carbonized” /tanka-suru/).
The kanji 災 “calamity; disaster; misfortune”
For the kanji 災, in oracle bone style, (a) had a weir or dam that blocked the flow of a river, resulting in a flood, and the bottom was a fire. (b) was a weir in a river. A flood and a fire caused by a lightning and spontaneous combustion in a mountain together signified “natural disaster; calamity.” In ten style, the upper right component was used phonetically for /sa’i/. In kanji the top (巛) signified “river.” The kanji 災 meant “calamity; disaster; misfortune.”
The kun-yomi /wazawai/ means “disaster; misfortune.” The on-yomi /sa’i/ is in 天災 (“natural disaster” /tensai/), 人災 (“man-made disaster; disaster caused by human error” /jinsai/), 災害 (“calamity; disaster” /saigai/), 災難 (“calamity; mishap” /saina’n/) and 火災 (“fire; blaze” /kasai/).
5. The kanji 炎 “blaze; flame”
For the kanji 炎, from the very beginning in oracle bone style, bronze ware style, in green, through to the kanji it was a towering blaze expressed with two fires stacked on top of the other. The kanji 炎 means “blaze; flame.” It is also used for “inflammation.”
The kun-yomi /ho’noo/ meant “blaze; flame.” The on-yomi /e’n/ is in 炎天下 (“sweltering heat under the sun” /ente’nka/), 炎症 (“inflammation” /enshoo/), 炎上する (“to go up in flames” /enjoo-suru/), 気炎を上げる (”to argue heatedly” /ki’en-o ageru/), 胃炎 (“gastric catarrh” /ien/) and 肺炎 (“pneumonia” /haien/).
The kanji 談 “to talk”
The origin of the kanji 談 is far from the intensity of a towering blaze — 炎 was used phonetically for /ta’n/ to mean “light pastel; cool,” which is found also in the kanji 淡, as in 淡い (“light; faint” /awai/). Together with 言 “word; to say” on the left side, they meant “to talk in a calm normal way.” The kanji 談 meant “to talk” in general.
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /da’n/ is in 相談 (“consultation” /soodan/), 談話 (“talk; an informal expression of opinion” /danwa/) and 会談 (“talks; conference” /kaidan/).
When 火 is used on the left side it becomes a bushu hihen, a narrower shape of the kanji 火. We are going to look at the kanji 煙炊焼燥灯煩 next.
The kanji 煙 “smoke”
For the kanji 煙, the two ten style writings, (a) and (b), are shown on the left. Both had fire on the left. In (a) the bottom of the right side had bricks piled high in the kiln and the top right was a smoke rising. The right side was used phonetically for /e’n/ to mean “to burn.” In (b), which was considered to be a popularly used alternative, the right side signified air-like matter, such as smoke, filled in a closed space. In kanji, (c) 煙, from (a), is used to mean “smoke,” and (d) 烟, from (b), means “to be filled with air.” (The kanji 烟 is not included in Joyo kanji.)
The kun-yomi 煙 /kemuri/ means “smoke.” /Kemu/ is in 煙い /kemui/ and 煙たい /kemutai/, both meaning “(unpleasantly) smoky,” 煙たがる (“ill at ease in someone’s presence” /kemutaga’ru/) and in the expression 煙に巻く (“to confuse someone; make a smokescreen” /kemu-ni-maku/). The on-yomi /e’n/ is in 禁煙 (“smoking prohibited” /kin-en/), 喫煙所 (“smoking area” /kitsuenjo/). Customarily it is also used in 煙草 (“tobacco; cigarette” /tabako/).
The kanji 炊 “to cook”
For the kanji 炊, in ten style the left side was 火 “fire,” and the right side was “a person with his mouth open to breathe the air.” From a person blowing air to keep a fire going it meant “to cook.” In kanji the right side became 欠.
The kun-yomi 炊く /taku/ means “to cook (rice); boil,” as in 御飯を炊く (“to cook rice” /go’han-o taku/), and is in 炊き込み御飯 (“rice cooked with vegetable and/or meat” /takikomigo’han/). The on-yomi /su’i/ is in 炊事 (“to cook” /suiji/), 電気炊飯器 (“electric rice cooker” /denkisuiha’nki/) and 自炊する (“to cook for oneself” /jisui-suru/).
The kanji 焼 “to burn; bake”
For the kanji 焼, in ten style the left side was a fire. The right side had bricks piled high in the kiln, and was used phonetically to mean “to burn.” Together they meant “to burn; bake.” The kyujitai, in blue, reflected the ten style. In shinjitai, the top on the right was slightly reduced. Our reader may recall an earlier discussion on the right side in the kanji 暁 “dawn.” [The Kanji 日旦暁朝潮昼–日 (1) on February 21, 2016]
The kun-yomi 焼く /yaku/ means “to bake; burn,” and is in 焼き魚 (“grilled fish” /yakiza’kana/), 日焼けする (“to get sunburned; get a tan” /hiyake-suru/). It is also used in 世話を焼く (“to make oneself useuful; meddle” /sewa’-o yaku/) and やきもちを焼く (“to be jelous of” /yakimo’chi-o yaku/).
The kanji 燥 “to dry”
For the kanji 燥, in ten style the left side was fire, and the right side was used phonetically for /so’o/. Together they meant “to dry.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /so’o/ is in 乾燥する (“to dry; become dry” /kansoo-suru/).
The kanji 灯 “light”
The kanji 灯 had the kyujitai 燈, which further went back to the kanji 鐙. The ten style writing for 鐙 is shown on the left. It had a bushu kanehen 金 “metal” on the left and the phonetically used 登 /to’o/ on the right. Together they were used to mean a metal lamp stand with a tray at the bottom. It was also used for stirrups on a horse. In kyujitai the bushu kanehen was replaced by 火 “fire.” Now the kanji 鐙 is used only for one of the original meanings “stirrups” (the metal to put a foot into when mounting a horse) and is read as /abumi/, a word very specialized and of no use for most of us. For the meaning “lamp; light” the kanji 灯 is used. Before 灯 came to used as the replacement of 燈, 灯 meant “fiercely burning fire.” The kanji 灯 means “light; torch.”
The kun-yomi /hi/ is in 灯をともす (“to turn on a light” /hi-o-tomo’su/). Another kun-yomi /tomoshibi/ means “light.” The on-yomi /to’o/ is in 灯台 (“lighthouse” /toodai/). The expression 灯台下暗し (/toodaimotoku’rashi/ means “It is harder to see what is right under your nose.”)
The kanji 煩 “annoying; nuisance; worry”
For the kanji 煩 in ten style the left side was 火 and the right side was 頁 “head.” The Kanjigen’s explanation is that it came from one’s head irritated like a fire burning in the head. The kanji 煩 means “nuisance; annoying.”
(This kanji is a last-minute addition to this post. I hope to add other interpretations when I have access to references other than Kanjigen in my electronic dictionary that I carry with me.)
The kun-yomi 煩い /wazura-i/ (“worry; anxiety” /wazurai/) is also in 煩わしい (“bothersome; annoying” /wazurawashi’i/) and 手を煩わす (“to cause someone trouble” /te’o-wazurawasu/). The on-yomi /ha’n/ is in 煩雑な (“complicated; bothersome” /hanzatsu-na/). Another on-yomi /bo’n/ is in 子煩悩 (“doting on one’s children” /kobonnoo/).
In the next two posts we continue to look at kanji that have different shapes for “fire,” including a bushu rekka. [May 22, 2016, Japan time]