The Kanji 照昭黒点黙墨薫勲赤栄労営蛍 – “fire” (3)

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This is the third post on kanji that originated from “fire.” We continue with kanji with a bushu rekka/renga 照黒点黙墨薫勲 and discuss other kanji 赤栄労営蛍.

  1. The kanji 昭 and 照 “to shine”

Before we look at the kanji 照, which has a bushu rekka/renga, let us look at its top, which is the kanji 昭.

History of Kanji 昭The kanji 昭 –The right side of the kanji 昭 is 召 “to summon; invite,” from a person and a mouth, and was used phonetically for /sho’o/ to mean “bright.” The bronze ware style writing, in green, had 召 on the left and the right side was another person. In ten style, in red, the position was reversed and the person was replaced by the sun. Together they meant “bright.”

The imperial era name 昭和 (“Showa era (1926-1989)” /shoowa; sho’owa/) is about the only use of 昭 other than for a personal name. In Japan when an emperor passes away a new era is named immediately, usually taken form a classical Chinese text, and the new imperial era name begins the following day. The Showa emperor passed away on January 7, 1989, and the new era name 平成 (“Heisei” /heesee/) was announced by the government. So someone who was born on January 7, 1989, is 昭和64年生まれ (“born on Showa 64” /sho’owa rokujuuyonen-u’mare/), and someone who was born on the next day, January 8, is 平成元年生まれ (“born on Heisei 1” /heeseegannen-u’mare/). The (imperial) era name is used on all documents, governmental or non-governmental.

The kanji 照 “to shine; illuminate”

History of Kanji 照For the kanji 照, in ten style the left side had the sun and a fire. The right side was used phonetically for /sho’o/. Both the sun and a fire illuminate the surroundings. Together they meant “to shine.” In kanji, the fire was moved to the bottom and became a bushu rekka/renga. It meant “to shine, illuminate.”

The kun-yomi /te/ is in 照る(“to shine” /teru/), an intransitive verb, 照らす (“to illuminate” /terasu/), a transitive verb. The on-yomi /sho’o/ is in 日照時間 (“hours of sunlight” /nisshooji’kan/), 照明器具 (“lighting apparatus” /shoomeeki’gu/), 照合する (“to verity; collate with” /shoogoo-suru/), 参照する (“to refer to; compare with” /sanshoo-suru/).

A fire not only gives heat and light but also creates smoke and soot. The next six kanji, 黒点黙墨薫勲, all come from that.

  1. The kanji 黒 “black”

History of Kanji 黒For the kanji 黒, in bronze ware style, in green, the top was a chimney with black soot (the dots were deposits), a bag to collect black soot, or a bag of stuff wrapped around to be smoked to dye fabric. The bottom was a burning fire. From black soot created by a fire, it meant “black; dark.” In ten style, it had a chimney or a bag, and two fires. In kyujitai, in blue, black dots for soot were still present, and the towering fire became a bushu rekka/renga. In shinjitai, the top became 里.

The kun-yomi 黒 /ku’ro/ means “black” and is in 黒い (“black; dark” /kuro’i/), 黒ずむ (“to blacken; become dark” /kurozu’mu/), and 黒っぽい (“blackish; dark” /kuroppo’i/). The on-yomi /ko’ku/ is in 黒板 (“blackboard” /kokuban/) and 暗黒 (“darkness; blackness” /ankoku/).

  1. The kanji 点 “dot; speckle; point; mark”

History of Kanji 点For the kanji 点, in ten style, the left side was the same as 黒 in 2, which had a chimney or a bag with specks of black soot at the top, and two fires. The right side 占 was used phonetically. They meant “small dot; point; to add a small note.” The kyujitai consisted of 黒 and 占. In shinjitai only the fire for 黒 was kept as a bushu rekka/renga below 占.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 点 /ten/ means “dot; point; mark,” and is in 弱点 (“weak point” /jakute’n), 盲点 (“blind spot” /mo’oten/), 欠点 (“shortcoming” /kette’n/), 疑問点 (“question; questionable point” /gimo’nten/), 合点が行く (“to understand” /gaten-ga-iku/) and 点数 (“point; mark” /tensu’u/).

  1. The kanji 墨 “ink”

History of Kanji 墨For the kanji 墨, the top of the ten style writing was the same as 黒 in 1, and the bottom was “soil; dirt.” Black deposits from smoke was collected in a bag and got mixed with dirt-like powdery materials to make a ball of ink. The ink was used to write on materials such as silk cloth, bamboo sticks and wood. The kanji 墨 means “ink.”

The kun-yomi 墨 /sumi’/ means “ink,” and is in 墨絵 (“ink painting” /sumie/). The on-yomi /bo’ku/ is in 水墨画 (“painting in black ink” /suibokuga/) and 墨汁 (“liquid ink” /bokujuu/).

  1. The kanji 薫 “aroma; fragrance”

History of Kanji 薫For the kanji 薫, the ten style had “plants” at the top, below that were a bag that was tied with strings in the middle and fires at the bottom – “to fume.” (In this writing, the strings were explicit.) Together they signified that plants were yielding agreeable scent, and from that 薫 meant “fragrance; aroma.” The kanji 薫 is often used for the non-Joyo kanji 燻 “to moulder,” because 燻 is not a Joyo kanji.

The kun-yomi /kaori/ means “fragrance.” The on-yomi /ku’n/ is in 薫陶 (“educational nurturing; moral instruction” /kuntoo/) and 薫製 (“smoked (food)” /kunsee/).

  1. The kanji 勲 “merit”

History of Kanji 勲For the kanji 勲, the old style writing, in purple, and the ten style writing were historically used interchangeably (Shirakawa). The right side of both writings had a plough, but the origin is not clear. The kanji 勲 meant “merit.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kun/ is in 勲章 (“decoration; order; medal” /kunshoo/), 叙勲 (“decoration; bestowal of an order” /jokkun/), and 元勲 (“outstanding statesman; an elder statesman” /genkun/).

  1. The kanji 黙 “to mute; silence”

History of Kanji 黙The kanji 黙 consists of 黒 and 犬. It is a very puzzling makeup and there are different views on its origin —A dog chasing a person (Setsumon): 黒, phonetically used to mean “not to say,” and a dog with his mouth closed together meant “to mute” (Kadokawa); “dark, unknown” from 黒 and a dog together signified “not known,” because if something is unknown, it keeps “silence” (Kanjigen). In place of mourning during which silence was expected for three years, a sacrificial dog was buried as a stand-in (Shirakawa). I do not have a preference on which one makes sense. The kanji 黙 means “to mute; silence.”

The kun-yomi 黙る /dama’ru/ means “to become silent; shut one’s mouth,” and is in 黙って使う (“to use something without telling or asking” /dama’tte tsukau/). The on-yomi /mo’ku/ is in 沈黙 (“silence” /chinmoku/), 黙殺する (“mokusatsu-suru” /not to adopt; ignore/), 黙秘権 (“a right of silence; the privilege against self-incrimination” /mokuhi’ken/).

  1. The kanji 赤 “red”

History of Kanji 赤From oracle bone style, in brown, through ten style, the top was a “person” and a the bottom was “fire.” For this combination it is generally viewed that the top was “large” and the bottom was “fire” and that the color of a large fire was “red.” It meant “red.” Shirakawa gives a different explanation – there might have been a ritual in which a fire purified a person. A fire leaves completely nothing. His view explains words such as 赤貧 (“extreme poverty” /sekihin/) and 赤裸々な (“frank; unvarnished” /sekirara-na/).

The kun-yomi 赤 /a’ka/ means “red,” and is in 真っ赤な (“very red” /makka’-na/), 赤ん坊 (“baby” /akanboo/) 赤字 (“deficit” /akaji/) from a bookkeeping practice of writing the deficit in red ink, as contrasted to 黒字 (“surplus; positive balance” /kuroji/). The on-yomi /se’ki/ is in 赤道 (“the equator” /sekidoo/). Another on-yomi /sha/ is in 赤銅色 (“brick red”/shakudooiro/).

(The kanji 赦 — I was planning to discuss the kanji 赦 in connection with 赤 in this post. After going over the references and ancient writings I feel more research is needed. So, I will come back to this kanji later.)

When two 火 were placed on top of the other, it was “flame” 炎. On the other hand when two 火 were placed side by side on stands, they meant “bonfire; beacon fire.” The kanji 栄 and 営 were discussed a couple of years ago in A Bonfire for “Prosperity” – 栄 on March 7, 2014.

  1. The kanji 栄 “flourishing; prospering”

History of Kanji 栄For the kanji 栄, the bronze ware style writings, (a) and (b), had two intersecting stands holding beacon fires. The ten style writing had beacon fires at the top but the stands became a boundary around trees. Brisk, intense flames of beacon fires illuminated a large property with lot of trees. From that it meant “flourishing; prospering.” The kyujitai, (d), reflected ten style (c). In shinjitai, (e), the two 火 side by side were reduced to a katakana ツ /tsu/ shape. For sample words please refer to the earlier post.

  1. The kanji 労 “trouble; labor; to reward for one’s service”

History of Kanji 労The kanji 労 also had a bronze ware style writing, which was very similar to 栄 – two beacon fires with long stands that intersected, signifying “vigorous; energetic.” Underneath was a collar that signified a person. Together, a person working energetically meant “trouble; labor; to reward for one’s service.” In ten style, a collar was replaced by a plough, which signified hard work in the field. The Kadokawa dictionary gives a different explanation — people working hard at night under light gave the meaning “to work hard.” The kyujitai reflected ten style. “It also meant “to reward for one’s service.”

The kun-yomi 労う /negira’u/ means “to reward one’s service.” Another kun-yomi /itawa’ru/ means “to treat kindly.” The on-yomi /ro’o/ is in 苦労する (“to experience difficulties; have a hard time” /kuk’roo-suru/”), 労働 (“work force; labor force” /roodoo/), 疲労 (“fatigue” /hiroo/), 労をとる (“to take trouble” /ro’o-toru/).

  1. The kanji 営 “to conduct business”

History of Kanji 営The kanji 営 must have been created later than the previous two kanji because the earliest writing was in ten style. In ten style, the top had fires and a boundary  around the property. Inside the boundary were two connected houses (呂). Together they meant “military encampment.” Business was conducted there, and it meant “to conduct business or live one’s life.” For sample words, please refer to the earlier post.

12. The kanji 蛍 “firefly”

History of Kanji 蛍One last kanji for our three posts on “fire” is the kanji 蛍 “firefly.” There is no ancient writing for 蛍. The kyujitai is 螢. The top had two fires and a boundary together phonetically for /kei/ and signifying “lights circling around.” The bottom was 虫 “bug; worm; insect.”  An illuminating bug that circles around is a firefly. The kanji 蛍 means “firefly.”

The kun-yomi is 蛍 (“firefly” /hotaru/). The on-yomi /ke’i/ is in 蛍光灯 (“florescent light” /keekootoo/).

In the next several posts we continue kanji for nature. [June 4, 2016 Japan time]

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