This is the second post on kanji that have a bushu kanehen 金 “metal.” We are going to look at the kanji 鈴銘鎖鋭鈍釣監鑑鏡釜鎌兼鉱録.
The kanji 鈴 “bell; chime”
For the kanji 鈴, the bronze ware style writings, (a) and (b) in green, in ten style writing, (c) in red, had 金 “metal” on the left. On the right side was a person under a roof bending his back low or kneeling, which would become the kanji 令 “order,” used phonetically for /ree/. (a) had a prayer box in front of this person, suggesting that he was praying. A metal object that called for a god was a “bell.” The kanji (d) is in Mincho style whereas (e) is in textbook writing style. In the last post we also looked at another kanji that meant “bell; chime” – the kanji 鐘. The kanji 鐘 /kane/ is a bigger bell and 鈴 /suzu/ is a small bell, both of which called for the attention of a god.
The kun-yomi 鈴 /suzu/ means “(small) bell.” The on-yomi /re’e/ is in 予鈴 (“first bell; warning bell” /yoree/). Another on-yomi /ri’n/ is in 風鈴 (“wind chime” /huurin/), 呼び鈴 (“bell (to get an attention); doorbell” /yobirin/).
The kanji 銘 “to inscribe”
For the kanji 銘, in bronze ware style and ten style the left side was 金 “metal.” The right side was 名 “name” and was used phonetically for /me’e/. From “name inscribed in bronze” it meant “to inscribe.” What was inscribed in metal/bronze was important names and words, and in Japanese it also means “famed.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /me’e/ is in 銘柄 (“brand; stock issue” /meegara/), 感銘 (“profound impression” /kanmee/), 正真正銘の (“true; genuine; authentic” /shooshinshoomee-no/) and 肝に銘じる (“to engrave advice on one’s heart; take to heart” /kimo’-ni meejiru/).
The kanji 鎖 “chain; links”
For the kanji 鎖, in ten style the left side was “metal” and the right side was small cowry shells (貝) strung together (the top), and was also used phonetically for /sa/. Together they meant “chain” and “being closed by a chain.”
The kun-yomi 鎖 /kusari/ means “chain; link.” The on-yomi /sa/ is in 連鎖 (“chain; links” /rensa/), 封鎖 (“blockage” /fuusa/), 閉鎖 (“closing; chutdown” /heesa/) and 鎖国 (“national seclusion” /sakoku/).
The kanji 鋭 “sharp”
For the kanji 鋭, the ten style writing had “metal” on the left side, and the right side was used phonetically. Setsumon also gave the left one, in purple, as its old writing, 古文 /kobun/. The left writing was a scene of a fire burning high in a kiln or furnace (on the left) to make a sharp sword or knife. The kanji 鋭 means “sharp.”
The kun-yomi 鋭い /surudo’i/ means “sharp.” The on-yomi /e’e/ is in 鋭利な (“sharp” /e’eri-na/), 鋭角 (“acute angle” /e’ekaku/) and 精鋭 (“the best pick of; elite” /seeee/).
The kanji 鈍 “blunt; dull; slow”
For the kanji 鈍, the left side 金 was “metal,” and the right side 屯 was used phonetically. 屯 came from a fringe of woven fabric that was tied in a knot. We can see what 屯 looked like in bronze style writings of the kanji 純 “pure”(from tufts of pure silk) shown on the right. The roundness of a knot signified “not sharp.” Together they meant “dull; blunt; slow.”
The kun-yomi /nibu’i/ means “dull.” The on-yomi /do’n/ is in 鈍感 (“insensibility; thick-skinned” /donkan/), 鈍行 (“a slow train; local train” /donkoo/), 鈍化する (“to become blunt; slow down” /do’nka-suru/) and 鈍器 (“blunt object” /do’nki/).
The kanji 釣 “to fish; change”
For the kanji 釣, the right side was 勺. 勺 was a “ladle,” something that scooped up (the dot was what was scooped up), or was a hook shape. 金 “metal” and 勺 “to scoop out; hook” together meant “to fish.” The kun-yomi 釣る /tsuru/ means “to fish; lure,” and is in 釣り (“fishing” /tsuri/) and 釣り合う “to match; equilibrate.” It is also used in words お釣り (“change money” /otsuri/) and 釣り銭 (“change money” /tsurisen/). お釣り is what a merchant gives back to a customer to make up the balance betwee goods and payment and how it came to be used for this meaning is not clear. お釣り is what a merchant gives back to a customer to make up the balance betwee goods and payment.
The kanji 鑑 “model; mirror” and 監 “to observe; monitor”
The kanji 鑑 consists of 金, a bushu kanehen, and the kanji 監. So, let us look at 監 before 鑑.
The kanji 監 “to watch carefully; observe; monitor”
The oracle bone style writing for the kanji 監 was a vivid description of a person with a watchful eye kneeling down over a basin. In bronze ware style it became clearer that the basin had water – the extra short stroke right below the eye indicated water. Together they signified someone looking at himself carefully in the reflection of water. From that the kanji 監 meant “to watch carefully; observe; monitor.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ka’n/ is in 監督 (“manager; supervisor; supervision” /kantoku/), 監視カメラ (“surveillance camera” /kanshika’mera/) and 監獄 (“prison; jail” /kangoku/).
Now let us look at the kanji 鑑. The bronze ware style writing (a) was the same as 監 above, whereas in (b) “metal” was added. Together metal and one looking at one’s own reflection meant “mirror.” It also meant something that one heeded as a shining model.
The kun-yomi 鑑 /kagami’/ means “mirror; model,” as in the expression ~を鑑とする (“to take ~ as one’s model” /~o kagami’to-suru/) in one’s ethics and action. The on-yomi /ka’n/ is in 鑑別する (“to discriminate; differentiate” /kanbetsu-suru/), 鑑定 (“expert judgment; appraisal” /kantee/) and 年鑑 (“yearbook; almanac” /nenkan/).
The kanji 鏡 “mirror”
For the kanji 鏡, the right side 竟 was used phonetically for /kyo’o/ to signify “shape; scene.” With the left side 金 “metal” together, they meant “mirror.”
The kun-yomi /kagami’/ means “mirror.” The on-yomi /kyo’o/ is in 双眼鏡 (“binocular” /soogankyoo/), 老眼鏡 (“reading eye glasses” /roogankyoo/). Customarily a pair of eye glasses /me’gane/ is written as 眼鏡. The expression おめがねに適う (お眼鏡に適う) /o-megane-ni kana’u/ means “to suit your discerning eye or taste.”
The kanji 釜 “rice cooker; pot”
The kanji 釜 looks a little strange. It looks like the kanji 父 “father” and 金 “metal” coalesced into one. In bronze ware style, (a) had metal on the left. The right side was a hand holding a stick, which originally signified a “measuring tool.” What the left side of (b) signified is not clear to me. Setsumon gave two writings (c) and (d). (c) reflected the bronze ware style, which also became the kanji (e). The left side of (e) was a cooking pot or food storage, and the right side was used phonetically. The kanji 釜 meant “iron cooking pot.”
父 and 釜 — The kanji 釜 does not appear to be related to the meaning of “father” (父). On reflection, however, the origin of the kanji 父 also came from “a hand holding a stick to lead the family,” as shown on the right. So it looks like that both 父 and 釜 had “hand holding something” in their origins.
The kun-yomi 釜 /kama/ means “cooking pot: rice cooker,” and is in 茶釜 “an iron teakettle (used in the tea ceremony)” /chagama/) — a rather specialized object, nonetheless an important object in Japanese culture.
The kanji 鎌 “sickle” and 兼 “to serve both”
The kanji 鎌 consists of a bushu kanehen 金 and the kanji 兼. So, let us look at the kanji 兼 first.
The kanji 兼 — The ten style writing of 兼 had “two rice plants” (禾) held by “side-way hand” in the middle. Holding two in one hand meant “to have both.”
The kun-yomi 兼ねる /kane’ru/ means “to combine two things; possess both; serve both.” The on-yomi /ke’n/ is in 兼任 (“holding two offices” /kenning/) and 兼用 (“serving both purposes” /ken-yoo/).
Now let us look at the kanji 鎌. In ten style the left side 金 “metal” and the right side 兼 “two rice plants held by hand.” Together they signified a metal tool that one used to cut rice plants, a “sickle.”
The kun-yomi /ka’ma/ means “sickle.” The on-yomi /re’n/ is not commonly used in Japanese. Did you notice that the two word were different in the location of the word accent? They are pronunced as 釜がある /kama-ga a’ru/ “There is a rice cooking pot.” and 鎌がある /ka’ma-ga aru/ “There is a sickle.”
Other Joyo kanji that contain 兼 include 謙 as in 謙譲語 (“humble style word” /kenjoogo/) and 嫌 “dislike” as in 嫌い (“to dislike” /kirai/).
The kanji 鉱 “ore”
The kanji 鉱 had the kyujitai 鑛, and the right side was used phonetically for /ko’o/. In ten style the left side was 石 “rock” rather than 金. In the kanji 礦 it has 金. 礦 and 鑛 were used interchangeably before for “ore,” –a solid rock from which metal is extracted. The writing in purple on the left is interpreted as two persons protecting an area that had valuable ore. The kanji 鉱 means “ore.”
There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /ko’o/ is in 鉱石 (“ore; mineral” /ko’oseki/), 炭鉱 (“coal mine” /tankoo/) and 溶鉱炉 (“smelting blast furnace” /yooko’oro/).
The kanji 録 “record”
The right side of the kanji 録 was used phonetically for /roku/. Setsumon explained it as “the color of bronze (金の色),” which was bluish green. (Related to this, the kanji 緑 “green,” whose on-yomi is /roku/ or /ryoku/, shared the same right side component.) The inscription on bronze ware gave the meaning “to record” (Shirakawa).
There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /ro’ku/ is in 記録 (“record” /kiroku/), 議事録 (“minutes of a meeting” /giji’roku/), 録音 (“sound recording” /rokuon/) and ビデオ録画 (“video recording” /bideoro’kuga/).
There are several more Joyo kanji that contain a bushu kanehen, including 錯 “to mix; error,” 錦 “brocade; pretty cloth,” 錬 “to refine; kneed,” 鍋 “cooking pot” and 銃 “firearms; gun.”
With this post we leave the topic of inanimate objects in nature. In the next post we will start looking at kanji that originated from animals and plants in nature. Thank you for your reading. -Noriko [July 2, 2016]