The kanji戦賊蔵歳戯賦・幾機畿- 戈 “halberd” (3)


This is the third post on kanji that contain the shape. We are going to look at 戦賊蔵歳戯武賦 and 幾機畿.

  1. The kanji 戦 “battle; to fight”

The kanji 戦 is comprised of two components, which are also kanji — 単 and 戈.  So, let us look at the kanji 単 first.

history-of-kanji-%e5%8d%98The kanji 単—For the kanji (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, and (b) in bronze ware style, in green, was a shield with a two-pronged spear at the top. It was borrowed to mean “single; only.” The top of (c) in seal style, in red, and kyujitai (d), in blue, was simplified to a truncated katakana ツ shape in shinjitai (e). The kanji 単 meant “single; only.”

history-of-kanji-%e6%88%a6rNow the kanji 戦. In oracle bone style (a) was two halberds whereas (b) was two shields. In bronze ware style the left side of (c) was a shield and the right side was a halberd. Together they meant “battle; war; to fight.” The kanji 戦 meant “war; battle; to fight.”

The kun-yomi 戦う /tatakau/ means “to fight.” Another kun-yomi 戦 /ikusa’/ means “war; battle,” and is in 勝ち戦 (“successful war; victory”/kachii’kusa/.) The third kun-yomi /onono’ku/ “to shudder; quiver” is not in the Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /se’n/ is in 戦争 (“war” /sensoo/), Aと対戦する (“to fight against A” /A to taisen-suru/), 作戦 (“strategy” /sakusen/) and 戦々恐々とする (“with fear and trembling; be panic-stricken” /sensenkyookyoo-to-sursu/).

  1. The kanji 賊 “robber; thief; to damage”

history-of-kanji-%e8%b3%8aFor the kanji 賊, in the bronze ware style writing under a halberd the bottom left was a person standing next to a three-legged bronze vessel. Together someone damaging a bronze vessel with a weapon meant “to damage” and a villain who robbed or damaged with a weapon. In seal style a person was placed under a halberd. The kanji 賊 meant “to damage; steal; robber”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /zoku/ means “robber; rebel,” and is in 海賊 (“pirate” /kaizoku/), 盗賊 (“thief; robber” /toozoku/) and 賊が押し入る (“a robber breaks into it” /zoku-ga-oshiiru/).

  1. The kanji 蔵 “vault; to store away”

history-of-kanji-%e8%94%b5For the kanji 蔵, the bronze ware style writing was a vessel for treasure hidden in a house. 爿on the left of the vessel was used phonetically for /zoo/. In seal style, the top was a bushu kusakanmuri “grass” – adding the sense of hiding in tall grass. The bottom had 爿, and the vessel changed to the watchful eye of retainer’s with a halberd. Together they meant to store something valuable away in a secure place. From that the kanji 蔵 meant “vault; to store away.”

The kun-yomi /kura’/ means “vault; storage,” and is in 米蔵 (“rice granary” /komegura/). The on-yomi /zo’o/ is in 秘蔵品 (“treasured article” /hizoohin/), 無尽蔵な (“inexhaustible” /muji’nzoona/) and お地蔵さん (“guardian image” /ojizoosan/)

  1. The kanji 歳 “year; age”

For the kanji 歳, in bronze ware style (a) was an axe with a long handle to dissect a sacrificial animal for a harvest festival, and (b) had a pair of footprints added. A pair of footprints from a right foot (above the line) and a left foot (below) signified someone walking, as in the kanji 歩 “to walk; step.” They may have added the sense of the passage of time.  The cycle of a harvest is once a year. The kanji 歳 meant “year; age.”

The kun-yomi /toshi// means “age; year.” The on-yomi /sa’i/ is in 何歳 “how old” /na’nsai/), 歳入 (“annual revenue” /sainyuu/), 歳末 (“end-of-the-year” /saimatsu/), 歳月 (“years; time” /saigetsu/). Another on-yomi /se’e/ is in お歳暮 (“end-of-the-year gift” /oseebo/).

  1. The kanji 戯 “to play; joke”

history-of-kanji-%e6%88%afFor the kanji 戯, in bronze ware style the left side was a person with a tiger headgear for a play on sitting on a tall stool. It was used phonetically for /ki; gi/. The right side was a halberd. Together they meant someone playing a votive dance before going into battle.  Seal style and kyujitai kept all three components 虍 “tiger” and 豆 “tall stool; something tall” on the left and 戈 “halberd” on the right. In shinjitai 虚, a kanji that had no relation with the original meaning, replaced the left side. The kanji 戯 meant “to play; joke.”

The kun-yomi 戯むれる /tawamure’ru/ meant “to be playful; jest.” The on-yomi /gi/ is in 戯曲 “drama; play,” 遊戯 (“play; playing” /yu’ugi/) and 子供の遊戯 (“dancing’ romping” /kodomo-no-yu’ugi/).

  1. The kanji 武 “military; warrior”

history-of-kanji-%e6%ad%a6For the kanji 武, the oracle bone style writing (a) had a halberd and a footprint. Advancing with a halberd meant “military; warrior.” In bronze ware style (b) had a footprint under a halberd, and (c) had a king’s axe added. In kanji (e) the stroke that crosses the stick was lost. Instead an additional short line was added at the top. The kanji 武 meant “military; warrior.” The kanji 武 is in contrast with 文 in the sense of “civil; literary.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /bu/ is in 武士 (“samurai; warrior; military class” /bu’shi/), 武器 (“weapon; arms” /bu’ki/) and 武力 (“military power” /bu’ryoku/). Another on-yomi /mu/ is in 武者 (“warrior” /mu’sha/) and 武者震い (“shaking with anticipation” /mushabu’rui/).

  1. The kanji 賦 “to collect levy; tribute; to allocate”

history-of-kanji-%e8%b3%a6For the kanji 賦, in bronze ware style the top was a halberd and a footprint (together signifying “army advancing”), and the bottom was a cowry, signifying money and valuable things. Together they meant valuable things that were sought by force. From that it meant “to collect levy; impose labor.” A ruler expected to be given a tribute and it meant “tribute.” An interesting point is that it also included the flip side of collecting – “to allocate; distribute.” I find it a little puzzling about having both directions of giving and getting, but this reminds me of the kanji 受 “to receive.” It originally meant both “to receive;” and “to give,” until another kanji 授 was created to mean “to give.” There may be other example like this.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hu/ is in賦役 (“compulsory labor” /hueki/) and 賦与する (“to endow” /hu’yo-suru/), and /pu/ is in 月賦払い (“monthly installment payment” /geppuba’rai/) and 天賦 (“endowment” /te’npu/).

The next three kanji 幾機 and 畿 share the same component.

  1. The kanji 幾 “a few; how much”

history-of-kanji-%e5%b9%beFor the kanji 幾 the two bronze ware style writings had two short threads (幺) on the top left, a halberd on the right side and something else, possibly hanging threads or a person, on the bottom left.  The interpretations of its origin differ among kanji scholars – (1) it was a halberd with spiritual decoration to ward off evil, and it was probably used to interrogate. From that it originally meant “to detect fine points,” and from that it meant “small; nearly” (Shirakawa); (2) The two short threads signifying “to weave” and 戍 “halberd” used phonetically together meant “to stop weaving thread,” and later on it came to be used to mean “sign” (Kadokawa dictionary); (3) The two short threads for “a little” and a broad-blade halberd (戈) and a person (人) together signified a halberd reaching nearly to a person’s neck. The short distance from a halberd to the neck meant “small; little” (Kanjigen). I do not have a view on which is the most acceptable history.  It is also used as an interrogative word. The kanji 幾 meant “a few; some; how much.”

The kun-yomi /iku/ is in 幾つ (“how many” /i’kutsu/), 幾つか (“some; few” /i’kutsuka/), 幾多の (“many: /i’kutano/). The on-yomi /ki/ is in 機微 (“fine points; subtleties; niceties” /ki’bi/) and 幾何学 (“geometry” /kika’gaku/).

  1. The kanji 機 “machine; moment; change”

history-of-kanji-%e6%a9%9fFor the kanji 機, the left side 木 “wood” signified the wooden frame of a loom. The right side 幾 had many short threads cut by a knife. Together they meant a mechanical device or machine.” It means “moment; change.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ki is in 機械 (“machine” /kika’i/), 機会 (“opportunity” /kika’i/), 好機 (“golden opportunity” /ko’oki/), 機関 (“organization” /ki’kan/), 機嫌がいい (“in good humor” /kigengaii/), 飛行機 (“aircraft” /hiko’oki/), 機密 (“top secrerecy” /kimitsu/) and 機敏な (“smart; shrewd; prompt” /kibin-na/).

  1. The kanji 畿 “area near a capital”

history-of-kanji-%e7%95%bfThe seal style writing of the kanji 畿 had rice paddies (田), which signified a territory or area. The kanji 畿 meant “an area which an emperor rules.”  In Japan 畿 is used for the name of the area that included the old capital 京都 where an emperor was situated. The kanji 畿 meant “an area under the direct control of the emperor.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ki/ is in 近畿地方 “Kinki region,” and  畿内 (“an area near Kyoto” /ki’nai/).

We will continue to explore more kanji that contain 戈 “halberd” in the next post.  Thank you very much for your reading.  –Noriko  [January 15, 2017]

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