The Kanji 素索紫累系綿孫遜係県懸 –“thread” (3) and “lineage”

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In this post, we first look at kanji in which 糸 “thread” is placed at the bottom- 素索紫累-, and then kanji that has 系 “lineage,” which poriginally came from “a hand pulling a few skeins of threads together” -系綿孫遜係県懸.

  1. The kanji 素 “raw materials; crude; natural”

History of Kanji 素In bronze ware style, in green, the center was a skein of raw silk threads with the top twisted tightly for dyeing, which was handled with two hands from the sides at the bottom. From “threads that were to be dyed” it meant “raw; materials.” In seal style, in red, the two hands were dropped but the tip of the threads remained more prominent, which became the top of the kanji 素. The kanji 素 meant “raw materials; crude; natural.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /so/ is in 色素 (“pigment” /shiki’so/), 質素 (“simplicity; frugally” /shi’sso/), 酸素 (“oxygen” /sa’nso/) and 水素 (“hydrogen” /su’iso/).  Another on-yomi /su/ is in 素顔 (“natural face; a face with no makeup” /su’gao/), 素性 (“birth; blood; one’s history” /sujoo/) and 素通りする (“to pass through; pass by” /sudoori-suru/).

  1. The kanji 索 “to search”

History of Kanji 索The seal style writing was an apparatus to make a rope by twisting threads or other fibers. Twisting a rope started from the top. Pulling a rope signified searching for something. The kanji 索 meant “to search.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /saku/ is in 検索する(“to search for; look up” /kensaku-suru/), 探索 (“exploration” /tansaku/) and 索引 (“index” /sakuin/).

  1. The kanji 紫 “purple”

History of Kanji 紫In seal style the top 此 was used phonetically for /shi/, and the bottom 糸 was “thread.” It meant the color in which red and blue were mixed– “purple.” The kanji 紫 meant “purple.”

The kun-yomi 紫 /mura’saki/ means “purple.” The on-yomi /shi/ is in 紫外線 (“ultraviolet ray” /shigaisen/).

  1. The kanji 累 “to connect; accumulate”

History of Kanji 累In seal style the top of 纍, three 田, was used phonetically for /rui/ to mean “to accumulate,” and the bottom was 糸 “thread.” Together they meant “to connect; heap up; put one on top of another.” In kanji the top became a single 田 and 糸. The kanji 累 meant “to connect; pile up.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /rui/ is in 係累 (“dependents; relatives and in-laws” /keerui/), 累計 (“the total; the aggregate” /ruikee/) and 累進課税 (“progressive taxation; graduated taxation” /ruishinka’zee/).

  1. The kanji 系 “system; faction; family line; lineage”

History of Kanji 系In oracle bone style, in brown, and bronze ware style, a hand at the top was pulling three skeins of threads together. From “pulling things into one” the kanji 系 meant “system; faction; family line; lineage.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kee/ is in 系統 (“pedigree; line” /keetoo/), 家系図 (“family lineage chart; pedigree chart” /kake’ezu/), 文系 (“humanities; liberal arts” /bunkee/) and 系列 (“business grouping” /keeretsu/).

  1. The kanji 綿 “cotton”

History of Kanji 綿rThe kanji 綿 has 糸, a bushu itohen, rather than系, but if we look at the seal style writing it was 系, threads that were connected. In seal style the left side 帛 meant “silk cloth.” The right side was a skein of threads tied together. Together they originally meant “silk cloth.” Silk was produced in ancient times but was always expensive. Cotton is believed to have been introduced in China in the late first millennium or the turn of the second millennium. The correct kanji 緜 reflected seal style. When cotton gained popularity, the kanji 綿 came to mean “cotton.”

The kun-yomi 綿 /wata’/ means “cotton.” The on-yomi /men/ is in 木綿 (“cotton” /momen/), 綿羊  (“sheep” /men-yoo/), 綿棒 (“cotton swab” /me’nboo/) and 綿密な (“detailed” /menmitsu-na/).

  1. The kanji 孫 “grandchild; offspring”

History of Kanji 孫In oracle bone style and bronze ware style, the left side was a child, and the right bottom was a skein of threads. A thread is long and continuous. With a child together they meant “offspring; grandchild.” In seal style the right side became 系 “lineage.” The kanji 孫 meant  “grandchild; offspring.”

The kun-yomi /mago’/ means “grandchild.” The on-yomi /son/ is in 子孫 (“descendants” /shi’son.)

  1. The kanji 遜 “to humble oneself; condescend.”

History of Kanji 遜In seal style the left side辵 meant “to go forward.” The center and the right side together, 孫, was used phonetically for /son/. It originally meant “to back off,” then was borrowed to mean “to humble oneself; condescend.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /son/ is in 謙遜する (“to humble oneself” /kenson-suru/) and 遜色のない (“not inferior; to measure up” /sonshoku-no-na’i/).

  1. The kanji 係 “a person in charge; relationship”

History of Kanji 係In seal style the left side イwas a person standing, and the right side was the kanji 系, “connection.” From “someone who was connecting matters,” it meant “a person in charge; relationship.”

The kun-yomi 係 /ka’kari/ means “a person in charge.” The on-yomi /kee/ is in 関係 (“relationship” /kankee/) and 係争 (“dispute” /keesoo/).

  1. The kanji 県 “prefecture”

History of Kanji 県The origin of the kanji 県 is a gruesome one.  In (a) and (b) in bronze ware style it was comprised of three elements: A tree and a rope to which a head was attached. It was the severed head of someone who was executed for a crime. The gruesome origin was dropped, and it meant “to hang down.” In seal style (c) the left side was a head upside done with the hair hanging, and the right side 系retained the original meaning of a rope attached to something, even though the tree was dropped. The kyuji (d 縣) reflected seal style, and in shinji, 系 was dropped. The authority that had the power to execute was a jurisdiction. The kanji 県 meant “prefecture.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ken/ is in 神奈川県 (“Kanagawa prefecture” /kanagawa’ken/) and 県庁 (“prefectural office” /ke’nchoo/).

  1. The kanji 懸

No ancient writing is available. After the original meaning of 県, “to hang,” was taken to mean “prefecture,” a new kanji 懸 was created by adding 心 to 縣, which was also used phonetically for /ken/. The kanji 懸 meant “to attach; hang.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ken/ is in 懸垂 (“overhang; suspension” /kensui/), 懸賞 (“price competition” /kenshoo/), 懸命に (“hard; strenuously; assiduously” /kenmeeni/) and 懸案 (“pending issue” /ken-an/).

We will continue to explore kanji components that are related to thread, weaving, cloth, etc,.  in the next several posts, if not more. Thank you very much for your reading.  –Noriko [March 26, 2017]

The Kanji 網綱縄総紋紅紺縁級給 – itohen “thread” (2)

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  1. The kanji 網 “net”

History of Kanji 網For the kanji 網, (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, was a net and was also used phonetically for /moo/.  It meant “net.” (c) in seal style, in red, the outside was a net and inside was a skein of thread (糸) and 亡 for /boo; moo/. In kanji, (d), a skein of thread was taken outside the net as a bushu itohen, and the right side became 罔. The kanji 網 meant “net; net-like thing.”

The kun-yomi 網 /ami’/ meant “net.” The on-yomi /moo/ is in 連絡網 (“contact network” /renraku’moo) and 網羅する (“to contain all the points; cover thoroughly” /mo’ora-suru/).

  1. The kanji 綱 “cable; principle”

History of Kanji 綱The seal style for the kanji 綱 had 岡, which was used phonetically for /koo/. 岡 was originally a hard mold that was baked at a high temperature and signified “strong.” Together with 糸, they meant “cable; line.” Something that was strong gave a principle for an order, thus it meant “principle.”  The kanji 綱 meant “cable; principle.”

The kun-yomi 綱 /tsuna’/ means “rope,” and is in 横綱 (“grand champion sumo wrestler” /yokozuna/) and 綱渡り (“tightrope; ropewalking” /tsunawa’tari/). The on-yomi /koo/ is in 綱領 (“platform; principles; directive” /kooryoo/).

  1. The kanji 縄 “rope”

History of Kanji 縄In the seal style writing of the kanji 縄, the right side originated from a fly, but was used phonetically for /joo/ to mean a “twisted thing.” Together they meant “rope.” The kyuji, in blue, reflected seal style. In kanji the right side became simplified. The kanji 縄 meant “rope; cord.”

The kun-yomi 縄 /nawa’/ meant “rope.” The on-yomi /jo’o/ is in 縄文時代 (“Jomon pre-historic era in Japanese history” /joomonji’dai/). The name came from pottery that had the embossed pattern of a rope, and it preceded 弥生時代 /Yayoiji’dai/).

  1. The kanji 総 “to gather all; all; general”

History of Kanji 総In the seal style writing of the kanji 総, next to the skein of threads (糸) was  悤, which was used phonetically for /soo/ to mean “to bundle up hair.” Together they meant to bundle threads into one. From that it meant “to gather all” and “all.” In kanji the right side悤became忩. The kanji 総 meant “to gather all; all; general.”

The kun-yomi 総て /su’bete/ meant “all”. Another kun-yomi /husa/ is in a name. The on-yomi /soo/ is in 総合 (“total; synthesis” /soogoo/), 総称 (“general name; name for all” /sooshoo/), 総務 (“general administration” /so’omu/) and 総理大臣 (“prime minister” /soorida’ijin/).

  1. The kanji 紋 “pattern; (family) crest”

History of Kanji 紋The bronze ware style writing for the kanji 紋 had a skein of threads (three rounds), and the right side was a hand holding a stick, signifying “action by hand.” Together they signified a hand making a pattern with threads. Setsumon did not give any seal style writing. The right side (文) of the kanji 紋 was used phonetically for /bun; mon/ to mean “design.”  With 糸 and 文 together they meant a pretty pattern in woven fabric.  In Japanese 紋 is also used to mean “family crest.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 紋 /mon/ meant “family crest,” and is in 波紋 (“ripple” /hamon/), 指紋 (“finger print” /shimon/) and 家紋 (“family crest” /ka’mon/).

  1. The kanji 紅 “red”

History of Kanji 紅The seal style writing was comprised of 糸, a skein of threads, and 工, which was used phonetically for /koo/. Together they meant “red.”  The kanji 紅 meant “red.”

The kun-yomi 紅 /be’ni/ is in 紅色 (“red” /beniiro/), 口紅 (“lipstick” /kuchibeni/). The on-yomi /koo/ is in 紅茶 (“black tea” from the color of brewed tea /koocha/) and 紅一点 (“only female in the company” /ko’o itten/).

  1. The kanji 紺 “dark blue”

History of Kanji 紺The seal style writing was comprised of 糸 and 甘, which was used phonetically for /kan/. Together they meant “dark blue.” The kanji 紺 meant “dark blue.”

The kun-yomi /kon/ is in 紺色 (“dark blue” /kon-iro/), 濃紺 (“dark blue” /nookun/) and 紺碧の空 (“the azure sky” /konpeki-no-so’ra/).

  1. The kanji 縁 “edge; to be linked by fate”

History of Kanji 縁The right side of the seal style writing (彖) was used phonetically for /tan; en/ to mean “edge.”  With the left side 糸, together they meant “edge of clothes; fringe.” From that it also meant something connecting. In Buddhism this kanji means “to be linked by fate.” The kyuji, in blue, reflected the seal style. In shinji the right top was simplified. The kanji 縁 meant “edge; to be linked by fate.”

The kun-yomi 縁 /huchi’/ means “edge; border; brim,” and 額縁 (“picture frame” /gakubuchi/) and 縁なし眼鏡 (“a pair of rimless eyeglasses” /huchinashi-me’gane/). The on-yomi /e’n/ is in 縁起がいい (“of good omen; boding well for” /engi-ga-i’i/), 縁談 (“marriage proposal; marriage prospect” /endan/), 縁故採用 (“hiring through personal connection” /enko-sa’iyoo/) and 縁がある (“to be linked by fate” /e’n-ga-aru/).

  1. The kanji 級 “class; order”

History of Kanji 級The kanji 級 had 糸and 及, which was used phonetically for /kyuu/. The history of 及 by itself is shown on the right. The image was a person and a hand of another person catching the person in front. The sense of “order” from these two people, front and behind, signified order. With threads added, they originally meant setting up threads in the right order on the loom. From that it was extended to mean “phase; stage.” The kanji級 meant “class; order.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kyuu/ is in 等級 (“rank; class” /tookyuu/), 上級生 (“upper class student” /jookyu’usee/) and 一級品 (“first-rate goods” /ikyuuhin/).

  1. The kanji 給 “to supply; be given”

History of Kanji 給The right side合 of the kanji 給 was used phonetically for /kyuu/ to mean “to fill a gap.” With the left side 糸, they meant “to meet what is deficient.” The kanji 給 meant “to supply.”

The kun-yomi 給う /tama’u/ means “to be given (by a superior person)” humble style; “(a superior person) to give.” The on-yomi /kyuu/ is in 給料 (“salary; wage” /kyu’uryoo/), 給与 (“salary; wage” /kyu’uyo/), 支給する (“to pay; provide” /shikyuu-suru/) and 給油 (“refueling; oil supply” /kyuuyu.)

We will continue with a bushu itohen in the next post.  Thank you very much. -Noriko [March 18, 2017]

The Kanji 糸糾約絵紀継絶絹紡—itohen “thread”

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With this post we are going to start kanji that is related to thread, binding, weaving, cloth, etc., in connection with 糸 “thread.” We will see that when 糸 is used as a component, it is rarely used for phonetic value but it adds the meaning that pertains to characteristics of thread, such as continuity and binding. The kanji this week are 糸糾約絵紀継絶絹紡.

  1. The kanji 糸 “thread”

History of Kanji 糸For the kanji 糸, (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, and (b) and (c), in bronze ware style, in green, had two or three silkworm cocoons strung together with filaments coming out at two ends. An alternative view is that it was a skein of raw silk threads.  It meant “thread.” The two round shapes in (d) in seal style, in red, became the shape that had two 糸side by side in (e) in kyuji, in blue. In shinji (f) it became a single skein of threads. The kanji 糸 meant “thread.”

The kun-yomi 糸 /i’to/ means “thread,” and is in 糸口 (“the end of a thread; clue” /ito’guchi), ミシン糸 (“sewing machine thread” /mishin-i’to/), 毛糸 (“yarn” /keeto/) and 生糸 (“raw silk” /ki’ito/). The on-yomi /shi/ is in the expression 一糸乱れず (“in perfect order” /i’sshi-midare’zu/).

  1. The kanji 糾 “to entwine; investigate; scrutinize”

History of Kanji 糾The seal style writing of the kanji 糾 had “thread” on the left. The right side was two ropes that were twisted or entwined, and was used phonetically for /kyuu/. Threads that were twisted or entwined also signified to lump things together or to make things right. The kanji 糾 meant “to twist something; entwine; investigate; scrutinize.”  When糸 is used as a bushu on the left side it is called a bushu itohen.

The kun-yomi 糾す /tadasu/ means “inspect; scrutinize.” The on-yomi /kyuu/ is in 紛糾 (“to become entangled; be thrown into confusion” /hunkyuu-suru/), 糾明する (“to examine closely” /kyuumee-suru/) and 糾弾する (“to denounce” /kyuudan-suru/).

  1. The kanji 約 “promise; abridge”

History of Kanji 約The seal style writing of the kanji 約 is comprised of 糸 “thread” and 勺 “ladle scooping up something,” which was used phonetically for /shaku; yaku/. Together binding with threads what was raised meant “to promise.” Binding things in a bundle also gave the meaning to shorten or cut back. The kanji 約meant “to promise; shorten; cut back.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /yaku/ is in 約束 (“promise” /yakusoku/), 予約 (“reservation” /yoyaku/), 条約 (“treaty” /jooyaku/), 要約 (“summary” /yooyaku/) and 節約する (“to cut down; curtail” /setsuyaku-suru).

  1. The kanji 絵 “painting; picture”

History of Kanji 絵The seal style writing of the kanji絵 had 糸 “thread” and 會 “steamer with a lid.” A lid meets the steamer tightly, thus meant “to meet,” and it was also used phonetically for /kai/. Both sides together pulling threads of various color together originally signified brocade or embroidered cloth. Later it came to be used to mean “painting.” The kyuji 繪, which reflected seal style, was simplified to 絵, just as the kanji會 was replaced by 会 in shinji. The kanji 絵 meant “painting; picture.”

The kun-yomi 絵 /e/ means “picture; painting,” and is in 浮世絵 (“ukiyoe print” /ukiyo‘e/) and 絵文字 (“emoticon; emoji” /emoji/), a new word that seems to have been accepted in electronics communication nowadays.  The on-yomi /kai/ is in 絵画 (“painting; picture” /ka’iga/).

  1. The kanji 紀 “beginning; to chronicle”

History of Kanji 紀己, the bronze ware style writing for the kanji 紀, was phonetically /ki/, and has been given various interpretations — a tool used for spinning threads; a crooked end of a thread or rope; a motion in which a person in a crouched position was about to get up, etc. In seal style 糸 “thread” was added on the left to clarify the meaning. Gathering threads into one signified a beginning of a long-lasting event – thus, “to begin.” Making a chronicle of events was like gathering different lines of events into one – thus, “to chronicle.” The kanji 紀 meant “to begin; chronicle.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ki/ is in 紀元 (“starting point of years” /ki’gen/), 紀元前 (“before Christ; before common era” /kige’nzen/), 世紀 (“century” /se’eki/) and 風紀 (“public moral” /hu’uki/).

  1. The kanji 継 “to succeed; inherit: continue”

History of Kanji 継For the kanji 継, the bronze ware style writing had a pair of skeins of threads on two separate levels with a line in-between. That line signified that the threads were cut short (幺). In seal style another thread 糸 was added on the left, and together they signified “a thread (on the left) connecting the threads that are cut.” The four 幺 in kyuji was replaced by 米 in shinji.  The kanji 継 meant “to succeed; inherit: continue.”

The kun-yomi 継ぐ /tsugu/ means “to succeed; inherit,” and is in 受け継ぐ (“to follow; inherit” /uketsugu/) and 引き継ぎ (“taking over; transfer of (control)” /hikitsugi/). The on-yomi /kee/ is in 継続する (“to continue” /keezoku-suru/) and テレビ中継 (“television broadcast” /terebichu’ukee/).

  1. The kanji 絶 “to cut; die out”

History of Kanji 絶RThe bronze ware style writing of the kanji 絶 was similar to 継 in 6– a pair of skeins of threads on two shelves to mean “short thread” The Old style, in purple, was the same as the right side of the kanji 継, except that it was a flip-side. In seal style the right side (色) was added and used phonetically for /zee; zetsu/. The top of 色 had a knife (刀). Together they meant “to cut; die out.”

The kun-yomi 絶える /tae’ru/ means “to die out,” and is in 絶え間なく (“constantly; perpetually; endlessly” /taemana’ku/).  The on-yomi /ze’tsu/ is in 絶滅 (“extinction; eradication” /zetsumetsu/), 断絶 (“severance; extinction” /danzetsu/), and /zet-/ is in 絶対に(“absolutely” /zettai-ni/).

History of Kanji 断The combination of “four skeins of short threads” and “knife” reminds us of another kanji 断 in the earlier discussion. [December 6, 2016]  The kanji 断 in seal style had a hand axe (斤), a more powerful sharp object- thus, the kanji 断 meant “to cut drastically.”

  1. The kanji 絹 “silk”

History of Kanji 絹The writing in light color (time unknown) and seal style writing had 糸 on the left, and the right side was used phonetically for /ken/. The top of the right side was generally viewed as a round silkworm. The kanji 絹 meant “silk.”

The kun-yomi 絹 /ki’nu/ means “silk” and is in 絹豆腐 (“tofu of fine texture” /kinudo’ohu/).  The on-yomi /ken/ is in 人絹 (“imitation silk; rayon” /jinken/), a word somewhat outdated because レーヨン is used.

  1. The kanji 紡 “to spin”

History of Kanji 紡The seal style of the kanji 紡 had 糸 “skein of thread” and 方 for a phonetic /hoo; boo/.  The kanji 紡 meant “to spin.”

The kun-yomi /tsumugu/ means “to spin.” The on-yomi /boo/ is in 紡績業 “the spinning and weaving industry; textile manufacturing” /booseki’gyoo/) and 紡織機 (“spinning and weaving machine; spindles and looms” /booshoku’ki; boosho’kkuki/.)

We are going to continue with the kanji that have a bushu itohen in the next post.  Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [March 12, 2017]

The Kanji 盾循干刊汗

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This is a short post in finishing up with kanji that originated from two weapons– 盾循 and 干刊汗.

  1. The kanji 盾 “shield”

history-of-kanji-%e7%9b%beIn oracle bone style, in brown, and bronze ware style, in green, it was an image of a shield. The seal style writing, in red, had a canopy-like shape and an eye with a cross shape. Following Setsumon’s explanation, which is based on the seal style, many scholars view this as a shield which protected the eyes of a soldier and his body. The kanji 盾 meant “shield.”

The kun-yomi 盾 /tate’/ meant “shield,” and /-date/ is in 後ろ盾 (“support; backing” /ushirodate/).  The on-yomi /jun/ is in 矛盾 (“contradiction; inconsistency” /mujun/) that comprises 矛 “halberd” for attacking an enemy and 盾 “shield” for defending oneself.

  1. The kanji 循 “to follow”

history-of-kanji-%e5%be%aaThe left side of the seal style writing was a crossroad, signifying “going” and the right side 盾 “shield” was also used phonetically for /jun/ to mean “to follow; go along.” The kanji 循 meant “to follow.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /jun/ is in 循環 (“cycle; circulation; rotation” /junkan/).

  1. The kanji 干 “dry; attack”

history-of-kanji-%e5%b9%b2rIn oracle bone, bronze ware and ten styles, it was a forked weapon. The kanji 干 meant “to violate; attack.” However, this kanji is rarely used to mean aggression, except in the word 干渉 “interference; meddling.” It was borrowed to mean “dry; dry up.”

The kun-yomi /hi/ is in 干からびる (“to shrivel up; shrink” /hikarabi’ru/), 干物 (“dried fish” /himono/). Another kun-yomi /ho’su/ means “to air under the sun,” as used in 布団を干す /huton o hosu/ “to air futon under the sun.” The on-yomi /kan/ is in 干渉する (“to interfere; meddle” /kanshoo-suru/), 干拓 (“reclamation by drainage” /kantaku/) and 干害 (“drought damage” /kangai/).

  1. The kanji 刊 “to publish”

history-of-kanji-%e5%88%8aFor the kanji 刊, the left side (干) of the seal style writing was used phonetically for /kan/ to mean “to shave a piece of wood.” The right side was a knife. By using a knife, printing blocks were shaved to make a book. In kanji the knife became刂,a bushu rittoo “knife.” The kanji 刊 meant “to publish.”

There is no fun-yomi. The on-yomi /kan/ is in 月刊誌 (“monthly magazine” /gekka’nshi/), 朝刊 (“morning paper” /chookan/), 刊行 (“publication” /kankoo/), 新刊本 (“new publication; new title” /shinkanbon/).

  1. The kanji 汗 “perspiration; sweat”

history-of-kanji-%e6%b1%97For the kanji 汗, the left side of the seal style was “water,” which became a bushu sanzui in kanji (). The right side was used phonetically for /kan/. The kanji 汗 meant “perspiration; sweat.”

The kun-yomi /a’se/ means “perspiration; sweat” and is in 汗をかく(“to sweat; perspire” /a’se-o kaku/) and 冷や汗 (“cold sweat” /hiyaa’se/).  The on-yomi /kan/ is in 発汗 (“sweating” /hakkan/).

It is time for us to move onto another subject. I have not decided which groups of “things and objects” we may start with next time yet. Thank you very much for your reading. -Noriko [March 5, 2017]