The Kanji 衣依褒表俵裏哀衷衰-衣 “clothes” (1)


In this and next two posts we are going to look at kanji that contain a component that originated from a collar. We begin with kanji 衣依褒表俵裏哀衷衰.

  1. The kanji 衣 “clothes”

History of Kanji 衣For the kanji 衣, in oracle bone style, in brown, bronze ware style, in green, and seal style, in red, it was a single image of a collar — the top was the back of a collar that would be behind one’s neck and the bottom was the front part of a collar where two front sections of clothes were folded in a V-shape. In kanji a back collar became 亠 and a front collar became rather complex. (Please see the stroke order at the bottom of this post.) The kanji 衣 meant “clothes.”

The kun-yomi /koromo/ means “clothes,” and is in 衣更え (“change clothes for the season” /koromogae/). Another kun-yomi /ki’nu/ is in the expression 歯に衣を着せぬ (“not mince matters” /ha’-ni ki’nu-o-kisenu/). The on-yomi /i/ is in 衣服 (“clothes” /i’huku/), 衣類 (“clothes” /i’rui/), 衣食住 (“food, clothing and shelter”– three primary conditions to secure a basic living /ishoku’juu/), 更衣室 (“dressing room” /kooi’shitsu/), 衣装 (“costume” /i’shoo/) and 白衣 (“white garment; white uniform worn by medical or lab staff” /ha’kui/).

  1. The kanji 依 “to depend; follow”

History of Kanji 依For the kanji 依 in oracle bone style the two writing samples had a standing person inside a collar. A person was protected by clothes, and being inside someone’s protection meant “to depend.” In seal style the person was taken out of the collar and was placed to the left side, which became イ, a bush ninben. The kanji 依 means “to depend; follow.”

The kun-yomi 依る /yoru/ means (“to depend; follow” /yoru/). The on-yomi /i/ is in 依頼する (“to make a request; commission to do” /irai-suru/), 依然として (“still; as it was before” /izentoshite/), 旧態依然 (“remaining unchanged; none the better for the change” /kyuuta iizen/) and 依願退職 (“request resignation” /i’gan taishoku/).

  1. The kanji 褒 “to praise; commend”

History of Kanji 褒The oracle bone style writing of the kanji 褒 had a collar split to the top and the bottom, and a middle. In the middle was a hand holding a baby wrapped in diapers, used phonetically for /hu/ (孚) and /hoo/ to mean “to wrap loosely.” Together they meant “robe.” In the kyuji 襃 the collar 衣 was split into two parts, a back collar () and a frontal collar, and the middle changed to 保. Later it was borrowed to mean “to praise; commend.” The kanji 褒 means “to praise; commend.”

The kun-yomi 褒める /home’ru/ means “to praise; commend.” The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 褒美 (“reward; compensation” /hoobi/).

  1. The kanji 表 “outside; surface; public; front; table”

History of Kanji 表The seal style writing had a collar inside which had animal fur. Fur clothes were worn with the fur side out. From that the kanji 表 meant “outside.” Something that is outside becomes “public.” What is shown is “in front” of something. What is seen is the “surface” of something. Something that is shown to be understood at first sight is a “table.” The kanji 表 means “outside; surface; public; front; table.”

The kun-yomi 表 /omote’/ means “outside; surface; front.” Another kun-yomi 表れる /araware’ru/ means “to show up; appear.” The on-yomi /hyoo/ is in 表現 (“expression” /hyooge’n/), 表情 (“facial expression” /hyoojo’o/), 表札 (“nameplate on a outside door” /hyoosatsu/) and 表にする (“to tabulate” /hyoo-ni-suru/. /Pyoo/ is in 発表 (“presentation; making it public” /happyoo/) and 年表 (“time line table” /nenpyoo.).

  1. The kanji 俵 “straw bag”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji is comprised of イ, a bushu ninben “person,” and 表, which is used phonetically for /hyoo/. Together the kanji 俵 originally meant “share the profits equaly.”  But in Japan it is used to mean “straw bag.”

The kun-yomi 俵 /tawara/ means “straw bag” and 米俵 (“rice bag” /komeda’wara/), which has been replaced by a paper or plastic bag nowadays. The on-yomi /hyoo/ is in 土俵 (“sumo wrestling ring” /dohyoo/), which was originally made with a straw rope, and 一俵 (one bag” /i’ppyoo/).

  1. The kanji 裏 “inside; wrong side; hidden”

History of Kanji 裏For the kanji 裏 in bronze ware style (a) had 田 “rice paddies” and 土 “dirt,” which was phonetically /ri/. In (b) 里 was placed inside a collar. From “the inside of clothes” it meant “wrong side; inside; hidden.” In (c) in seal style 里 was placed in 衣 which was split up to the top and the bottom. The kanji 裏 means “wrong side; back; inside; hidden.”

The kun-yomi 裏 /ura’/ means “back; wrong side,” and is in 裏返す (“turn the other around; reverse” /uraga’esu/), 裏切る(“to betray; double-cross” /uragi’ru/), 裏話 (“story behind a story” /uraba’nashi/) and 裏書き (“endorsement (of a check)” /uragaki/). The on-yomi /ri/ is in 裏面 (“wrong side; back” /ri’men/).

  1. The kanji 哀 “sorrow; pity”

History of Kanji 哀For the kanji 哀 in bronze ware style inside a collar was a mouth. The muffled sound of wailing meant “sorrow.”

The kun-yomi /a’ware/ means “to feel pity.” Another kun-yomi 哀しみ /kanashimi/ means “sorrow.” The on-yomi /ai/ is in 悲哀 (“sorrow” /hi’ai/) and 哀悼の意を表する (“to express condolences” /aitoo-no-i’-o hyoosu’ru/).

  1. The kanji 衷 “genuine sentiment”

History of Kanji 衷For the kanji 衷 in the seal style 中 “center; inside” in the middle was used phonetically for /chuu/ to mean “center; middle.” What was inside a collar was underclothes worn under outerwear. Underclothes touch one’s skin. What was hidden under clothes was true feelings. The kanji 衷 means “true feeling; genuine sentiment.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /chuu/ is in 苦衷 (“predicament; mental suffering” /kuchuu), 折衷案 (“compromise plan” /secchu’uan/) and 衷心より (“from the bottom of my heart” in a formal letter /chuushin-yo’ri/).

  1. The kanji 衰 “to weaken; decline; diminish”

History of Kanji 衰For the kanji 衰 in bronze ware style it was a collar at the top and strands of grass or plants hanging down from the neck. It was a straw raincoat.  The Old style writing, in purple, is more descriptive because the wet straws were wilted with rain. It meant “to droop down.” In seal style the drooping straws was placed between the split collar. In kanji the straw became simplified. The kanji 衰 means “to slack; die away; fade; decline.”

The kun-yomi 衰える /otoroe’ru/ means “to weaken; decline; diminish.” The on-yomi /sui/ is in 衰退 (“atrophy; degeneration” /suitai/) and 衰弱 (“weakening” /suijaku/).


Stroke Order of 衣

The stroke order of the kanji 衣 is shown on the left.

We will continue exploring other kanji that contained a component inside a collar, most likely complex kanji such as 遠園・還環・懐壊・壌醸嬢譲 that have been given an intriguing explanation.  Thank you for your reading.  -Noriko [April 9, 2017]

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