The Kanji 卜占外貼店点訃赴・兆跳挑逃眺桃

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This is the third post on kanji whose origin pertained to religious matters. We have looked at kanji that contain 示 and a bushu shimesuhen, both of which came from an altar. In this post we are going to explore kanji that originated from divination – – 卜占外貼店点訃赴 and 兆跳挑逃眺桃.

1. The kanji 卜 “divination”

History of Kanji 卜The kanji 卜 is not among the Joyo kanji. But it appeared in many kanji as a component. In oracle bone style (a) and (b), in brown, bronze ware style (c), in green, and seal style (d), in red, the two lines signified cracks (vertical and horizontal) that appeared on a heated underside shell of a turtle or tortoise or a piece of animal bone that was used for divination. On the back of a bone heat was applied to a small hole that had been drilled in advance, and heat cracks that appeared were read as oracle on the topic that a ruler was seeking. The kanji 卜 meant “oracle; divination.”

The kun-yomi 卜う /urana’u/ means “to tell someone’s fortune; forecast.” The on-yomi /boku/ is in 卜辞 (“inscription on bones and tortoise carapaces” /bokuji/), synonymous to oracle bone style writing.

  1. The kanji 占 “divination; to occupy”

History of Kanji 占The kanji 占 in oracle bone style (a) was comprisee of a bone with divination cracks (卜), and a mouth (口) at the bottom. In (b), the two components in (a) were in an enclosure. It meant “oracle; divination.” The kanji 占 means “to tell someone’s fortune; divine.” Another interpretation of the bottom 口 is an “area,” which meant asking a deity which area one should take. From that it also meant “to occupy.”

The kun-yomi 占い  /uranai/ means “fortune telling,” and is in 星占い (“horoscope” /hoshiu’ranai/). Another kun-yomi 占める /shime’ru/ means “to occupy; hold; make up” and 買い占める (“to buy out; buy up” /kaishime’ru/). The on-yomi /sen/ is in 占有地 (“occupied land” /sen-yu’uchi/), 独占 (“monopoly” /dokusen/) and 占拠する (“to occupy” /se’nkyo-suru/).

  1. The kanji 外 “outside; others; to take out”

History of Kanji 外For the kanji 外, the oracle bone style writing had 工, which was probably used phonetically, and 卜 “oracle.” The left side of the bronze ware style writing and seal style writing had an early moon (夕), which would appear outside, or a piece of meat (月) offering for divination. The divination appeared on the surface or outside the bone. The kanji 外 means “outside; exterior,” and its extention “others; else; to take out.”

The kun-yomi 外 /so’to/ means “outside.” Another kun-yomi 外 /hoka/ means “others; else.” The third kun-yomi /hazusu/ means “to take out; omit.” The on-yomi /gai/ is in 外国 (“foreign country” /gaikoku/), 以外 (“other than; except” /i’gai/) and 予想外 (“unexpectedly” /yoso’ogai/). Another on-yomi /ge/ is in 外科医 (“surgeon” /geka’i/).

  1. The kanji 貼 “to stick; paste”

History of Kanji 貼The seal style writing was comprised of 貝 “cowry,” and 占, which was used phonetically for /choo; ten/.  Together they meant “to stick on; affix over something.” The kanji 貼 means “to stick; paste.”  The kanji 貼 was added to the Joyo kanji in 2010, and before that 張 was used instead.

The kun-yomi 貼る /haru/ means “to stick; paste.” The on-yomi /ten/ is in 貼付する (“to paste” /tenpu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 店 “store; shop”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji 店 is comprised of  广, a bushu madare “a house with one side open for easy access,” and 占, which was used phonetically for /ten/. Together they meant a kiosk or a place to put things. The kanji 店 means “shop; store.”

The kun-yomi 店 /mise’/ means “store; shop.” The on-yomi /ten/ is in 店内 (“inside a store” /te’nnai/) and 閉店時間 (“store’s closing time” /heetenji’kan/).

  1. The kanji 点 “small dot; point; to add a small note”

History of Kanji 点For the kanji 点, the left side in seal style was the same as 黒 “black,” which had a chimney with soot and two fires. The right side占 was used phonetically for /ten/ to mean “small dot.” Together they signified “small (black) dots.” Adding small points also gave the meaning “score.” The kyuji 點, in blue, had 黑 and 占. In kanji “black” was dropped except the “fire” underneath 占 as a bushu renga/rekka. The kanji 点 means “small dot; point; to add a small note.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ten/ is in 点 (“points; dot” /ten/), 点火する (“to light a fire; ignite” /tenka-suru/, 点検 (“inspection; overhaul” /tenken/) and 点滴 (“drip-feed” /tenteki/).

  1. The kanji 訃 “the news of someone’s death”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji 訃 is comprised of 言 “word; language,” and 卜, which was used phonetically for /hu/. Together they meant “the news of someone’s death.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hu/ is in 訃報 (“the news of someone’s death; obituary” /huhoo/).

  1. The kanji 赴 “to go somewhere for a new post”

History of Kanji 赴For the kanji 赴, the seal style writing was comprised of 走 “to run,” and 卜, which was used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “the news of someone’s death.” Together they originally meant “to tell” and “to rush in a distance.” From that the kanji 赴 means “to go somewhere at a distance; proceed; head for (a destination).”

The kun-yomi /omomu’ku/ means “to proceed; head for (a destination).” The on-yomi /hu/ is in 赴任する (“to go to start a new post” /hunin-suru/).

9. The kanji 兆 “sign; omen; trillion”

History of Kanji 兆For the kanji 兆 (a) in Old style and (b) in seal style was a pictograph of a oracle bone writing, possibly signifying the whole image of a tortoise shell with cracks. It meant “sign; indication; omen.”  兆 is also used to mean “trillion.”

The kun-yomi /kizashi/ means “indication; omen.” The on-yomi /choo/ means 予兆 “omen; indication,” 吉兆 (“auspicious sign” /kicchoo/) and 二兆円 /nichooen/ “two trillion yen.

10. The kanji 逃 “to run away; evade”

History of Kanji 逃For the kanji 逃 the bronze ware style writing had a crossroad on the left, and crosses scattered, which was also used phonetically for /too/.  The way in which a crack ran through rapidly in divination was similar to soldiers in defeat in a battle running away in all directions. It meant “to run away.” The seal style writing was comprised of 辵 “to move forward” and 兆, which was used phonetically for /choo/. From “a hasty retreat” the kanji 逃 meant “to run away; dodge; evade.”

The kun-yomi /nigeru/ means “to run away.” Another kun-yomi /nogare’ru/ means “to evade; miss.” The on-yomi /too/ is in 逃亡する (“to run away; fly” /tooboo-suru/) and 逃走する (“to escape” /toosoo-suru/).

11. The kanji 跳 “to leap; jump”

History of Kanji 跳The seal style writing was comprised of 足 “leg” and 兆, which was used phonetically for /choo/ to mean “leaping,” from the manner in which cracks appeared in a heated bone in divination. Together from legs leaping up and down, the kanji 跳 means “to leap; jump.”

The kun-yomi 跳ぶ /tobu/ means “to leap; bound; vault.” The on-yomi /choo/ is in 跳躍 (“spring; jump; leap” /chooyaku/).

12. The kanji 挑 “to challenge; confront; go after”

History of Kanji 挑The seal style writing was comprised of “hand”and 兆, which was used phonetically for /choo/ to mean “to bend.” Together they meant a hand bending something forcefully which met a push back. The kanji 挑 means “to challenge; confront; go after.”

The kun-yomi 挑む /ido’mu/ means “ to challenge.” The on-yomi /choo/ is in 挑戦 (“challenge” /choosen/) and 挑発する (“to provoke” /choohatsu-suru/).

13. The kanji 眺 “view”

History of Kanji 眺The seal style writing was comprised of 目 “eye” and兆, which was used phonetically for /choo/ to mean “to disperse.” Together they meant “to look at a distance; see.”

The kun-yomi 眺める /nagame’ru/ means “to look; examine,” and is in 眺めがいい (“to have a good view” /nagame’-ga i’i/). The on-yomi /choo/ is in 眺望 (“view; lookout” /chooboo/).

14. The kanji 桃 “peach”

History of Kanji 桃The seal style writing of the kanji 桃 was comprised of 木 “tree” and 兆, which was used phonetically for /too/ to mean something to split in half. Together they meant “peach.”

The kun-yomi 桃 /momo/ means “peach,” and is in 桃色 (“pink” /momoiro/). The on-yomi /too/ is in 白桃 (“white peach” /hakutoo/).

The two shapes that came from oracle bone writings, 卜 and 兆, were in the midst of the very things we are exploring –writings on oracle bones. They had been buried in the ground for over three thousand years and were fragile and broken to pieces. Being the oldest writing that connects to kanji, oracle bones provide crucial clues for us to conjecture about how each kanji was created in the extraordinarily imaginative minds of ancient creators.

We shall continue in the next post our exploration of kanji having religious origins. Thank you very much for your reading. -Noriko [May 27, 2017]

The Kanji 社礼福祉禅祝禍祖 — しめすへん (ネ)

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In the last post (The Kanji 示宗禁祭際察擦崇奈–“altar table”) we looked at kanji that contain a component 示 “an altar table with offerings,” where the will of a god was viewed to appear — thus signified “pertaining to religious matter.” In this post we are going to explore kanji in which the original altar table changed to ネ, a bushu shimesuhen “religious matter” in shinji — the kanji 社礼福祉禅祝禍祖.

  1. The kanji 社 “shrine; company of people; corporation”

History of Kanji 社

sThe oracle bone style writing for the kanji 社, in brown, was a pack of dirt placed on the ground with sprinkles of rice wine that was sanctifying the ground. It meant the god of the earth or a place of worship or a shrine. In bronze ware style, in green, it was the same as 土  “soil; earth; ground” (the bulge indicated a pack of dirt). In seal style, in red, an altar table was added to the left. The kyuji, in blue, reflected seal style. In shinji 社, 示 on the left side changed to ネ, a bushu shimesuhen. A place of worship was where many people congregated, and 社 also meant “company of people,” and, in Japanese, “corporation.” The kanji 社 means “shrine; company of people; corporation.”

The kun-yomi 社 /ya’shiro/ means “shrine.” The on-yomi /sha/ is in 社会 (“society” /sha’kai/), 会社 (“corporation” /kaisha/), 結社 (“establishment; organization” /kessha/), 社交的 (“sociable; gregarious” /shakooteki/) and 社会人 (“member of society; working adult” /shaka’ijin/).

  1. The kanji 礼 “propriety; a bow”

History of Kanji 礼For the kanji 礼 in (a) in bronze ware style, the top was two strings of cowries strung together or jewelries, and the bottom was a tall container. Together they meant abundant offering to a deity. The two Old style writings, in purple, came from an entirely different origin– (b) was an altar table with the offering on top, and (c) had a person kneeling to worship added on the right side. It meant “propriety (of ceremony).” (d) in seal style was comprised of 示 and 豊, which came from (a). The kyuji 禮, (e), reflected seal style (d), and is still used in formal occasions. The shinji uses 礼, in line with Old style (b) and (c).  The kanji 礼 means “propriety; a bow.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 礼 /re’e/ means “salute; bow,” and is in 一礼する (“to make a light bow to” /ichiree-suru/), 敬礼 (“salute” /keeree/), 失礼 (“discourtesy; impoliteness /shitsu’ree/), 礼儀正しい (“gracious; civilized; well-mannered” /reegitadashi’i/) and 儀礼的な (“ceremonious” /gireetekina/).

  1. The kanji 福 “blessing; good luck”

History of Kanji 福For the kanji 福, (a) in oracle bone style was comprised of an altar table at the top left and a rice wine cask that was raised by two hands. Placing a full wine cask on the altar, one prayed for blessing from the god. (b) ddid not have two hands. In bronze ware style, (c) and (d) had an altar table and a wine cask that was filled with wine (the cross at the bottom indicated that it was not empty.)  In seal style (e) reflected (c), in line with the general arrangement of a semantic-phonetic formation of kanji (keisei-moji) –a left component for meaning and a right component for sound. The kanji 福 meant “blessing; good luck.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 福 /huku/ means “blessing; good fortune,” and is in 祝福 (“benediction; blessing” /shukuhuku/), 幸福な (“happy” /koohukuna/), 福音 (“the Christian gospel; good tidings” /hukuin/) and 福袋 (“grab bag; mystery shopping bag” /hukubu’kuro/).

  1. The kanji 祉 “blessing”

History of Kanji 祉The oracle bone style writing of the kanji 祉 had an altar table for “deity,” and 止 was used phonetically for /shi/ to mean “to remain.” Together they meant “the god’s blessing remained.”  The kanji 祉 means “blessing; happiness given by a god,” but in the current Japanese the use is limited to the word 福祉.  There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /shi/ is in 福祉 (“welfare; well-being” /huku’shi/).

  1. The kanji 禅 “Zen sect; to pass on a throne peacefully”

History of Kanji 禅The seal style writing of the kanji 禅 was comprised of an altar table, signifying “worshipping,” and 單, which was used phonetically for /tan; zen/. Together they originally meant a platform or a raised area where a deity was worshipped. Following a god’s will one passed on a throne to someone else peacefully, and it meant “to pass on power peacefully.”  Later on it also came to be used to mean a Buddhist sect. In shinji the left side 示 became ネ a bushu shimesuhen. The kanji 禅 means “Zen sect; to vacate a throne (peacefully).”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /zen/ is in 禅宗 (“Zen sect of Buddhism” /zenshuu/) and 座禅を組む (“to sit in Zen meditation” /zazen-o ku’mu/).  The word 禅譲 (“peaceful evacuation of a throne” /zenjoo/) is a highly specialized word.

  1. The kanji 祝 “to celebrate”

History of Kanji 祝For the kanji 祝 the writing in oracle bone style, bronze were style and seal style all was comprised of 示 “altar table” and 兄 “elder brother;  elder person.” Together from an elder person worshipping and celebrating the god, the kanji 祝 meant “to celebrate.”

The kun-yomi 祝い /iwai/ means “celebration,” and is in 祝い酒 (“celebration drink” /iwai’zake/). The on-yomi /shuku/ is in 祝賀会 (“celebratory party” /shukuga’kai/). Another on-yomi /shuu/ is in 祝言 (“marriage ceremony” /shu’ugen/) and 祝儀 (“tip on celebratory occasion” /shu’ugi/).

  1. The kanji 禍 “misfortune; calamity”

History of Kanji 禍For the kanji 禍 what the shape in oracle bone style was about is not clear. The source from which I have taken this writing (Shirakawa) does not appear to be addressing it. The bronze ware style writing was comprised of an altar table and bones of a deceased (咼). Together they meant “affliction; catastrophe.” The kanji 禍 meant “misfortune; calamity.”

The kun-yomi 禍 /wazawai/ means “calamity.” The on-yomi /ka/ is in 戦禍 (“the turmoil of war; wartime chaos” /se’nka/) and 舌禍 (“unfortunate slip of the tongue” /ze’kka/).

  1. The kanji 祖 “ancestor”

History of Kanji 祖In oracle bone style (a) was an altar table and a stack of similar things. They could be ancestral tombstones or representations of many ancestors to be worshipped at an altar. In (b) and in bronze ware style (c) an altar table disappeared, but in (d) in seal style it reappeared. The kanji 祖 means “ancestor.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /so/ is in 先祖 (“forefather; ancestor” /so’sen/), 祖先 (“ancestor; ascendant” /so’sen/), 祖国 (“mother country” /so’koku/), 祖父 (“grandfather” /so’hu/), 祖母 (“grandmother” /so’bo/) and 元祖 (“originator; founder” /ga’nso/).

All the kanji that contain a bushu shimesuhen that we looked had 示 in most of the ancient writing through as recent as kyuji. It is only in shinji that, when 示 was placed on the left side of kanji, it became a bushu shimesuhen. Other kanji such as 神, 視 and 祈 have been previously discussed. We will continue to explore more kanji that pertained or still pertain to religious matters.  Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [May 20, 2917]

The Kanji 示宗禁祭際察擦崇奈 – “altar table”

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In this and next few posts we are going to explore kanji that pertained to religious matter. The kanji we look at in this post are示宗禁祭際察擦崇奈, which originated from an altar table.

  1. The kanji 示 “to display; indicate”

History of Kanji 示For the kanji 示, in oracle bone style, in brown, it was an altar table with an offering placed above. An altar was where the god showed his message. From that it meant “to show; demonstrate.” In seal style, in red, a line was added on each side of the stand. Setsumon’s explanation of these three lines was the sun, the moon and a star by which the god showed himself to people.

The kun-yomi shimesu means “to show; display; indicate.” The on-yomi /ji/ is in 表示する (“to display” /hyooji-suru/), 暗示 (“hint; indication; suggestion” /anji/), 展示場 (“exhibition  hall; show room” /tenjijoo/), 示談 (“out of court settlement; private settlement” /ji’dan/) and 指示する (“ton instruct; order” /shi’ji-suru/). Another on-yomi /Shi/ is in 示唆する (“to suggest” /shi’sa-suru/).

  1. The kanji 宗 “religion; sect; head of a group”

History of Kanji 宗For the kanji 宗, in oracle bone style it was an altar table inside a house or shrine. In bronze ware style, in green, and seal style the altar table had three lines. Together they meant “religious belief,” and “the head or founder of a religious group; group.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /shuu/ is used in the sense of Bhuddist practice such as 宗教 (“religion” /shu’ukyoo/), 改宗 (“conversion of one’s religion” /kaishuu/) and 宗旨 (“tenets of of a religious sect” /shu’ushi/). Another on-yomi /soo/ is used in the sense of “a group of people” such as 宗家 (“head of family” /so’oke/) and 宗廟 (“ancestral mausoleu” /soobyoo/).

  1. The kanji 禁 “to prohibit”

History of Kanji 禁In seal style of the kanji 禁, the top had two trees that signified “forest.” The bottom was “altar table,” signifying something sacred. Together they signified a sacred forest that was forbidden to enter. From that it meant “to prohibit; forbid.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kin/ is in 禁止する (“to prohibit” /kinshi-suru/), 禁句 (“tabooed word or phrase” /kinku/), 禁断 (“strict prohibition” /kindan/), あゆ漁の解禁  (“the opening of an ayu fish fishing season” /ayu’ryoo-no kaikin/) and 立ち入り禁止  (“Off-limit; Closed to the public” /tachiiri-kinshi.)

  1. The kanji 祭 “festival; feast day”

History of Kanji 祭For the kanji 祭, (a) in oracle bone style was comprised of a “hand” on the left sprinkling “rice wine” over an offering of a “piece of meat” on the right to sanctify it. (b) was the mirror image of (a). In (c) and (d) in bronze ware style an altar table replaced the sanctifying rice wine. (e) in seal style remained in kanji. (The top left of the kanji is not タ “moon” but has two short strokes inside, from 肉.) The kanji 祭 meant “celebration; festival.”

The kun-yomi 祭り or 祭 /matsuri/ means “festival; celebration,” and is in 祭り上げる (“to set someone on a pedestal” /matsuriage’ru/). The on-yomi /sai/ is in 祭日 (“holiday” /saijitu), 司祭 (“Catholic priest or clergy” /shi’sai/), 映画祭 (“film festival” /eega’sai/) and 感謝祭 (“Thanksgiving Day” /kansha’sai/).

  1. The kanji 際 “boundary; edge of an area; contact”

History of Kanji 際rIn the seal style writing of the kanji 際, an earthen wall for a boundary  was added to the left of 祭 “celebration of a god.” The area where the god and people come to meet was edge of an area; contact. In kanji the left side became simplified to 阝, a bushu kozatohen. The kanji 際 meant “boundary; edge of an area; contact.”

The kun-yomi 際 /kiwa’/ means “side; edge; verge,” and /-giwa/ is in 窓際 (“window side” /madogiwa/), 間際に (“just before; at the brink” /ma’giwa/) and 出際に (“at the moment of going out” /degiwa-ni/) and 手際よく (“skillfully; deftly” /tekigayo’ku/). The on-yomi /sai/ is in 国際的 (“international” /kokusaiteki/), 交際する (“to go steady; socialize with” /koosai-suru/) and 実際 (“truly; indeed; in point of fact” /jissai/). /-Zai/ is in 分際 (“position; social standing” /bunzai/).

  1. The kanji 察 “to perceive; conjecture”

History of Kanji 察The seal style writing was comprised of “house” and 祭 “celebration of a god.” In a house that enshrined a god one looked for a god’s will carefully and reflected on it. The religious meaning was dropped and the kanji 察 means “to perceive; look thoroughly; conjecture.”

There is no kun-yomi. On-yomi /satsu/ is in 観察 (“observation; supervision” /kansatsu/), 警察 (“police station; constabulary; police” /keesatsu/), 察する (“to perceive; gather” /sassuru/), 察知する (“infer from; gather from” /sa’cchi-suru/) and 洞察力 (“insight” /doosatsu’ryoku/).

  1. The kanji 擦 “to rub; scrub; scour”

The kanji 擦 was created much later, so no ancient writing existed. The kanji 擦 is comprised of 扌, a bushu tehen “an act that one does using a hand” and 察, which was used phonetically for /satsu/. Together they meant a hand rubbing something. The kanji 擦 meant “to rub; scrub; scour.”

The kun-yomi 擦る /su’ru/ means “to rub; scrub; scour” and 擦れる (“to be rubbed; be worn” /sure’ru/), and is in 擦り切れる (“to be worn out; become threadbare” /surikire’ru/). The on-yomi /sa’tsu/ is in 摩擦 (“friction; rubbing” /masatsu/).

  1. The kanji 崇 “high; to revere”

History of Kanji 崇The seal style writing of the kanji 崇 was comprised of 山 “mountain” that signified “high” and 宗, which was used phonetically for /suu/ to mean “main.” Together from the highest mountain in the mountain range, it meant “high; supreme.”

The kun-yomi /agame’ru/ means “to hold someone in reverence; adore.” The on-yomi /suu/ is in 崇高な (“lofty; sublime; grand” /suukoo-na/) and 崇拝する (“to worship; idolize” /suuhai-suru/).

  1. The kanji 奈 “(interrogative)”

History of Kanji 奈The seal style writing was comprised of 木 “tree” and 示 “altar table.” Together they meant the name of a tree. It was used for an interrogative word. The Correct writing 柰 reflected the seal style, but in kanji the top became 大. The kanji 奈 was used for “how; why” in some kanbun-style writing, but is no longer used except in a very limited word related to Buddhism.

The use of the kanji 奈 is quite limited. There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /na/ is in 奈落 (“Hell; the infernal regions; a trap cellar in a theater” /naraku/) and in a proper noun 奈良 (“Nara” /na’ra/), the old capitol of Japan before Kyoto.

The component 示 in the kanji 票標漂 did not come from an altar table but came from “fire.”  In the next post we are going to explore kanji that contain ネ, a bushu shimesuhen, which came from 示.  Thank you very much for your reading.  -Noriko [May 14, 2017]

The Kanji 巾布怖希飾帥・帯滞・幣弊蔽

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This is the 8th posting on kanji that originated from “a skein of silk thread” (糸), “a collar,” which became 衣 and 衤, and something that pertained to “fabric.” In this post we are going to look at the kanji 巾布怖希飾帥・帯滞・幣弊蔽.

  1. The kanji 巾 “cloth”

History of Kanji 巾For the kanji 巾 in all the three ancient writing styles (oracle bone, in brown; bronze ware, in green; and seal, in red) and the kanji, it basically remained the same shape. It was a piece of ceremonial scarf that was worn around the waist by a man. From that it meant “a piece of cloth.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji, even though 巾 has been used informally for the word  /haba/ “width” (幅).  The on-yomi /kin/ is in 布巾 (“kitchen cloth” /huki’n/), 頭巾 (“hood; headscarf” /zu’kin/) and 三角巾 (“triangular bandage” /sanka’kkin/).

  1. The kanji 布 “cloth; to lay flat; spread”

History of Kanji 布For the kanji 布, in bronze ware style it had a hand holding an axe or a rock at the top, which was used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “to pound.” Our reader may recognize this shape as the bronze ware style writing of the kanji 父 “father.” (A person holding an important axe or a rock in his hand was a father or paternal head.) Underneath was 巾 “cloth or scarf that a man wore around the waist.” In ancient times before cotton was introduced cloth was made of fibrous stems and stalks of a plant such as hemp by pounding it flat with a stone. The kanji 布 meant “cloth.” A piece of cloth covered a wide area, and it also meant “to spread.”  The kanji 布 means “cloth; to lay flat; spread.”

The kun-yomi 布 /nuno/ means “cloth.” The on-yomi /hu/ is in 毛布 (“blanket; woolen blanket” /mo’ohu/), 布教 (“missionary work; propagation of religion” /hukyoo/) and 布団 (“futon; padded mattress; bedding” /huton/). /-Pu/ is in 散布する(“to spray; scatter” /sanpu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 怖 “fear; scary”

History of Kanji 怖For the kanji 怖 in seal style, (a) was comprised of 心 “heart” and 甫, which was used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “fear,” whereas (b) was comprised of 心 “heart” and 布, which was also used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “fear.”  (a) became the kanji 怖 in which “heart” became a bushu risshinben “heart.” The kanji 怖 means “afraid; frightening; terrifying; fear.”

The kun-yomi /kowa’i/ means “frightening; petrifying; scary.” The on-yomi /hu/ is in 恐怖 (“terror” /kyo’ohu/) and 畏怖の念 (“sense of the awe” /ihu-no-ne’n/).

  1. The kanji 希 “rare; wish”

History of Kanji 希History of Kanji 爻In seal style the top meant “to mix.” The history of the shape 爻 is shown on the right. Many  threads crossing made woven cloth. Fine thin woven cloth would have a light coming through between threads, and thinness signified “rare.” The bottom, 巾, was a piece of cloth. Together they meant something that was “rare.” One makes a “wish” for something that is not commonly around. The kanji 希 means “wish; to beseech; rare.”

There is another kanji that uses 希, with , a bushu nogihen — the kanji 稀 “rare; thin,” in words such as 稀な (“rare” /mare-na/), 稀薄 (“thin” /kihaku/) and 稀少価値 (“rarity value” /kishooka’chi/). Another on-yomi /ke/ is in 稀有な (“rare” /ke’u-na/). Because the kanji 稀 is not Joyo kanji, 希 may be substituted in some words.

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /ki/ is in 希望 (“hope; wish” /kiboo/), 希薄な (“thin” /kihaku-na/) and 希少価値 (“scarcity value” /kishooka’chi/).

  1. The kanji 飾 “to decorate; embellish”

History of Kanji 飾In the seal style writing of the kanji 飾, 食 “eat; food” and 人 “person” together were used phonetically for /shoku/ and meant someone at a banquet table. With 巾 “cloth” below added, they originally meant “to wipe” (dishes).  Wiping something with a piece of cloth meant to make it clean or pretty. Thee kanji 飾 meant “to decorate; embellish.”

The kun-yomi 飾 /kazaru/ means “to embellish; decorate.” The on-yomi /shoku/ is in 装飾品 (“ornament; decorative thing” /shooshokuhin/) and 修飾語 (“modifier; qualifier” in grammar  /shuushokugo/).

  1. The kanji 帥 “general; commander”

History of Kanji 帥For the kanji 帥 in bronze ware style writings, (a), (b) and (c) was “a door or panel to open a family altar,” and the right side 巾 was “cloth.” Together wiping one’s family altar signified one following a god, and an exemplar. The flipside of following someone was “to lead; to take command.” [Shirakawa] The kanji 帥 means “general; commander.” In seal style (d) was a piece of cloth for a woman. In (e) the left side became simplified. Another view [Kadokawa dictionary] takes the left side of 帥 as signifying “band of people,” and together with 巾 “flag,” they meant commanding a troop with a flag.

The use of the kanji 帥 is limited. There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /sui/ is in 元帥 (“general; commander” /ge’nsui/).

  1. The kanji 帯 “belt; sash; long, narrow stretch of area”

History of Kanji 帯For the kanji 帯 the top of the seal style writing was a belt with accessory, and the bottom was a cloth in front, such as an apron. A rope that helped to keep clothes on was a “sash.” A sash is something you put on yourself. From that it also meant “to have on oneself.” The top of the kyuji 帶 was slightly simplified. The kanji 帯 also meant a “long, narrow stretch of area; strip; sash.”

The kun-yomi 帯 /o’bi/ meant “sash; band.” The on-yomi /tai/ is in 一帯 (“whole area” /ittai/), 温帯 (“temperate zone” /ontai/) and 携帯 (“portable type; carrying” /keetai/), which is now used as an abbreviated word for 携帯電話 (“cell phone; portable phone” /keetaide’nwa/).

  1. The kanji 滞 “to stagnate; be delayed”

History of Kanji 滞For the kanji 滞 the seal style writing was comprised of “water” and 帯, which was used phonetically for /tai/ to mean “belt; strip.” Together “water in an area” gave the meaning “to stagnate,” which further meant “to be delayed; be behindhand with.”

The kun-yomi /todokoo’ru/ means “to stagnate; fall behind (in payment).” The on-yomi /tai/ is in 滞納 (“failure to pay” /tainoo/), 停滞する (“to stop moving; stagnate” /teetai-suru/) and 沈滞ムード (“depressed mood; slum” /chintaimu’udo/).

History of Kanji 敝The shape 敝— The next three kanji 幣弊蔽 share the shape 敝. The history of 敝 is shown on the right. In bronze ware style the top left 巾 had two short lines inside, signifying that cloth is worn and torn. The bottom right was a hand holding a stick, signifying an action. In seal style they became 㡀 and攴. The kanji 敝 meant “cloth becomes rag; torn; to break; tire.”

  1. The kanji 幣 “money; sacred strips of paper”

History of Kanji 幣For the kanji 幣 the top 敝 was used phonetically for /hee/. The bottom was 巾 “cloth.” Together they meant “sacred piece of cloth for offering to a god.” An offering was sometimes money. From that the kanji 幣 meant “money.” It is also used to mean strips of hanging paper to mark a sacred area in Shinto to ward off evils.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hee/ is in 貨幣 (“money” /ka’hee/) and 紙幣 (“paper currency; note” /shi’hee/) an 御幣 (“paper strips” in Shinto. /gohee/).

  1. The kanji 弊 “to collapse; perish; our (humble)”

History of Kanji 弊For the kanji 弊 in seal style (a) and (b), the top was 敝, which was used phonetically for /hee/. The bottom of (a) was “dog” (犬), and (b) had “death” (死). A dog was said to have been used for poison testing. Together they meant “to collapse; perish; die; harmful.” The Correct writing (c) reflected (a) with 犬 at the bottom. The kanji 弊 was also used to mean “our (company)” in humble style. The kanji 弊 means “to collapse; to become exhausted; harmful; our (humble),” and is in 疲弊 (”impoverishment; exhaustion” /hihee/), 弊害 (“bad practice; harmful influence” /heegai/) and 語弊がある (“to be misleading” /gohee-ga-a’ru/).

  1. The kanji 蔽 “to conceal”

History of Kanji 蔽The seal style writing of the kanji 蔽 had 艸 “plant; grass” on top of 敝, which was used phonetically for /hee/. They meant that grass grew rampantly and covered or hid things. The kanji 蔽 means “to hide; cover; conceal.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /-pee/ is in 隠蔽する(“to conceal; hide” /inpee-suru/).

With this post we end our exploration on kanji that originate from thread, a collar and clothes.  We will start another topic next topic. Thank you very much for your reading. — Noriko [May 7, 2017]