Kanji that pertained to religious matters mostly involved an altar table. We continue our exploration of kanji that originated from an altar table in this fourth post. The kanji we are going to look at are 斉済剤斎 with 斉, 帝締諦 with 帝 and 嫡敵適摘滴 with 啇.
The kanji 斉 “to be in good order; gather well”
For the kanji 斉, in (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, (b) and (c) in bronze ware style, in green, and (d) in seal style, in red, there were three beautiful hair accessories of women involved in a religious rite in a uniformly neat appearance. It meant “to be in good order; gather properly.”
There is a slightly different acocunt– Setsumon’s account on (d) was that it came from three plants, such as barley, of equal length that were offerings to a deity. Either account pertained to religious matter. The kyuji 齊, (e) in blue, was simplified to 斉. The kanji 斉 means “to be in good order; gather well.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /see/ is in 斉唱 (“singing in unison” /seeshoo/), 一斉に (“all at once; simultaneously” /issee-ni/) and 一斉休暇 (“all employees taking the days off at the same time” /issee-kyu’uka/).
The kanji 済 “to complete; finish up”
The seal style writing was comprised of “water” and 斉. It was the name of a river. From crossing the river, it was borrowed to mean “to rescue people” and further “to be accomplished.” The kyuji 濟 was simplified to済. The kanji 済 means “to complete; finish up.”
The kun-yomi /su/ is in 済む /su‘mu/ “to end” and 済ます (“to compete; settle” /sumasu/). /-Zu/ is in使用済み (“already finished being used; second-hand” /shiyoozumi/), 返済 (“payback” /hensai/) and 救済する (“to give relief; save” /kyuusai-suru/). /-Zai/ is in 経済 (“economy; economics” /ke’ezai/).
The kanji 剤 “medicine; drug”
The seal style writing was comprised of 斉 and 刂 “knife.” Together they meant engraving on a bronze ware vessel to inscribe a contract. Later on it was borrowed to mean “medicine.” In kyuji the knife, being used on the right side, became刂, a bushu rittoo “knife.” The kanji 剤 means “medicine; drug.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /zai/ is in 薬剤師 (“pharmacist; chemist” /yakuza’ishi/), 錠剤 (“tablet” /joozai/) and 洗剤 (“detergent” /senzai/).
The kanji 斎 “votive abstinence”
For the kanji 斎the bronze ware style writing was comprised of an altar table added to 斉, which was used phonetically for /sai/ to pertain to religious rite. Together they meant the discrete reverential manner of areligious rite. In seal style the altar table was placed inside 斉. The kanji 斎meant “votive abstinence; .”
There is no kun-yomi. The om-yomi /sai/ is in 斎場 (“funeral parlor” /saijoo/) and 書斎 (“study; library” /shosai/).
The next eight kanji — in two groups, 帝締諦 and 嫡敵適摘滴 — do not appear to share anything common. However, surprisingly, they all came from a principal alter table at which a ruler conducted a rite for his ancestral deities.
- The kanji 帝 “emperor; imperial”
For the kanji 帝, (a) in oracle bone style (b) in bronze ware style, and (c) and (d) in seal style was an altar table that had three crossed legs for stability. It was the most important altar table on which to place offerings for the ancestral gods, in comparison to another alter (示), which was for general meaning of religions matters. A person who was the primary celebrant was an emperor. In kanji the bottom 巾 was probably the remnant of three legs. The kanji 帝 meant “emperor; imperial.”
The kun-yomi /mikado/ means “emperor.” The on-yomi /tee/ is in 帝王 (“emperor” /teeo‘o/), 帝国 (“empire; conglomerate” /teekoku/) and 皇帝 (“emperor” /kootee/).
The kanji 締 “to fasten; tie up”
The seal style writing for the kanji 締 was comprised of 糸 “thread,” signifying “tying,” and 帝, which was used phonetically for /tee/. The kanji 締 they meant “to fasten; sign a treaty.”
The kun-yomi /shi/ is in 締める(“to fasten; tie up” /shime’ru/), its intransitive verb締まる (“to become closed; become fastened” /shima’ru/), 引き締める (“to tense up; tighten” /hikishime’ru/), and 取り締まる (“to crack down; keep in line” /torishimaru/. The on-yomi /tee/ is in 締結する (“to conclude z treaty; enter into” /teeketsu-suru/).
The kanji 諦 “to resign oneself”
The seal style writing for the kanji 諦was comprisee of 言 “word; language,” and 帝, which was used phonetically for /tee/. Together they meant “to make clear (with words); reveal the truth.” In Japanese it also means “to resign to one’s fate; despair.” The kanji 諦 means “to resign to one’s fate.”
The kun-yomi /akirameru/ means “to give up; drop out.” The on-yomi /tee/ is in 諦観する (“to resign oneself” /teekan-suru/) and 諦念 (“understanding and acceptance of the basis of things; resignation” /teenen/).
The Component 啇–The next five kanji all have 啇 /teki/. Its history is shown on the right.– The two bronze ware style writings had a principal altar table for an emperor, which eventually became the kanji 帝, and 口 “prayer vessel; mouth.” Together they signified an emperor or someone who conducted a religious rite in ancescral deity worship. We shall see in the next five kanji that the original meaning of 帝 is more directly reflected in those kanji with 啇 /teki/, which was used phonetically as well, than in kanji with 帝 /tee/ in 6 and 7.
The kanji 嫡 “legitimate”
For the kanji 嫡 the bronze ware style writing was the same as 啇. In seal style a woman was added to indicate a line of legitimate heirs to a throne. The kanji 嫡 means “legitimate line.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /chaku/ is in 嫡男 (“male heir” /chaku’nan/), 嫡子 (“legitimate child; heir” /cha’kushi/) and 嫡流 (“direct line of descendant” /chakuryuu/).
The kanji 敵 “enemy; opponent”
For the kanji 敵, the bronze ware style writing was the same as 啇 “emperor; imperial” or 嫡 “legitimate heir.” In seal style, 攴, a bushu bokuzukuri “to beat; hit,” was added. Someone who attacked an heir was “enemy; foe.” Someone who was an good match to be one’s enemy also gave the meaning “equal to; match; opponent.”
The kun-yomi 敵 /kataki’/ means “enemy,” and is in 敵役 (“villain’s part in play” /katakiyaku/) and 商売敵 (“rival in trade” /shoobaiga’taki/). The on-yomi 敵 /teki/ means “enemy,” and is in 宿敵 (“old enemy” /shukuteki/), 敵意 (“hostile feeling; animus” /te’kii/) and 匹敵する (“comparable to; equal to” /hitteki-suru/).
The kanji 適 “suitable; to fit”
For the kanji 適, again, the bronze ware style writing was the same as in 8 and 9. It suggests that all those meanings were once expressed in one writing. In seal style, 辵, the precursors of shinnyo/shinnyu “to move forward; move on.” The right side was used phonetically for /teki/ to mean “a legitimate person.” The meaning of being suitable to conduct worship rites was used for this writing. The writing 適 meant “suitable; to fit.”
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /teki/ is in 適切 (“appropriate” /tekisetsu/), 適度な (“moderate” /te’kido-na/), 快適な (“comfortable; pleasant” /kaiteki-na/) and 適用する(“to apply” /tekiyoo-suru).
The kanji 摘 “to pick up”
The seal style writing was comprised of扌 “hand” and 啇, which was used phonetically for /teki/. Together they meant a hand picking or plucking something. The kanji 摘 means “to pick; pluck.”
The kun-yomi 摘む /tsumu/ means “to pick up; pull up.” The on-yomi /teki/ means 摘要 (“abstract” /tekiyoo/), 摘発する (“to expose; unmask” /tekihatsu-suru/) and 指摘する (“to point out; indicate” /shiteki-suru/).
The kanji 滴 “drop; to trickle”
For the kanji 滴 the two writings (a) and (b) in oracle bone style were taken from Akai (2010). In (a) and (b) next to “water” was a tattooing needle and a table or base to place it on, which was the origin of the kanji 商. This puzzles me. Shirakawa (2004) did not list them in 滴. I suspect that it is due to the difference in view on which writings should be taken as for origin of a particular kanji. Generally speaking the writings listed in Akai, a calligrapher and kanji compiler, are in line with Shirakawa’s view, but this is one of very few discrepancies. The seal style writing, (c), was comprised of 氵, a bushu sanzui “water,” and the right side 啇 was used phonetically for /teki/. It is believed to be an onomatopoetic use for the sound of water dripping. The kanji 滴 means “to drop; drip.”
The kun-yomi 滴る /shitata’ru/ means “to dribble; trickle.” Another kun-yomi 滴 /shizuku/ means “drop.” The on-yomi /teki/ is in 水滴 (“water droplet” /suiteki/) and 一滴 (“driblet; drop” /itteki/).
There is one more component that originated from an altar table that I would like to explore, but that has to be in the next post. Thank you very much for your reading this rather long post. – Noriko [June 3, 2017]