We have been exploring the relationship among the kanji that contained “wrapped stuff tied on both ends and in the middle with a shaft going through.” The chart below shows groups of kanji whose ancient style appeared to have similar shapes. The three basic shapes (a), (d) and (e) began in oracle bone style, the oldest writing, in brown. (b) and (c) were in bronze ware style, in green, which was the next oldest style. It is reasonable to think that (b) and (c) were created based on (a).
In the first post a couple of weeks ago we looked at the kanji 東棟陳練錬曹遭槽量糧, as in the column (a). In second post last week we looked at the kanji 重動働腫衝種童鐘憧瞳 in which additional components appeared, as in the column (b) and (c). In this post we are going to look at (d) and the six kanji 専伝転団惠穂, which might or might not have been related to (a).
The shape (d) meant “to rotate” and has been explained as a tied bag of stuff that was pounded to make a round shape by hand,– thus “round” (View A). This view is in line with (a). Another view is that its was a spindle, and the hand below was rotating it, — thus “to rotate” (View B). It became 專 in kyuji, and became 専 in the shinji. When used as component 專 was replaced by 云 in shinji. (The remaining shaped (e) and (f) will be discussed in the next post.)
A spindle — What is a spindle 紡錘 /boosui/? “A spindle in weaving is a rod for spinning and winding natural fibers, consisting of a shaft and circular whorl at the end of the shaft.” I got this description a while ago (but do now remember from where now). The photo (taken from Wiki) is a modern version in which a whorl is at the top, unlike our ancient writing (d). I have also come across a video clip that shows the mechanism of a modern (Navaho drop spindle – https://www.yarn.com/products/schacht-navajo-drop-spindle).
Let us begin with this week’s kanji from the original shape (d).
The kanji 専 (專) “solely; exclusively; entirely; to monopolize”
For the kanji 専, View A (by Shirakawa) takes the oracle bone style writing to be “a tied bag of stuff with the top opening tied that was pounded into a round shape by a hand,” signifying “to round; make a wad.” View B explains it as a spindle which had a whorl (weight attached at the bottom) and was turned by a hand, together signifying “to turn; rotate.” The two accounts viewed the source of “turning” differently but arrived at the same meaning “to rotate; round.” Multiple fibers converging into one forming a thread or yarn gave the meaning “solely; monopolize.” In seal style, in red, the hand at the bottom became寸. The kyuji 專, in blue, had the remnant of a small whorl in a spindle, but was dropped in the shinji 専. The kanji 専 means “solely; exclusively; entirely; to monopolize.” [The composition of the kanji 専: 十 and 曰 and 寸 (not the correct stroke order)]
The kun-yomi 専ら/moppara/ means “solely; entirely.” The on-yomi /sen/ is in 専門 (“specialty” /senmon/), 専門家 (“specialist” /senmonka/), 専業 (“primary occupation” /sengyoo/), 専心する (“to devote one’s attention to” /senshin-suru/), 専用 (“exclusive” /sen-yoo/) and 専制政治 (“autocratic government” /sensee-se’eji/).
2. 伝 (傳) “to relay; convey; hand down”
For the kanji 伝, (a) in oracle bone style and (b) and (c) in bronze ware style comprised “a person; an act that one does” (イ) and “a rolling motion” (專), also used phonetically for /den/. Together a person carrying on his back a load that rotated signified “to relay; hand down to another.” In the seal style (d) a hand “寸” returned, and the kyuji 傳 in (e), in blue. In the shinji 伝, the right side 專 was replaced by 云, one of the shapes used for simplification. The kanji 伝means “to relay; convey; hand down.” [The composition of the kanji 伝: イand 云]
The kun-yomi 伝える /tsutaeru/ means “to convey; hand down,” and is in 手伝い (“help” tetsuda’i/). /-Zute/ is in 言伝て (“message” /kotozute/). The on-yomi /den/ is in 伝達 (“conveyance; transfer” /dentatsu/), 直伝 (“art handed down directly” /jikiden/), 伝説 (“legend” /densetsu/), 伝統 (“tradition” /dentoo/) and 遺伝子 (“gene” /ide’nshi/).
3. 転 (轉) “to roll; fall; change”
For the kanji 転 in bronze ware style the top had “a vehicle with two wheels that were connected with a shaft with yokes or handles, signifying “to roll.” The bottom was “a rolling motion,” used phonetically for /ten/. Together they meant “to turn; roll.” Turning wheels of a vehicle transport something to a different place, and it also gave the meaning “to change to something else.” In seal style a vehicle was simplified to車. It meant “to roll over; fall; change.” The right side of the kyuji 轉, 專, was replaced by 云 in shinji style. The kanji 転 means “to roll; fall; change.” [The composition of the kanji 転: 車 and 云]
The kun-yomi 転がる means “to roll; fall.” and is in 寝転がる (/nekoroga’ru/). The on-yomi /ten/ is in 回転(“rotation; rolling” /kaiten/), 逆転 (“reversal” /gyakuten/), 転職 (“changing one’s employment” /tenshoku/), 運転手 (“driver” /unte’nshu/), 転機 (“turning point” /te’nki/). The kun-yomi 転ぶ /korobu/ means “to fall,” and is in 転げる (“to roll overl” /korogeru/) and its intransitive counterpart 転がる (“to roll over” /korogaru/).
4. 団 (團) “band; round; mellow; lump; mass”
For the kanji 団the bronze ware style and seal style writings had 專, used phonetically for /dan/, inside 囗, a bushu kunigamae“enclosure.” A band of people also made a circle. From those, it meant “round” or “a group or band of people.” People sitting together in a circle also meant “harmony.” In shinji団, inside 囗, only the bottom half of 專, 寸“a hand,” is kept. The kanji 団 means “band; round; mellow; lump; mass.” [The composition of the kanji 団: 囗 and 寸 (the bottom line in 囗 comes last)]
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /dan/ is 団体 (“band of people” /dantai/), 集団 (“group” /shuudan/), 団子(“dumpling” /dango/), 一家団欒 (“pleasures of a happy home; happy time of family together” /i’kka danran/), 団地 (“housing or apartment complex” /danchi/). Another on-yomi /ton/ is in 掛け布団 (“quit; cover” /kakebu’ton/), 敷布団 (“futon mattress” /shikibu’ton/) and 座布団 (“seating cushon” /zabu’ton).
5. 恵 (惠) “blessing; bounty; benefaction”
The kanji 恵 had appeared in a many variations in the history. (a) in oracle bone style was a spindle, same as 専without a hand. (b) and (c) in bronze ware style can be viewed just variations of (a), and was used phonetically for /kee/. Something that rotated signified “all around; fullness.” In (d) and (e) “a heart” was added at the bottom. Together a heart that was full covering all around signified “generous and kind,” and it also meant “to bless; to give something in charity; be merciful.” The top of the kyuji 惠 in (h) was the same as the kanji 伝転団 without 寸. The kanji 恵 means “blessing; bounty; to confer benefits on one.” [The composition of the kanji 恵: 十, 曰 (not in this stroke order) and 心]
The kun-yomi /megumi/ means “blessing,” the verb /megumu/ means “to give something in charity” and the adjective恵まれた“to be blessed with; fortunate” /megumareta/. The on-yomi /kee/ is in 恩恵(“benefit; favor” /onkee/). Another on-yomi /e/ is in 知恵(“wisdom” /chie’/) and 悪知恵(“cunning” /warujie/).
穂 (穗) “ear or spear of rice plants”
For the kanji 穂 in seal style (a) comprised 禾 “rice plant” and 惠 used phonetically for /sui/ to mean “hanging; drooping,” whereas (b) had “fingers from above” that were “picking up rice plant” whose tip was drooping with its own weight. They meant “ear or spear of rice plant.” As with other kanji that had 惠 in its kyuji, the kyuji 穗 was simplified to 穂. The kanji 穂 means “ear or spear of rice plants.” The two seal style writings (a) and (b) differed so much. (a) was a semantic-phonetic composite while b) was a semantic composite (会意文字/ kaii-mo’ji/). Personally since I am interested in how a shape formed the meaning, I find (b) make more sense, but the history chose (a). [The composition of the kanji 穂: 禾 and 恵]
The kun-yomi /ho/ means “ear or spear of plant” and is in 稲穂 (“ear of rice plant” /inaho/. The on-yomi /sui/ is rarely used.
We also notice that all six kanji in this group had the kyuji writings. If we know the history we can see that what was deleted in shinji was a weight in a spindle. It ended up very similar to the right side of the kanji 博. The right side of the kanji 博 also went through simplification. Weshall explore that in the next post. Thank you very much for your reading. –Noriko [April 28, 2018]