The kanji 専, which we looked at in the last post, and the right side of 博 differ only in a tiny dot at the top right. It is the results of simplification that ended up with the two shapes resembling to each other almost identical. We have seen that the kyuji of 専, 專, came from a hand holding a spindle with a whorl at the bottom. In the shinji the little whorl was deleted. On the other hand if you look at the kyuji shape of the right side of the 博, 尃, very closely, the top was 甫 (The development is shown between the kanji 5 哺 and 6 博 below). In the shinji the bottom was “shaved off” for simplicity. Through standardization of shapes the original meanings were lost. Having going over the development of all Joyo kanji now I am quite amazed at the fact that origins were preserved in the majority of Joyo kanji, if we look for them. But this is not one of them. Let us look at the kanji that were related to 甫 on this post – the kanji 補捕浦舗哺・博敷薄簿縛.
The shape 甫 “to protect” — It was a young plant whose roots were wrapped for protection in a net. Another view is that it was nursery of rice plant seedlings, giving the meaning “to spread.” It was used phonetically for /ho/. 甫 by itself is not used as kanji but it is a component of the kanji 補捕浦舗哺.
The kanji 補 “to fill a gap; supplement; compensate”
For the kanji 補 the seal style writing comprised 衣 “clothes” and 甫 “a young plant whose roots were wrapped around” or “rice plant nursery” used phonetically for /ho/, together signifying “mending a hole in clothes.” The meaning was extended for more general use. In kanji “clothes” (衣) became 衤, a bushu koromohen“clothes.” The kanji 補 means “to fill a gap; supplement; compensate.” [The composition of the kanji 補: 衤 and 甫]
The kun-yomi 補う /ogina’u/ means “to compensate for; supplement.” The on-yomi /ho/ is in 補修工事 (“repair work maintenance work” /hoshuuko’oji/), 補助 (“assistance; support” /ho’jo/), 候補 (“candidate; the just the person for the job” /ko’oho/) and 補償する (“to indemnify; make up for” /hoshoo-suru/).
The kanji 捕 “to catch; seize”
For the kanji 捕 the seal style writing comprised “hand; an act one does using a hand” (扌, a bushu tehen in kanji) and “roots of a young plant wrapped well” (甫) used phonetically for /ho/ to mean “to grab.” Together they signified “grabbing something by hand firmly.” The kanji 捕 means “to catch; seize.” [The composition of the kanji 捕: 扌 and 甫]
The kun-yomi 捕まえる /tsukamaeru/ means “to capture; seize.” Another kun-yomi 捕る /to‘ru/ means “to catch,” and /-doru/ is in 分捕る (“to plunder; loot” /bundo’ru/) and 生け捕る (“to capture alive” /ikedo’ru/). The on-yomi /ho/ is in 捕鯨 (“whaling” /hogee/), 捕獲枠 (“fishing or hunting quota” /hokaku’waku/) and 逮捕する (“to arrest; apprehend” /ta’iho-suru/).
The kanji 浦 “creek; inlet; bay; seashore”
The seal style writing of the kanji 浦 comprised “water” (氵) and 甫 “to spread” used phonetically for /ho/, together signifying “a wide area along water.” The kanji 浦 means “creek; inlet; bay; seashore.” [The composition of the kanji 浦: 氵 and 甫]
The kun-yomi 浦 /ura/ is in 津々浦々 (“from coast to coast; all over the country” /tsu’tsu ura’ura/). The on-yomi /ho/ is used in rarely used words.
The kanji 舗 “shop”
For the kanji 舗 the seal writing comprised 金 “metal” and 甫 used phonetically for /ho/, together signifying “a metal piece that was used on a door lock or handle.” Later it meant “shop,” and 金changed to 舍 “house.” The kyuji 舖, in blue, The component 舍changed to 舎 in the shinji, as was the case with other kanji that contained it. The kanji 舗 means “shop.” [The composition of the kanji 舗: 舎 and 甫]
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ho/ is in 舗装道路 (“paved street” /hosoodo’oro/), and /-po/ is in 店舗 (“shop” /te’npo/). It is also used for the Japanese word /shinise/ 老舗 “a long-established store.”
The kanji 哺 “to take in one’s mouth”
The seal style writing of the kanji comprised 口 “mouth,” and 甫 used phonetically for /ho/ to mean “to catch,” together meaning a parent bird giving food to its chick’s mouth” and “to chew in the mouth.” The kanji 哺 means “to take in one’s mouth.” [The composition of the kanji 哺: 口 and 甫]
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ho/ is in 哺乳類 (“Mammalia” /honyu’urui/) and 哺乳瓶 (“a baby’s nursing bottle” /honyu’ubin/).
By adding a hand below 甫, the shape 尃 in the kyuji style, signified “a hand planting seedlings” or “nursery.” It meant “to spread” and further “wide.” The kanji are 博敷薄簿縛.
The kanji 博 “spreading; wide; broad”
For the kanji 博 the bronze ware style writings comprised 尃 “young plant with its roots protected by a hand” used phonetically for /hu; haku/ and 十 “gathering many things into one,” together signifying “planting young seedlings in a wide area” or more generally “spreading; wide.” Later the kanji 博 came to mean “breadth of knowledge.” The right side of the seal style writing still retained the image of the original meaning. The kanji 博 means “spreading; wide.” [The composition of the kanji 博: 十 and 一,曰,丨, a dot and 寸]
There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /haku/ is in 博覧会 (“exhibition exposition” /hakura’nkai/), 博学 (“extensive learning; encyclopedic knowledge” /hakugaku/), 博士号 (“doctorate” /hakushi’goo/), 博士 (“expert, an expert” /ha’kase/). /-Baku/ is in 賭博 (“gambling” /tobaku/). /-Paku/ is in 万博 ( “a world fair” /banpaku/).
The kanji 敷 “to spread out; stretch”
For the kanji 敷 the bronze ware style writing was “a young seedling (甫) with its roots protected” that was held by “a hand” (寸), and was used phonetically for /hu/. In seal style “a hand holding a stick” (攴, a bushu bokunyuu) was added to signify “an action.” Together they signified “to plant a seedling in the ground and level the ground” or “to lay spread.” In kanji the bottom left became 方 “four directions.” The kanji 敷 means “to spread out; stretch.” [The composition of the kanji 敷: 一, 曰, 丨, a dot, 方 and 攵]
The kun-yomi 敷く /shiku/ means “to spread; pave; lay out,” and also is in 風呂敷 (“a wrapping cloth” /huro’shiki/), 屋敷 (“residential site; the premises” /yashiki’/), 座敷 (“Japanese-style tatami room; drawing room” /zashiki’/), 敷き布団 (“sleeping mat” /shikibu’ton/) and 敷居 (“threshold; sill of an entrance” /shikii/). The on-yomi /hu/ is in 敷設する (“to construct; build” /husetsu-suru/).
The kanji 薄 “thin; weak; watery”
The seal style of the kanji 薄 comprised“plants” (艸), “water” (氵) and “wide; to spread flat” used phonetically for /haku/. Water or plants spread in a wide area made it thin. The kanji 薄 meant “thin; weak; watery.” [The composition of the kanji 薄: 艹, 氵and the right side of 博]
The kun-yomi 薄い /usui/ means “thin; weak; watery; pale,” and is in 薄める (“to dilute; weaken” /usumeru/), 手薄な (“thinly staffed” /teusu-na/) and 薄暗い (“gloomy; dusky; dim” /usugurai/). The on-yomi /haku/ is in 軽薄な (“indiscreet; frivolous” /keehaku-na/) and 薄情な (“heartless; coldhearted” /hakujoo-na/).
The kanji 簿 “register; bookkeeping record”
There is no ancient writing for the kanji 簿. The kanji had 竹, a bushu takekammuri “bamboo,” and the same bottom as 薄 “thin” used phonetically for /bo/. Thin wood or bamboo pieces were used for bookkeeping and were bound together. The kanji 簿 means “register; bookkeeping record.” [The composition of the kanji 簿: 竹かんむり, 氵 and the right side of 博]
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /bo/ is in 名簿 (“roll; name list” /meebo/), 帳簿 (“an account book; ledger” /choobo/), 簿記 (“register” /bo’ki/), 戸籍簿 (“a record of koseki – official family register”/koseki’bo/) and 家計簿 (“a housekeeping accounts book” /kake’ebo/).
The kanji 縛 “to restrain; bind”
The seal style writing of the kanji 縛 comprised 糸 “skein of threads” and “a young seedling held in a hand” used phonetically for /baku/. Something constrained in one’s hand and bound in threads gave the meaning “to bind.” The kanji 縛 means “to restrain; bind.” [The composition of the kanji 縛: 糸 and the right side of 博]
The kun-yomi 縛る /shiba’ru/ means “to bind.” The on-yomi /baku/ is in 束縛 (“restraint; shackles” /sokubaku/) and 呪縛 (“spell” /jubaku/).
In our four posts we explored kanji that appeared to share the same original shape (Please refer to the comparison of 東重童専甫 table on our last post). The first two posts were related to stuff that was wrapped around and tied at the two openings and in the middle, signifying “stuff; weight.” The third post was about a spindle being turned by a hand, signifying “to rotate; roll.” And this post was about a seedling whose roots were wrapped for protection, signifying “to protect,” and a hand added to it, signifying “to spread; broad.” On the table we see that the original shapes of all four shapes existed in oracle bone style, the oldest style (all in brown in our color). We also see how creators differentiated meanings using simple shapes available. They would have been astonished to know how complex their simple shapes had become. In the next post we move onto the topic of things that were bundled. Thank you very much for your reading. — Noriko [May 5, 2018]