The kanji 東棟陳凍練錬曹遭槽量糧-a rolled stuff tied on both ends and around 1


When we glance at a large group of kanji such as 東棟陳凍・練錬・曹遭槽・量糧・重動働腫種衝・童鐘憧瞳・専伝(=傳)転(=轉)団(團)・恵穂 and, with the association with 専 kanji that contain 尃, 博敷薄簿縛・補捕浦舗哺 they certainly appear to be good candidates for our exploration in finding out if common shapes in kanji originated from the same origins. In order to cover all these kanji, we probably need to spend several posts. Most kanji are composites of two or more shapes, and naturally they do come up again in different contexts. In this post we are going to look at the first sub-group that originated rolled stuff or bag tied at both ends and around -東棟陳凍・練錬・曹遭槽・量糧.

The first shape is東in東棟陳凍.

  1. The kanji 東 “east”

History of Kanji 東Any Japanese student knows the kanji 東 “east” because it is in the word Tokyo 東京 /tookyoo/. But the meaning “east” was a borrowing and had no relevance to its original meaning. In oracle bone style, in brown, and bronze ware style, in green, it was rolled stuff with a shaft going through that was tied on both ends and was wrapped around with a tie in the middle. In seal style, in red, it became more like the kanji 東. As a component it retained the meanings “through” and “rolled stuff,” but by itself it is used in the borrowed meaning “east.”

The kun-yomi 東 /higashi/ means “east,” and is in 東海岸 (“east coast: the East Coast”). The on-yomi /too/ is in 東京 (“Tokyo” /tookyoo/), 関東 (“Kanto region” /ka’ntoo/), 東西南北(“every direction” /toozaina’nboku/), 中東 (“Middle East” /chuutoo/) and 中近東 (The Near and Middle East” /chuuki’ntoo/).

  1. The kanji 棟 “ridgepole; house; counter for houses”

History of Kanji 棟The seal style writing of the kanji 棟 comprised 木 “tree; wood” and 東 used phonetically for /too/ to mean “through.” A piece of wood that was placed across a house was “a ridgepole; ridge beam,” which is the highest part of a house where two sides of roof met. It was also used to mean “a house” and as a counter for houses. The kanji 棟 means “ridgepole; house; counter for houses.” [The composition of the kanji 棟: 木and 東]

The kun-yomi 棟/mune’/ means “house”and is in 別棟 (“different building; annex building” /betsumune/) and also used as a counter for houses.” The on-yomi /too/ is in 病棟 (“hospital ward” /byootoo/) and 棟梁 (“master carpenter” /to’oryoo/) and 三棟 (“three building” /sa’ntoo/).

  1. The kanji 陳 “to line up; show; timeworn; outdated”

History of Kanji 陳For the kanji 陳 (a) and (b) in bronze was style had “mounds of dirt; hills” (vertically placed) (阝)  on the left and “rolled stuff tied on both ends and around” (東) signifying “a thing.” In addition to them, (a) had 攴“to cause an action; do something” whereas (b) had 土 “soil.” The sound /chin/ meant “to display.” Together they meant to display things on the ground or line up bags of dirt. When something in display was left for a long time, it became “old; stale.” In (c) in seal style neither 攴nor 土appeared. The kanji 陳 means “to line up; show; timeworn; outdated; old.” [The composition of the kanji 陳: 阝 and 東]

There is no kun-yomi for  the kanji 陳 in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /chin/ is in 陳列 (“display” /chinretsu/), 陳腐な (“stale; clichéd; obsolete” /chi’npu-na/), 陳情する(“to make a petition in person” /chinjoo-suru/) and 新陳代謝 (“metabolism; switch from old to new” /shinchin ta’isha/).

  1. The kanji 凍 “to freeze; be numb with cold; be chilled to the bone”

History of Kanji 凍The seal style writing of the kanji 凍 comprised “ice that has streaks” and 東 used phonetically for /too/ to mean “stuff tied” together signifying stuff freezing or a person freezing. It contrasts to the kanji 氷 “ice,” which was “water freezes; frozen ice.” The kanji 凍 means “to freeze; be numb with cold; be chilled to the bone.” [The composition of the kanji 凍: 冫and 東]

The next two kanji 練 and 錬 contain 東 in kanji, but in the kyuji it had 柬 with different meaning and the sound /ren/.

  1. The kanji 練 “to refine; knead; train”

HIstory of Kanji 練In bronze ware style and seal style the kanji 練 had “a skein of threads” (糸) on the left side. The right side 柬 used phonetically for /ren/was “bundle of threads inside a rolled bag tied on both ends and around to be softened.” Softening threads involved repeated steps of exposing them to direct sunlight and soaking them in water at night. From repeating a process of refining materials, it meant “knead; train.” The kyuji 練, in blue, retained 柬, but in the shinji 練 the right side 柬 became 東.The kanji 練 means “to refine; knead; train hard.” [The composition of the kanji 練: 糸 and 東]

The kun-yomi 練る /ne’ru/ means “to kneed.” The on-yomi /ren/ is in 練習 (“practice; rehearsal” /renshuu/), 熟練した (“experienced and skilled” /jukuren-shita/) and 試練 (“trial; ordeal” /shi’ren/).

  1. The kanji 錬 “to refine metal; train”

HIstory of Kanji 錬The kanji 錬 comprised 金 “metal” and 柬 “to refine; knead” used phonetically for /ren/. Together they meant “heating iron in a high temperature and remove the impure minerals.” The kyuji 鍊 retained 柬. The kanji 錬 means “to refine metal; train hard.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ren/ is in 錬金術 (“alchemy” /renki’njutsu/), 精錬(“metal refining; smelting” /seeren/) and 鍛錬 (“tempering; toughening; annealing” /ta’nren/).  [The composition of the kanji : 金 and 東]

The next three kanji 曹遭槽 also shared the origin with 東even though it is not easy for us to recognize it. But their ancient writings demonstrate that connection.

  1. The kanji 曹 “low-level official; sergeant; fellows”

HIstory of Kanji 曹For the kanji 曹 in oracle bone style and bronze ware style the top had two pieces of stuff tied on both ends and around (東), signifying “two parties in a court – plaintiff and accused.” The bottom 曰 was “to speak.” (It is not 日 “the sun” but 曰 “to speak”). Together two parties standing to speak in court gave the meaning “companions; fellows.” It also meant “low-level officers; seargent.” The kanji 曹 means “low-level official; sergeant; fellows.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /soo/ is in 法曹界 “leagal circles; the bench and bar” /hooso’okai/), 軍曹 (“seargent” /gu’nsoo/) 重曹 (“sodium bicarbonate; baking soda” /juusoo/). /-Zoo/ is in 御曹司 (“a son of a doble or distinguished family” /onzo’oshi/).

  1. The kanji 遭 “to encounter; meet by chance”

HIstory of Kanji 遭The bronze ware style writing of the kanji 遭 was the same as 曹. The left side (辵) of the seal style writing had “a crossroad” and “a footstep,” together signifying “to move forward,” which eventually became a bushu shinnyooin kanji. The right side 曹 “fellows; companions” was also used phonetically for /soo/. “People meeting on their way unectectedly” meant “to encounter.” In kanji 遭 is associated with mishap such as “accident.” The kanji 遭 means “to encounter; meet by chance; mishap.”  [The composition of the kanji 遭: 曹 and 辶]

The kun-yomi 遭う /a’u/ means “to encounter.” The on-yomi /soo/ is in 遭難 (“disaster; mishap; shipwreck” /soonan/) and 遭遇する(“to encounter; come upon” /sooguu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 槽 “tub; tank; vat”

HIstory of Kanji 槽The seal style writing of the kanji 槽 comprised 木“tree; wood” and 曹 used phonetically for /soo/ to mean “tub” together signifying “a wooden tub.” The kanji 槽 means “tub; tank; vat.” [The composition of the kanji : and ]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /soo/ is in 水槽 (“water tank” /suisoo/) and 浴槽 (“bath tub” /yokusoo/).

The kanji 量 and 糧 were discussed earlier in connection with a scale to measure grain. I  bring them back here for us to know that 量had a rolled stuff tied at the bottom in oracle bone style and bronze ware style.

  1. The kanji 量 “mass; amount”

History of Kanji 量In the two earliest writing of kanji 量 also had rolled stuff tied on both ends and around signifying “stuff,” and a round shape at the top indicated an opening to put grains in to measure. Together they meant “a scale to weigh a bag of grain.” What was weighed meant “mass; amount.” An interesting thing was seen in Old style and seal style – they had土“dirt,” probably in a bag as a weight at the bottom, added. This combination of 東and 土will lead us to the next group of kanji starting with重“heavy” in the next post. In the kanji 量 the bottom took the shape 里. The kanji 量 means “mass; amount.” [The composition of the kanji 量: 曰, 一 and 里]

  1. The kanji 糧 “food; provisions”

History of Kanji 糧For the kanji 糧 the bronze ware style writing is seen in other kanji such as 重 “heavy” and had “a tied bag” in the middle with “an opening” on top, which was 量 “a scale to measure grains.” The bottom was “rice.” Together they meant “food; provisions.” In seal style “rice” was moved to the left and became 米 a bushu komehenin kanji. The kanji 糧means “food; provisions.” [The composition of the kanji 糧: 米 and 量]

For the sample words for the kanji 量 and 糧 please refer to the earlier post.

Trying to find a common thread in so many kanji is not very easy. I needed an extra week to sort them out. Let us continue with this exploration into our assumption or premise – “the same kanji components came from the same origin (verified by ancient writings), thus they retain related meaning in kanji.” Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [April 14, 2018]

The Kanji 氷凍冷冬終疑凝寒塞—“icy cold”


Water freezes making ice. We are going to look at kanji that contain ice in this post.

  1. The kanji 氷 “ice”

History of Kanji 氷For the kanji 氷, in bronze ware style, (a) in green, the left side was “water.” On the right side the two dots signified ice. How do we know? The ten style writing, (b) in red, gives us a clearer picture – In (b) the lines on the left side were white streaks or cracks that appeared in ice. Water that was frozen meant “ice.” In kanji when ice became a component on the left side it became a bushu /nisui/ “ice; icy cold” as seen in kanji (c) 冰, in purple. The name nisui “two-stroke water” came from a familiar bushu sanzui “three-stroke water.” However, the kanji (c) 冰 is not used in Japanese (I believe it is used in Chinese.) In Japanese “ice” became just one stroke on the top left corner above 水. The kanji 氷 means “ice.”

The kun-yomi 氷 /koori/ means “ice.” Another kun-yomi /hi/ is in 氷室 (“icehouse” /hi’muro/). The on-yomi /hyo’o/ is in 氷河 (“iceberg” /hyo’oga/) and 氷点下 (“below freezing; below frost” /hyoote’nka/). The phrase 氷山の一角 (“small part of a larger problem” /hyo’ozan-no ikkaku’/) means “the tip of the iceberg.”

  1. The kanji 凍 “to freeze”

History of Kanji 凍In the kanji 氷 it was water that was frozen. When stuff other than water froze there was another kanji, 凍, which has the kanji 東 on the right side. Our readers may recall from an earlier post that the kanji 東 “east” was a borrowed kanji (meaning, the use of shape and sound was not related to its origin). The original shape of 東 was “stuff tied around.” We discussed that the shape 重 in the kanji such as 動働重童, all of which had pertained to moving something heavy, came from 東 “stuff tied around.” [The Kanji 東動働重童力-“power” (3) on January 6, 2015] In the kanji 凍, the component 東 was also used in its original meaning “stuff.” Together with the “ice” on the left, they created the writing that meant “(stuff) freezes.” We have seen consistently that a recurring component of kanji retained the original meaning even when used by itself it meant totally different.

The kun-yomi /kooru/ means “to freeze.” Another kun-yomi /kogoeru/ is used for a person, and means “to be numb with cold; be chilled to the bone.” The on-yomi /to’o/ is in 冷凍庫 (“freezer” /reeto’oko/), 凍傷 (“frostbite” /tooshoo/) and 凍結する (“to freeze (asset, road)” /tooketsu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 冷 “to chill; cool down; cold (to touch)”

History of Kanji 冷For the kanji 冷, in ten style the left side was “ice,” and the right side 令 was used phonetically for /re’e/ and meant “listening to a god’s order reverently without emotion.” Together they meant “to chill; cool down; cold (to touch).” In kanji, the left side became a bushu nisui “icy; very cold.”

There are three kun-yomi for the kanji 冷. /Tsume/ is in 冷たい (“cold (to touch)” /tsumetai/.) /Hi/ is in 冷やす (“to chill” /hiya’su/), as in ビールを冷やす (“to chill beer” /bi’iru-o hiya’su/), 冷ややかな (“chilly; distant” in one’s demeanor /hiya’yakana/) and 冷や汗をかく (“to break into a cold sweat” /hiyaa’se-o ka’ku/). /Sa/ is in 冷ます (“to cool something down” /sama’su/), as in お湯を冷ます (“to let hot water cool down” /oyu-o sama’su/). The on-yomi /re’e/ is in 冷静な (“cool headed; serene; calm” /reesee-na/) and 冷淡な (“coldhearted; lukewarm” /reeta’n-na/.)

  1. The kanji 疑 “to doubt”

Before we look at the kanji 凝 that contains a bushu nisui, let us look at the right side, the kanji 疑. The story of the kanji 疑 is somewhat problematic because the shapes went through so many changes over the years. But the original meaning “standstill; not being able to move” was kept in both 疑 and 凝.

History of Kanji 疑For the kanji 疑, we have two oracle bone style writing samples, (a) and (b) on the left. In (a) a person was turning his head with a long stick behind him. In (b), a person was facing toward the left with a crossroad behind him. He was not sure which way to go at a crossroad and was standing still. From that it meant “to doubt.” It sounds straightforward so far. However later on different elements were added to this, and I find it very difficult to follow the story. For instance the bronze ware style writing sample (c) in Akai (2010) appears to have had a “cow” on the top left side. I cannot figure out why so. The ten style writing, (d), could be dissected to ヒ and an arrow on the left and a child and a footprint on the right. Again what all those elements contributed to the meaning is not clear. In school we learned this kanji as ヒ矢マ疋. Other teachers seem to have come up with different mnemonics.

The kun-yomi 疑う /utagau/ means “to doubt,” and is in 疑い (“suspicion; doubt” /utagai/). The on-yomi /gi/ is in 疑問 (“question to ask” /gimon/), 疑念 (“a feeling of doubt; misgivings” /ginen/), 懐疑 (“skepticism; unbelief” /ka’igi/) and 半信半疑 (“uncertain as to the veracity of someone’s story” /hanshinha’ngi/.)

  1. The kanji 凝 “to become solid or stiff; totally engrossed; elaborate”

History of Kanji 凝Now we look at the kanji 凝. The left side was “ice,” and the right side 疑 was used phonetically for /gi/ to mean “to stand still.” Together “staying fixedly like water becoming ice” meant “to become solid or stiff; standstill.” When one gets totally engrossed in doing something one stays still as if frozen. From that it also meant “to become obsessed,” and also what he makes may become “elaborate; ornate.”

The kun-yomi 凝る /ko’ru/ means “to get stiff; totally engrossed; develop passion for,” and is in 肩こり /kota’kori/ from 肩が凝る (“to get stiff solders” /ka’ta-ga-koru/), 凝った (“elaborate; ornate” /ko’tta/) and 凝り性 (“a tendency to become totally immersed in something” /kori’shoo/). The on-yomi /gyo’o/ is in 凝固 (“solidification; condensation; clotting” /gyo’oko/) and 凝視する (“to stay fixedly at; watch something intently” /gyo’oshi-suru/).

The three kanji 凍冷凝 that we have seen so far had “ice” on the left side, which was a bushu nisui. When ice appeared at the bottom, it became two slanted short lines. We are going to look at three examples of those – 冬終寒.

  1. The kanji 冬 “winter”

History of Kanji 冬For the kanji 冬, the oracle bone style writing and bronze ware style writing were a bent rope with a knot or loop on both ends. It meant “end.” In ten style a piece of ice was added underneath. It came to mean the end of four seasons, which is winter. Another interpretation (in Kanjigen) is that the loops at the bottom in oracle bone style writing and the bulges in bronze ware style writing were food hanging down for winter use. With “ice” added at the bottom the kanji 冬 meant “winter.”

The kun-yomi 冬 /huyu’/ means “winter,” and is in 冬服 (“winter clothes” /huyuhuku/) and 冬ごもり (“winter confinement; wintering in” /huyugomori/). The on-yomi /to’o/ is in 立冬 (“first day of winter” /rittoo/), 冬至 (“winter solstice” /tooji/) and 冬眠 (“hibernation” /toomin/).

  1. The kanji 終 “to end”

History of Kanji 終The kanji 終 had the same oracle bone and bronze ware style writing as 冬 in 6, which suggests that it was inclusive of the meaning of 冬 and 終. The two knots at the ends of a long rope meant “to end; finish; complete.” In ten style, 糸 “thread; continuous” was added to emphasize something long and continuous.

The kun-yomi 終る /owaru/ means “to end; finish.” The on-yomi /shu’u/ is in 終了 (“end; close; conclusion” /shuuryoo/), 終日 (“all day long” /shuujitsu/), 最終日 (“last day; final day” /saishu’ubi/), バスの終点 (“last bus stop; end of the bus line” /ba’su-no shuuten/) and 始終 (“all the time; always” /shi’juu/).

  1. The kanji 寒 “cold”

History of Kanji 寒For the kanji 寒 in bronze ware style writings (a) and (b) a person, in the center, was trying to get warm in a house where dry grasses were piled up. (a) had floor mats underneath. It meant “cold.” In ten style, (c) had two hands over ice, as if he was blocking the cold air coming in. The sample (d) was taken from a seal from the Qin-Han era. In it, the grass was replaced by four 工. 工 could be 土 “dirt” or processed dirt such as dirt brick. The ice is gone but the floor rug returned. Together, (d) signified a house with walls of dirt bricks and floor mat keeping one from getting cold. In kanji (e), the ice became the two short slanted strokes. The shape in (e) reflects more of (d) at the top but (c) at the bottom. The kanji 寒い means “cold (to feel).”

The kun-yomi /samu’i/ means “cold.” and is in 寒がる (“to complain of the cold” /samuga’ru/) and 寒気がする (“to feel chill” due to illness /samuke’gasuru). /Zamu/ is in 肌寒い (“chilly” /hadazamu‘i/). The on-yomi /ka’n/ is in 寒気 (“cold air” /ka’nki/), 寒波 (“cold wave” /ka’npa/).

  1. The kanji 塞 “to seal off; stop up; obstruct”

History of Kanji 塞The kanji 塞 is not related to ice, but since the only difference between the kanji 寒 and 塞 is 土 at the bottom, it may give us a different perspective on the kanji 寒. For the kanji 塞 in ten style the top was walls of dirt bricks inside the house, and the bottom was two hands sealing off a hole to stop dirt from coming in. Together the kanji 塞 meant “to seal off; stop up; obstruct.”

What is interesting to me in comparing the ten style writings of 寒 and 塞 is that the shared shape in kanji was not the same in ten style — One (寒) with “grass” is trying to pile up dry grasses to keep warm, and the other (塞) with dirt bricks is to pile up dirt bricks to seal. And yet, the seal sample (d) in 寒 in 8 took the shape in ten style writing of 塞. Two different components that were evident in ten style merged to become a single kanji component shape in kanji, that is 寒 and 塞 without “ice” or “dirt” at the bottom.

The kun-yomi 塞ぐ /husagu/ means “to seal off; stop up; obstruct,” and is also used for emotion, as in 気が塞ぐ (“to feel depressed” /ki-ga-husagu/). The on-yomi /sa’i/ is in 要塞 (“fort” /yoosai).

Following our last post in which we looked at kanji that came from river (from “water running”), we looked at the shape that would happen when water froze. “Ice” created two shapes — a bushu nisui, when used on the left side, and two slanted short strokes, when used at the bottom. Both carried the meaning “cold; icy.” [April 17, 2016]