We are going to look at kanji that originated from a lid over a container. In this post the kanji we are going to look at are: 合拾答塔搭 (containing 合) and 今陰含吟貪念捻 (containing 今) and 倉.
The kanji 合 “to meet; put together; fit; mix”
In all three types of ancient writing (oracle bone style in brown, bronze ware style in green and seal style in red) for the kanji 合 it had a container with a lid on top. From the meaning of “a lid and the container fitting well,” it meant “to meet; fit.” The kanji 合 means “to meet; put together; fit; mix.” Of the two kanji that is pronounced as /au/ to mean “to meet,” the kanji 合 is used for things whereas the kanji 会 is for people. <Composition of the kanji 合: and 𠆢 , 一 and 口>
The kun-yomi 合う /a’u/ means “to fit; meet” and is in 打ち合わせ (“staff meeting” /uchiawase/), 詰め合わせ (“assortment” /tsumeawase/), 言い合い (“argue; verbal fight” /iiai/), 間に合う (“be in time; to manage” /mania‘u/) and 歩合 (“percentage” /buai/). The on-yomi /goo/ is in 合計 (“total sum” /gookee/), 合意する (“to agree upon” /gooi-suru/) and 結合 (“bind; union” /ketsugoo/). Another on-yomi /gatsu/ is in 合作 (“joint work” /gassaku/) and 合唱 (“chorus” /gasshoo/).
The kanji 拾 “to pick up; gather”
The seal style writing of the kanji 拾 comprised “a hand” and 合 used phonetically for /shuu/ to mean “to pick up,” together signifying “a hand picking up a thing.” In kanji the left side became 扌, a bushu tehen “an act that one does using a hand.” The kanji 拾 means “to pick up; gather.” <Composition of the kanji 拾: 扌 and 合>
The kun-yomi 拾 /hirou/ means “to pick up” and is in 拾い物 (“find; windfall” /hiroimono/). /-Biro/ is in 命拾い (“a narrow escape” /inochibi’roi/). The on-yomi /shuu/ is in 拾得物 (“lost-and-found item” /shuutoku’butsu/) and 事態を収拾する (“to get the situation under control” /ji’tai-o shuushuu-suru/).
The kanji 答 “answer”
There is no ancient writing for the kanji 答. The writing on the left side is a brush writing from a later time and comprised 艸 “plants; grass” and 合 “to meet” used phonetically for /too/, together forming 荅 “answer.” One view explains 荅 to be two sides of a pea pod, fitting very well. Later the top was replaced by 竹, a bushu takekanmuri “bamboo.” A bushu takekanmuri often pertained to writing because bamboo writing tablets and writing brush had a bamboo handle. It may be the case that the takekanmuri replaced “plants” because writing an answer using a bamboo brush fit better to its meaning. The kanji 答 means “answer.” <Composition of the kanji 答: 竹 and 合>
The kun-yomi /kota’e/ means “answer.” The on-yomi /too/ is in 答案用紙 (“answer sheet” /tooan-yo’oshi/), 回答 (“answer; response to a question” /kaitoo/) and 解答 (“work out; answer” /kaitoo/).
The kanji 塔 “tower; monument”
The seal style writing for the kanji 塔 comprised 土 “dirt; soil” and 荅 used phonetically for /too/. The writing 塔 was phonetic rendition of 卒塔婆 /sotoba/ from the Sanskrit “stupa,” which was a dome-like monument erected as a Buddha shrine. The kanji 塔 means “tower; monument.” <Composition of the kanji 塔: 土 and 荅>
There is no on-yomi. The on-yomi /too/ means “tower; monument,” and is in 管制塔 (“control tower” /kanseetoo), 金字塔 (“monumental achievement” /kinjitoo/) and 象牙の塔 (“ivory tower” /zooge-no-too/).
The kanji 搭 “to load; board”
There is no ancient writing for the kanji 搭. The kanji 搭 comprises 扌, a bushu tehen, “an act one does using a hand,” and 荅 used phonetically for /too/ to mean “an action.” The kanji 搭 is now used to mean “to load; board.” <Composition of the kanji 搭: 扌 and 荅>
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /too/ is in 搭乗券 (“boarding pass” /toojo’oken/) and 搭載する (“to load; be equipped with” /toosai-suru/).
The kanji 今 “now; present time”
For the kanji 今 in all three ancient style it comprised “a cover with a stopper for a container or rice wine cask.” (The shape appeared in the top of the anceint writing of the kanji 飲 which we looked at in earlier post.) It was borrowed to mean “present moment; now.” Another explanation is that “the top was capturing the present moment.” The kanji 今 means “now; present time.” <Composition of the kanji 今: 𠆢 and ラ>
The kun-yomi 今 /i’ma/ means “now; present time,” and is in 只今 (“promptly” /tada’ima/) in a humble way. The expression one says when he comes home is pronounced as /tadaima/, an unaccented word. The on-yomi /kon/ is in 今月 (“this month” /kongetsu/), 今週 (“this week” /konshuu), 今後 (“from now” /kongo/) and 昨今 (“up-date; these days” /sak’kon/). 今年 /kotoshi/ is also a customary reading. Another on-yomi /kin/ is in 今上天皇 (”the reigning emperor; His majesty” /kinjootenno’o/).
The kanji 陰 “shadow; negative”
For the kanji 陰 in the two bronze ware style writings the left comprised “mountains” (vertically placed), “something to cover” and “a cloud rising” underneath, together a mountain blocking the sun and a could under a cover signified “a dark area” or “a shadow.” The contrast between a sunny area and a shadowy area also is used for the contrast between “positive (陽) and negative (陰).” The seal style writing comprised the same components in more stylized shape. The kanji 陰 means “shadow; negative.” <Composition of the kanji 陰: 阝, 今 and 云>
The kun-yomi /ka’ge/ means “shade; dark area.” The on-yomi /in/ is in 陰影 (“shading; nuance” /in-ee-no-a’ru/) and 山陰地方 (“San’in region,” the northern side of the Chugoku region” /san-in-chi’hoo/) and 陰性 (“negative” /insee/).
The kanji 含 “to contain; include”
The seal style writing of the kanji 含 comprised “a cover with a stopper” (今) and “a mouth; box” (口) together signifying “putting something inside a mouth or container.” The kanji 含 means “to contain; include.” <Composition of the kanji 含: 今 and 口>
The kun-yomi 含む /huku’mu/ means “to include; contain.” The on-yomi /gan/ is in 含有量 (“content” /ganyu’uryoo/) and 含蓄のある (“signifying; suble; pregnant with meaning” /ganchiku-no-a’ru/).
The kanji 吟 “to groan; chant”
For the kanji 吟 in seal style the left one comprised 口 “mouth” and 今 “a cover with a stopper” used phonetically for /kin; gin/ to mean “muffling sound in a mouth.” The second one had 音 “sound” instead of 口. The kanji 吟 reflected the left one. From “a muffled voice in a closed mouth” the kanji 吟 means “to groan; chant.” <Composition of the kanji 吟: 口 and 今>
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /gin/ is in 吟味する (“to examine closely” /gi’nmi-suru/) and 詩吟 (“shigin; recitation of Chinese poem” /shigin/).
The kanji 貪 “to covet; be greedy; devour”
The seal style writing of the kanji 貪 comprised “a lid with a stopper” (今) and “a bronze ware vessel” (貝) to store valuables. Together they signified “stashing away greedily with a stopper.” The kanji 貪 means “to covet; be greedy; devour.” <Composition of the kanji 貪: 今 and 貝>
The kun-yomi 貪る /musaboru/ means “to covet; crave.” The on-yomi /don/ is in 貪欲な (“greedy” /don-yoku-na/).
The kanji 念 “thought; pray; wish; ponder”
For the kanji 念 the bronze ware style writing and the seal style writing comprised 今 “a lid to keep something in” and 心 “heart.” Together they meant “a thought that one kept inside his heart for a long time.” The kanji 念 means “thought; pray; wish; ponder.” <Composition of the kanji 念: 今 and心>
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /nen/ is in 念じる “to pray; wish; hope” /nenjiru/), 失念する “to forget” /shitsunen-suru/), 念願の (“long-cherished” /nengan-no), 雑念 (“idle thoughts; distraction” /zatsunen/) and 念仏 (“to invoke Buddha; pray to Amida Buddha” /nenbutsu-o tonae’ru/).
The kanji 捻 “to twist; bend”
The seal style writing of the 捻 comprised “a hand” and 念 used phoneticallly for /nen/ to mean “twist.” Together they signified “to twist something with fingers.” The kanji 捻 means “to twist; bend.” <Composition of the kanji 捻: 扌, 今 and 心>
The kun-yomi 捻る /hine’ru/ means “to twist.” The on-yomi /nen/ is in 捻出する (“to squeeze money; manage to come up with money” /nenshutsu-suru/) and 捻挫 (“sprain; ligament rupture” /nenza/).
The kanji 倉 “storage; warehouse; vault”
For the kanji 倉 in oracle bone style and bronze ware style it was “a grainer,” with “a cover to protect the grain from rain” at the top and “an opening to get the grain out” at the bottom, together signifying “storage of grain.” In seal style the top became a bushu hitoyane. The kanji 倉 means “storage; warehouse; vault.” <Composition of the kanji 倉: 𠆢 , 戸 with another stroke and 口>
The kun-yomi 倉 /kura’/ means “storage; vault,” and /-gura/ is in 米倉 (“rice storage” /komegura/). The on-yomi /soo/ is in 倉庫 (“warehouse” /so’oko/), 穀倉地帯 (“farm belt” /kokusoochi’tai/).
There are a few more shapes that belong to the group of containers. We shall continue with them in the next post. Thank you very much for your reading. – Noriko [January 13, 2018]