The Kanji 巾布怖希飾帥・帯滞・幣弊蔽


This is the 8th posting on kanji that originated from “a skein of silk thread” (糸), “a collar,” which became 衣 and 衤, and something that pertained to “fabric.” In this post we are going to look at the kanji 巾布怖希飾帥・帯滞・幣弊蔽.

  1. The kanji 巾 “cloth”

History of Kanji 巾For the kanji 巾 in all the three ancient writing styles (oracle bone, in brown; bronze ware, in green; and seal, in red) and the kanji, it basically remained the same shape. It was a piece of ceremonial scarf that was worn around the waist by a man. From that it meant “a piece of cloth.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji, even though 巾 has been used informally for the word  /haba/ “width” (幅).  The on-yomi /kin/ is in 布巾 (“kitchen cloth” /huki’n/), 頭巾 (“hood; headscarf” /zu’kin/) and 三角巾 (“triangular bandage” /sanka’kkin/).

  1. The kanji 布 “cloth; to lay flat; spread”

History of Kanji 布For the kanji 布, in bronze ware style it had a hand holding an axe or a rock at the top, which was used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “to pound.” Our reader may recognize this shape as the bronze ware style writing of the kanji 父 “father.” (A person holding an important axe or a rock in his hand was a father or paternal head.) Underneath was 巾 “cloth or scarf that a man wore around the waist.” In ancient times before cotton was introduced cloth was made of fibrous stems and stalks of a plant such as hemp by pounding it flat with a stone. The kanji 布 meant “cloth.” A piece of cloth covered a wide area, and it also meant “to spread.”  The kanji 布 means “cloth; to lay flat; spread.”

The kun-yomi 布 /nuno/ means “cloth.” The on-yomi /hu/ is in 毛布 (“blanket; woolen blanket” /mo’ohu/), 布教 (“missionary work; propagation of religion” /hukyoo/) and 布団 (“futon; padded mattress; bedding” /huton/). /-Pu/ is in 散布する(“to spray; scatter” /sanpu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 怖 “fear; scary”

History of Kanji 怖For the kanji 怖 in seal style, (a) was comprised of 心 “heart” and 甫, which was used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “fear,” whereas (b) was comprised of 心 “heart” and 布, which was also used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “fear.”  (a) became the kanji 怖 in which “heart” became a bushu risshinben “heart.” The kanji 怖 means “afraid; frightening; terrifying; fear.”

The kun-yomi /kowa’i/ means “frightening; petrifying; scary.” The on-yomi /hu/ is in 恐怖 (“terror” /kyo’ohu/) and 畏怖の念 (“sense of the awe” /ihu-no-ne’n/).

  1. The kanji 希 “rare; wish”

History of Kanji 希History of Kanji 爻In seal style the top meant “to mix.” The history of the shape 爻 is shown on the right. Many  threads crossing made woven cloth. Fine thin woven cloth would have a light coming through between threads, and thinness signified “rare.” The bottom, 巾, was a piece of cloth. Together they meant something that was “rare.” One makes a “wish” for something that is not commonly around. The kanji 希 means “wish; to beseech; rare.”

There is another kanji that uses 希, with , a bushu nogihen — the kanji 稀 “rare; thin,” in words such as 稀な (“rare” /mare-na/), 稀薄 (“thin” /kihaku/) and 稀少価値 (“rarity value” /kishooka’chi/). Another on-yomi /ke/ is in 稀有な (“rare” /ke’u-na/). Because the kanji 稀 is not Joyo kanji, 希 may be substituted in some words.

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /ki/ is in 希望 (“hope; wish” /kiboo/), 希薄な (“thin” /kihaku-na/) and 希少価値 (“scarcity value” /kishooka’chi/).

  1. The kanji 飾 “to decorate; embellish”

History of Kanji 飾In the seal style writing of the kanji 飾, 食 “eat; food” and 人 “person” together were used phonetically for /shoku/ and meant someone at a banquet table. With 巾 “cloth” below added, they originally meant “to wipe” (dishes).  Wiping something with a piece of cloth meant to make it clean or pretty. Thee kanji 飾 meant “to decorate; embellish.”

The kun-yomi 飾 /kazaru/ means “to embellish; decorate.” The on-yomi /shoku/ is in 装飾品 (“ornament; decorative thing” /shooshokuhin/) and 修飾語 (“modifier; qualifier” in grammar  /shuushokugo/).

  1. The kanji 帥 “general; commander”

History of Kanji 帥For the kanji 帥 in bronze ware style writings, (a), (b) and (c) was “a door or panel to open a family altar,” and the right side 巾 was “cloth.” Together wiping one’s family altar signified one following a god, and an exemplar. The flipside of following someone was “to lead; to take command.” [Shirakawa] The kanji 帥 means “general; commander.” In seal style (d) was a piece of cloth for a woman. In (e) the left side became simplified. Another view [Kadokawa dictionary] takes the left side of 帥 as signifying “band of people,” and together with 巾 “flag,” they meant commanding a troop with a flag.

The use of the kanji 帥 is limited. There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /sui/ is in 元帥 (“general; commander” /ge’nsui/).

  1. The kanji 帯 “belt; sash; long, narrow stretch of area”

History of Kanji 帯For the kanji 帯 the top of the seal style writing was a belt with accessory, and the bottom was a cloth in front, such as an apron. A rope that helped to keep clothes on was a “sash.” A sash is something you put on yourself. From that it also meant “to have on oneself.” The top of the kyuji 帶 was slightly simplified. The kanji 帯 also meant a “long, narrow stretch of area; strip; sash.”

The kun-yomi 帯 /o’bi/ meant “sash; band.” The on-yomi /tai/ is in 一帯 (“whole area” /ittai/), 温帯 (“temperate zone” /ontai/) and 携帯 (“portable type; carrying” /keetai/), which is now used as an abbreviated word for 携帯電話 (“cell phone; portable phone” /keetaide’nwa/).

  1. The kanji 滞 “to stagnate; be delayed”

History of Kanji 滞For the kanji 滞 the seal style writing was comprised of “water” and 帯, which was used phonetically for /tai/ to mean “belt; strip.” Together “water in an area” gave the meaning “to stagnate,” which further meant “to be delayed; be behindhand with.”

The kun-yomi /todokoo’ru/ means “to stagnate; fall behind (in payment).” The on-yomi /tai/ is in 滞納 (“failure to pay” /tainoo/), 停滞する (“to stop moving; stagnate” /teetai-suru/) and 沈滞ムード (“depressed mood; slum” /chintaimu’udo/).

History of Kanji 敝The shape 敝— The next three kanji 幣弊蔽 share the shape 敝. The history of 敝 is shown on the right. In bronze ware style the top left 巾 had two short lines inside, signifying that cloth is worn and torn. The bottom right was a hand holding a stick, signifying an action. In seal style they became 㡀 and攴. The kanji 敝 meant “cloth becomes rag; torn; to break; tire.”

  1. The kanji 幣 “money; sacred strips of paper”

History of Kanji 幣For the kanji 幣 the top 敝 was used phonetically for /hee/. The bottom was 巾 “cloth.” Together they meant “sacred piece of cloth for offering to a god.” An offering was sometimes money. From that the kanji 幣 meant “money.” It is also used to mean strips of hanging paper to mark a sacred area in Shinto to ward off evils.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hee/ is in 貨幣 (“money” /ka’hee/) and 紙幣 (“paper currency; note” /shi’hee/) an 御幣 (“paper strips” in Shinto. /gohee/).

  1. The kanji 弊 “to collapse; perish; our (humble)”

History of Kanji 弊For the kanji 弊 in seal style (a) and (b), the top was 敝, which was used phonetically for /hee/. The bottom of (a) was “dog” (犬), and (b) had “death” (死). A dog was said to have been used for poison testing. Together they meant “to collapse; perish; die; harmful.” The Correct writing (c) reflected (a) with 犬 at the bottom. The kanji 弊 was also used to mean “our (company)” in humble style. The kanji 弊 means “to collapse; to become exhausted; harmful; our (humble),” and is in 疲弊 (”impoverishment; exhaustion” /hihee/), 弊害 (“bad practice; harmful influence” /heegai/) and 語弊がある (“to be misleading” /gohee-ga-a’ru/).

  1. The kanji 蔽 “to conceal”

History of Kanji 蔽The seal style writing of the kanji 蔽 had 艸 “plant; grass” on top of 敝, which was used phonetically for /hee/. They meant that grass grew rampantly and covered or hid things. The kanji 蔽 means “to hide; cover; conceal.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /-pee/ is in 隠蔽する(“to conceal; hide” /inpee-suru/).

With this post we end our exploration on kanji that originate from thread, a collar and clothes.  We will start another topic next topic. Thank you very much for your reading. — Noriko [May 7, 2017]

The Kanji 尚常巾堂賞償党黒当-尚

  1. The Kanji 尚 ”high; and yet; revered’

History of Kanji 尚For the kanji 尚, in the oracle bone style, in brown, and bronze ware style, in brown, it was a house with a window or a kitchen stove with a door to the hearth. The two short lines above that were rising smoke. Smoke rising and staying for a long time gave two meanings. One is that from rising smoke staying for a long time it means “and yet; in additions to.” Another is that it means someone in high respect, or “to revere.” The kanji 尚 meant “high; revered; and yet.”

The kun-yomi /na’o/ is in 尚 “furthermore; additionally,” 尚且つ (“and yet; but at the same time” /na’okatsu/) and 尚の事 (“all the more” /naonokoto/). These words are often written in hiragana. The on-yomi /sho’o/ is in 高尚な (“advanced; sophisticated” /kooshoona/) and 和尚 (“Buddhist priest in charge of a temple” /o’shoo/) from a revered Buddhist priest.

  1. The Kanji 常 “always; usual”

History of Kanji 常For the kanji 常, the bronze ware style writing (a) shown on the left was same as that of the kanji 尚. Even though it was used phonetically in this kanji, sharing the same earlier writing indicated that the meanings of 尚 was inclusive of 常. Setsumon listed two samples of ten style writings for this kanji (b) and (c). (b) had 尚 with its sides stretched down very long and 巾 was placed inside. 巾 was a long ceremonial scarf that was worn around the waist. The meaning “lasting long” from 尚 and long piece of cloth got the meaning “always; constant.” (b) became the kanji 常 (d).

On the other hand (c) had 衣 “clothes” from the shape of a collar that was folded in the front. Together with 尚 they formed the meaning a piece of clothes that trailed long. (c) became the kanji 裳 (e). I do not know how 裳 /mo/ was used in Chinese, but in the history of Japanese clothes it meant a formal trailing skirt-like kimono” that was worn to show respect. The kanji 常 meant “always; constant.”

The kanji 巾  “cloth; (width)”

History of Kanji 巾All three ancient writing styles and the kanji were basically the same shape. It was a piece of ceremonial scarf that was worn around the waist. From that it meant “a piece of cloth.” There is no kun-yomi in shinjitai, even though 巾 was used informally for the kanji 幅 /haba/ “width” in the kyujitai system. The on-yomi /ki’n/ is in 布巾 (“kitchen cloth” /huki’n/), 雑巾 (“(quilting) cleaning cloth; dust cloth” /zookin/) and 頭巾 (“hood; headscarf” /zu’kin/)

  1. The Kanji 堂 “temple; hall”

History of Kanji 堂For the kanji 堂, the ten style writing sample had 土 “soil” under 尚, a house with smoke rising high. A tall house that was built on a foundation of soil meant a “hall; temple.” A tall building was impressive, so it also meant “stately.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /do’o/ is in 講堂 (“lecture hall” /koodoo) and お堂 (“temple; shrine” /odoo/). The expression 堂々巡り (“going around in circles” /doodoome’guri/) originated with the practice of monks circling around the temple many times in praying. 堂 is also in 堂々とした (“stately; dignified” /doodootoshita/), 堂に入る (“to become master of; be quite at home at” /do’o-ni iru/).

  1. The Kanji 賞 “award; reward”

History of Kanji 賞For the kanji 賞, the bronze ware style top had 尚 “high,” even though it lacked the window, and it was used phonetically for /sho’o/. The bottom was a cowry “money; valuable items.” Money or prizes given to praise someone’s achievement or merit meant “to give an award; reward.” The ten style writing consisted of 尚 and 貝. The kanji 賞 meant “award; prize; reward.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 賞 /sho’o/ means “award; prize,” and is in 入賞する and 受賞する (“to become an awardee” /nyuushoo-suru/ and /jushoo-suru/). It is also in the word 賞与 (“bonus payment” /sho’oyo/). In a Japanese company, an employee receives /sho’oyo/ in June or July and December based on the company’s previous semi-annual performance. Every employee receives relatively same amount within the company, usually varying from a month to three month’s payment depending on their company performance. It is not a reward for individual achievement but it is a part of the wage system.

  1. The kanji 償 “to compensate; atone for”

History of Kanji 償The kanji 償 consists of a bushu ninben “person” and the kanji 賞. The bronze ware style writing was the same as 賞. The other side of 賞 “award; reward” is that the awardee made some sacrifice in order to make that achievement. By adding a ninben, the kanji 償 differentiated the two sides of one thing. In order to correct a wrong, one also needs to make a right. The kanji 償 meant “to make up; compensate; stone for.”

The kun-yomi 償う /tsuguna’u/ means “to atone for; compensate.” The on-yomi /sho’o/ is 弁償する (“to compensate; make up for” /benshoo-suru/), 賠償 (“compensation; indemnity” /baishoo/) and 補償 (“compensation” /hoshoo/).

  1. The Kanji 黒 “black; dark” and 党 (黨) “party; a fan of”

The kyujitai 黨 for 党 consisted of 尚 and 黒 (黒). We have a bronze ware style sample of 黒, shown below, which will be helpful to understand 党. So, Let us look at the kanji 黒 first.

The Kanji 黒 “black; dark”

History of Kanji 黒 (黑)For the kanji 黒, in bronze ware style the bottom was a flame. The top had different interpretations – One is that it was a chimney that was viewed from the top and the soot was visible as dots. In this interpretation the origin of the kanji 黒 was a stove with a sooty chimney. Soot is black; thus the kanji 黒 meant “black.” Another interpretation, by Shirakawa, is that the top was a bag of stuff or fabric that was wrapped up by a string to be smoked. The smoking dyed the fabric a dark color or black. In this view the origin was a smoker for dyeing cloth. In ten style the top looked more like a chimney top, and the bottom became two fires. In kyujitai 黑, in blue, there were two black dots for soot, and the fire at the bottom became four dots. In most cases of kanji having a fire, when a fire appeared at the bottom of a kanji, it became four dots, and it is called a bushu renga or rekka. We will look at this bush later when we discuss nature. The kanji 黒 means “black; dark.”

History of Kanji 党(黨)Now the kanji 党. In ten style, the writing for 黑 was completely enclosed inside 尚 that was used phonetically. The two sides of 尚 were elongated, but I think this was just a stylistic modification common to ten style. The two meanings — smoke rising high and a cooking stove (with sooty chimney) –signified a group of people who shared food that was prepared in this kitchen. It meant “party; a group of people who share the same idea and act together.” In kyujitai 黨, the side of 尚 became very short and the bottom was 黑. In shinjitai, the shape for “black; dark” was replaced by a bushu ninnyoo “person.” Together with a window in 尚, they ended up in the shape of the kanji 兄. The kanji 党 means “political party; a group of people banded together.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 党 /to’o/ means “party,” and is in 政党 (“political party” /seetoo/), 与党 (“ruling party” /yo’too/), 野党 (“opposition party” /ya’too/) and 悪党 (“villain” /akutoo/). It is also used to mean “a person who is fond of” in the words such as 甘党 (“a person who prefers sweets to alcoholic beverages” /amatoo/) and 辛党 (“a person who prefers alcoholic to sweet things” /karatoo/.)

  1. The Kanji 当 (當) “just; right”

History of Kanji 当 (frame)The origin of the kanji 当 has been discussed earlier in the context of 田 “rice paddies” (The Kanji 略各当(當)尚番米券巻 – 田 (2) on July 11, 2015). In the ten style sample we can see that it consisted of 尚 and 田. In this kanji 當 (the kyujitai for 当) 尚 was used phonetically to mean “to be appropriate.” The bottom was rice paddies. From an appropriate value for rice paddies it meant “to be appropriate; correct.” It was also used to mean “this; the very X.” In shinjitai, the top three strokes remained the same but the bottom got simplified to a katakana /yo/.

Since June last year we have been looking at the kanji that originated from things that people built in ancient life. It encompasses life and things constructed varying from a kitchen stove, a door in a house to village to a country. It also included infrastructure such as roads and agricultural fields. From the next post, I would like to start exploring the kanji that originated from nature. [February 14, 2016]