The Kanji 量糧両斗料科斜升昇- Food (6)    


I am planning to discuss various types of measuring tools for grains or liquid in this and the next posts. Needless to say food is important in any civilization at any point of history, but when the primary source of levy was grains the fact that there were a number of kanji to measure food makes sense to me.

  1. The kanji 量 “mass; to measure”

History of Kanji 量In oracle bone style, in brown, in bronze, and in bronze ware style, in brown, the top round shape signified an opening of a bag tied below. It signified a scale to weigh a bag of grain. What was weighed meant “mass; amount.” In Old style, in purple, and seal style, in red, 土 “dirt” was added at the bottom, and the bottom shape became 里. It is similar to the history of kanji such a 重 “heavy” and 動 “to move.” The kanji 量 means “mass, amount.”

The kun-yomi 量る /haka’ru/ means “to measure; weigh.” The on-yomi /ryoo/ is in 量 (“quantity; amount; column” /ryoo/), 分量 (“dose; quantity” /bunryo’o/), 測量 (“location survey; surverying” /sokuryoo/), 重量制限 (“weight limit” /juuryoo-se’egen/), 感慨無量 (“deep emotion; one’s mind is filled with a thousand emotions” /kangai-muryoo/) and 力量 (“ability; power; craftsmanship” /rikiryo’o/).

  1. The kanji 糧 “food; nourishment”

History of Kanji 糧In bronze ware style it had a bag tied in the middle with an opening on top, which was the same as 量 “a scale to measure grains.” The bottom was probably “rice.” Together rice measured meant “food; provisions.” In seal style 米 was placed on the left side of 量 as a bushu komehen. The kanji 糧 means “food; provisions.”

The kun-yomi 糧 /kate’/ means “provisions; food,” as in 心の糧 (“nourishment for one’s mind” /kokoro-no-ka’te/) and 日々の糧 (“earn one’s daily bread” /hi’bi-no-kate/). The on-yomi /ryoo/ is in 食糧 /shokuryoo/) and 食糧自給率 “the food-self-sufficiency rate” /shokuryoo-jikyu’uritsu/).

  1. The kanji 両 “both; two”

History of Kanji 両One view of the origin is that the symmetrical shape was “a scale.” Another takes it as “a gourd split in two with dry seeds inside” and the third one is that it was “a handle of a horse carrier to pull two horses.” The kyuji 兩, (d) in blue, reflected (c) in seal style which had a line at the top. Ryo was a unit of currency in gold before Meiji, based on its weight. It is also used as a counter of train cars in railway. The kanji 両 means “two; double; both; a car of train; ryo (a old unit of currency).”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ryoo/ is in 両方 (“both” /ryoohoo/), 両立する (“to be compatible with ; coexist with” /ryooritsu-suru/), 両面 (“both sides” /ryoomen/), 両親 (“parents” /ryo’oshin/), 両人 (“the two people; couple” /ryo’onin/), 十両編成 (“ten-car train” /juuryoo-he’nsee/), 両替 (“exchange of money” /ryoogae/) and 百両 (“a hundred ryo” /hyaku’ryoo/).

  1. The kanji 斗 “dipper; measuring ladle”

History of Kanji 斗In bronze ware style and seal style it was “a ladle with a handle for scooping rice wine,” and was used phonetically for /to/. It was used as a unit of volume. One to in Japan was 18 liters. The kanji 斗 means “ladle; dipper; measurement unit for liquid.”

The kun-yomi /masu’/ means “a dipper,” and it is in 北斗七星 (“the Great Bear; the Big Dipper” /hokuto-shichi’see/)and 漏斗 (“funnel” /ro’oto/).

  1. The kanji 料 “food; fee; provisions”

History of Kanji 料In bronze ware style it is comprised of “rice grains” (米) and “a measuring ladle” (斗). Together they meant “measured amount of food.” An official measure food to charge a fee. The kanji 料 means “to measure; food; fee; provisions.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ryoo/ is in 料金 (“fee; charge; fair” /ryo’okin/), 手数料 (“handling fee” /tesu’uryoo/), 入場料 (“admission fee” /nyuujo’oryoo/), 無料 (“free of charge” /muryoo/), 送料 (“sending fee; postage” /sooryo’o/), 有料 (“charge; fee” /yuuryoo/), 料亭 (“Japanese style restaurant” /ryootee/).

  1. The kanji 科 “section; department; charge; penalty; conviction”

History of Kanji 科The seal style writing comprised “a rice plant” (禾), which became a bushu nogihen in kanji, and “a measuring ladle” (斗). Various types of grains such as rice were sorted out using a measuring ladle and were classified. It meant “classification; section; department.” Authorities also measured an appropriate amount of fee and penalty, and it meant “to charge a penalty; conviction.” The kanji 科 means “section; department; charge; penalty; conviction.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ka/ is in 科学 (“sicence” /ka’gaku/), 科学者 (“scientist” /kaga’kusha/), 眼科医 (“an ophthalmologist; eye specialist” /ganka’i/), 科目 (“subject” /kamoku/) and 前科 (“criminal records” /ze’nka/).

  1. The kanji 斜 “diagonal; slanted”

History of Kanji 斜The seal style writing comprised 余, which was used phonetically for /yo; sha/, and 斗 “a measuring ladle.” When one scoops liquid using a ladle, the ladle is held diagonally. From that the kanji 斜 means “diagonal; slanted.”

The kun-yomi 斜め /nana’me/ means “diagonal; slanted.” The on-yomi /sha/ is in 斜線 (“oblique line” /shasen/), 傾斜する (“to incline” /keesha-suru/), 斜面 (“slope” /sha’men/) and 斜陽産業 (“declining industry” /shayoosa’ngyoo/).

  1. The kanji 升 “dipper; measuring ladle”

History of Kanji 升In the two oracle bone style writings we can see grains or liquid that this measuring ladle was scooping up. It is very similar to 斗. In bronze ware style a dot inside the cup still signified that it was not empty. 4 in seal style the three diagonal lines was simplified to one in kanji 升. One sho was 1.8 liters. The kanji 升 means “sho,” a pre-metric measurement system for liquid.

The kun-yomi 升 /masu/ means “box; private seating section.” The on-yomi /shoo/ is in 一升 (1.8 liters)

  1. The kanji 昇 “to rise; ascend”

There is no ancient writing. The seal style writing comprised 日 “sun,” and the bottom 升 was used phonetically for /shoo/ to mean “rise.” Together the kanji 昇 meant “to rise; ascend.”

The kun-yomi 昇る /noboru/ means “to rise; ascend.” The on-yomi /shoo/ is in 上昇する (“to soar” /jooshoo-suru/), 昇華する (“to sublimate” /shooka-suru/), 昇天 (“ascension; death” /shooten/) and昇進 (“promotion; move up” /shooshin/).

There is one more shape that describes a measuring apparatus that I would like to explore. We shall start the next posting with that. Thank you very much for your reading. — Noriko [September 23, 2017]

Two hands from below (2): 算戒械弁and 葬鼻升昇 -“hand” (7)


We have seen previously that two hands from below created a two-stroke ハ shape that was present in 共供興兵具 (and 異.)  In this post we are going to see another shape that came from two hands from below: it is a three-stroke shape at the bottom of 算戒械弁. The shape is called /niju’uashi/ “two-ten bottom” in a kanji dictionary. Japanese people rarely use bushu names, except a handful of common names such as ninben, shinnyuu (nowadays shinnyoo), kihen, etc. We just say “the bottom of the kanji san,” hoping that the hearer knows which kanji /sa’n/ being referred to. For convenience, I am going to use the name nijuuashi.

1. 算 “to calculate; count”

History算In ten style, the top was a takekanmuri “bamboo.” The middle and the bottom were the same as that of the ten style shape of the kanji 具 “contents; filling.” In the development of the kanji 具 what looks like 目 in fact came from a pot for cooking a sacrificial animal and other food. The bottom was two hands holding it up. [Link to 具]  Bamboo sticks were used for counting. From “counting the contents” the kanji 算 meant “to count.” Two hands from below became a ハ shape in 具 whereas they became a nijuuashi in 算. The kanji 算 does not have a kun-reading. The on-reading /san/ is in 計算 (“calculation” /keesan/), 算数 (“reckoning; arithmetics” /sansu’u/), 予算 (“budget” /yosan/) and 打算的 (”calculating; prudent” /dasanteki/.)

2. 戒 “to admonish”

History戒In the kanji 戒 ”to admonish” the oracle bone style had a halberd in the middle and a hand on both sides. In bronze ware style, a halberd was raised by two hands and pushed to the right, and in ten style the halberd was placed on top of the two hands. (A halberd is a weapon that has two functions, for thrusting and cutting. [The Oxford dictionary: a combined spear and battle-ax].)History戈(金文)  The bronze ware style of the kanji 戈 /ho’ko/ “halberd” is shown on the right side.

Shirakawa (2004) notes that: (1) Two hands raising an axe made the kanji 兵 “weapon; soldier” and; (2) two hands raising a halberd made the kanji 戒 “to admonish.” It is interesting to see a parallel here, that two hands from below ended up with two different shapes ハ in 具 and nijuuashi in 算, and the same thing happened in 兵 and 戒 [Link to 具 and 兵.] The kun-reading is 戒める (“to admonish” /imashime’ru/) and 戒め (“admonition; caution” /imashime/.) The on-reading /kai/ is in 戒律 (“commandments; religious precepts,” /kairitsu/), 十戒 (“the Ten Commandments” /jikkai/) and 懲戒処分 (“disciplinary measure“ /chookai-sho’bun/.)

3. 械 “machine; gadget”

History械By adding a kihen “tree; wood” to 戒, we get the kanji 械 as in 機械 (“machine; machinery” /kika’i/) and 器械 (“instrument; apparatus” /kika’i/). From “wooden apparatus that admonishes” the original meaning was “wooden shackle.” In kanji, the meaning of “admonishing” dropped and it means “gadget; machine.” There is no kun-reading in joyo kanji.

4. 弁 “flower petal; to defend; speak; dialect”

History弁The shape of the kanji 弁 came from two hands trying to put on a hat, which came from the left side of the ten style writing. According to Shirakawa, a black hat was worn by a civilian officer and a white hat by a military officer. In shinjitai the kanji 弁 has assumed various meanings from different kanji in the kyujitai – 瓣, 辨 and 辯.

弁の旧字体In order to understand different meanings of 弁, it may be useful to look at these three kanji in an enlarged view on the right side. If we compare the first three shapes, we notice that only the middle component is different. The outer shape had two 辛, which were tattooing needles. They meant two people pledging something with understanding that they would get tattooed as a punishment if they broke the pledge. From that it meant “to pledge.” The shape (a) 瓣 had 瓜 “gourd” in the center. Inside the gourd seeds are packed neatly in rows. It came to mean “flower petal.” The shape (b) 辯 had 言 “word; language” in the center, and it meant two people argue side by side. The shape (c) 辨 had a bushu shape called /rittoo/ “knife,” which divided something equally. It meant separating the two sides in court and making balanced judgment. In shinjitai, all three kanji uses the kanji 弁.

The on-reading /be’n/ is in the expressions such as 花弁 (“flower petal” /kaben/), 弁が立つ (“to speak eloquently” /be’n-ga ta’tsu/,) 答弁 (“answer; account” /to’oben,) 弁護士 (“legal attorney”/bengo’shi/) and 関西弁 (“Kansai dialect” /kansaiben/.)  弁当 (“boxed lunch” /bento’o/) appears not to be related (The Kojien dictionary suggests that it may be phonetic or for the meaning of convenience /ben/.) The kun-yomi 弁える /wakimae’ru/ means “to discern; have good knowledge of” and and is used in the phrase 場所を弁えない (“not bear in mind of the occasion” /basho-o wakimae’nai/.)

Now, not all the bushu nijuuashi shapes came from two hands from below. Here are a few kanji that I have found that do not share its meaning in our brief exposition of “hand” in kanji.

5. The kanji 葬 ”to bury; entomb”; and (2) 鼻 ”nose”

History葬In 葬 “to bury; entomb,” the ten style had two pairs of grasses or plants, the top for the bush kusakanmuri and the bottom in the same shape, and the precursor of 死 in the middle. A body hidden in tall grasses is a burial. From the kanji shape I had thought that the deceased being buried with tender care made sense. After I copied the ten style, I still thought they were hands. But I seem to be wrong.

In the kanji 鼻” nose,” the top 自 was “self” from a nose. The middle and the bottom together were used phonetically from kanji that was not used in Japanese. In the kyujitai 鼻 the two vertical strokes did not go above the long horizontal line in suggesting a table.

6. The kanji 升 “ladle; unit of measuring mass” and 昇 “to rise”

History升I became curious about the kanji 升 and 昇, because they contained the shape nijuuashi right in the middle. I had never paid attention to these kanji before.  (They are not among the “first half” of the Joyo kanji, so I did not include them in The Key to Kanji.) The development of 升 is shown on the left. When we think about its meaning, the shapes on the left make sense to me. It was a ladle to measure grains and liquid. It even points to the fact that the ladle has something inside. The kanji 升  /sho’o/ was an old unit of measuring grains and liquid before Japan switched to the metric system. Even after that the words 米一升 (“one sho of rice” /kome-i’sshoo/) or 一升瓶 (“a bottle of one sho; 1.8 liter” /issho’obin/) were words that were used in daily life.

History昇The kanji 昇 means “the sun rising.” It had the sun 日 and the bottom 升 was used phonetically. The kun-reading is 昇る (“to rise” /noboru/) and the on-reading /sho’o/ is found in 上昇 (“rising” /jooshoo/) and 昇進する (“to get promoted to a higher position” /shooshin-suru.)

So in this post, we have seen that not all the kanji that contain the bushu shape called nijuuashii came from the same origin. In the next post I am planning to discuss one more shape 寸 that came from a hand (or two hands, depending on the interpretation.) [June 15, 2014]