In this and next posts we explore kanji whose shapes appear totally unrelated and yet if we look at their ancient writings they did share the same shape, or at least closely related. The shapes shown on the right side were taken from the various kanji. They meant “a vessel; a boat; bowl; cylindrical shape.” I find it very interesting to know that the English word “vessel” also means (1) a ship or a large boat, (2) a hollow container especially one used to hold liquid, such as bowl or cask and (3) by extension, a duct or canal holding or conveying blood or other fluid.
In this post we are going to look at kanji that came from these shapes as (a) “a boat” to transport on the water in the kanji 舟船舷舶 and as (b) “a shallow bowl; shallow vessel; tray” to transport by hand in the kanji 般搬盤服. In the next post we explore examples used as (c) “a sail” to transport things on the water in the kanji 凡帆汎 and as (d) “a tube-like shape; cylindrical” in the kanji 同洞胴銅. Let us begin.
(a) as “a boat” to transport on the water
The kanji 舟 “boat”
For the kanji 舟 in (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, and (c) and (d) in bronze ware style, in green, it was the shape of “a boat.” A simple boat such as a canoe was made by hollowing out a log. A boat could also be made with panels of wooden board. (e) in seal style, in red, became the kanji 舟. The kanji 舟 means “boat.”
The kun-yomi /hu’ne/ means “boat.” /-Bune/ is in 小舟 (“small boat” /kobune/), 丸木舟 (“dugout canoe” /marukibu’ne/) and 渡し舟 (“ferry” /watashibu’ne/). The on-yomi /shuu/ is rarely used other than in a name.
The kanji 船 “ship; vessel”
For the kanji 船the bronze ware style and seal style writings had “a boat” on the left side. The right side 㕣 was used phonetically for /en/ to mean “along.” A vessel that travelled along the flow of water meant “ship.” The kanji 船 means “ship.” [Composition of the kanji 船: 舟 and 㕣]
The kun-yomi /hu’ne/ means “ship; vessel.” /Huna-/ is in 船旅 (“voyage; a sea trip” /hunatabi/), 船酔い (“seasickness” /hunayoi/) and 船乗り (“sailor” /huna’nori/). The on-yomi /sen/ is in 乗船する (“to go aboard; embark” /joosen-suru/), 貨物船 (“cargo boat; freight” /kamotsusen/), 客船 (“passenger ship” /kyakusen/), 宇宙船 (“spacecraft” /uchuusen/), 連絡船 (“ferry boat” /renrakusen/) and 船頭 (“boatman” /sendo’o/).
The kanji 舷 “side of a ship; the gunwale”
The Qin-Han era seal sample, in blue, comprised 舟 “boat” and 玄 “thin things like threads” used phonetically for /gen/. Together they meant “the sides of a boat.” The kanji 舷 means “side of a boat; the gunwale; the railing of a boad,” a very specialized kanji in my view. [Composition of the kanji 舷: 舟 and 玄]
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /gen/ is in 右舷 (“starboard” /ugen/) and 左舷 (“port side” /sagen/).
The kanji 舶 “a large ship”
There is no ancient writing for the kanji 舶. The kanji 舶 comprises 舟 “boat” and 白 used phoneticallly for /haku/ to mean “large” (some views that it is from 伯). Together they meant “a large ship that sailed in ocean.” The kanji 舶 means “a large ship.” [Composition of the kanji 舶: 舟 and 白]
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /haku/ is in 船舶 (“ship; marine vessel” /se’npaku/) and 舶来品 (“imported goods; foreign article” /hakuraihin/).
(b) as “a shallow vessel; a tray” to transport by hand
The kanji 般 “general”
The left side of (a) and (b) in oracle bone style and (c) in bronze ware style and (d) in Old style, in purple, and (e) in seal style was “a tray.” The right side was “a hand holding a weapon or tool,” which eventually becomes 殳, a bushu hokozukuri/rumata. Together they originally meant “a hand carrying somethings in a shallow bowl,” but the shape was borrowed to mean “general.” A new kanji was created for the original meaning of “to carry” by adding another hand, the kanji 搬, our next kanji. The kanji 般 means “general.” [Composition of the kanji 般: 舟 and 殳]
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /han/ is in 諸般の (“all sorts of; various”/sho’han-no/) and 般若経 (“the Wisdom Sutras; Prajnaparamita Sutra” /hannyakyoo/). /-Pan/ is in 一般 (“general” /ippan/), 全般的な (“comprehensive; all-embracing” /zenpanteki-na/), 一般化する (“to become universal; generalize” /ippanka-suru/), 一般人 (“people at large; private citizen” /ippa’njin/) and 一般教養課程 (“general culture course” /ippankyo’oyoo/).
The kanji 搬 “to carry; transport”
There is no ancient writing. The kanji 搬 comprises 扌, a bushu tehen, “an act one does using a hand,” and 般 used phonetically for /han/. This kanji was created to assume one of the original meaning that the kanji 般had. The kanji 搬 means “to carry; transport.” [Composition of the kanji 搬: 扌, 舟 and 殳]
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /han/ is in 搬入する (“to carry something in” /hannyuu-suru/). /-Pan/ is in 運搬する (“to transport; carry” /unpan-suru/).
The kanji 盤 “a tray; a raised flat bowl”
For the kanji 盤 (a) in oracle bone style had “a hand holding a tool” (殳) and “a tray” (舟) (together 般, originally meant “to carry”) and “a shallow bowl” (皿). In bronze ware style, (b), (c) and (d) had the same three components. Together they meant “a shallow flat bowl one carries something” or “a tray.” (e) in Large seal style, (f) in Old style and (g) in seal style all had 般 at the top. The kanji 盤 means “a tray; a raised flat bowl.” [Composition of the kanji 盤: 舟, 殳and 皿]
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ban/ is in 大盤振る舞い (“lavish feast” /ooban-bu’rumai/), 円盤 (“disk” /enban/), 基盤 (“basis; foundation” /kiban/),文字盤 (“clock dial” /mojiban/) and 地盤 (“ground; subsoil” /jiban/). A Japanese abacus also uses this kanji as in 算盤 /soroban/.
The next two kanji 朕 and 服, what we have been looking at as the shape 舟 in kanji appear as 月.
The kanji 朕 “I (imperial We)”
For the kanji 朕 (a) and (b) in oracle bone style and (c) and (d) in bronze ware style all comprised “a shallow bowl or a tray” (月 or 舟) for transporting things and “two hands holding up an (important) object.” Together they meant “to carry something in a tray and present reverentially with both hands.” It was used by an emperor as a first-person pronoun “imperial We.” In seal style, (e), what was presented became the shape 火 (with no relevance to “fire”). In kanji 朕 the elements on the right side coalesced and became 关. The kanji 朕 means “I (imperial We).” [Composition of the kanji 朕: 月and 关]
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 朕 /chin/ means “I (imperial We).”
The kanji 服 “to follow; obey; clothes; brief rest”
For the kanji 服 (a) in oracle bone style and (b) and (c) in bronze ware style, the left side had “a flat bowl or vessel.” In the middle and the right side had “a person being pushed by a hand and kneeling down.” Together the knelt-down posture signified “to subject to; yield to.” In Old style, (d), “a hand” disappeared, but in (e) in seal style “a hand” (又) returned. The kanji 服 meant “to follow; obey; obedient.” Clothes are molded to a person’s body, yielding to the body, so it is also used for “clothes.” It also means “to take medicine” or “to have a short rest.” [Composition of the kanji 服: no segment available]
There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 服 /huku/ means “clothes,” and is in 服装 (“clothes” /hukusoo/), 制服 (“uniform” /seehuku/), 服従する (“to obey” /hukujuu-suru/), 征服 (“conquest” /seehuku/), 服役 (“penal servitude” /hukueki/) and 不服 (“dissatisfaction; disapproval” /huhuku/). /-Puku/ is in 一服する (“to have a brief rest; have a smoke” /ippuku-suru/).
The kanji 受 and 授–It has been a long time since we looked at the kanji 受and 授. The kanji 受 also had “a vessel that contained a valuable thing” between “a hand form above” and “a hand from below.” Together they signified “a hand giving out something valuable and another hand receiving it,” and originally meant both “to receive” and “to bestow.” Later giving and receiving became differentiated and the kanji 受was used for an action for a receiver. The kanji 受 meant “to receive.”
There is one more post that we need to continue on the kanji that originated from a container next week. Thank you very much for your reading. – Noriko [March 3, 2018]