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 The kanji 陳 “to line up; show; timeworn; outdated”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