NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉


【師】 Shi Teacher

Jp En

The character form has a left and a right side, which both, in the tortoise plastron and bone characters, were used with the meaning of the present complete character, of ‘army,’ or ‘master, instructor.’ The first form of 師 appearing in the tortoise plastron and bone characters is the left part of the character resembling the form of a big piece of meat fried on a skewer. It depicts the piece of meat the departing army uses to worship the ancestors when going to war praying for victory in war; by this time it alone had the meaning ‘army.’ The army always carried this meat around with it. The right part is the form of a knife with a blood stopper and a handle. Apart from the meaning ‘army,’ 師 was also used with the meaning of the person that has the authority to cut this meat. From the background that after retirement from active service these persons often were in charge of youth education, it also was used with the meaning ‘teacher.’
In contrast to ceremonies in Buddhism, the custom of offering meat afterwards was continued in Confucianism. In the realm of Confucianism, i.e. China, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Japan, when worshipping the previous sages and teachers of ancient China as, for example, in the 釈奠 ‘Sekiten, (Shakuten, Sakuten): Big Ceremony of Confucius Worship’ this is an important element of the ritual. In Japan, for example, meat also is at the center of the worship rituals for Confucius at the ‘Yushima Seido: Yushima Confucius Shrine’ in Tokyo.
Besides, the character form of 帥 ‘Sui: general, leader’ may well seem to resemble 師, if, however, one has a look at the tortoise plastron and bone characters, the left part depicts the doors of a board enshrining deities, and the right part 巾 shows a cloth. It is of a completely different lineage.

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Editoral supervision: Dr. Christoph Schmitz, Researcher of Shirakawa Kanji Science, General and Japanese History of Philosophy and Thought

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