NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉


【禮(礼)】 Rei, Reigi Etiquette, Courtesy

Jp En

The shortened character 礼 is in use already since the time of the Hàn dynasty. By erasing the right part of the original character nearly completely, however, the custom originally shown by this character can no longer be detected.
Ironically, from the standpoint of Kanji science, this maybe regarded as offending etiquette. By this change of character form, the original way of thinking that politeness and wealth are interrelated is now concealed.
The original function and meaning of the classification marker 示 is that of an altar for placing offerings, indicating a character related to religion. After the Yīn (Shāng) and the Zhōu dynasty, actually inappropriately, it came to be accepted as the main part of the character.
Meeting with Dr Shirakawa personally, on of the things I could learn was “The Bushu (classification markers) are often mistaken.” This may also be applied to this character as the original form consists in the right part only. The 示 marker was added much later. Of course, here, the lower 豆 does not represent a ‘bean,’ the other meaning of this character form; it shows a kind of tableware or vase for arranging 丰, a sort of millet. For the part 曲 there also is the linage that shows the pictograph of a musical instrument. Here, however, it shows the offering of two or three stalks of millet. Unnecessarily, by adding the classification marker 示, it became a stand or altar with a vase or tableware next to it. The character 豊 shows offering millet to the gods in a vase or tableware.

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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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