The Kudzu vine, a necessary plant.
In the last edition of my book on Chinese characters I explained the character 葛 as follows:
gé – kudzu vine. A plant 艹 asked 曷 for its beneficial properties and for its use in making clothes.
And in turn曷 is explained:
hé – how, why? In JGW was a knife刀 that blinds (亡 = 盲) somebody. From blind to beggar. Beggar 匃 (now 丐), is interpreted as a person 人 crouching 勹 who enters a hidden place 亡, or who has none. In the upper part is his mouth 曰 who begs for alms. People asks, how did he get into that situation? As part of other characters it means asking, needing, or gives the idea of a cut.
But today, nobody understands clearly how important this plant was in the ancient culture of China when Chinese characters were created. That is why I share part of one of the poems from the Book of Songs, which is precisely titled 葛覃.
«The ge has spread through the valley.
Large and beautiful are its leaves.
I will cut and cook its long stems.
With its fibers I will weave cloth, some fine and some coarse.
I will dress with them without ever becoming bored.»
And Carmelo Elorduy, the translator and editor of the text, points out, «The leguminous ge was the textile plant par excellence.»
Hopefully this clarification will help to remember this character:
Ceinos Arcones, Pedro. Caracteres Chinos: un aprendizaje fácil basado en su etimología y evolución. Miraguano Ediciones. 2016.
Elorduy, Carmelo. Romancero Chino. Editora Nacional. Madrid. 1986.
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