Does anyone has a good model of the origin of 施?
As far as I know the common ground in deciphering this character is:
- On the left - flag pole.
- On top - flag cloth.
- On the right-bottom - snake or, in unconventional reading, character representing "being low on the ground".
The problem with this decoding is that it does not explain all the usage of 施. If the "Flag spreading on the ground like a snake" can explain
"to spread" a life form or plant, 施于中谷
"to last" (in time or space). 鳥獸安施
but the same etymology model can't explain
"to donate" - 冬天施粥, 夏天施茶
"to give" - 施綿衣
"to use" - 無計可施
"to teach" - 施之為孫
or, my favorite: 殺而施之 - "to execute and to show a body of a criminal to the public" (makes you doubt the correctness of the whole "flag+snake" model.