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I've seen somewhere that it was two hands together greeting someone. It makes some sense since the left part does look like 手, but the right part doesn't, and I don't remember any other characters that have it.

What's the real story about the character 拜?

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「拜」was originally「𢳎」, comprised of「手・扌」and「𠦪」.

「𠦪」(please read this in both meaning and sound as「禱」) depicts flowery adornments used in dances and religious prayer/rituals.



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西周

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The combination of「手」(hand) and「𠦪」(flowery adornments used in dances and religious prayer/rituals) indicated the meaning to conduct obeisance.

西周

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In the character「𢳎」, the bottom part of「𠦪」was sometimes corrupted into something that looked like「手」.



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日甲166
 

Similarly, the top part of「𠦪」, which is「卉」, was sometimes removed. This leads on to the modern form of「拜」.

東漢

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References:

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http://www.zdic.net/z/1a/xs/62DC.htm

(1) (会意。从两手,从下。《说文》古文上象两手,丅为“下”的古体。《说文》引 扬雄说:“拜从两手下。”表示双手作揖,或下拜。隶书将“丅”(下)并入右边的“手”之下而成为“拜”,一直沿用至今。本义:古代表示敬意的一种礼节。两手合于胸前,头低到手)

  • 丅为“下”的古体 (丅 was 下 (down)'s ancient form)

  • (下)并入右边的“手”之下而成为“拜” (下/丅 was merged into the right side 手)

Basically, The character '拜' depicts [two hands + move down] = [to worship --> to show respect] and it extended to more different meanings over time.

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