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I was recently looking into the origins of the character「冖」, which《說文新證》states does not appear on its own in the texts excavated so far:

現有考古文字材料未見獨體的冂(偏旁或作冖)字,...

However, searching「冖」on 小學堂 gives a few results, one of which comes from 大盂鼎. The surrounding text is as follows:

易女鬯一卣,冂、衣、巿、舃、...

which Wikisource interprets like so:

易(賜)女(汝)鬯一卣,冂(冕)、衣、巿(韍)、舃、...

While the meaning of this interpretation doesn't seem odd (to me, but I'm not well-versed in this field), I'm not sure why「冂」is being interpreted as「冕」. Searching「冕」on 小學堂 does not yield any results that appear like「冂」. How was this interpretation made, and are there any other plausible interpretations for「冂」in this text?

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    Interestingly, Multi-function Chinese Character Database provides a different interpretation of 冂: 金文通假為「裳」,表示下身的衣服,大盂鼎:「冂(裳)、衣、巿、舄」,指下裳、上衣、蔽膝(古代朝覲、祭祀時蓋於衣裳上的服飾)、鞋子。復乍父乙尊:「冂(裳)、衣、臣、妾、貝」。 (from humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/lexi-mf/search.php?word=冂)
    – L Parker
    Jun 12 at 5:56
  • I probably should've searched 冂 on 漢語多功能字庫 first before asking this question, but I'm equally clueless as to how 冂 can be interpreted as 裳. Jun 12 at 6:13
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    If Wikisource doesn't leave a trail, then I guess we can't really answer why they decided to interpret 冂 as 冕. Maybe someone decided to read 冂 as 宀, and then a naïve (but probably wrong) sound loan interpretation for 宀 as 冕.
    – dROOOze
    Jun 12 at 6:32
  • I did some more searching, and I still couldn't find an explanation for 冕, but I found an article by 陳劍 explaining the interpretation as 裳: gwz.fudan.edu.cn/Web/Show/335. If I understand it correctly, 冂 here is interpreted as the original form of 堂, which then being used as a phonetic loan for 裳. Jun 12 at 14:12
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解讀 所屬六書
冖作幎/冕 象形
冂作裳 假借

冖作幎說

大盂鼎為西周康王時器,唐蘭於其作《西周青銅器銘文分代史徵》另稱之為二十三祀盂鼎。唐將冖解作幎,即是大巾之意,一有成王時器復尊(見附加資料)可互證,二「冖、衣」箇中有順序,似暗指若把首字解為下裳,則有顛倒次序之嫌:

前復尊說燕侯賞復冖、衣,此銘所賞有冖、衣、市、舄,自首至足,較完整。(唐蘭2015g:197)

冖音覓,是幎字的原始象形字。《說文》:「冖,覆也,從一下垂。」《玉篇》說:「以巾覆物。」盂鼎賞冖、衣、市、舄,此銘但賜冖和衣。冖是罩在衣上的大巾,即絅,當然,也可以蒙在頭上,所以在衣之前。舊讀為冕是錯的。《小爾雅·廣服》:「大巾謂之幎。」(唐蘭2015g:115)

冕字中免為聲符,冃為形符,似與冖無直接關係。至於幎,《說文》以巾為其形符,巾又从冖,唯巾可單為甲金文象佩巾下垂之形,不涉形聲,如是冖為幎初文之說便存疑。不過幎後亦作幂,鄭張尚芳(2003:419)提到幂同冖,古音皆擬作*meːɡ,如是冖又似乎兼具形義。

冂作裳說

唐早年曾釋冂爲堂之初文,本義高堂,與象下陷的凵字相對。尚、常、嘗、裳等,皆從冂聲,鄭張(2003:457)擬*djaŋ。冂上兩撇,陳劍認為是飾筆。

《說文》另釋冂如下:邑外謂之郊,郊外謂之野,野外謂之林,林外謂之冂。象遠界也。此與高堂之義有別,不過此冂不同彼冂,故說是同形異字。但無論解作遠界抑或高堂,皆不通於鼎文,此情況與其中女字相似,女字絕非女人之義,乃汝字之通假,只是當時尚未造汝字,只能借女之聲,摒其本義,表汝之新義罷了。假借於金文頗常見,此說亦無「冖、衣」順序之假定,似更可取。

附加資料:復尊

匽(燕)侯𧶜(賞)復冖、衣、臣、妾、貝,用乍(作)父乙寶【⿰阝尊】(尊)彝。(唐蘭2015g:115)
fuzun

參考資料

  1. 唐蘭(2015g)《唐蘭全集·西周青銅器銘文分代史徵》,上海:上海古籍出版社。
  2. 鄭張尚芳(2003)《上古音系》,上海:上海教育出版社。
  3. 陳劍(2008)〈金文字詞零釋四則〉,復旦大學出土文獻學古文字研究中心網站,http://www.gwz.fudan.edu.cn/Web/Show/335
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    Just made a small change to the transcription there - that character is ⿱商貝 (or rather, ⿱[商-without-the-口]貝). Thought it might be important given we're talking about 堂 and 尚 type characters.
    – dROOOze
    Jun 13 at 2:55
  • @dROOOze indeed! Thanks.
    – L Parker
    Jun 13 at 3:31
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Interpreting the Dà Yú dǐng

There is a character which is equal to the bottom part of 「京」 or 「高」. For brevity's sake, I will label this character as 「X」. Emphasised below as part of 「高」 in black,



高
2807
合集28143
西周

堂
大盂鼎
集成2837
西周

堂
麥方尊
集成6015

「X」 is the original form of 「堂」 (Baxter-Sagart OC: /*[d]ˤaŋ/, hall), and in Dà Yú dǐng, it acts as a phonetic loan for 「裳」 (/*daŋ/, lower garment*). Then, one reads the passage in Dà Yú dǐng as follows:

*As opposed to upper garment 「衣」. 《毛詩傳》:上曰衣,下曰裳。

大盂鼎

...

王曰:『而,令女(汝)盂井(型)乃嗣且(祖)南公。』

王曰:『盂!𠧟(迺)𥃝夾死(尸)𤔲(司)戎,【⿰又每】(敏)誎𠟑(罰)訟,𡖊(夙)夕𥃝我𠆣(一人)【⿱米豆】(烝)亖(四)方,𩁹我𠀠(其)𨗝(遹)眚(省)【⿱𡳿人】(先)王【⿳爫舟又】(受)𥃪(民)【⿳爫舟又】彊(疆)土。易(賜)女鬯一卣,X(裳)、衣、巿(韍)、舄、𨏖(車)、𢒠(馬)。易乃且南公旂,𤰃(用)【⿺辵嘼】(狩)。易女邦司亖白(伯),人鬲自𩣓(馭)至于𤇈(庶)人【⿱六百】(六百)又【⿱𠄡十】(五十)又九夫。易尸(夷)𤔲王臣十又三白,人鬲千又【⿱𠄡十】夫。𢔔(極)【⿳宀口⿰丰戈】【⿰𢍱邑】(遷)自氒(厥)土。』

王曰:『盂!𦱡(若)茍(敬)乃正(政),勿【⿰⿱去水廌】(法)𦨶(朕)令。』

盂𤰃對王休,𤰃𠆦(作)且南公寶鼎。隹(唯)王【⿱廿又】(廿又)三祀。

...

The King (Kāng of Zhōu) said: "Oh! I command you, 盂, to follow in the steps of your ancestor, 南公."

The King said: "盂! You must assist my military commanders, diligently and punctually uphold the justice system, and tirelessly help me govern in all directions. You must take my place and survey the land and people that my ancestors received from Heaven. I bestow you a vessel of ceremonial wine, lower garments, upper garments, gown-aprons, shoes of the officers, chariots, and horses. I bestow you the banner of your ancestor 南公, so that you may display the banner in your hunting expeditions. I bestow you four officers of the state, a military unit of chariot riders and foot soldiers consisting of 659 men. I bestow you 13 royal subjects of foreign nations and a military unit of 1,050 men. Migrate these men to the land of ⿳宀口⿰丰戈."

The King said: "盂!You must uphold your responsibilities with reverence, and never renounce my orders."

盂 thus gratefully accepted the King's bestowments, and cast a sacred vessel to commemorate 南公. 'Tis the twenty-third year of the King's rule.


Interpreting 「冖」 and 「冂」

Actually, I wouldn't bother interpreting those two shapes as characters, because this would cause more confusion than clarity.

The only thing that different resources have in common is that 「冖」 and 「冂」 are anchored first and foremost in the Shuōwén Jiězì definitions. Otherwise, attempting to interpret those as concrete character components quickly falls apart:

  • Neither 「冖」 and 「冂」 refer to 「X」 (the original form of 「堂」).
  • 「X」 is not recognised by the Shuōwén.
  • 小學堂字形演變's entry of 「冂」 actually refers to 「冋」, which has nothing to do with 「堂」.
  • The Shuōwén entry of 「冖」 appears to be derived from a reductive reading of 「鼏」, rather than 「冖」 being the representation of an actual morpheme or word in history.
  • 小學堂字形演變's entry of 「冖」, referring to 《大盂鼎》 and 《麥方尊》, actually refers to 「X」.
  • 漢語多功能字庫's entry of 「冂」 actually refers to 「X」.
  • The shapes 「冖」 and 「冂」 are commonly morphed into each other as part of other characters, and lots of older interpretations would then go on to wrongly categorise these shapes as concrete Shuōwén components, rather than just shape elements.

References:

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