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平仮名 (ひらがな, hiragana): き (i.e. "ki")

The modern form of き comes from the cursive form of the kanji 幾 (き, ki, i.e.: “how many”, “some”, etc.). Follow the progression of the different scripts shown in Figures 1 to 3 to understand its origin.

figure_1_2_hiragana_ki-horz

Figure 1. Standard script (楷書, かいしょ, kaisho) of the kanji 幾. Calligraphy by 品天龍涙 (ぽんてりゅうるい, Ponte Ryūrui), ink on paper.

Figure 2. Semi-cursive script (行書, ぎょうしょ, gyōsho) of the kanji 幾. Calligraphy by 品天龍涙 (ぽんてりゅうるい, Ponte Ryūrui), ink on paper.

figure_3_4_hiragana_ki-horz

figure_5_hiragana_ki

Figure 3. Cursive script (草書, そうしょ, sōsho) of the kanji 幾. Calligraphy by 品天龍涙 (ぽんてりゅうるい, Ponte Ryūrui), ink on paper.

Figure 4. Calligraphy of the hiragana character き. Note the corresponding shape with the cursive form of the character 幾 (Figure 3). Calligraphy by 品天龍涙 (ぽんてりゅうるい, Ponte Ryūrui), ink on paper.

Figure 5. The word いき (iki, i.e. “breath”) written in Japanese kana (かな) script. The hiragana character い is based on the cursive form of the kanji 以 (い, i, i.e. “by means of”, “because of”, etc.), which is explained in this article. Calligraphy by 品天龍涙 (ぽんてりゅうるい, Ponte Ryūrui), ink on paper.

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Ponte Ryūrui

Ponte Ryuurui (品天龍涙, ぽんてりゅうるい, Ponte Ryūrui) is the pen name of Piotr Ponte L. Sypniewski. He began studying calligraphy in 2001 under Japanese Master Kajita Esshuu (梶田越舟, かじたえっしゅう, 1938 – present).

2 Comments

  1. Sergey on 18/08/2011 at 03:29

    Thank you very much for the articles on hiragana etymology!!!
    Now (as I am familiar with hiragana) it is much easier for me to understand cursive style for many characters)))).

  2. Ponte Ryūrui on 18/08/2011 at 09:48

    You’re welcome, Sergey. Cursive script is like a jungle at night; so many sounds, but hard to tell where they are coming from, and where they are going to. I am glad that our posts assist you in studying. I am considering writing one about cursive script alone, or perhaps, a series of posts on that subject. You can also read about cursive script on our main page, here: http://www.beyondcalligraphy.com/cursive_script.html

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