search  current discussion  categories  kilns & firing - misc 

the origin of the chinese character for kiln.

updated fri 28 apr 00


Aiko Ichimura on thu 27 apr 00

Hi all,

I get such a pleasure when I find out the etymology of words.
Recently I came across the description of the etymology for "Kama", kiln in
character. I enjoyed reading it immensely, I thought some of you would too:

In Japanese, the word "kama" or "you" is used for kiln and it came from
Chinese character "Yao". You remember "Jun- Yao"?.

There is one more character for kiln, however, I am going to write about the
first one
"Yao". If you dissect the character "Yao", you will see 3 distinctive parts:
cave, goat
and fire, from the top to bottom of the character. The goats, they were
extremely important
commodity for the nomadic people in ancient China: the milk and meat for the
source of food
and the skin for clothing material.
So if you analyze the character "Beauty" in the Chinese character, it
consists of "goat"
and "Big". How about the word for "to Yearn or envy": goat and
laver( mouth water)
thus, the goat character symbolizes something beautiful( or important)

So "Yao" means cave or place where the beautiful( or important) things that
people envy
are fired. This was one interpretation of the character "Yao" . Probably
There could be
other interpretations that might be known by the Chinese people.

But it all make sense to me.

I just read an annecdote in the Japanese Pottery Mailing list about this old
who has been working in the pottery kiln for 60 years in Okinawa where
Hamada worked 60 years
ago when she was little. She remembered that her father telling her " Dear,
to do good work,
be mindfull about your eyes, hands and heart". I thought ,may be, we should
create a character
that consist of clay,eyes, hands and heart, meaning "Good work of pottery".

Aiko in DC where the dogwoods are full blossom.