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I recently realized that 傘 was read かさ, just like 笠. Is that a coincidence or did the first evolve from the latter in some way?

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(Edited to add: I was pulled away from my desk for a while mid-draft, and I didn't see @Gui's answer post until I clicked "Post Your Answer". I agree with Gui's point that the two kanji are unrelated. My post below was written on the (mis?)understanding that the OP was asking about the derivation of the word kasa with the two senses of "device for protection from the rain" and "kind of plant", rather than the derivation of the kanji characters 傘 and 笠.)

If you have a look at the various entries listed under the かさ reading over here at Weblio (a dictionary and encyclopedia aggregator site, in Japanese), you'll see that many of the words include this note towards the top:

  • 《「[傘]{かさ}」と[同語源]{どうごげん}》 ("same etymology as / cognate with [傘]{かさ}")
    ... or:
  • 《「[笠]{かさ}」と[同語源]{どうごげん}》("same etymology as / cognate with [笠]{かさ}")

Note too the verbs かさなる and かさねる, relating to "building up / piling up in layers", much like the many layers of kasa plant used in making traditional raingear hats.

My take on this is that the name of the plant probably came first, and then the name of the plant was applied to the hat that was perhaps the most common use of that plant. Over time, the raingear hat was replaced by the umbrella, which took on the same name.

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    あー、「笠」って植物の名称だったんですね(1, 2)。だから竹冠なんですね。勉強になりました May 15 at 21:48
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    We added a [glyph-origin] tag over in Chinese SE (taken from Wiktionary vocabulary!) a while back to stop getting confused with questions on "etymology". I wonder if it's worth doing the same here?
    – dROOOze
    May 15 at 23:31
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    Fantastic answer thank you! I realize now that my question was vague, I was indeed asking if the two were cognate, so you did not misunderstand.
    – Saegusa
    May 17 at 13:30
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No. Both have the かさ reading as くんよみ, but their おんよみ differ, and they share no other similarities. Also, 傘 is used for the regular umbrella, while 笠 is the one you wear like a hat.

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  • Thanks! I was wondering since the meaning seemed related.
    – Saegusa
    May 15 at 17:43
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    The two words, かさ and かさ, are cognates, meaning they share the same etymological origin, but yes, 傘 and 笠, the two kanji, did not develop from each other. It wasn't super clear to me when reading the question what was actually being asked.
    – Leebo
    May 15 at 17:59

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