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In the Wiktionary page for this kanji they said that it's a pictogram for someone's mouth over a bowl of rice on a stand .. the question is: are they meaning this was the actual way for eating in this time without using hands? Or this just a symbol?

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    Your own source answers this, saying: 'a mouth over a bowl of rice on a stand.' en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E9%A3%9F – BJCUAI Mar 2 at 20:37
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    Pictographic Kanji are simplified or abstract depictions of the word they're supposed to represent. They're not going to include every single detail of the situation... hands do not add anything important to the action to eat. – droooze Mar 2 at 23:46
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「食」(to eat) was originally「𠊊」, comprised of a mouth「亼・亽」and a cereal/grain/wheat basket「皀」. In the character「食」,「皀」was later changed into the shape of「艮」.



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「亼・亽」is「口」(mouth) written upside-down. This is more evident in the older shapes of「口」:



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「亼・亽」functions as a semantic component in characters like 令, 命, 合, 今, among others.




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「皀」fell into disuse as an individual character, but the word it represented remained, now written as「簋」, formed by adding「竹」(bamboo) and「皿」(dish; vessel) onto「皀」.



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「皀」is a component in characters like 卽 (Shinjitai: 即), 旣 (Shinjitai: 既), 鄕 (Shinjitai: 郷), among others.


References:

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Here's the illustration from [学習]{がくしゅう}[漢字]{かんじ}[新辞典]{しんじてん} (a great little elementary-level Kanji dictionary) that shows the origins of 食 as an open mouth pointing straight down, over a bowl filled with rice.

食の字のなりたち

  • I know this bro but I want to know if this mouth just a sympol or this was the actuall way of eating with mouth without hands ? .. and thanks for the answer – user32763 Mar 2 at 20:56
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    The dates I'm seeing suggest that chopsticks were invented a few hundred years before the earliest Chinese writing system, so it seems unlikely (though not impossible) that they were actually eating by just slamming their face down on the rice bowl. :) – db2 Mar 2 at 21:43

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