January 31, 2010

Weekly Calligraphy: Maru

I got this idea from watching World War II specials on History Channel one night. Naval ship naming conventions have their own bits of fun history. USS (United States Ship) are obviously for U.S. Navy ships. HMS (Her Majesty's Ship) are for U.K. naval vessels. 丸 (maru), or 'circle', are for Japanese ships. There are a few theories as to why 丸 is used.

Source: Wikipedia
* The most common is that ships were thought of as floating castles, and the word referred to the defensive "circles" or maru that protected the castle.
* That the suffix -maru is often applied to words representing something that is beloved, and sailors applied this suffix to their ships.
* That the term maru is used in divination and represents perfection or completeness, or the ship as a small world of its own.
* A legend of Hakudo Maru, a celestial being that came to earth and taught humans how to build ships. It is said that the name maru is attached to a ship to secure celestial protection for it as it travels.
* For the past few centuries, only non-warships bore the maru ending. It was intended to be used as a good hope naming convention that would allow the ship to leave port, travel the world, and return safely to home port: hence the complete circle arriving back to its origin unhurt.

丸 (まる pronounced 'mah-rooh')
a circle; round; spherical
Maru - Circle

1 comment:

  1. I read about Maru in a book that i read when i was a teenager. There was a person in the book who had that character hanging in her room. I though it might have been somethig the author made up. I am glad to see that it is real.