|Copyright Julie Vaux 2013|
The seal script form of this character shows instead of cun one or a pair of hands making an offering of a wine jar and you could also read the parts as being respect + hands or chief+hands or wine vessel plus hands.
I suspect the meaning centuries ago was originally what you offered the chief or local aristo a wine vessel possibly 8 jars literally which explain 8 over a wine vessel over a hand. The oldest form of cun shows a hand holding a stick signifying one item. However I'm not a Shang Dynasty Chinese scribe or one of the Han dynasty scholars who standardized the system of signs.
Perhaps taxes and tributes were paid as metal goods in the Shang Dynasty?
Please look at the next few posts about the component parts of this character.