Monday, April 30, 2012

懐 (what one keeps in one's bosom).

In 習字 I'm working on a really interesting two-kanji set, 澄懐 (CHOU-KAI). Chou (sumu, sumasu, etc.) is about clarity, lucidity; kai is (in a superficial way) about the heart, bosom, interior. So 澄懐 is an appealing set of characters about inner clarity. Apparently there's an art museum called 澄懐堂 (chou-kai-dou) in Mie Prefecture that specializes in Chinese calligraphy.

Chou is notable for its inclusion of 豆, a fascinating radical that's turned out to be a real rabbit hole to pursue because it appears in some 60 kanji, with a range of sounds and meanings (almost none of which relate to beans, although several groups relate to smallness associated with beans). (Admittedly, I really wanted to try writing the 発 radical (癶, the "dotted tent" radical, which fascinates me).

Kai is particularly interesting to me at the moment because it's associated not just with "heart" or "feelings" in a general sense—though, to be sure, its radical is 心—but more specifically with the custom of tucking things into a kimono at the center front, just over the obi. For example, in tea class we keep a little roll of papers handy for sweets, etc.; these are called 懐紙 (KAISHI), literally kai + kami (紙, paper), and when not in use they're kept tucked into the cross-fold of the kimono at front center, right above the obi. So, this kai seems to combine 心 (kokoro—heart, feelings) and 衣 (koromo—clothes or garments), for a larger sense of anything tucked in next to the heart. Not surprising, then, that 懐 has associated meanings not only of "pocket", but also of becoming attached to someone, or yearning for or missing someone. (Reminds me of that time I forgot my kaishi! How I yearned for them!) Henshall says the tsukuri of 懐 means to carry (specifically, in the sleeve—vs by the heart?).

Weirdly enough, if we swap out the heart for earth (土) we get kowasu/kowareru (壊), to break or be broken. Henshall posits that in this case the "carrying" tsukuri is used only for its phonetic value and that the sense is of breaking down/through earthen ramparts.

I wonder whether that right-hand side appears alone or in anything else. Looks like there are older NGU variants (懷 and 壞) but nothing else that really matches up.

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