Old Chinese Idioms and Philosophies

Below, you will find several phrases that you might hear in China. All of them have a story or some history behind them, and many have been around for a thousand years or more.

You can pick your favorite phrase below, and we will have a calligraphy wall scroll or portrait made custom for you.

If you don't see a phrase that you like, just email me and give me some ideas about what you might want. We'll do the research, and come up with some ideas for you.

Quick links to words on this page...

  1. Better to be Happy than Rich
  2. The Five Tenets of Confucius
  3. Confucius: Golden Rule / Ethic of Reciprocity
  4. The Foundation of Good Conduct
  5. Confucius: Universal Education
  6. Unbridled Creativity
  7. Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33
  8. Daodejing / Tao Te Ching
  9. Drinking the water of a well,...
10. Learning is Eternal
11. Example is Better than Precept
12. Experience is the Mother of Wisdom
13. Failure is the Origin of Success
14. Failure is the Mother of Success
15. Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight
16. Heaven Blesses the Diligent
17. Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger
18. Having High Principles
19. Impartial and Fair to the...
20. A Deliberate Inaction...
21. A Life of Serenity Yields Understanding
22. Achieve Inner Peace; Find Deep Understanding
23. One Justice Can Overpower 100 Evils
24. Learn from Wisdom
25. Listen to Both Sides and be Enlightened,...
26. Maintain An Army For 1000 Days, Use It For An Hour
27. Never Give Up
28. Better Late Than Never
29. One who walks by the river...
30. An Open Book Benefits Your Mind
31. Undaunted After Repeated Setbacks
32. Profound / Powerful Words
33. Push or Knock
34. Read 10,000 Books, Travel 10,000 Miles
35. Great Ambitions
36. Not Only Can Water Float A Boat, It Can Sink It Also
37. A sly rabbit has three openings to its den
38. Failure is a Stepping Stone to Success
39. The More We Sweat in Training,...
40. When Three People Gather,...
41. Tiger Rumor
42. In Wine there is Truth
43. Unselfish: Perfectly Impartial
44. Wisdom comes from Experience
45. Each Time You Stumble and Fall,...
46. Work Unselfishly for the Common Good


Better to be Happy than Rich

China ān pín lè dào
Better to be Happy than Rich Wall Scroll

Even if you are poor, you should still feel satisfied in your life...

...Satisfaction, happiness, and the meaning of your life come from within yourself and not from money or riches of the world.

In Chinese, there are a lot of four-character proverbs which express some very old philosophies.
Though there are only four characters on this scroll, in Chinese the meanings often surpass the dictionary definition of each character.

In this case, you should not set your expectations too high for the amount to money or riches you wish to have. One who sets their expectations too high is almost always disappointed. Instead, you should cherish what you have, and seek to improve yourself from within, and not measure your personal worth by the size of your bank account.


See Also:  A Sly Rabbit Will Have Three Openings to Its Den

The Five Tenets of Confucius

The Five Cardinal Rules / Virtues of Confucius
China rén yì lǐ zhì xìn
Japan jin gi rei tomo nobu
The Five Tenets of Confucius Wall Scroll

These are the core of Confucius philosophy. Simply stated they are:
benevolence / charity
justice / rectitude
courtesy / politeness / tact
wisdom / knowledge
fidelity / trust / sincerity

Many of these concepts can be found in various religious teachings. Though it should be clearly understood that Confucianism is not a religion but should instead be considered a moral code for a proper and civilized society.

This title is also labeled, "5 Confucian virtues."


礼 If you order this from the Japanese calligrapher, expect the middle Kanji to be written in a more simple form (as seen to the right). This can also be romanized as "jin gi rei satoshi shin" in Japanese. Not all Japanese will recognize this as Confucian tenets but they will know all the meanings of the characters.


See Also:  Confucius Teachings | Ethics

Confucius: Golden Rule / Ethic of Reciprocity

Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself
China jǐ suǒ bú yù wù shī yú rén
Confucius: Golden Rule / Ethic of Reciprocity Wall Scroll

Some may think of this as a "Christian trait" but actually it transcends many religions.

This Chinese teaching dates back to about 2,500 years ago in China. Confucius had always taught the belief in being benevolent (ren) but this idea was hard to grasp for some of his students, as benevolence could be kind-heartedness, or an essence of humanity itself.

When answering Zhong Gong's question as to what "ren" actually meant, Confucius said:

"When you go out, you should behave as if you were in the presence of a distinguished guest, when people do favors for you, act as if a great sacrifice was made for you. Whatever you wouldn't like done to you, do not do that thing to others. Don't complain at work or at home."

Hearing this, Zhong Gong said humbly, "Although I am not clever, I will do what you say."

From this encounter, the Chinese version of the "Golden Rule" or "Ethic of Reciprocity" came to be.
The characters you see above express, "Do not do to others whatever you do not want done to yourself."


See Also:  Confucius Teachings | Benevolence

The Foundation of Good Conduct

Quote from Confucius
China zhì yú dào jù yú dé yī yú rén yóu yú yì
The Foundation of Good Conduct Wall Scroll

This proverb from the Analects of Confucius translates as:

Resolve yourself in the Dao/Tao/Way.
Rely on Virtue.
Reside in benevolence.
Revel in the arts.

According to Confucius, these are the tenets of good and proper conduct.


This was written over 2500 years ago. The composition is in ancient Chinese grammar and phrasing. A modern Chinese person would need a background in Chinese literature to understand this without the aid of a reference.

Confucius: Universal Education

China zì xíng shù xiū yǐ shàng wú wèi cháng wú huì yān
Confucius: Universal Education Wall Scroll

This quote from the Analects of Confucius translates as:

For anyone who brings even the smallest token of appreciation, I have yet to refuse instruction.

Another way to put it is: If a student (or potential student) shows just an ounce of interest, desire, or appreciation for the opportunity to learn, a teacher should offer a pound of knowledge.


This was written over 2500 years ago. The composition is in ancient Chinese grammar and phrasing. A modern Chinese person would need a background in Chinese literature to understand this without the aid of a reference.

Unbridled Creativity

China bù jū yī gé
Unbridled Creativity Wall Scroll

This Chinese proverb speaks of exploring different styles and not being stuck in conventional thinking. It can also be translated as "not sticking to one pattern" or "not limited to one type (or style)." The most simple translation is "being creative," or "unbridled creativity." Some may also say this means, "not being stuck in a rut," in the context of a designer or artist.

If you literally translate this, the first two characters mean, "not stick to," or "not confine oneself to."
The second two characters mean, "one mode," "one pattern," "one form," "one style," or "one rule."

Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33

China zhī rén zhě zhī yě zì zhī zhě míng yě shèng rén zhě yǒu lì yě zì shèng zhě qiáng yě zhī zú zhě fù yě qiáng xíng zhě yǒu zhì yě bù zhī qí suǒ zhě jiǔ yě sǐ ér bù wáng zhě shòu yě
Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33 Wall Scroll

知人者知也自知者明也勝人者有力也自勝者強也知足者富也強行者有志也不失其所者久也死而不亡者壽也 is referred to as passage or chapter 33 of the Dao De Jing (often Romanized as "Tao Te Ching"). These are the words of the philosopher Laozi (Lao Tzu).

The following is one translation of this passage:
To know others is wisdom;
To know oneself is acuity/intelligence.
To conquer others is power,
To conquer oneself is strength.
To know contentment is to have wealth.
To act resolutely is to have purpose.
To stay one's ground is to be enduring.
To die and yet not be forgotten is to be long-lived.


Another translation:
To understand others is to be knowledgeable;
To understand yourself is to be wise.
To conquer others is to have strength;
To conquer yourself is to be strong.
To know when you have enough is to be rich.
To go forward with strength is to have ambition.
To not lose your place is to be long lasting.
To die but not be forgotten -- that's true long life.


A third translation of the second half:
He who is content is rich;
He who acts with persistence has will;
He who does not lose his roots will endure;
He who dies physically but preserves the Dao will enjoy a long after-life.


Notes:

During our research, the Chinese characters shown here are probably the most accurate to the original text of Laozi. These were taken for the most part from the Mawangdui 1973 and Guodan 1993 manuscripts which pre-date other Daodejing texts by about 1000 years.

Grammar was a little different in Laozi's time. So you should consider this to be the ancient Chinese version. Some have modernized this passage by adding, removing, or swapping articles and changing the grammar (we felt the oldest and most original version would be more desirable). You may find other versions printed in books or online - sometimes these modern texts are simply used to explain to Chinese people what the original text really means.

This language issue can be compared in English by thinking how the King James (known as the Authorized version in Great Britain) Bible from 1611 was written, and comparing it to modern English. Now imagine that the Daodejing was probably written around 403 BCE (2000 years before the King James Version of the Bible). To a Chinese person, the original Daodejing reads like text that is 3 times more detached compared to Shakespeare's English is to our modern-day speech.

Extended notes:

While on this Biblical text comparison, it should be noted, that just like the Bible, all the original texts of the Daodejing were lost or destroyed long ago. Just as with the scripture used to create the Bible, various manuscripts exist, many with variations or copyist errors. Just as the earliest New Testament scripture (incomplete) is from 170 years after Christ, the earliest Daodejing manuscript (incomplete) is from 100-200 years after the death of Laozi.

The reason that the originals were lost probably has a lot to do with the first Qin Emperor. Upon taking power and unifying China, he ordered the burning and destruction of all books (scrolls/rolls) except those pertaining to Chinese medicine and a few other subjects. The surviving Daodejing manuscripts were either hidden on purpose or simply forgotten about. Some were not unearthed until as late as 1993.

We compared a lot of research by various archeologists and historians before deciding on this as the most accurate and correct version. But one must allow that it may not be perfect, or the actual and original as from the hand of Laozi himself.

Daodejing / Tao Te Ching

Except from Chapter 67
China yī yuē cí èr yuē jiǎn sān yuē bù gǎn wéi tiān xià xiān
Daodejing / Tao Te Ching Wall Scroll

一曰慈二曰儉三曰不敢為天下先 is an except from the 67th Chapter of Lao Tzu's (Lao Zi's) Te-Tao Ching (Dao De Jing). 一曰慈二曰儉三曰不敢為天下先 is the part where the three treasures are discussed. In English, we'd say these three treasures are compassion, frugality, and humility. Some may translate these as love, moderation, and lack of arrogance. I have also seen them translated as benevolence, modesty, and "Not presuming to be at the forefront in the world." You can mix them up the way you want, as translation is not really a science but rather an art.

I should also explain that the first two treasures are single-character ideas, yet the third treasure was written out in six characters (there are also some auxiliary characters to number the treasures).

If Lao Tzu's words are important to you, then a wall scroll with this passage might make a great addition to your home.

Drinking the water of a well,
one should never forget who dug it

China chī shuǐ bú wàng jué jǐng rén
Drinking the water of a well, / one should never forget who dug it Wall Scroll

This proverb suggests that one should always be grateful to those who helped you succeed.

And remember your ancestors and those that came before you whose sacrifices made your present life better.

Some Chinese will separate the intended meaning from this proverb and translate this as "Don't forget the people who once helped you." In Modern China, this idiom is virtually never used to refer to an actual well.

Note: This can be pronounced in Korean but it's not a commonly used phrase.

Learning is Eternal

China xué wú zhǐ jìng
Learning is Eternal Wall Scroll

This Chinese philosophy tells of how we continue to learn throughout our lives. This proverb can be translated in a few ways such as "Study has no end," "Knowledge is infinite," "No end to learning," "There's always something new to study," or "You live and learn."

The deeper meaning: Even when we finish school we are still students of the world gaining more knowledge from our surroundings with each passing day.


See Also:  An Open Book Benefits Your Mind | Wisdom | Learn From Wisdom

Example is Better than Precept

China shēn jiào shèng yú yán jiào
Example is Better than Precept Wall Scroll

Tell somebody how to do something and they might get it.
Show them how to do it and they will master it in no time.

This can also be translated as "Behavior teaches more than words."


See Also:  Wisdom

Experience is the Mother of Wisdom

China jīng yàn shì zhì huì zhī mǔ
Experience is the Mother of Wisdom Wall Scroll

It's been said that wisdom comes from good judgment, and good judgment comes from experience, while experience comes from a series of times when you used bad judgment.

This Chinese proverb makes the simplest connection between experience and wisdom.


See Also:  Failure Is the Mother of Success | Wisdom | Learn From Wisdom

Failure is the Origin of Success

Japan shippai wa seikou no moto
Failure is the Origin of Success Wall Scroll

This Japanese proverb literally reads, "failure/mistake/blunder/defeat is the origin of success."

Basically, it suggests that failures or defeats are a necessary part of success.

失敗は成功の元 is often translated as, "Failure is a stepping stone to success."


Note: There are a few similar variations of this idiom in Japanese.


Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.


See Also:  Failure Is a Stepping Stone to Success

Failure is the Mother of Success

China shī bài shì chéng gōng zhī mǔ
Failure is the Mother of Success Wall Scroll

This Chinese and Korean proverb means, "Every failure that you experience is a chance to learn from it and find success."

Knowing what does not work is just as important as finding out what does work.


See Also:  Experience Is the Mother of Wisdom

Failure is the Mother of Success

Japan shippai wa seikou no haha
Failure is the Mother of Success Wall Scroll

This Japanese proverb means exactly what you think.

Every failure that you experience is a chance to learn from it and find success.

Knowing what does not work is just as important as finding out what does work.


Note: This is the Japanese version of an ancient Chinese proverb.


Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.


See Also:  Experience Is the Mother of Wisdom

Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight

Always rising after a fall or repeated failures
Japan shichi ten hakki / nana korobi ya oki
Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight Wall Scroll

This Japanese proverb relays the vicissitudes of life, with the meaning "seven times down eight times up."

Some would more naturally translate it into English as "Always rising after a fall or repeated failures" or compare it to the English, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

The first Kanji is literally "7." The second means "fall down" (sometimes this Kanji means "turn around," "revolve" or "turn over" but in this case, it holds the meaning of "fall"). The third is "8." And the last is "get up," "rouse," or "rise."

Basically, if you fail 7 times, you should recover from those events and be prepared to rise an 8th time. This also applies if it is the world or circumstances that knock you down seven times...
...just remember that you have the ability to bounce back from any kind of adversity.

Note: This can be pronounced two ways. One is "shichi ten hakki" or "shichitenhakki." The other is "nana korobi ya oki" also written, "nanakorobi-yaoki."

Special Note: The second character is a Kanji that is not used in China. Therefore, please only select our Japanese master calligrapher for this selection.

Heaven Blesses the Diligent

China tiān dào chóu qín
Heaven Blesses the Diligent Wall Scroll

This can be interpreted a few different ways:
God blesses those who work hard.
It is the way of Heaven to smile on the diligent.
God will reward those that are worthy.
Heaven blesses those who are diligent.

Whichever translation you like, a scroll like this on your wall may serve as a reminder to work hard because your diligence will pay off both in this life and the next.


Note: This can be pronounced in Korean, but it's not a commonly used term.

Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger

Undiscovered persons of exceptional ability
China cáng lóng wò hǔ
Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger Wall Scroll

The meaning of 藏龍臥虎 is that both the tiger and dragon have amazing talents, but if they are out of view, you may not have discovered them.

This old Chinese idiom/proverb is appropriate for someone with amazing ability that keeps that ability hidden.

You might think this title is in reverse, but actually, this is the original Chinese proverb.
The movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon popularized this alternate version.

Having High Principles

Do not bow down for the sake of five pecks of rice
China bù wèi wǔ dǒu mǐ zhé yāo
Having High Principles Wall Scroll

This Chinese idiom/proverb speaks of being above bribes, and not losing face or honor for a short-term gain. Some may also translate the perceived meaning as, "high-hearted," or "integrity beyond reproach."

The more literal meaning is "Do not bow down for the sake of five pecks of rice."

Impartial and Fair to the
Brotherhood and Sisterhood of the World

AKA: Universal Benevolence
China yí shì tóng rén
Japan isshidoujin
Impartial and Fair to the / Brotherhood and Sisterhood of the World Wall Scroll

一視同仁 is how to write "universal benevolence." 一視同仁 is also how to express the idea that you see all people the same.

If you are kind and charitable to all people, this is the best way to state that virtue. It is the essence of being impartial to all mankind, regardless of social standing, background, race, sex, etc. You do not judge others but rather you see them eye to eye on the same level with you.


See Also:  Benevolence | Compassion | Equality | Justice | Right Decision | Selflessness | Work Unselfishly for the Common

A Deliberate Inaction
Is Better Than A Blind Action

China yí dòng bù rú yí jìng
A Deliberate Inaction / Is Better Than A Blind Action Wall Scroll

Sometimes this is translated by others as "Look before you leap" but the more accurate and direct translation is the one I used in the title.

While somewhat military in its origin, this proverb can apply to any situation where a decision needs to be made, but perhaps there are still some "unknowns."

This phrase suggests that in our "action based" world, sometimes the "smarter move" is "no move at all."


See Also:  Better to Choose Nothing Rather Than Make a Poor Choice

A Life of Serenity Yields Understanding

China dàn bó yǐ míng zhì, níng jìng ér zhì yuǎn
A Life of Serenity Yields Understanding Wall Scroll

淡泊以明志寧靜而致遠 is a kind of complex ten-character proverb composed by Zhuge Liang about 1800 years ago.

This Chinese proverb means "Leading a simple life will yield a clear mind, and having inner peace will help you see far (into the world)."

What I have translated as "simple life" means NOT being materialistic and NOT competing in the rat race.

The last word means "far" but the deeper meaning is that you will surpass what you can currently see or understand. Perhaps even the idea of opening up vast knowledge and understanding of complex ideas.

The whole phrase has a theme that suggests if you are NOT an aggressive cut-throat person who fights his way to the top no matter how many people he crushes on the way, and instead seek inner peace, you will have a happier existence and be more likely to understand the meaning of life.


See Also:  Serenity

Achieve Inner Peace; Find Deep Understanding

China níng jìng ér zhì yuǎn
Achieve Inner Peace; Find Deep Understanding Wall Scroll

Zhuge Liang

诸葛亮 Zhuge Liang

寧靜而致遠 is five characters from a longer ten-character proverb composed by Zhuge Liang about 1800 years ago.

The proverb means, "Your inner peace / tranquility / serenity will help you see or reach far (into the world)."

The last word means "far" but the deeper meaning is that you will surpass what you can currently see or understand. Perhaps even the idea of opening up vast knowledge and understanding of complex ideas.

One Justice Can Overpower 100 Evils

China yī zhèng yā bǎi xié
One Justice Can Overpower 100 Evils Wall Scroll

This ancient "One Justice Can Overpower a Hundred Evils" idiom and proverb is famous in China. But it has been around so long that its origins have long been forgotten.

It could be something that Confucius or one of his disciples said but no one can say for sure.

Learn from Wisdom

(When you see a wise person, try to be like them)
China jiàn xián sī qí
Learn from Wisdom Wall Scroll

When you meet a wise person, you should learn from them and be inspired to become as wise as they are.

見賢思齊 is a pretty long proverb in English but in Chinese it's only four characters.
However, in Chinese the deeper meaning often surpass the dictionary definition of each character.

In this case, you should seek wise people to learn from throughout your life...
Always try to learn enough to become equal to them. It also suggests that the process of learning and seeking wisdom is a non-ending cycle.


See Also:  Knowledge

Listen to Both Sides and be Enlightened,
Listen to One Side and be in the Dark

China jiān tīng zé míng, piān tīng zé àn
Listen to Both Sides and be Enlightened, / Listen to One Side and be in the Dark Wall Scroll

A man named Wei Zheng lived between 580-643 AD. He was a noble and wise historian and minister in the court of the early Tang Dynasty.

The emperor once asked him, "What should an emperor do to understand the real-world situation and what makes an emperor out-of-touch with reality?"

Wei Zheng replied, "Listen to both sides and you will be enlightened; listen to only one side and you will be left in the dark."

Then Wei Zheng went on to site examples of leaders in history that were victorious after heeding both sides of the story, and other leaders that met their doom because they believed one-sided stories which often came from flattering lips.

Please note that there is an unwritten rule when the same character appears twice in the same phrase, the calligrapher will alter the appearance so that no two characters are exactly alike in the same piece. This calligraphy has two repeating characters that will be written differently than they appear here.

Maintain An Army For 1000 Days, Use It For An Hour

China yǎng bīng qiān rì, yàng bīng yì shí
Maintain An Army For 1000 Days, Use It For An Hour Wall Scroll

Nothing could be more true. When I was in the Marine Corps, we trained for years for combat that often lasts only hours.

This Chinese proverb also reminds me of a common phrase used in the military to describe combat: "Weeks of total boredom, punctuated with five minutes of shear terror."

This may have some roots in Sun Tzu's The Art of War. Though I can not find this passage in his writings.

On the subject of the Art of War, if you have a favorite passage, we can create a custom calligraphy scroll with that phrase.

Never Give Up

China yǒng bù fàng qì
Never Give Up Wall Scroll

The first character means "eternal" or "forever," the second means "not" (together they mean "never"). The last two characters mean "give up" or "abandon." Altogether, you can translate this proverb as "never give up" or "never abandon."

Depending on how you want to read this, it is also a statement that you will never abandon your hopes, dreams, family or friends.


See Also:  Undaunted | No Fear | Hope

Better Late Than Never

It's Never Too Late Too Mend
China wáng yáng bǔ láo yóu wèi wéi wǎn
Better Late Than Never Wall Scroll

Long ago in what is now China, there were many kingdoms throughout the land. This time period is known as "The Warring States Period" by historians because these kingdoms often did not get along with each other.

Some time around 279 B.C. the Kingdom of Chu was a large but not particularly powerful kingdom. Part of the reason it lacked power was the fact that the King was surrounded by "yes men" who told him only what he wanted to hear. Many of the King’s court officials were corrupt and incompetent which did not help the situation.

The King was not blameless himself, as he started spending much of his time being entertained by his many concubines.

One of the King’s ministers, Zhuang Xin, saw problems on the horizon for the Kingdom, and warned the King, "Your Majesty, you are surrounded by people who tell you what you want to hear. They tell you things to make you happy, and cause you to ignore important state affairs. If this is allowed to continue, the Kingdom of Chu will surely perish, and fall into ruins."

This enraged the King who scolded Zhuang Xin for insulting the country and accused him of trying to create resentment among the people. Zhuang Xin explained, "I dare not curse the Kingdom of Chu but I feel that we face great danger in the future because of the current situation." The King was simply not impressed with Zhuang Xin’s words.
Seeing the King’s displeasure with him and the King’s fondness for his court of corrupt officials, Zhuang Xin asked permission of the King that he may take leave of the Kingdom of Chu, and travel to the State of Zhao to live. The King agreed, and Zhuang Xin left the Kingdom of Chu, perhaps forever.

Five months later, troops from the neighboring Kingdom of Qin invaded Chu, taking a huge tract of land. The King of Chu went into exile, and it appeared that soon, the Kingdom of Chu would no longer exist.

The King of Chu remembered the words of Zhuang Xin, and sent some of his men to find him. Immediately, Zhuang Xin returned to meet the King. The first question asked by the King was, "What can I do now?"

Zhuang Xin told the King this story:

A shepherd woke one morning to find a sheep missing. Looking at the pen saw a hole in the fence where a wolf had come through to steal one of his sheep. His friends told him that he had best fix the hole at once. But the Shepherd thought since the sheep is already gone, there is no use fixing the hole.
The next morning, another sheep was missing. And the Shepherd realized that he must mend the fence at once. Zhuang Xin then went on to make suggestions about what could be done to reclaim the land lost to the Kingdom of Qin, and reclaim the former glory and integrity in the Kingdom of Chu.

The Chinese idiom shown above came from this reply from Zhuang Xin to the King of Chu almost 2,300 years ago.
It translates roughly into English as...
"Even if you have lost some sheep, it’s never too late to mend the fence."

This proverb is often used in modern China when suggesting in a hopeful way that someone change their ways, or fix something in their life. It might be used to suggest fixing a marriage, quit smoking, or getting back on track after taking an unfortunate path in life among other things one might fix in their life.

I suppose in the same way that we might say, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" in our western cultures to suggest that you can always start anew.

Note: This does have Korean pronunciation but is not a well-known proverb in Korean (only Koreans familiar with ancient Chinese history would know it). Best if your audience is Chinese.

One who walks by the river
may end up with wet feet

China cháng zài hé biān zǒu nǎ néng bù shī xié
One who walks by the river / may end up with wet feet Wall Scroll

常在河邊走哪能不濕鞋 is an old Chinese proverb that is sometimes compared to the English saying "Shit Happens."

It's a reflection that there are risks in life, and you should not be surprised when things don't go your way.

A secondary translation might be, "When walking by a river, often one cannot avoid wet shoes."

An Open Book Benefits Your Mind

China kāi juàn yǒu yì
An Open Book Benefits Your Mind Wall Scroll

There are several ways to translate this ancient proverb. Translated literally and directly it says, "Open roll has/yields benefit."

To understand that, you must know a few things...

First, Chinese characters and language have deeper meanings that often are not spoken but are understood - especially with ancient text like this. Example: It's understood that the "benefit" referred to in this proverb is to the mind of the reader. Just the last character expresses that whole idea.

Second, Chinese proverbs are supposed to make you think, and leave a bit of mystery to figure out.

Third, for this proverb, it should be noted that roll = book. When this proverb came about (about two thousand years ago) books were really rolls of bamboo slips strung together. The first bound books like the ones we use today did not come about until about a thousand years after this proverb when they invented paper in China.

開卷有益 is a great gift for a bookworm who loves to read and increase their knowledge. Or for any friend that is or wants to be well-read.

Some other translations of this phrase:
Opening a book is profitable
The benefits of education.

Undaunted After Repeated Setbacks

Persistence to overcome all challenges
China bǎi zhé bù náo
Japan hyaku setsu su tou
Undaunted After Repeated Setbacks Wall Scroll

This Chinese proverb means "Be undaunted in the face of repeated setbacks." More directly-translated, it reads, "[Overcome] a hundred setbacks, without flinching." 百折不撓 is of Chinese origin but is commonly used in Japanese, and somewhat in Korean (same characters, different pronunciation).

This proverb comes from a long, and occasionally tragic story of a man that lived sometime around 25-220 AD. His name was Qiao Xuan and he never stooped to flattery but remained an upright person at all times. He fought to expose corruption of higher-level government officials at great risk to himself.

Then when he was at a higher level in the Imperial Court, bandits were regularly capturing hostages and demanding ransoms. But when his own son was captured, he was so focused on his duty to the Emperor and common good that he sent a platoon of soldiers to raid the bandits' hideout, and stop them once and for all even at the risk of his own son's life. While all of the bandits were arrested in the raid, they killed Qiao Xuan's son at first sight of the raiding soldiers.

Near the end of his career a new Emperor came to power, and Qiao Xuan reported to him that one of his ministers was bullying the people and extorting money from them. The new Emperor refused to listen to Qiao Xuan and even promoted the corrupt Minister. Qiao Xuan was so disgusted that in protest he resigned his post as minister (something almost never done) and left for his home village.

His tombstone reads "Bai Zhe Bu Nao" which is now a proverb used in Chinese culture to describe a person of strength will who puts up stubborn resistance against great odds.

My Chinese-English dictionary defines these 4 characters as, "keep on fighting in spite of all setbacks," "be undaunted by repeated setbacks" and "be indomitable."

Our translator says it can mean, "never give up" in modern Chinese.

Although the first two characters are translated correctly as "repeated setbacks," the literal meaning is "100 setbacks" or "a rope that breaks 100 times." The last two characters can mean "do not yield" or "do not give up."
Most Chinese, Japanese, and Korean people will not take this absolutely literal meaning but will instead understand it as the title suggests above. If you want a single big word definition, it would be indefatigability, indomitableness, persistence, or unyielding.


See Also:  Tenacity | Fortitude | Strength | Perseverance | Persistence

Profound / Powerful Words

China rù mù sān fēn
Profound / Powerful Words Wall Scroll

These four characters together translate in English to a strong form of "profound" or "written with a forceful hand."

But there is much more to the story...

The deep meaning behind this proverb comes from a man named Wan Xizhi who lived in the third century.

He was a great writer and calligrapher whose writing style influenced generations of other writers and calligraphers.

He once wrote words on a piece of wood to be taken to an engraver.
When the engraver began to carve the characters into the wood, he found that Wang Xizhi's writing had penetrated the wood about 3/8 of an inch.

Thus people believed that his words were so powerful, and so profound this it caused the ink from his brush to penetrate the wood deeply.

The proverb literally means "penetrated wood three fen" (fen is an ancient Chinese measurement a little over to 1/8 of an inch or almost 4mm).

Push or Knock

To weigh one's words
China fǎn fù tuī qiāo
Push or Knock Wall Scroll

During the Tang Dynasty, a man named Jia Dao (born in the year 779), a well studied scholar and poet, went to the capital to take the imperial examination.

One day as he rides a donkey through the city streets, a poem begins to form in his mind. A portion of the poem comes into his head like this:

"The bird sits on the tree branch near a pond,
A monk approaches and knocks at the gate..."


At the same time, he wondered if the word "push" would be better than "knock" in his poem.

As he rides down the street, he imagines the monk pushing or knocking. Soon he finds himself making motions of pushing, and shaking a fist in a knocking motion as he debates which word to use. He is quite a sight as he makes his way down the street on his donkey with hands and fists flying about as the internal debate continues.

As he amuses people along the street, he becomes completely lost in his thoughts and does not see the mayor's procession coming in the opposite direction. Jia Bao is blocking the way for the procession to continue down the road, and the mayor's guards immediately decide to remove Jia Bao by force. Jia Bao, not realizing that he was in the way, apologizes, explains his poetic dilemma, and awaits his punishment for blocking the mayor's way.

The mayor, Han Yu, a scholar and author of prose himself, finds himself intrigued by Jia Dao's poem and problem. Han Yu gets off his horse, and addresses Jia Bao, stating, "I think knock is better." The relieved Jia Bao raises his head, and is invited by the mayor to join the procession, and are seen riding off together down the street exchanging their ideas and love of poetry.

In modern Chinese, this idiom is used when someone is trying to decide which word to use in their writing or when struggling to decide between two things when neither seems to have a downside.

Read 10,000 Books, Travel 10,000 Miles

China dú wàn juǎn shū, xíng wàn lǐ lù
Read 10,000 Books, Travel 10,000 Miles Wall Scroll

讀萬卷書行萬裡路 is a lifelong suggestion for expanding your horizons by gaining knowledge, experience, and seeing the world.

Of course, this was written long ago when it was hard to travel 10,000 miles.
With air travel and the business I'm in, I often achieve that lifetime goal on a monthly basis.
However, I am a little behind in the book count.

Note: An ancient Chinese mile (lǐ) referred to in this proverb is about a third of a British/American mile. However, at that time, this was a great distance to travel (being written at least 1000 years before the invention of the airplane).

Great Ambitions

Brave the wind and the waves
China chéng fēng pò làng
Great Ambitions Wall Scroll

This Chinese proverb represents having great ambitions. British might say "to plough through." Another way to understand it is, "surmount all difficulties and forge ahead courageously."

This can also be translated as, "braving the wind and waves" or "to brave the wind and the billows."

Literally it reads: "ride [the] wind [and] break/cleave/cut [the] waves," or "ride [the] wind [and] slash [through the] waves."

乘風破浪 is a great proverb to encourage yourself or someone else not to be afraid of problems or troubles, and when you have a dream just go for it.

Not Only Can Water Float A Boat, It Can Sink It Also

China shuǐ néng zài zhōu yì néng fù zhōu
Not Only Can Water Float A Boat, It Can Sink It Also Wall Scroll

Many things have opposite properties. The water you drink can also drown you. Pork may nourish you and keep you alive but under-cook it and it could kill you. Potassium nitrate is often used as a fertilizer to grow the food that sustains us but it's also been used as an explosive to topple buildings and destroy us.

This concept is easily associated with "yin yang" where an element has two opposite properties that are as different as night and day.

This proverb's meaning can be summed up this way: "Anything that can lead you to success may also contain great risks."

This phrase is known in literary circles by Korean people (scholars or literature). It is therefore also a valid proverb in Korean Hanja, though most Koreans would not be able to make sense of it.

Please note that there is an unwritten rule when the same character appears twice in the same phrase, the calligrapher will alter the appearance so that no two characters are exactly alike in the same piece. This calligraphy has two repeating characters that will be written differently than they appear here.

A sly rabbit has three openings to its den

-or- The crafty rabbit has three different entrances to its lair
China jiǎo tù sān kū
A sly rabbit has three openings to its den Wall Scroll

This speaks to the cunning character of a sly rabbit. Such a rabbit will not have just one hole but rather a few entrances and exits from his liar.

About 2,250 years ago a very rich man told his assistant to go and buy something wonderful that he did not yet posses. He was a man that already had everything, so the assistant went to a local village that owed a great deal of money to the rich man. The assistant told the village elders that all debts were forgiven. All the villagers rejoiced and praised the rich man's name. The assistant returned to the rich man and told him he had purchased "benevolence" for him. The rich man was mildly amused but perhaps a bit confused by the action.

Some time later, the rich man fell from the favor of the Emperor, and was wiped out without a penny to his name. One day he was walking aimlessly and stumbled into the village in which the debts had been forgiven. The villagers recognized the man and welcomed him with open arms, clothed, fed, and gave him a place to live.

Without trying, the man had become like the sly and cunning rabbit. When his exit was blocked, he had another hole to emerge from - and was reborn. This story and idiom comes from a book titled "The Amendment" - it's unclear whether this man actually existed or not. But the book did propel this idiom into common use in China.

Still today this idiom about the rabbit is used in China when suggesting "backup plans" alternate methods, and anyone with a good escape plan.

Failure is a Stepping Stone to Success

Japan sittpai wa seikou no moto
Failure is a Stepping Stone to Success Wall Scroll

This Japanese proverb literally reads, "failures/mistakes/blunders are the yeast-starter/yeast-mash of success."

Basically, it suggests that failures are a necessary part of success; Just as bread or beer requires yeast to successfully rise or brew/ferment.


Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.

The More We Sweat in Training,
The Less We Bleed in Battle

China píng shí duō liú hàn zhàn shí shǎo liú xuè
The More We Sweat in Training, / The Less We Bleed in Battle Wall Scroll

There is more than one way to translate this ancient Chinese military proverb. Here are a few interpretations:

A drop of sweat spent in a drill is a drop of blood saved in war.

More practice will give one a better chance of success in real situation.

The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle.

I heard this many times when I was a U.S. Marine but I had no idea at the time that it was actually an old Chinese proverb.

When Three People Gather,
One Becomes a Teacher

China sān rén xíng bì yǒu wǒ shī
When Three People Gather, / One Becomes a Teacher Wall Scroll

This literally means, "when three people meet, one becomes the teacher."

This famous Chinese philosophy suggests that when people come together, they can always learn from each other.

One person must be the teacher and others learn. And in turn, the others become the teachers of the knowledge they posses.

It is important to remember that we all have something to teach, and we all have something to learn as well.

When Three People Gather,
Wisdom is Multiplied

Japan san nin yore ba monju no chie
When Three People Gather, / Wisdom is Multiplied Wall Scroll

This literally means, "when three people meet, wisdom is exchanged."

Some will suggest this means when three people come together, their wisdom is multiplied.

That wisdom part can also be translated as wit, sagacity, intelligence, or Buddhist Prajna (insight leading to enlightenment).

In the middle of this proverb is "monju," suggesting "transcendent wisdom." 三人寄れば文殊の知恵 is where the multiplication of wisdom idea comes from.


Note: This is very similar to the Chinese proverb, "When 3 people meet, one becomes a teacher."


Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.

Tiger Rumor

China sān rén chéng hǔ
Tiger Rumor Wall Scroll

These four characters together relay the meaning that can be expressed in English as, "When three people say there's a tiger running in the street, you believe it."

Of course, there is an ancient story behind this idiom...

三人成虎 is actually a proverb that resulted from a conversation that occurred around 300 B.C.

The conversation was between the king of the Wei kingdom and one of the king's ministers named Pang Cong.

It was near the end of one of many wars, this time with the Zhao kingdom. Pang Cong was to be sent by the king to the Zhao kingdom with the king's son who was to be held hostage. It was common at the time for a king to make his son a hostage to secure stable peace between warring kingdoms.

Before minister Pang Cong departed, he asked his king, "If one person told you there was a tiger running in the street, would you believe it?."

"No," the king said.

The minister continued, "What if two people told you?"

The king replied, "Well, I would have my doubts but I might believe it."

The minister continued, "So, what if three people told you that there is a tiger running in the streets?"

The king replied, "Yes, I would believe it, it must be true if three people say it."

The minister then reminded the king, "Your son and I are now traveling far away to live in the distant Zhao kingdom - much farther from your palace than the street. Rumors may fly about me in my absence, so I hope your majesty will weight such rumors appropriately."

The king replied, "I have every trust in you, do not worry"

While the minister was gone, the king's enemies gossiped about minister Pang Cong on many occasions. At first, the king thought nothing of these comments and rumors. But slowly as the rumors mounted, the king began to suspect ill of his minister.

Some time later when peace was well-established, the minister and prince were freed and returned to the kingdom of Wei. The king received his son, BUT DID NOT EVEN SUMMON MINISTER PANG CONG TO THE PALACE!

Hopefully this story will help you see how dangerous words can be when used to promote rumors, or create ill will. And perhaps will inspire you to not believe everything you hear.

There is also a secondary suggestion in this idiom that gossip is as ferocious as a tiger. Some Chinese people who don't know the ancient story above may believe that this scroll means that rumors are as vicious as three tigers.

Note: This proverb appears in my Korean dictionary but is not well-known in Korea.

In Wine there is Truth

China jiǔ hòu tǔ zhēn yán
In Wine there is Truth Wall Scroll

酒后吐真言 / 酒後吐真言 is a nice Asian proverb if you know a vintner or wine seller - or wine lover - although the actual meaning might not be exactly what you think or hope.

The literal meaning is that someone drinking wine is more likely to let the truth slip out. It can also be translated as, "People speak their true feelings after drinking alcohol."

It's long-believed in many parts of Asia that one can not consciously hold up a facade of lies when getting drunk, and therefore the truth will come out with a few drinks.

I've had the experience where a Korean man would not trust me until I got drunk with him (I was trying to gain access to the black market in North Korea which is tough to do as an untrusted outsider) - so I think this idea is still well-practiced in many Asian countries.

后 VS 後

Please note that there are two common ways to write the second character of this phrase. The way it's written will be left up to the mood of the calligrapher, unless you let us know that you have a certain preference.


See Also:  Honesty | Truth

Unselfish: Perfectly Impartial

China dà gōng wú sī
Unselfish: Perfectly Impartial Wall Scroll

This Chinese proverb comes from an old story from some time before 476 BC. About a man named Qi Huangyang, who was commissioned by the king to select the best person for a certain job in the Imperial Court.

Qi Huangyang selected his enemy for the job. The king was very confused by the selection but Qi Huangyang explained that he was asked to find the best person for the job, not necessarily someone that he personally liked or had a friendship with.

Later, Confucius commented on how unselfish and impartial Qi Huangyang was by saying "Da Gong Wu Si" which if you look it up in a Chinese dictionary, is generally translated as "Unselfish" or "Just and Fair."

If you translate each character, you'd have something like,

"Big/Deep Justice Without Self."

Direct translations like this leave out a lot of what the Chinese characters really say. Use your imagination, and suddenly you realize that "without self" means "without thinking about yourself in the decision" - together, these two words mean "unselfish." The first two characters serve to really drive the point home that we are talking about a concept that is similar to "blind justice."

One of my Chinese-English dictionaries translates this simply as "just and fair." So that is the short and simple version.

Note: This can be pronounced in Korean but it's not a commonly used term.


See Also:  Selflessness | Work Unselfishly for the Common Good | Altruism

Wisdom comes from Experience

China bù jīng yī shì bù zhǎng yī zhì
Wisdom comes from Experience Wall Scroll

You can translate this Chinese proverb a couple of ways.
The first is: You cannot gain knowledge without practice.
The second, and perhaps more popular way is: Wisdom comes from experience.

It literally means if you are inattentive to your affairs or situations you encounter, you will not gain or grow any wisdom or intellect.

Wisdom comes from Experience

China bù jīng yī shì
Wisdom comes from Experience Wall Scroll

不經一事 means, "You can't gain knowledge without practical experience."

不經一事 is the short form (first half) of a longer Chinese proverb. These 4 characters remind you that wisdom only comes from experience.

Each Time You Stumble and Fall,
You Gain Experience and Wisdom

China chī yí qiàn, zhǎng yí zhì
Each Time You Stumble and Fall, / You Gain Experience and Wisdom Wall Scroll

This Chinese proverb means:

"Fall into a moat and you will gain wisdom from the experience"

It really suggests that the failures, troubles, frustrations, and setbacks that you encounter in your life are actually helping you to find wisdom. Some would also translate this proverb as:

"Learn from your mistakes" or "Learn from your experience."

If you are studying Chinese, you will recognize the first character as "eat" but in this case, it means to "experience" (as used in this proverb, it is suggesting that you have fallen into a moat and/or had a hard time crossing it).
Literally translated character by character, this whole proverb is:

"Experience one moat, gain one wisdom/knowledge."

Note: This can be pronounced in Korean but it's not a commonly used phrase.

Work Unselfishly for the Common Good

China kè jǐ fèng gōng
Work Unselfishly for the Common Good Wall Scroll

This can also mean: "Place Strict Standards on Oneself in Public Service."
This Chinese proverb is often used to express how one should act as a government official. Most of us wish our public officials would hold themselves to higher standards. I wish I could send this scroll, along with the meaning to every member of Congress, and the President (or if I was from the UK, all the members of Parliament, and the PM)

The story behind this ancient Chinese idiom:
A man named Cai Zun was born in China a little over 2000 years ago. In 24 AD, he joined an uprising led by Liu Xiu who later became the emperor of the Eastern Han Dynasty.

Later, the new emperor put Cai Zun in charge of the military court. Cai Zun exercised his power in strict accordance with military law, regardless of the offender's rank or background. He even ordered the execution of one of the emperor's close servants after the servant committed a serious crime.

Cai Zun led a simple life but put great demands on himself to do all things in an honorable way. The emperor rewarded him for his honest character and honorable nature by promoting him to the rank of General and granting him the title of Marquis.

Whenever Cai Zun would receive an award, he would give credit to his men and share the reward with them.
Cai Zun was always praised by historians who found many examples of his selfless acts that served the public interest.
Sometime, long ago in history, people began to refer to Cai Zun as "ke ji feng gong."


See Also:  Unselfish | Selflessness | Altruism


The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Better to be Happy than Rich 安貧樂道
安贫乐道
ān pín lè dào
an1 pin2 le4 dao4
an pin le dao
anpinledao
an p`in le tao
anpinletao
an pin le tao
The Five Tenets of Confucius 仁義禮智信
仁义礼智信
jin gi rei tomo nobu
jingireitomonobu
rén yì lǐ zhì xìn
ren2 yi4 li3 zhi4 xin4
ren yi li zhi xin
renyilizhixin
jen i li chih hsin
jenilichihhsin
Confucius: Golden Rule
Ethic of Reciprocity
己所不欲勿施於人
己所不欲勿施于人
jǐ suǒ bú yù wù shī yú rén
ji3 suo3 bu2 yu4, wu4 shi1 yu2 ren2
ji suo bu yu, wu shi yu ren
jisuobuyu,wushiyuren
chi so pu yü, wu shih yü jen
chisopuyü,wushihyüjen
The Foundation of Good Conduct 誌于道據于德依于仁遊于藝
志于道据于德依于仁游于艺
zhì yú dào jù yú dé yī yú rén yóu yú yì
zhi4 yu2 dao4 ju4 yu2 de2 yi1 yu2 ren2 you2 yu2 yi4
zhi yu dao ju yu de yi yu ren you yu yi
chih yü tao chü yü te i yü jen yu yü i
Confucius: Universal Education 自行束脩以上吾未嘗無誨焉 (note 嘗 = 嚐)
自行束脩以上吾未尝无诲焉
zì xíng shù xiū yǐ shàng wú wèi cháng wú huì yān
zi4 xing2 shu4 xiu1 yi3 shang4 wu2 wei4 chang2 wu2 hui4 yan1
zi xing shu xiu yi shang wu wei chang wu hui yan
tzu hsing shu hsiu i shang wu wei ch`ang wu hui yen
tzu hsing shu hsiu i shang wu wei chang wu hui yen
Unbridled Creativity 不拘一格bù jū yī gé
bu4 ju1 yi1 ge2
bu ju yi ge
bujuyige
pu chü i ko
puchüiko
Daodejing
Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33
知人者知也自知者明也勝人者有力也自勝者強也知足者富也強行者有志也不失其所者久也死而不亡者壽也
知人者知也自知者明也胜人者有力也自胜者强也知足者富也强行者有志也不失其所者久也死而不亡者寿也
zhī rén zhě zhī yě zì zhī zhě míng yě shèng rén zhě yǒu lì yě zì shèng zhě qiáng yě zhī zú zhě fù yě qiáng xíng zhě yǒu zhì yě bù zhī qí suǒ zhě jiǔ yě sǐ ér bù wáng zhě shòu yě
zhi1 ren2 zhe3 zhi1 ye3 zi4 zhi1 zhe3 ming2 ye3 sheng4 ren2 zhe3 you3 li4 ye3 zi4 sheng4 zhe3 qiang2 ye3 zhi1 zu2 zhe3 fu4 ye3 qiang2 xing2 zhe3 you3 zhi4 ye3 bu4 zhi1 qi2 suo3 zhe3 jiu3 ye3 si3 er2 bu4 wang2 zhe3 shou4 ye3
zhi ren zhe zhi ye zi zhi zhe ming ye sheng ren zhe you li ye zi sheng zhe qiang ye zhi zu zhe fu ye qiang xing zhe you zhi ye bu zhi qi suo zhe jiu ye si er bu wang zhe shou ye
chih jen che chih yeh tzu chih che ming yeh sheng jen che yu li yeh tzu sheng che ch`iang yeh chih tsu che fu yeh ch`iang hsing che yu chih yeh pu chih ch`i so che chiu yeh ssu erh pu wang che shou yeh
chih jen che chih yeh tzu chih che ming yeh sheng jen che yu li yeh tzu sheng che chiang yeh chih tsu che fu yeh chiang hsing che yu chih yeh pu chih chi so che chiu yeh ssu erh pu wang che shou yeh
Daodejing
Tao Te Ching
一曰慈二曰儉三曰不敢為天下先
一曰慈二曰俭三曰不敢为天下先
yī yuē cí èr yuē jiǎn sān yuē bù gǎn wéi tiān xià xiān
yi1 yue1 ci2 er4 yue1 jian3 san1 yue1 bu4 gan3 wei2 tian1 xia4 xian1
yi yue ci er yue jian san yue bu gan wei tian xia xian
i yüeh tz`u erh yüeh chien san yüeh pu kan wei t`ien hsia hsien
i yüeh tzu erh yüeh chien san yüeh pu kan wei tien hsia hsien
Drinking the water of a well, one should never forget who dug it 吃水不忘掘井人chī shuǐ bú wàng jué jǐng rén
chi1 shui3 bu2 wang4 jue2 jing3 ren2
chi shui bu wang jue jing ren
chishuibuwangjuejingren
ch`ih shui pu wang chüeh ching jen
chih shui pu wang chüeh ching jen
Learning is Eternal 學無止境
学无止境
xué wú zhǐ jìng
xue2 wu2 zhi3 jing4
xue wu zhi jing
xuewuzhijing
hsüeh wu chih ching
hsüehwuchihching
In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.


A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

The wall scroll that Sandy is holding in this picture is a "large size"
single-character wall scroll.
We also offer custom wall scrolls in small, medium, and an even-larger jumbo size.

A professional Chinese Calligrapher

Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.

There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.

A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.