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水 is the symbol for water in Japanese and Chinese.
Water is one of the five elements that ancient Chinese believed all things were composed of. These elements are also part of the cycle of Chinese astrology. Every person has both an animal sign, and one of the five elements according to the date of their birth. See also Five Elements and Chinese 12 Animals / Zodiac.
若水 is part of a very old saying from Lao Tzu. It these two characters, there is a suggestion to be like water. The full phrase is about the goodness and purity of water. So, when this suggests being like water, it is actually a suggestion to be a good person (one who does not dishonor himself/herself etc).
水球 is the Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja title for water polo.
The literal meaning of the characters is "water ball".
象水一樣 is a short quote from a much longer statement by Bruce Lee.
He was summarizing how people should be flexible to all circumstances, attacks, or situations. At the end, he exclaims, "Be like water my friend." 象水一樣 is the, "Be like water" part alone, since that seems to be what most people want.
水の心 is the Japanese Buddhist and martial arts phrase, "mizu no kokoro," which means, "mind like water" or "heart of water."
The phrase is a metaphor describing the pond that clearly reflects it's surroundings when calm but whose images are obscured once a pebble is dropped into its waters.
杯水車薪 is a warning against a futile effort. This proverb literally refers to one who is "trying to put out a burning cart of wood with a cup of water," or "throw a cup of water on a cartload of wood." The lesson to be learned is about using the right measure or tool for the job, and not to waste your effort if you are inadequately equipped for the task at hand - in other words the postscript should be "go get a bucket or a fire hose."
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.
風水 is the famous technique and approach to arranging your home externally around natural features, and internally to create balance and peace.
These two characters literally mean "wind water." Obviously, the title is far more simple than the concept behind this subject.
It may enlighten you slightly to know that the character for "wind" can also mean "style," "custom" or "manner" in some context. This may apply somewhat to this title.
In a very technical sense, this title is translated as "Chinese geomancy."
川 means river or stream in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
In Japanese, this can be a surname when pronounced as Sakigawa.
金木水火土 is a list of the Chinese characters for the five elements in a comfortable order (meaning that they simply "feel right" to a Chinese person who views this arrangement).
The order is metal, wood, water, fire, earth.
Note that sometimes the metal element is translated as gold. And earth refers to soil versus the whole planet earth.
江 means large river in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja. This generally refers to a river big enough that it's navigable by cargo boats, passenger boats, or small ships.
In Japanese, this can be a surname when pronounced as Minkou or just Kou.
地水火風空 is the specifically-Japanese version of the five elements. 地水火風空 is a little different than the ancient or original Chinese version.
The elements are written in this order:
1. Earth / Terra / Ground
4. Wind / Air
5. Sky / Emptiness / Void / Ether
Note: This set of Kanji can also be romanized as "ji sui ka fuu kuu," "jisuikafuukuu," or "jisuikafuku."
These can also be written in the order 地火風水空 (chi ka sui fuu kuu). Let me know when you place your order if you want the Kanji to be in this character order.
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.
This title for water dragon is the hornless or scaled dragon. 蛟龍 is the king of all aquatic animals with the ability to control rain and floods.
In Japanese, the rain dragon can represent hidden genius. This dragon's domain is the deep murky water, thus with hidden potential. This can also be the Japanese given name Kouryuu.
五行 is the title of the five elements which are: wood, fire, water, earth, and metal.
The first character means "5" and the second character is simply "elements."
According to ancient Chinese science, all matter in the world is made up of these elements. One idea presented with the five elements is that when energy is added, matter is believed to expand. When energy is removed, matter contracts. Oddly, this concept is not far from Einstein's theories, and modern science. Just a few thousand years before Einstein.
More info: Wikipedia - Five Elements (Wu Xing).
冰 is the Chinese character used to express "ice" or "frost."
The main part of the character on the right holds the meaning of "water" and on the left, is a radical (the two dots) that also means water. Together, they create the character that means "ice" (solid water).
This is similar to the character for frost in Japanese. However, Japanese drop the radical from the left side.
水に流す is a Japanese proverb which suggests that "water continues to flow." It's similar to our English phrase, "Water under the bridge." The perceived meaning is, "Forgive and forget."
I have also seen this translated as, "Don't cry over spilled milk."
Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.
大洋 is a rarely-used word for ocean in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. 大洋 is here mostly for reference - please order a different ocean for your custom calligraphy wall scroll.
The first character means "big" or "great."
The second means "ocean" or "body of water" (it can sometimes mean "foreign" but not in this case).
The first character designates that you are talking about a great or huge body of water (certainly a major ocean and not a smaller sea).
This Chinese military proverb means, counter soldiers with arms, and counter water with an earthen dam.
This is about how different situations call for different action. You must adopt measures appropriate to the actual situation.
To explain the actual proverb, one would not attack a flood of water with gunfire, nor would you counter-attack soldiers by building an earth weir. You must be adaptable and counter whatever threatens with relevant action.
In Buddhism, this is mahābhūta, the four elements of which all things are made: earth, water, fire, and wind.
This can also represent the four freedoms: speaking out freely, airing views fully, holding great debates, and writing big-character posters.
In some context, this can be a university or college offering four-year programs.
To others, this can represent the Tao, Heaven, Earth and King.
Going back to the Buddhist context, these four elements "earth, water, fire, and wind" represent 堅, 濕, 煖, 動, which is: solid, liquid, heat, and motion.
清 means clarity or clear in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja. Looking at the parts of this character, you have three splashes of water on the left, "life" on the top right, and the moon on the lower right.
Because of something Confucius said about 2500 years ago, you can imagine that this character means "live life with clarity like bright moonlight piercing pure water." The Confucian idea is something like "Keep clear what is pure in yourself, and let your pure nature show through." Kind of like saying, "Don't pollute your mind or body, so that they remain clear."
This might be stretching the definition of this single Chinese character but the elements are there, and "clarity" is a powerful idea.
Korean note: Korean pronunciation is given above but this character is written with a slight difference in the "moon radical" in Korean. However, anyone who can read Korean Hanja, will understand this character with no problem (this is considered an alternate form in Korean). If you want the more standard Korean Hanja form (which is an alternate form in Chinese), just let me know.
Japanese note: When reading in Japanese, this Kanji has additional meanings of pure, purify, or cleanse (sometimes to remove demons or "exorcise"). Used more in compound words in Japanese than as a stand-alone Kanji.
水星 is title for the planet Mercury in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
The literal meaning is "water star." This title has been used to refer to Mercury in much of Asia for the past 2200 years or longer.
漫瀾 is the Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja for, "Having no boundaries or limitations."
This literally talks of the vastness of an ocean or river.
漫 = free; unrestrained; to inundate; overflowing; boundless.
澜 = swelling water; large wave.
地水火風 is a Buddhist term that means "earth, water, fire, wind." 地水火風 is often just referred to as "the four elements." There is a more common title (the five elements) which adds wood to the mix. These four elements are used in some sects of Japanese Buddhism (not so much in Chinese).
湖 is lake in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
湖 is used in place names (like Lake Huron) and as a descriptive term for any large body of fresh water.
In Japanese, this can also be the female given name Reiku.
If your surname is Lake, this could be a good character for you.
朱龍 is a sophisticated or scholarly way to say, "Red Dragon." 朱龍 is the title you'd expect in ancient Chinese literature.
The first character means red, cinnabar, or vermillion.
The second character means dragon.
It is said that the Vermillion Dragon represents kings that bestow blessings on lakes or bodies of water. This makes more sense in an ancient Chinese context.
This literally translates as: Troops/soldiers/warriors have no fixed [battlefield] strategy [just as] water has no constant shape [but adapts itself to whatever container it is in].
Figuratively, this means: One should seek to find whatever strategy or method is best suited to resolving each individual problem.
This proverb is about as close as you can get to the military idea of "adapt improvise overcome." This is best way to express that idea in both an ancient way, and a very natural way in Chinese.
龍 is the character for dragon in Chinese, old Korean Hanja, and Japanese Kanji.
The dragon is the creature of myth and legend that dominates Chinese, Japanese, and even European folklore. In China, the dragon is the symbol of the Emperor, strength and power, and the Chinese dragon is known as the god of water.
From the Chinese Zodiac, if you were born in the year of the Dragon, you . . .
Have a strong body and spirit.
Are full of energy.
Have vast goals.
Have a deep level of self-awareness.
Will do whatever you can to "save face."
When reading an account of some battles in China, I came across this Chinese word. As it turns out, it's only used in military circles to describe neat, orderly, and well-disciplined troops. Perhaps this is actually closer to the meaning I was taught while in the U.S. Marines.
The first character literally means stern, serious, strict, or severe (it can also mean "air tight" or "water tight."
The second character means exact, in good order, whole, complete, and orderly.
Together, these two characters multiply each other into a word that expresses the highest military level of discipline.
This comes from the Sanskrit and Pali word often romanized as "tathata" or "tathatā." Originally written, "तथता."
It's a Buddhist term that is often translated as "thusness" or "suchness" but this does not explain it.
A better explanation may be, "the ultimate nature of all things." However, this gives it too strong of a feeling. This concept is sometimes described as being in awe of the simple nature of something - like a blade of grass blowing in the wind, or ripples on water. It is what it is supposed to be, these things are following their nature. Amazing in their mundane simplicity.
Every sect of Buddhism will have a slightly different flavor, or explanation, so don't get fixated on one definition.
Notes: Sometimes Buddhists use the word dharmatā, a synonym to tathatā.
In Japan, this can also be the female given name Mayuki, or the surname Majo.
This demon title comes from the ancient Sanskrit word Asura.
阿修羅 is often used in Buddhism when describing various demons. Sometimes defined as "Fighting and battling giant demon."
In the context of Buddhism: This title originally meant a spirit, spirits, or even the gods (perhaps before 1700 years ago). It now generally indicates titanic demons, enemies of the gods, with whom, especially Indra, they wage constant war. They are defined as "not devas," and "ugly," and "without wine." There are four classes of asuras, separated according to their manner of rebirth. They can be egg-born, womb-born, transformation-born, and spawn- or water-born. Their abode is in the ocean, north of Sumeru but certain of the weaker dwell in a western mountain cave. They have realms, rulers, and palaces, as have the devas.
In terms of power, Asuras rank above humans but below most of the other deities. They live in the area near the coastal foot of Mount Sumeru (on the northern side). Their domain is partially or wholly in the ocean.
In Japanese, this word means innocent, or one with no knowledge of good and evil. It literally means "without mind."
無心 is one of the five spirits of the warrior (budo), and is often used as a Japanese martial arts tenet. Under that context, places such as the Budo Dojo define it this way: "No mind, a mind without ego. A mind like a mirror which reflects and dos not judge." The original term was "mushin no shin," meaning, "mind of no mind." It is a state of mind without fear, anger, or anxiety. Mushin is often described by the phrase, "mizu no kokoro," which means, "mind like water." The phrase is a metaphor describing the pond that clearly reflects it's surroundings when calm but whose images are obscured once a pebble is dropped into its waters.
This has a good meaning in conjunction with Chan / Zen Buddhism in Japan. However, out of that context, it means mindlessness or absent-minded. To non-Buddhists in China, this is associated with doing something without thinking.
In Korean, this usually means indifference.
Use caution and know your audience before ordering this selection.
More info: Wikipedia: Mushin
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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji(Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|Water||水||mizu / sui||shuǐ / shui3 / shui|
|Ultimate Goodness of Water||上善若水||shàng shàn ruò shuǐ|
shang4 shan4 ruo4 shui3
shang shan ruo shui
|shang shan jo shui
|Be Like Water||若水||ruò shuǐ / ruo4 shui3 / ruo shui / ruoshui||jo shui / joshui|
|Water Polo||水球||sui kyuu / suikyuu / sui kyu / suikyu||shuǐ qiú / shui3 qiu2 / shui qiu / shuiqiu||shui ch`iu / shuichiu / shui chiu|
|Be Like Water||象水一樣|
|xiàng shuǐ yí yàng|
xiang4 shui3 yi2 yang4
xiang shui yi yang
|hsiang shui i yang
|Mind Like Water||水の心||mizu no kokoro|
|Water Tiger||水虎||sui ko / suiko||shuǐ hǔ / shui3 hu3 / shui hu / shuihu|
|Fire and Water Have No Mercy||水火無情|
|shuǐ huǒ wú qíng|
shui3 huo3 wu2 qing2
shui huo wu qing
|shui huo wu ch`ing
shui huo wu ching
|Put out a burning wood cart|
with a cup of water
|bēi shuǐ chē xīn|
bei1 shui3 che1 xin1
bei shui che xin
|pei shui ch`e hsin
pei shui che hsin
|Not Only Can Water Float A Boat, It Can Sink It Also||水能載舟亦能覆舟|
|shuǐ néng zài zhōu yì néng fù zhōu|
shui3 neng2 zai4 zhou1 yi4 neng2 fu4 zhou1
shui neng zai zhou yi neng fu zhou
|shui neng tsai chou i neng fu chou|
|fuu sui / fuusui / fu sui / fusui||fēng shuǐ|
|River||川||kawa||chuān / chuan1 / chuan||ch`uan / chuan|
|Five Elements||金木水火土||jīn mù shuǐ huǒ tǔ|
jin1 mu4 shui3 huo3 tu3
jin mu shui huo tu
|chin mu shui huo t`u
chin mu shui huo tu
|Large River||江||kou / ko||jiāng / jiang1 / jiang||chiang|
|chi sui ka fuu kuu|
chi sui ka fu ku
|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
|ch`ih shui pu wang chüeh ching jen
chih shui pu wang chüeh ching jen
|kou ryuu / kouryuu / ko ryu / koryu||jiāo|
|han ryuu / hanryuu / han ryu / hanryu||pān lóng / pan1 long2 / pan long / panlong||p`an lung / panlung / pan lung|
|Five Elements||五行||gogyou / gogyo||wǔ xíng / wu3 xing2 / wu xing / wuxing||wu hsing / wuhsing|
|Rain||雨||ame||yǔ / yu3 / yu||yü|
|冰||bīng / bing1 / bing||ping|
|Forgive and Forget||水に流す||mizu ni naga su|
|Great Sea||大洋||tai you / taiyou / tai yo / taiyo||dà yáng / da4 yang2 / da yang / dayang||ta yang / tayang|
|Soldiers Adapt Actions to the Situation||兵來將擋水來土掩|
|bīng lái jiàng dǎng shuǐ lái tǔ yǎn|
bing1 lai2 jiang4 dang3 shui3 lai2 tu3 yan3
bing lai jiang dang shui lai tu yan
|ping lai chiang tang shui lai t`u yen
ping lai chiang tang shui lai tu yen
|四大||shi dai / shidai||sì dà / si4 da4 / si da / sida||ssu ta / ssuta|
|lǜ zhōu / lv4 zhou1 / lv zhou / lvzhou||lü chou / lüchou|
|Aquarius Zodiac Symbol|
|水瓶座||mizugame-za||shuǐ píng zuò|
shui3 ping2 zuo4
shui ping zuo
|shui p`ing tso
shui ping tso
|Clarity||清||sei||qīng / qing1 / qing||ch`ing / ching|
|Mercury||水星||sui shou / suishou / sui sho / suisho||shuǐ xīng|
|Enlisted Sailor||水兵||suihei||shuǐ bīng|
|man ran / manran||màn lán / man4 lan2 / man lan / manlan|
|dì shuǐ huǒ fēng|
di4 shui3 huo3 feng1
di shui huo feng
|ti shui huo feng
|Lake||湖||mizumi||hú / hu2 / hu|
|zhū lóng / zhu1 long2 / zhu long / zhulong||chu lung / chulung|
|Warriors Adapt and Overcome||兵無常勢水無常形|
|bīng wú cháng shì shuǐ wú cháng xíng|
bing1 wu2 chang2 shi4 shui3 wu2 chang2 xing2
bing wu chang shi shui wu chang xing
|ping wu ch`ang shih shui wu ch`ang hsing
ping wu chang shih shui wu chang hsing
|ryuu / tatsu|
ryu / tatsu
|lóng / long2 / long||lung|
Ultimate Nature of All Things
|真如||shinnyo||zhēn rú / zhen1 ru2 / zhen ru / zhenru||chen ju / chenju|
|ashura||ē xiū luó|
e1 xiu1 luo2
e xiu luo
|o hsiu lo
|mu shin / mushin||wú xīn / wu2 xin1 / wu xin / wuxin||wu hsin / wuhsin|
|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.
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All of our calligraphy wall scrolls are handmade.
When the calligrapher finishes creating your artwork, it is taken to my art mounting workshop in Beijing where a wall scroll is made by hand from a combination of silk, rice paper, and wood.
After we create your wall scroll, it takes at least two weeks for air mail delivery from Beijing to you.
Allow a few weeks for delivery. Rush service speeds it up by a week or two for $10!
When you select your calligraphy, you'll be taken to another page where you can choose various custom options.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Check out my lists of Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls and Old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.
Some people may refer to this entry as Be Water Kanji, Be Water Characters, Be Water in Mandarin Chinese, Be Water Characters, Be Water in Chinese Writing, Be Water in Japanese Writing, Be Water in Asian Writing, Be Water Ideograms, Chinese Be Water symbols, Be Water Hieroglyphics, Be Water Glyphs, Be Water in Chinese Letters, Be Water Hanzi, Be Water in Japanese Kanji, Be Water Pictograms, Be Water in the Chinese Written-Language, or Be Water in the Japanese Written-Language.