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Creature in Chinese / Japanese...

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Start your custom "Creature" project by clicking the button next to your favorite "Creature" title below...

  1. Kirin / Giraffe / Mythical Creature
  2. Every Creature Has A Domain
  3. Crane
  4. Kaiju
  5. Unicorn
  6. Kun
  7. Griffin / Gryphon
  8. Legendary Turtle
  9. Dragon
10. Tengu
11. Ox / Bull / Cow
12. Crisis equals Danger plus Opportunity?

Kirin / Giraffe / Mythical Creature

China qí lǐn
HK keilun
Japan kirin
Kirin / Giraffe / Mythical Creature

麒麟 is the title of a mythical beast of Asia.

The animal is thought to be related to the giraffe, and in some ways, it is a giraffe. However, it is often depicted with the horns of a dragon or deer and sometimes with the body like a horse but many variations exist.

In Japanese it is pronounced "Kirin" as in "Kirin Ichiban" beer.

Kirin - Mythical Beast and Great Japanese Beer!
Notes:

1. 麒麟 is sometimes spelled as "kylin".

2. In Japanese, this is the only Kanji word for giraffe. Therefore in Japan, this word needs context to know whether you are talking about the mythical creature or the long-necked giraffe of Africa.

3. Apparently, this was the first word used for regular giraffes in China (some were brought from Africa to China during the Ming Dynasty - probably around the year 1400). Though the mythical creature may have existed before, the name "qilin" was given to the "new giraffe". 麒麟 is because, more than 600 years ago, giraffes somewhat matched the mythical creature's description when Chinese people saw them for the first time. Later, to avoid such an ambiguous title, a three-character word was devised to mean a "giraffe of Africa". The characters for "qilin" shown here are only for the mythological version in modern Chinese.

4. More information about the qilin / kirin from Wikipedia.

5. This creature is sometimes translated as the "Chinese Unicorn", even though it is generally portrayed with two horns. I think this is done more for the fantasy aspect of the unicorn and because most westerners don't know what a qilin or kirin is (this avoids a long explanation by the translator).

6. In Korean, this can mean kirin or simply giraffe (usually the mythological creature is what they would think of when seeing these characters alone on a wall scroll).

Every Creature Has A Domain

China hǎi wéi lóng shì jiè yún shì hè jiā xiāng
Every Creature Has A Domain

Every Creature has a Domain The first line (which is the column on the right) says, "The Ocean is the World of the Dragon." The next column says, "The Clouds are the Domain of the Cranes."

This is a somewhat poetic way to say that everyone and everything has its place in the world.

The image to the right is what this calligraphy can look like in xing-kaishu style by Master Calligrapher Xing An-Ping.

Crane

Graceful bird of longevity
China
Japan gaku / tsuru
Crane

鶴 is a famous bird of China. Known in China to be a very spiritual creature, the crane is a symbol of both longevity, and the journey of souls and spirits of ancestors.

Note: 鶴 can mean crane or stork in Japanese.

Kaiju

Japan kaijuu
Kaiju

怪獣 is a Japanese word for monster or "strange creature."

This usually refers to a genre of tokusatsu films. These films feature monsters that often attack Tokyo or fight with other monsters. The most internationally-famous of these is the Godzilla franchise of movies.

Unicorn

China dú jiǎo shòu
Unicorn

獨角獸 is the Chinese name for the western unicorn (a horse with a spiral horn emerging from the head).

獨角獸 is an unusual title for a Chinese wall scroll but it's OK if you really love unicorns.

Chinese have their own ancient unicorn-like creature called a "qilin" (or kirin in Japanese).

Unicorn

Japan ikkakujuu
Unicorn

一角獣 is the Japanese name for the western unicorn (a horse with a spiral horn emerging from the head). This can also refer to a narwhal depending on context.

一角獣 is an unusual title for a Japanese wall scroll but it's OK if you really love unicorns.

Japanese have their own ancient unicorn-like creature called a "kirin" (or qilin in the original Chinese).

Kun

Sea Creature
China kūn
Japan kon
Kun

A 鲲 (Kun) is a famous sea monster, often associated or used interchangeably with a 鵬 (Peng).

鯤 is comparable to Leviathan or Jonah's whale.

In Chinese mythology, the Kun is a giant fish said to be able to turn into a bird.

鯤 and the mythological creature is also known in Japanese and Korean. However, in some context, this character can refer to fry (fish babies).

Griffin / Gryphon

China yīng tóu shī
Griffin / Gryphon

Griffin 鷹頭獅 is the Chinese title for a Griffin.

This refers to the legendary creature with the head, talons, and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. Sometimes also spelled Gryphon or Griffon. From the Greek γρύφων or γρύπων, or Latin Gryphus.

This Chinese title, 鷹頭獅, literally means, "Eagle Head Lion."

Legendary Turtle

China áo
Legendary Turtle

鼇 means "legendary turtle" in Chinese. 鼇 is a great mythological turtle that travels the seas. The creature is comparable to the dragon of China, however, it so happens that dragons became a bit more famous as history progressed. In modern Chinese, this character can just refer to a large sea turtle.

Note: 鼇 can be pronounced in Korean but this is a very rare Korean Hanja form - it hasn't been used in Korea for at least a few hundred years (even before they switched to Hangul characters).

Dragon

Year of the Dragon / Zodiac Sign
China lóng
Japan ryuu / tatsu
Dragon

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."


See also our Chinese Zodiac or Dragon Calligraphy pages.

Tengu

China tiān gǒu
Japan ten gu
Tengu

天狗 is the Japanese title for Tengu, which roughly translates as, "heavenly dog."

Tengu are a type of legendary creature found in Japanese folk religion and are also considered a type of Shinto god (kami) or yōkai (supernatural beings).

The origin is Chinese, though this term is seldom used in Chinese any more. It was a dog-like Chinese demon (Tiangou)

Although the title contains the word "dog," the tengu are often depicted with human and bird-like characteristics. Sometimes they have large noses or beaks like birds.

Ox / Bull / Cow

Year of the Ox / Bull - Zodiac Sign
China niú
Japan ushi
Ox  /  Bull / Cow

牛 is the character for bull, cow, ox, or bovine creature in Chinese, old Korean, and Japanese.

If you were born in the year of the ox / bull / cow, you . . .

Are dedicated to your work.
Are discrete, careful and conscientious.
Value work and family.

Note that in this Chinese character, there is no distinction between bull and cow. All bovine creatures fit into the definition of this character. To distinguish between male and female, another sex-designating character is added in front of this character. Therefore, in China, the energy drink "Red Bull" (Hong Niu) is often translated in the minds of Chinese people as "Red Cow" or even "Red Ox."


See also our Chinese Zodiac page.

Crisis equals Danger plus Opportunity?

China wēi jī
Japan kiki
Crisis equals Danger plus Opportunity?

Separately, the first character here does mean "danger" or "to endanger" and the second character can mean "opportunity."

However, I want to debunk a myth that was propagated by some westerners who did not have a clear understanding of Asian languages...

While often, Chinese/Japanese/Korean compound words (words of two or more characters) are the sum of their parts, this is not always the case. The compound is often understood with a completely different meaning than the two characters individually.

Many have said that the Chinese/Japanese/Korean word for Crisis is made up of the characters for "danger" and "opportunity." 危機 is true when phrased this way.
However, it's not absolutely correct to say that "danger + opportunity = crisis" in Asian cultures.

English example:
If I tell you that...
Bovine creature + Guy behind the plate in baseball = Locomotive protection
...you would think I was mad. But consider that "cow + catcher = cowcatcher," which is the device that used to be found on steam engines to protect them if they hit an animal on the tracks. When we hear the word "cowcatcher" we don't separate the words into their individual meanings (necessarily).
The same is true with the word for crisis in Chinese/Japanese/Korean. While you can separate the characters, few Asian people would automatically do so in their minds.

The final answer:
It is a half-truth to say, "danger plus opportunity equals crisis" in Chinese/Japanese/Korean. Use this statement and concept with caution.

Also, the second character can mean "secret" or "machine" depending on context so I guess you have to say "a dangerous machine = crisis" or "danger + a secret = crisis." Both of these are only slightly more ridiculous than the first premise.

PS: 危機 is probably not a great word for a scroll, unless you have a special use for it.

Search for Creature in my Japanese & Chinese Dictionary




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

Title CharactersRomaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Kirin
Giraffe
Mythical Creature
麒麟kirinqí lǐn / qi2 lin3 / qi lin / qilinch`i lin / chilin / chi lin
Every Creature Has A Domain海為龍世界雲是鶴家鄉
海为龙世界云是鹤家乡
hǎi wéi lóng shì jiè yún shì hè jiā xiāng
hai3 wei2 long2 shi4 jie4 yun2 shi4 he4 jia1 xiang1
hai wei long shi jie yun shi he jia xiang
hai wei lung shih chieh yün shih ho chia hsiang
Crane
gaku / tsuruhè / he4 / heho
Kaiju怪獣kaijuu / kaiju
Unicorn獨角獸
独角兽
dú jiǎo shòu
du2 jiao3 shou4
du jiao shou
dujiaoshou
tu chiao shou
tuchiaoshou
Unicorn一角獣ikkakujuu / ikakuju
Kun
konkūn / kun1 / kunk`un / kun
Griffin
Gryphon
鷹頭獅
鹰头狮
yīng tóu shī
ying1 tou2 shi1
ying tou shi
yingtoushi
ying t`ou shih
yingtoushih
ying tou shih
Legendary Turtleáo / ao2 / ao
Dragon
ryuu / tatsu
ryu / tatsu
ryu/tatsu
lóng / long2 / longlung
Tengu天狗ten gu / tengutiān gǒu / tian1 gou3 / tian gou / tiangout`ien kou / tienkou / tien kou
Ox
Bull
Cow
ushiniú / niu2 / niu
Crisis equals Danger plus Opportunity?危機
危机
kikiwēi jī / wei1 ji1 / wei ji / weijiwei chi / weichi
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.



Successful Chinese Character and Japanese Kanji calligraphy searches within the last few hours...

Aiki Jujutsu
Archangel
Aster
Berserk
Bushido
Christ
Create
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Energy
Enlighten
Enlightened
Faith in God
Family
Father
Fortune
Heart of a Warrior
House
Iaido
Jesus
Keep Fighting
Kung Fu
Love
Loyalty
Mind Body Soul Spirit
Mind Body Spirit
Mother
Mushin
Music
Overcome
Pleasure
Protector
Rain
Rebirth
Right Intention
Rooster
Samurai
Strength
Strength of Spirit
Strong Heart
The Red String
The Way
The Way of the Warrior
Thunder Lightning in Kanji
Trust in God
Trust No Man
Victory
Wedding
White
Wing Chun
Winter
Wolf
Yin Yang

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.


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.


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 Creature Kanji, Creature Characters, Creature in Mandarin Chinese, Creature Characters, Creature in Chinese Writing, Creature in Japanese Writing, Creature in Asian Writing, Creature Ideograms, Chinese Creature symbols, Creature Hieroglyphics, Creature Glyphs, Creature in Chinese Letters, Creature Hanzi, Creature in Japanese Kanji, Creature Pictograms, Creature in the Chinese Written-Language, or Creature in the Japanese Written-Language.