Asian Art Gallery

Adventures in Asian Art



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Elements in Chinese / Japanese...

Buy an Elements calligraphy wall scroll here!

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

Quick links to words on this page...

  1. Five Elements
  2. Wood
  3. Water
  4. Earth
  5. Gold / Metal
  6. Four Elements
  7. Five Elements
  8. Five Elements Tai Chi Fist
  9. Sky / Air / Ether / Space
10. Sky / Ether / Void / Emptiness / Unreality
11. Fire
12. Earth


Five Elements

China wǔ xíng
Japan gogyou
knob
ribbon top
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This 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).


See Also...  Wood | Fire | Water | Earth | Metal

Wood

(One of the five elements)
China
Japan ki
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This is the symbol for wood in Japanese, Korean and Chinese. This can sometimes mean "tree" depending on context. In fact, the character comes from a pictogram that is supposed to resemble a tree.


Wood 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.

Water

(One of the five elements)
China shuǐ
Japan mizu
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This 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.

Earth

(One of the five elements)
China
Japan tsuchi
knob
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This is earth, soil, ground or Terra.


Earth 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.

Gold / Metal

(One of the five elements)
China jīn
Japan kin
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This is the symbol for metal (often means gold or money) in Chinese, Korean and Japanese.

In an interesting twist, in Japanese, this Kanji can also mean "Friday". I guess Friday is "the golden day" in Japan.


Gold / Metal 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.

Four Elements

Buddhist Term
China dì shuǐ huǒ fēng
Japan chisuikafuu
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This is a Buddhist term that means "earth, water, fire, wind". This 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).

Five Elements

Japanese
Japan chi sui ka fuu kuu
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This is the specifically-Japanese version of the five elements. This is a little different than the ancient or original Chinese version.

The elements are written in this order:
1. Earth / Terra / Ground
2. Water
3. Fire
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.

Five Elements

China jīn mù shuǐ huǒ tǔ
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This 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.

Five Elements Tai Chi Fist

China wǔ xíng tài jí quán
Japan go gyou tai kyoku ken
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This is a certain school or style of Tai Chi (Taiji). The characters literally mean "Five Elements Tai Chi Fist".

Notes:
In Taiwan, it would be Romanized as "Wu Hsing Tai Chi Chuan" - see the standard Mandarin method above in the gray box (used in mainland China and the official Romanization used by the Library of Congress).

The last three characters are sometimes translated as "Grand Ultimate Fist", so the whole thing can be "Five Elements Grand Ultimate Fist" if you wish.

I have not confirmed use of this title in Korean, but if it is used, it's probably only by martial arts enthusiasts. The pronunciation is correct as shown above for Korean.

Sky / Air / Ether / Space

China tiān kōng
Japan ten kuu
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This means sky in most context, but it can also refer to air, space, the heavens, or ether.

Sky / Ether / Void / Emptiness / Unreality

(Used in Japanese version of five elements)
China kōng
Japan kuu / kara / sora / ron
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This single character means empty, void, hollow, vacant, vacuum, blank, nonexistent, vacuity, voidness, emptiness, non-existence, immateriality, unreality, the false or illusory nature of all existence, being unreal.

In Buddhist context, this relates to the doctrine that all phenomena and the ego have no reality, but are composed of a certain number of skandhas or elements, which disintegrate. The void, the sky, space. The universal, the absolute, complete abstraction without relativity. The doctrine further explains that all things are compounds, or unstable organisms, possessing no self-essence, i.e. are dependent, or caused, come into existence only to perish. The underlying reality, the principle of eternal relativity, or non-infinity, i.e. śūnya, permeates all phenomena making possible their evolution.

From Sanskrit and/or Pali, this is the translation to Chinese and Japanese of the title śūnya or śūnyatā.

In Japanese, when pronounced as "ron" (sounds like "roan") this can be a given name. It should be noted that this Kanji has about 5 different possible pronunciations in Japanese: kuu, kara, sora, ron, and uro. This is also an element in the Japanese version of the five elements.

Fire

(One of the five elements)
China huǒ
Japan hi
knob
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This is the symbol for fire, flame, or blaze in Chinese, Korean and Japanese.


Fire 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.

Earth

(Used in Japanese version of five elements)
China
Japan chi / ji / tsushi / tsuchi
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This is the single-character element and title of the planet Earth in Chinese, old Korean Hanja and Japanese Kanji.

Because this is a single-character, the definition is a little ambiguous, and can have many meanings depending on the context in which it is used. These meanings include: earth, ground, land, soil, dirt, place, territory, bottom (of a package, book, etc.), earth (one of the Japanese five elements), the region in question, the local area, skin, texture, fabric, material, weave, base, background, one's true nature, narrative (i.e. descriptive part of a story), real life, actuality, etc.

In Japanese, this Kanji can be pronounced several ways, including chi, ji, tsushi, or tsuchi.
This is also an element of the Japanese version of the five elements (the original Chinese version uses a different version of earth).


Check dictionary for elements
A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

The scroll that I am holding in this picture is a "medium size"
4-character wall scroll.
As you can see, it is a great size to hang on your wall.
(We also offer custom wall scrolls in larger sizes)

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.




If your search is not successful, just post your request on our forum, and we'll be happy to do research or translation for any reasonable request.

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

Army
Autumn
Balance
Balanced Life
Bamboo
Bear
Beautiful
Beautiful Princess
Beautiful Woman
Best Love
Bird
Black
Black Belt
Black Eagle
Bless and Protect
Blossom
Bodhi Tree
Buddha
Bushido
Carlos
Cause and Effect
Cherry Blossom
Christopher
Cindy
Confucius
Dale
Darren
Dragon
Dragon Tiger
Each Time You Stumble
Evan
Family First
Fish
Flowers
Flying
Forest
Forever
Forever in My Heart
Fortune
Francisco
Freedom
God is Always With You
God is Love
Gold
Good Health
Grace
Grace from Heaven
Great
Great Ambitions
Guan Gong
Guan Yin
Harmony
Health
Honesty
Horse
I Love You
I Need You
Iris Flower
Jasmine Flower
Kiara
Koi Fish
Leopard
Liberty
Libra
Life in One Breath
Light
Live for Today
Live Laugh Love
Live Love Die
Longevity
Love
Love Always
Love and Respect
Love Life
Love You Forever
Luck
Missing You
Moon
Mother
Mushin
Namo Amitabha Buddha
Never Forget
One Life Live It
One Life One Chance
One True Love
Passionate Love
People
Respect
Ricky
Rose Flower
Sophia
Soulmates
Spirit of the Tiger
Steel
Steve
Steven
Strong Mind Strong Body
Strong Will
Suffering
Three
Trust in God
Typhoon
Warrior
Warriors
White
Will
Wisdom from Hard Knocks
Xi Shi
Year of the Dragon
Yin Yang
You Are My One Love

With so many searches, we had to upgrade to our own Linux server.
Of course, only one in 500 searches results in a purchase - Hey buy a wall scroll!!!



See: Our list of specifically Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls. And, check out Our list of specifically old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.

The following table is only helpful for those studying Chinese (or Japanese), and perhaps helps search engines to find this page when someone enters Romanized Chinese or Japanese

Title
Characters 
Simplified
Traditional
Japanese Romaji
(Romanized Japanese)
Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Five Elements五行
五行
gogyou
gogyo
wǔ xíng
wu xing
wu hsing
wu3 xing2
wuxing
Wood
ki
mu
mu4
Water
mizushuǐ
shui
shui3
Earth
tsuchi
tu
t`u
tu3
tu
tu
Gold / Metal
kinjīn
jin
chin
jin1
Four Elements地水火风
地水火風
chisuikafuu
chisuikafu
dì shuǐ huǒ fēng
di shui huo feng
ti shui huo feng
di4 shui3 huo3 feng1
dishuihuofeng
Five Elements (Japanese)地水火风空
地水火風空
chi sui ka fuu kuu
chisuikafuukuu
chi sui ka fu ku
n/a
Five Elements金木水火土
金木水火土
n/ajīn mù shuǐ huǒ tǔ
jin mu shui huo tu
chin mu shui huo t`u
jin1 mu4 shui3 huo3 tu3
jinmushuihuotu
chinmushuihuotu
chin mu shui huo tu
Five Elements Tai Chi Fist五行太极拳
五行太極拳
go gyou tai kyoku ken
gogyoutaikyokuken
go gyo tai kyoku ken
wǔ xíng tài jí quán
wu xing tai ji quan
wu hsing t`ai chi ch`üan
wu3 xing2 tai4 ji2 quan2
wuxingtaijiquan
wuhsingtaichichüan
wu hsing tai chi chüan
Sky / Air / Ether / Space天空
天空
ten kuu
tenkuu
ten ku
tiān kōng
tian kong
t`ien k`ung
tian1 kong1
tiankong
tienkung
tien kung
Sky / Ether / Void / Emptiness / Unreality
kuu / kara / sora / ron
ku / kara / sora / ron
kōng
kong
k`ung
kong1
kung
kung
Fire
hihuǒ
huo
huo3
Earth
chi / ji / tsushi / tsuchi
di
ti
di4

If you have not set up your computer to display Chinese, the characters in this table probably look like empty boxes or random text garbage.
This is why I spent hundreds of hours making images so that you could view the characters in the "elements" listings above.
If you want your Windows computer to be able to display Chinese characters you can either head to your Regional and Language options in your Win XP control panel, select the [Languages] tab and click on [Install files for East Asian Languages]. This task will ask for your Win XP CD to complete in most cases. If you don't have your Windows XP CD, or are running Windows 98, you can also download/run the simplified Chinese font package installer from Microsoft which works independently with Win 98, ME, 2000, and XP. It's a 2.5MB download, so if you are on dial up, start the download and go make a sandwich.

Some people may refer to this entry as Elements Kanji, Elements Characters, Elements in Mandarin Chinese, Elements Characters, Elements in Chinese Writing, Elements in Japanese Writing, Elements in Asian Writing, Elements Ideograms, Chinese Elements symbols, Elements Hieroglyphics, Elements Glyphs, Elements in Chinese Letters, Elements Hanzi, Elements in Japanese Kanji, Elements Pictograms, Elements in the Chinese Written-Language, or Elements in the Japanese Written-Language.

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