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壽 can be defined as "long life" or "longevity" in the simplest form.
Please note that Japanese use a simplified version of this character - it also happens to be the same simplification used in mainland China. Click on the character to the right if you want the Japanese/Simplified version.
南山之壽 is a wish for long life for someone. The first part of this Japanese phrase is, "Nan Zan," which literally means "south mountain." This mountain is one of good wishes, good fortune, and prosperity. The title is often used as a salutation of good wishes.
The third Kanji is just a connector, and the last Kanji means long life or longevity.
I guess you could translate this phrase as "May your life be as long as Nan Zan is tall."
Used as a noun, this word means "longevity" or "the ability to live long." It can also be an adjective meaning "long lived."
Please note that Japanese use a simplified version of the second character of longevity - it also happens to be the same simplification used in mainland China. Click on the character to the right if you want the Japanese/Simplified version of this two-character longevity calligraphy.
This is a phrase that means "May you have good fortune as great as the eastern oceans, and may your life last as long as the southern mountains."
In ancient Chinese mythology, the eastern oceans and southern mountains are where God resides (basically it is the same as saying "heaven"). So it's like saying, "May your good fortune and life be as vast as the heavens."
There is also a longer, 14-character version of this phrase. Also, this can be cut into two scrolls (with half the phrase on each side - great for hanging on either side of a doorway). Just let me know if you'd like a special version (there is an additional cost).
This means "life is good," "life is great," or "life is beautiful" in Japanese.
The first two characters mean "life" (as in your or a human lifespan).
The third character kind of means "is."
The last five characters are a long adjective that means wonderful, splendid, and/or magnificent. In the context of life it reads more like good or beautiful.
Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.
This is just about the closest proverb to match the western idea of "Eat, drink, and be merry."
This Chinese proverb more literally means, "Eat, drink, play, be merry, enjoy everything as long as you can."
It's basically a suggestion that you try to enjoy everything in life, as long as you live, or as long as you are able.
This 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).
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.
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.
桃 means peach or peaches (Prunus persica) in Chinese, old Korean Hanja, and Japanese Kanji.
In Chinese culture, the peach represents longevity or long life.
This can also be the Japanese surname, Momosaki.
情定終身 is a pledge of eternal love in Chinese.
This can also be a colloquial way to refer to the act of exchanging marriage vows.
If you and your mate want to express how committed you are to your life-long love, this will be a great piece of calligraphy for your wall. Also, a nice phrase to celebrate an anniversary.
大夢 means, "Big Dream" in Chinese and Japanese. 大夢 is mostly a Buddhist term referring to the great dream that represents a long and winding life that feels like a dream (since reality is an illusion anyway in Buddhism).
This can also be a female given name, Hiromu or Oomu in Japanese. Also more rare unisex given names Daimu or Taimu.
万歲 is the modern Japanese way to write banzai.
We've made two almost identical entries for this word, with just a variation on the first character. In the last century, 萬 was simplified to 万 in Japan and China. The new generation will expect it to be written as 万 but the old generation can still read the more traditional 萬 form. You must make your own determination as to what version is best for you. If your audience is mostly Japanese, I suggest 万歲.
While it has become a popular if not an odd thing to scream as you jump out of an airplane (preferably with a parachute attached), banzai is actually a very old Asian way to say "hooray." The Japanese word "banzai" comes from the Chinese word "wan sui" which means "The age of 10,000 years." It is actually a wish that the Emperor or the Empire live that long.
Imagine long ago as the Emperor made a rare public appearance. 万歲 is what all of the people would yell to their leader in respect.
So if you like is as a hooray, or you want to wish someone that they live for 10,000 years, this is the calligraphy for you.
To other things with banzai in their names; I am still waiting for the promised sequel to Buckaroo Banzai.
Other translations: hurrah, long life, congratulations, cheers, live long.
Notes: Sometimes people confuse banzai with bonsai. A bonsai is a miniature tree. They have nothing to do with each other. Further, bonzai is not a word at all - although it would make a great name for a calcium supplement for older people.
武蔵 is the short title for a man long in legend. Miyamoto Musashi is probably the most famous Samurai in all of Japanese history. While coming from a lower class, his new sword and fighting techniques put him on par with the best that feudal Japan had to offer. His long career started with his first duel was at age 13!
He is credited both with using two swords at once, and never losing a single battle in his career. After becoming a Buddhist, and getting older, like many old warriors, he took up a peaceful and solitary life until his death around 1645 A.D.
Note: Technically, Musashi is his given name, and Miyamoto is his surname. However, it's suggested that he assumed both of these names, and also had a few other names at childhood, as well as being given a Buddhist name. It's hard to know what to call him, as with most Kanji, there are multiple pronunciations. The characters for Musashi can also be pronounced "Takezō." But, everyone in modern times seems to know him by the name Musashi.
This an alternate way to say best friend in Chinese.
The first character can mean "most," "extreme" or "best." The second character means "making friends" or "building friendship." There's sort of a suggestion with the second character that fate caused you to intersect in life and become friends (that character can mean intersection in some context).
This can also mean "most intimate friend," "very good friend of long standing," or "closest friend."
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
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."
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.
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.
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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|
|ju / kotobuki||shòu / shou4 / shou|
Long Life Wishes
|nan zan no jyu|
|chouju / choju||cháng shòu|
Long Life Wishes
|fú rú dōng hǎi shòu bǐ nán shān|
fu2 ru2 dong1 hai3 shou4 bi3 nan2 shan1
fu ru dong hai shou bi nan shan
|fu ju tung hai shou pi nan shan
|fu rou chou ju|
fu ro cho ju
|Life is Good|
Life is Beautiful
|人生は素晴らしい||jinsei wa subarashii |
jinsei wa subarashi
|Eat Drink and Be Merry||喫喝玩樂及時行樂|
|chī hē wán lè jí shí xíng lè|
chi1 he1 wan2 le4 ji2 shi2 xing2 le4
chi he wan le ji shi xing le
|ch`ih ho wan le chi shih hsing le
chih ho wan le chi shih hsing le
|Freedom from Anger and Worry Yields Longevity||不氣不愁活到白頭|
|bù qì bù chóu huó dào bái tóu|
bu4 qi4 bu4 chou2 huo2 dao4 bai2 tou2
bu qi bu chou huo dao bai tou
|pu ch`i pu ch`ou huo tao pai t`ou
pu chi pu chou huo tao pai tou
|Time is more valuable than Jade||不貴尺之壁而重寸之陰|
|bù guì chǐ zhī bì ér zhòng cùn zhī yīn|
bu4 gui4 chi3 zhi1 bi4 er2 zhong4 cun4 zhi1 yin1
bu gui chi zhi bi er zhong cun zhi yin
|pu kuei ch`ih chih pi erh chung ts`un chih yin
pu kuei chih chih pi erh chung tsun chih yin
Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33
|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
|桃||momo||táo / tao2 / tao||t`ao / tao|
|Pledge of Lifelong Love||情定終身|
|qíng dìng zhōng shēn|
qing2 ding4 zhong1 shen1
qing ding zhong shen
|ch`ing ting chung shen
ching ting chung shen
|Big Dream||大夢||daimu||dà mèng / da4 meng4 / da meng / dameng||ta meng / tameng|
|100 Years of Happy Marriage||百年好合||bǎi nián hǎo hé|
bai3 nian2 hao3 he2
bai nian hao he
|pai nien hao ho
|Banzai||万歲 / 萬歲|
|banzai||wàn suì / wan4 sui4 / wan sui / wansui|
|Musashi||武蔵||mu sashi / musashi|
|Best Friends||至交||zhì jiāo / zhi4 jiao1 / zhi jiao / zhijiao||chih chiao / chihchiao|
|Learn from Wisdom||見賢思齊|
|jiàn xián sī qí|
jian4 xian2 si1 qi2
jian xian si qi
|chien hsien ssu ch`i
chien hsien ssu chi
|Work Unselfishly for the Common Good||克己奉公||kè jǐ fèng gōng|
ke4 ji3 feng4 gong1
ke ji feng gong
|k`o chi feng kung
ko chi feng kung
|Better Late Than Never||亡羊補牢猶未為晚|
|wáng yáng bǔ láo yóu wèi wéi wǎn|
wang2 yang2 bu3 lao2 you2 wei4 wei2 wan3
wang yang bu lao you wei wei wan
|wang yang pu lao yu wei wei wan
|Undaunted After Repeated Setbacks||百折不撓|
|hyaku setsu su tou|
hyaku setsu su to
|bǎi zhé bù náo|
bai3 zhe2 bu4 nao2
bai zhe bu nao
|pai che pu nao
|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 Life Long Kanji, Life Long Characters, Life Long in Mandarin Chinese, Life Long Characters, Life Long in Chinese Writing, Life Long in Japanese Writing, Life Long in Asian Writing, Life Long Ideograms, Chinese Life Long symbols, Life Long Hieroglyphics, Life Long Glyphs, Life Long in Chinese Letters, Life Long Hanzi, Life Long in Japanese Kanji, Life Long Pictograms, Life Long in the Chinese Written-Language, or Life Long in the Japanese Written-Language.
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