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Lost Sword in Chinese / Japanese...

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Mark the boat to find the lost sword
Ignoring the changing circumstances of the world

China kè zhōu qiú jiàn
Japan kokushuukyuuken
Mark the boat to find the lost sword / Ignoring the changing circumstances of the world Vertical Wall Scroll

This originally-Chinese proverb is a warning to people that things are always in a state of change. Thus, you must take that into account, and not depend on the old ways, or a way that may have worked in the past but is no longer valid.

This idiom/proverb comes from the following story:
A man was traveling in a ferry boat across a river. With him, he carried a valuable and treasured sword. Along the way, the man became overwhelmed and intoxicated by the beautiful view, and accidentally dropped his prized sword into the river. Thinking quickly, he pulled out a knife, and marked on the rail of the boat where exactly he has lost his sword.

When the boat arrived on the other side of the river, the man jumped out of the boat and searched for his sword right under where he'd made the mark. Of course, the boat had moved a great distance since he made the mark, and thus, he could not find the sword.

While this man may seem foolhardy, we have to take a great lesson from this parable: Circumstances change, so one should use methods that can handle the change. In modern China, this is used in business to mean that one should not depend on old business models for a changing market.


This proverb dates back to the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC) of the territory now known as China. It has spread and is somewhat known in Japan and Korea.

Sword

China jiàn
Japan ken / tsurugi
Sword Vertical Wall Scroll

This Character is pronounced "jian" in Chinese. When you say it, imagine that you are making the sound of a sword as it clashes with a metal shield. This might get you closer to the correct pronunciation in Chinese.

I actually wonder if this word came from the metallic ringing sounds of a sword in battle - but such knowledge is lost in history.

The sword is a symbol of a warrior. The one thing that a soldier in ancient China lived and died by. A warrior with his skills and sword proves himself of great value. A warrior who losses his sword instantly becomes worthless.

劍 is an excellent scroll for someone in the military (especially officers of all services - as well as enlisted NCO Marines since they still carry swords even if mainly for ceremonial purposes). Or perhaps someone who practices variations of kung fu or tai chi that involve weapons.

Please note that while this character is understood with the sword meaning in Japanese, you might be looking for the word "katana" which also means sword in Japanese but means "knife" in Chinese.


There are other ways to write sword, and here are a few...
Common Japanese and rare Chinese traditional form of sword Typical traditional form of sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese This one kind of means golden sword in Chinese Typical traditional form of sword in Chinese Common Japanese and rare Chinese traditional form of sword Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese This one kind of means golden sword in Chinese Typical traditional form of sword in Chinese Typical traditional form of sword in Chinese Common Japanese and rare Chinese traditional form of sword Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese This one kind of means golden sword in Chinese Typical traditional form of sword in Chinese Common Japanese and rare Chinese traditional form of sword Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese This one kind of means golden sword in Chinese Typical traditional form of sword in Chinese Common Japanese and rare Chinese traditional form of sword Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese This one kind of means golden sword in Chinese
If you are particular about the version you receive, please let me know when you place your order (Note: Special styles are only available from one of our master calligraphers).

We have a forum entry that addresses the many ways to write sword. You can find that here: 100 Ways to Write Sword - Deciphering Ancient Seal Script

Katana

Japanese Samurai Sword
China dāo
Japan katana
Katana Vertical Wall Scroll

刀 is the Japanese Kanji for "sword." This refers to the style of sword carried by warriors, samurai, and shogun of ancient Japan.

With the pacification of Japan, such swords are now only used for ceremony and decoration. The true art of sword-smithing is all but lost in Japan with new sword production dedicated to making inexpensive replicas for the tourist and foreign market.

For those of you that want to ask whether I can get you a real antique sword. Let me tell you that most real Asian swords were melted down after WWII in Japan, and during the Great Leap Forward in China. Any remaining swords are family heirlooms that nobody will part with.

Please carefully note that the Japanese kanji character shown above is only for a Japanese audience. In China, this character means "knife." See our other entry for "sword" in Chinese.
Note: 刀 can mean knife, sword, or blade in Korean, depending on context.


See Also:  Sword

Search for Lost Sword 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
Mark the boat to find the lost sword
Ignoring the changing circumstances of the world
刻舟求劍
刻舟求剑
kokushuukyuuken
kokushukyuken
kè zhōu qiú jiàn
ke4 zhou1 qiu2 jian4
ke zhou qiu jian
kezhouqiujian
k`o chou ch`iu chien
kochouchiuchien
ko chou chiu chien
Sword
ken / tsurugijiàn / jian4 / jianchien
Katanakatanadāo / dao1 / daotao
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.


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