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Spirit / Spiritual Essence in Chinese / Japanese...

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Spirit / Spiritual Essence

China shén
Japan shin / kami
Spirit / Spiritual Essence Vertical Wall Scroll

神 is the simplest way to write spirit in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean.

This single character alone will conjure up ideas of the spiritual world. 神 can also be translated as "vital awareness" as in the fact that one must know they exist to exist (I think, therefore, I am).

Other translations include:
God, deity, mysterious, divine essence, lively, spiritual being, divinity, supernatural, soul, mind, nerves, and energy. In some extended context it can mean genius or unusual.

Japanese romanizations vary a lot when this character is combined into other words. However, shin is the original pronunciation taken from Chinese into Japanese. You'll also see it romanized as kami, gami, jin, and a few others, depending on context.

Life Energy / Spiritual Energy

Chi Energy: Essence of Life / Energy Flow
China
Japan ki
Life Energy / Spiritual Energy Vertical Wall Scroll

This energy flow is a fundamental concept of traditional Asian culture.

氣 is romanized as "Qi" or "Chi" in Chinese, "Gi" in Korean, and "Ki" in Japanese.
Chi is believed to be part of everything that exists, as in "life force" or "spiritual energy". It is most often translated as "energy flow," or literally as "air" or "breath". Some people will simply translate this as "spirit" but you have to take into consideration the kind of spirit we're talking about. I think this is weighted more toward energy than spirit.

The character itself is a representation of steam (or breath) rising from rice. To clarify, the character for rice looks like this: 米
Steam was apparently seen as visual evidence of the release of "life energy" when this concept was first developed. The Qi / Chi / Ki character is still used in compound words to mean steam or vapor.
The etymology of this character is a bit complicated. It's suggested that the first form of this character from bronze script (about 2500 years ago) looked like these samples: 氣氣
However, it was easy to confuse this with the character for the number three. So the rice radical was added by 221 B.C. (the exact time of this change is debated). This first version with the rice radical looks like this: 氣
The idea of Qi / Chi / Ki is really a philosophical concept. It's often used to refer to the "flow" of metaphysical energy that sustains living beings. Yet there is much debate that has continued for thousands of years as to whether Qi / Chi / Ki is pure energy, or consists partially, or fully of matter.

You can also see the character for Qi / Chi / Ki in common compound words such as Tai Chi / Tai Qi, Aikido, Reiki and Qi Gong / Chi Kung.

In the modern Japanese Kanji, the rice radical has been changed into two strokes that form an X.

気 The original and traditional Chinese form is still understood in Japanese but we can also offer that modern Kanji form in our custom calligraphy. If you want this Japanese Kanji, please click on the character to the right, instead of the “Select and Customize” button above.


More language notes: This is pronounced like “chee” in Mandarin Chinese, and like “key” in Japanese.
This is also the same way to write this in Korean Hanja where it is Romanized as “gi” and pronounced like “gee” but with a real G-sound, not a J-sound.
Though Vietnamese no longer use Chinese characters in their daily language, this character is still widely known in Vietnam.


See Also:  Energy | Life Force | Vitality | Life | Birth | Soul

Independent Spirit

China dú lì jīng shén
Independent Spirit Vertical Wall Scroll

獨立精神 means independent spirit in Chinese.

The first two characters mean independent, independence, or to stand alone.

The last two characters can mean spirit, spiritual, vigor, vitality, drive, mind, consciousness, thought, essence, heart or soul.

With this information, you can make your own translation combination such as "independent heart," "stand alone spirit," or more creatively, "the drive to stand alone" in English. There are a lot of ways to interpret 獨立精神.

Heart and Soul

Japan shin kon
Heart and Soul Vertical Wall Scroll

心魂 is "heart and soul" in Japanese Kanji.

The first character means heart (but can also mean mind or soul).

The last character means soul or spirit (spiritual essence).

Bravery / Courage

Courageous Energy
China yǒng qì
Japan yuuki
Bravery / Courage Vertical Wall Scroll

There are several ways to express bravery and courage in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. This version is the most spiritual. 勇氣 is the essence of bravery from deep within your being. 勇氣 is the mental state of being brave versus actual brave behavior. You'd more likely use this to say, "He is very courageous," rather than "He fought courageously in the battle."

The first character also means bravery or courage when it's seen alone. With the second character added, an element of energy or spirit is added. The second character is the same "chi" or "qi" energy that Kung Fu masters focus when they strike. For this reason, you could say this means "spirit of courage" or "brave spirit."

勇氣 is certainly a stronger word than just the first character alone.

Beyond bravery or courage, dictionaries also translate this word as valor/valour, nerve, audacity, daring, pluck, plucky, gallantry, guts, gutsy and boldness.

勇氣 is also one of the 8 key concepts of tang soo do.


Japanese 気 While the version shown to the left is commonly used in Chinese and Korean Hanja (and ancient Japanese Kanji), please note that the second character is written with slightly fewer strokes in modern Japanese. If you want the modern Japanese version, please click on the character to the right. Both styles would be understood by native Chinese, Japanese, and many (but not all) Korean people. You should make your selection based on the intended audience for your calligraphy artwork. Or pick the single-character form of bravery/courage which is universal.

Search for Spirit / Spiritual Essence 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
Spirit
Spiritual Essence
shin / kamishén / shen2 / shen
Life Energy
Spiritual Energy

气 / 気
kiqì / qi4 / qich`i / chi
Independent Spirit獨立精神
独立精神
dú lì jīng shén
du2 li4 jing1 shen2
du li jing shen
dulijingshen
tu li ching shen
tulichingshen
Heart and Soul心魂shin kon / shinkon
Bravery
Courage
勇氣
勇气 / 勇気
yuuki / yukiyǒng qì / yong3 qi4 / yong qi / yongqiyung ch`i / yungchi / yung chi
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.

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