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Still Life in Chinese / Japanese...

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

  1. Life Energy / Spiritual Energy
  2. Tranquility Yields Transcendence
  3. Sacrifice
  4. Body
  5. Better to be Happy than Rich
  6. Banzai
  7. Reiki
  8. Broken Mirror Rejoined

Life Energy / Spiritual Energy

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

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

Tranquility Yields Transcendence

China níng jìng zhì yuǎn
Tranquility Yields Transcendence

寧靜致遠 is an ancient Chinese idiom which means "tranquility yields transcendence."

This suggests pursuing a quiet life of profound study.

The first two characters mean tranquility. The last two characters mean "go far" which suggests achieving much in your life or expanding beyond normal limits. The direct translation would read something like, "[With] tranquility [in your life, you'll] go far."

Compare this to the English idiom: Still waters run deep.

Sacrifice

China xī shēng
Japan gi sei
Sacrifice

犧牲 / 犠牲 means sacrifice in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.

There is a suggestion in this word that this regards sacrificing your life.

Note: Depending on context, this can also mean victim or scapegoat in Japanese.

In original and ancient Chinese, this word referred to sacrificial animals. It can still have this meaning in a Buddhist context.


犠The version of the first character used in modern Japan looks like the image to the right. If you order this from the Japanese master calligrapher, it will be written in this Japanese version.

Body

China shēn
Japan mi
Body

身 is how to write "body" as in your human body, in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and Korean Hanja. Depending on context and certain language issues, this character can also mean: main part, hull, oneself, somebody, person, I, me, sword, lifetime, one's station in life, etc.

While this written word is universal in three languages, it still makes a rather odd selection for a wall scroll. Also, they tend to use 体 (karada) in Japanese for body (depending on context).


See Also:  Karada

Better to be Happy than Rich

China ān pín lè dào
Better to be Happy than Rich

Even if you are poor, you should still feel satisfied in your life...

...Satisfaction, happiness, and the meaning of your life come from within yourself and not from money or riches of the world.

In Chinese, there are a lot of four-character proverbs which express some very old philosophies.
Though there are only four characters on this scroll, in Chinese the meanings often surpass the dictionary definition of each character.

In this case, you should not set your expectations too high for the amount to money or riches you wish to have. One who sets their expectations too high is almost always disappointed. Instead, you should cherish what you have, and seek to improve yourself from within, and not measure your personal worth by the size of your bank account.


See Also:  A Sly Rabbit Will Have Three Openings to Its Den

Banzai

Modern Japanese Version
China wàn suì
Japan banzai
Banzai

We've made two almost identical entries for this word. 萬歲 is the modern Japanese way to write banzai. In the last century, the first character was simplified in Japan and China. The new generation will expect it to be written this way but the old generation can still read the more traditional form. You must make your own determination as to what version is best for you. If your audience is mostly Japanese, I suggest this form.

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. 萬歲 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.

Reiki

China líng qì
Japan reiki
Reiki

靈氣 is the title of a healing practice that is now found throughout the world but with origins in Japan.

Special note: Outside of the context of the healing practice of Reiki, this means "aura" or "spiritual essence that surrounds all living things." A Japanese person not familiar with the practice will take the "aura" meaning.

Reiki is a technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also heals. It can be compared to massage but is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If your life force energy is low, you'll be more likely to get sick or feel stress. If your life force energy is abundant and flowing well, you become more capable of being happy and healthy.

There is a lot of information available if you want to Google this term - my job is to offer the calligraphy, while you can decide if it is right for you.

Note: We are showing the ancient (traditional) form of the Reiki Kanji. I have seen Reiki written with both the slightly simplified version and this more classic form. If you want the form of Reiki with the two strokes in the shape of an X on the second character and the modern first character, simply click on the Kanji characters to the right.

Note: 靈氣 is also a Chinese word but in Chinese, these characters create a word that refers to a smart person or someone with high aspirations. It is not read as a healing method in Chinese.
In Korean Hanja, this can be read as "mysterious atmosphere" by a Korean who is not familiar with the practice of Reiki (still has a cool meaning in Korean).

Broken Mirror Rejoined

Used in modern times for divorced couples that come back together
China pò jìng chóng yuán
Broken Mirror Rejoined

A husband and wife separated and reunited.

About 1500 years ago in China, there lived a beautiful princess named Le Chang. She and her husband Xu De Yan loved each other very much. But when the army of the Sui Dynasty was about to attack their kingdom, disposed of all of their worldly possessions and prepared to flee into exile.

They knew that in the chaos, they might lose track of each other, so the one possession they kept was a bronze mirror which is a symbol of unity for a husband and wife. They broke the mirror into two pieces, and each of them kept half of the mirror. They decided that if separated, they would try to meet in the fair during the 15th day of the first lunar month (which is the lantern festival). Unfortunately, the occupation was brutal, and the princess was forced to become the mistress of the new commissioner of the territory, Yang Su.

At the Lantern Festival the next year, the husband came to the fair to search for his wife. He carried with him, his half of the mirror. As he walked through the fair, he saw the other half of the mirror for sale at a junk market by a servant of the commissioner. The husband recognized his wife's half of the mirror immediately, and tears rolled down his face as he was told by the servant about the bitter and loveless life that the princess had endured.

As his tears dripped onto the mirror, the husband scratched a poem into his wife's half of the mirror:


You left me with the severed mirror,
The mirror has returned but absent are you,
As I gaze in the mirror I seek your face,
I see the moon but as for you, I see not a trace.


The servant brought the inscribed half of the mirror back to the princess. For many days, the princess could not stop crying when she found that her husband was alive and still loved her.

Commissioner Yang Su, becoming aware of this saga realized that he could never obtain the love of the princess. He sent for the husband and allowed them to reunite.

This proverb in Chinese is now used to describe a couple who has been torn apart for some reason (usually divorce) but have come back together (or remarried).
It seems to be more common these days in America for divorced couples to reconcile and get married to each other again. This would be a great gift if you know someone who is about to remarry their ex.

Search for Still Life 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
Life Energy
Spiritual Energy

气 / 気
kiqì / qi4 / qich`i / chi
Tranquility Yields Transcendence寧靜致遠
宁静致远
níng jìng zhì yuǎn
ning2 jing4 zhi4 yuan3
ning jing zhi yuan
ningjingzhiyuan
ning ching chih yüan
ningchingchihyüan
Sacrifice犧牲 / 犠牲
牺牲
gi sei / giseixī shēng / xi1 sheng1 / xi sheng / xishenghsi sheng / hsisheng
Bodymishēn / shen1 / shen
Better to be Happy than Rich安貧樂道
安贫乐道
ān pín lè dào
an1 pin2 le4 dao4
an pin le dao
anpinledao
an p`in le tao
anpinletao
an pin le tao
Banzai萬歲
万岁
banzaiwàn suì / wan4 sui4 / wan sui / wansui
Reiki靈氣
灵气 霊気
reikilíng qì / ling2 qi4 / ling qi / lingqiling ch`i / lingchi / ling chi
Broken Mirror Rejoined破鏡重圓
破镜重圆
pò jìng chóng yuán
po4 jing4 chong2 yuan2
po jing chong yuan
pojingchongyuan
p`o ching ch`ung yüan
pochingchungyüan
po ching chung yüan
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 Still Life Kanji, Still Life Characters, Still Life in Mandarin Chinese, Still Life Characters, Still Life in Chinese Writing, Still Life in Japanese Writing, Still Life in Asian Writing, Still Life Ideograms, Chinese Still Life symbols, Still Life Hieroglyphics, Still Life Glyphs, Still Life in Chinese Letters, Still Life Hanzi, Still Life in Japanese Kanji, Still Life Pictograms, Still Life in the Chinese Written-Language, or Still Life in the Japanese Written-Language.