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If you want a special phrase, word, title, or proverb, feel free to contact me, and I will translate your custom calligraphy idea for you.

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  1. Learn New Ways From Old
  2. You May Learn from Victory,...
  3. Learn from Wisdom
  4. Learn From Your Predecessors
  5. Tao / Dao of the Heart / Soul
  6. The Tao or Dao of Being Human / Humanity
  7. Daodejing / Tao Te Ching
  8. Study / Learn / School
  9. Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33

Learn New Ways From Old

New ideas coming from past history
China wēn gù zhī xīn
Japan on ko chi shin
Learn New Ways From Old Wall Scroll

溫故知新 is a proverb from Confucius that is used in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cultures.

It can be translated several ways:
Coming up with new ideas based on things learned in the past.
Examine things of the past, and obtain the new knowledge.
Developing new ideas based on study of the past.
Gain new insights through restudying old issues.
Understand the present by reviewing the past.
Learning from the past.
Review the old and know the new.
Taking a lesson from the past.
Taking a lesson from the wisdom of the ancients.
Follow the old ways.

The direct translation would be, "By asking old things know new things."
The Character meanings breakdown this way:
溫故 = ask old
知新 = know new

Explained: To learn new things that are outside of your experience, you can learn from old things of the past. You can find wisdom from history.

温 Note: Japanese use a simplified version of the first Kanji in modern times. So if you order this from our Japanese master calligrapher, expect the first Kanji to look like the one shown to the right.

You May Learn from Victory,
You Will Learn from Failure

Japan katte erumono mo areba makete erumono mo aru
You May Learn from Victory, / You Will Learn from Failure Wall Scroll

You may learn when everything goes right but the lessons learned when everything goes wrong are more vivid and lead to long-lasting wisdom.

Another way to look at this: One cannot always depend on past successes to guarantee future success but one can always learn from lessons drawn from failure.

Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.

You May Learn from Victory,
You Will Learn from Failure

China bǎi shèng nán lǜ dí sān zhé nǎi liáng yī
You May Learn from Victory, / You Will Learn from Failure Wall Scroll

This Chinese proverb literally translates as: [Even a general who has won a] hundred victories [may be] hard put to see through the enemy's [strategy], [but one who has] broken [his] arm three [times] [will] be a good doctor.

Figuratively, this means: One cannot always depend on past successes to guarantee future success but one can always learn from lessons drawn from failure.

See Also:  Failure - Mother of Success | Experience - Mother of Success | Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8 | Hard Knocks

Learn from Wisdom

(When you see a wise person, try to be like them)
China jiàn xián sī qí
Learn from Wisdom Wall Scroll

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

Learn From Your Predecessors

When the cart in front overturns, be cautions with your own
China qián chē zhī fù hòu chē zhī jiàn
Learn From Your Predecessors Wall Scroll

This Chinese proverb suggests looking at the circumstances and toils of those you proceeded before you, and learning from their experience.

This more literally means, "the cart in front overturns, a warning to the following cart."

前車之覆后車之鑒 is figuratively translated as, "draw lesson from the failure of one's predecessor," "learn from past mistakes," or compared to the English idiom, "once bitten twice shy."

Other more-direct translations:
Make the overturning of the chariot in front a warning for the chariot behind.
Learn caution through an unpleasant experience.
The wrecked coach in front should be a warning.
The overturned cart in front serves as a warning to the carts behind.

Tao / Dao of the Heart / Soul

China xīn dào
Tao / Dao of the Heart / Soul Wall Scroll

心道 means "The Way of the Heart" or "The Way of the Soul." The first character means "heart" but can also mean soul, spirit, mind, or your essence. In this case, it is most accurately translated with the heart or soul meaning.

The second character is Dao as in Daoism. Please note, this is the same thing as Tao as in Taoism (just Romanized differently - it's always been the same in Chinese for about 2300 years.

The Tao or Dao of Being Human / Humanity

China rén dào
Japan jindou
The Tao or Dao of Being Human / Humanity Wall Scroll

人道 is literally the "The Way of Being Human," or "The Human Way." It can also be translated as "humanity."

This word has a secondary meaning of "sidewalk" as in "the way for people to walk" (in Japanese and Korean only). But as calligraphy artwork, nobody will read it with that translation.

Please note that there are two ways to Romanized Dao or Tao as in Daoism = Taoism. It's the same word in Chinese.

Daodejing / Tao Te Ching

Except from Chapter 67
China yī yuē cí èr yuē jiǎn sān yuē bù gǎn wéi tiān xià xiān
Daodejing / Tao Te Ching Wall Scroll

一曰慈二曰儉三曰不敢為天下先 is an except from the 67th Chapter of Lao Tzu's (Lao Zi's) Te-Tao Ching (Dao De Jing). 一曰慈二曰儉三曰不敢為天下先 is the part where the three treasures are discussed. In English, we'd say these three treasures are compassion, frugality, and humility. Some may translate these as love, moderation, and lack of arrogance. I have also seen them translated as benevolence, modesty, and "Not presuming to be at the forefront in the world." You can mix them up the way you want, as translation is not really a science but rather an art.

I should also explain that the first two treasures are single-character ideas, yet the third treasure was written out in six characters (there are also some auxiliary characters to number the treasures).

If Lao Tzu's words are important to you, then a wall scroll with this passage might make a great addition to your home.

Study / Learn / School

China xué
Japan gaku
Study / Learn / School Wall Scroll

學 is "study" or "learn" in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.

學 is a very broad character that can mean a lot of things related to scholarship. It can refer to a school (in fact, if you put the character for "big" in front of this, you have "college" or "university," if you put the word for "middle," you have "middle school." This can also mean science; the process of acquiring knowledge; learning; scholarship; erudition; knowledge. It can also add the Chinese or Japanese version of "-ology" (the study of) to many words.

学There is a very common simplified version of this character. You will see this form in modern Japan and mainland China, Singapore, and other places. If you want this simplified version, please click on the character shown to the right instead of the "select and customize" button above.

Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33

China 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
Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33 Wall Scroll

知人者知也自知者明也勝人者有力也自勝者強也知足者富也強行者有志也不失其所者久也死而不亡者壽也 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).

The following is one translation of this passage:
To know others is wisdom;
To know oneself is acuity/intelligence.
To conquer others is power,
To conquer oneself is strength.
To know contentment is to have wealth.
To act resolutely is to have purpose.
To stay one's ground is to be enduring.
To die and yet not be forgotten is to be long-lived.

Another translation:
To understand others is to be knowledgeable;
To understand yourself is to be wise.
To conquer others is to have strength;
To conquer yourself is to be strong.
To know when you have enough is to be rich.
To go forward with strength is to have ambition.
To not lose your place is to be long lasting.
To die but not be forgotten -- that's true long life.

A third translation of the second half:
He who is content is rich;
He who acts with persistence has will;
He who does not lose his roots will endure;
He who dies physically but preserves the Dao will enjoy a long after-life.


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.

Extended notes:

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.

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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
Learn New Ways From Old 溫故知新
on ko chi shin
wēn gù zhī xīn
wen1 gu4 zhi1 xin1
wen gu zhi xin
wen ku chih hsin
You May Learn from Victory, You Will Learn from Failure 勝って得るものも有れば負けて得るものも有るkatte erumono mo areba makete erumono mo aru
You May Learn from Victory, You Will Learn from Failure 百勝難慮敵三折乃良醫
bǎi shèng nán lǜ dí sān zhé nǎi liáng yī
bai3 sheng4 nan2 lv4 di2 san1 zhe2 nai3 liang2 yi1
bai sheng nan lv di san zhe nai liang yi
pai sheng nan lü ti san che nai liang i
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
Learn From Your Predecessors 前車之覆后車之鑒
qián chē zhī fù hòu chē zhī jiàn
qian2 che1 zhi1 fu4 hou4 che1 zhi1 jian4
qian che zhi fu hou che zhi jian
ch`ien ch`e chih fu hou ch`e chih chien
chien che chih fu hou che chih chien
Dao of the Heart
心道xīn dào / xin1 dao4 / xin dao / xindao hsin tao / hsintao
The Tao or Dao of Being Human
人道jindou / jindorén dào / ren2 dao4 / ren dao / rendao jen tao / jentao
Tao Te Ching
yī yuē cí èr yuē jiǎn sān yuē bù gǎn wéi tiān xià xiān
yi1 yue1 ci2 er4 yue1 jian3 san1 yue1 bu4 gan3 wei2 tian1 xia4 xian1
yi yue ci er yue jian san yue bu gan wei tian xia xian
i yüeh tz`u erh yüeh chien san yüeh pu kan wei t`ien hsia hsien
i yüeh tzu erh yüeh chien san yüeh pu kan wei tien hsia hsien

gakuxué / xue2 / xue hsüeh
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
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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4 Noble Truths
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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 Tao - Learn Kanji, Tao - Learn Characters, Tao - Learn in Mandarin Chinese, Tao - Learn Characters, Tao - Learn in Chinese Writing, Tao - Learn in Japanese Writing, Tao - Learn in Asian Writing, Tao - Learn Ideograms, Chinese Tao - Learn symbols, Tao - Learn Hieroglyphics, Tao - Learn Glyphs, Tao - Learn in Chinese Letters, Tao - Learn Hanzi, Tao - Learn in Japanese Kanji, Tao - Learn Pictograms, Tao - Learn in the Chinese Written-Language, or Tao - Learn in the Japanese Written-Language.