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| 1. Win / Victory
2. Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself, and You Cannot Lose
3. Bloodless Victory
| 4. Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself, and Win 100 Battles|
5. Venus / Gold Star
6. Drain the pond to get all the fish
This single character means to win or be victorious.
This can also be translated: To overcome; success; to beat; to defeat; to surpass; superior to; to get the better of; better than; surpassing; superb.
In other context, this can mean: Beautiful (scenery); scenic spot; scenic beauty.
In Taiwanese Mandarin, this can be pronounced with the first tone (sheng1) and mean: Able to bear; equal to (a task).
In Japan, this can also be the name Masaru.
In Korea, this has the same meaning but can also be the surname Sŭng.
This is from Sun Tzu's (Sunzi's) Art of War. It means that if you know and understand the enemy, you also know yourself, and thus with this complete understanding, you cannot lose.
This proverb is often somewhat-directly translated as, "Know the enemy and know yourself, and you can fight a hundred battles without defeat."
It can also be translated as, "If you know both yourself and your enemy, you can come out of hundreds of battles without danger," or "Know your enemy, know yourself, and your victory will not be threatened."
Perhaps a pacifist view or perhaps the best kind of victory; these characters reflect this idea:
The edges of the swords not being stained with blood.
You could also translate it as: Win victory without firing a shot.
The first character means army or force. The second character means without or none. The last two characters mean bloodstained knives. So it represents a returning victorious army without bloodstained knives. This is the very literal sense of this Chinese proverb. The title definition is more accurate to the way this proverb is understood.
Asking yourself why the direct or literal translation is different?
...Think of compound words in English such as "nevertheless" if we break it apart to "never the less" we will have trouble getting the real definition of "in spite of that." Similar things happen when multiple-characters are used to create a compounded word in Chinese.
This is the longer/full Japanese version of this proverb. This means, "Know your enemy, know yourself, and you will not fear a hundred battles."
Others will translate this as, "Know thy enemy, know thyself, yields victory in one hundred battles."
Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.
This literally means gold star. Most of the time, in the context of the sky, this refers to the planet Venus.
Away from the sky, this can refer to a dazzling victory (e.g. win of a rank-and-file wrestler over the grand champion), or be the Japanese surname Kinboshi.
In Buddhist context, this is Śukra, from Sanskrit for the planet Venus.
In 632 BC, Duke Wen of the Kingdom of Jin was about to lead an army against the forces of the Kingdom of Chu.
The Duke asked one of his advisers, Jiu Fan, how they could possibly win the impending battle, as they were drastically outnumbered.
Jiu Fan said, "All is fair in war," and went on to suggest a plan of dishonorable tactics (cheating).
The Duke was not sure of this advice, so he asked another adviser, Yong Ji, who replied, "If you catch fish by draining the pond, you can certainly get all the fish. But there will be no fish the following year. You can cheat this one time in battle but such tactics can only be used once, as the enemy will be wise in future encounters."
The Duke heard the words of his wiser adviser but cheated to gain victory in the battle. However, he rewarded Yong Ji more than Jiu Fan at the victory celebration, stating that while Jiu Fan's advice gained one victory, the wise words of Yong Ji would last forever.
This Chinese idiom/proverb is still used, over 2600 years later to remind people not to burn bridges, cheat, or dishonor oneself in exchange for a short term gain, while sacrificing the future.
This is very similar to the meaning of the English phrase, "Kill the goose that lays the golden eggs."
The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji(Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|shou / sho||shèng / sheng4 / sheng|
|Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself, and You Cannot Lose||知彼知己百戰不殆|
|zhí bǐ zhí jī bǎi zhàn bú dài
zhi2 bi3 zhi2 ji1 bai3 zhan4 bu2 dai4
zhi bi zhi ji bai zhan bu dai
|chih pi chih chi pai chan pu tai|
|Bloodless Victory||兵不血刃||bīng bù xuè rèn
bing1 bu4 xue4 ren4
bing bu xue ren
|ping pu hsüeh jen
|Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself, and Win 100 Battles||敵を知り己を知れば百戦危うからず||teki o shi ri o no o shi re ba hya ku sen aya u ka ra zu|
|金星||kinboshi / kinsei||jīn xīng / jin1 xing1 / jin xing / jinxing||chin hsing / chinhsing|
|Drain the pond to get all the fish||竭澤而漁|
|jié zé ér yú
jie2 ze2 er2 yu2
jie ze er yu
|chieh tse erh yü
|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.
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