Custom Design

Other Chinese or Japanese calligraphy issues that does not seem to fit any of the categories above.
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Sarah04
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Joined: Mar 12, 2012 11:47 am

Custom Design

Post by Sarah04 » Mar 12, 2012 11:52 am

Hi,
I would like 2 wall scrolls that mirror my husbands tattoo's.
I have attached some pictures of them, please advise if you can do it and how much it would cost.
I believe the symbols represent mother, wife, daughter, life, god child and the others are symbols of birth years. I do not know which is which sorry.
Thanks
Sarah
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Gary
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Re: Custom Design

Post by Gary » Mar 13, 2012 10:16 pm

The first two characters mean "to teach one's children" or "godchild" depending on the context in which you use it. The rest of the meanings are shown next to each character.

教
子
豕 Swine / Hog
羊 Goat / Sheep
犬 Dog / Hound

I guess the animals were supposed to represent years. However, they used an alternate version of pig that is not as common (rarely, if ever used for "Year of the Pig"). They also used an alternate version of "dog" (just like we have "dog" and "hound" in English, this is like "hound" when everyone says "Year of the Dog", but almost never "Year of the Hound".

Knowing what it was intended to mean, I can almost make sense of it. However, any Chinese person who sees this tattoo without the explanation will just think it's nonsense or "godson" with some random animal characters after it.

I will address your other tattoo, but I need time to figure out how to explain it in English. My native Chinese translator does not believe it could be real, and is convinced this is some kind of cruel tattoo joke perpetrated via a Photoshop image. Actually, she hopes that's what it is. It's stressed her out a bit, and I probably need to pay her for an extra hour so she can go off and calm down. Basically, I'm going to be paying $30 of translation labor, and an hour of my own time to tell you something terrible that you will not want to hear. I need to compose myself and go calm her down...

-G.

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Gary
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Re: Custom Design

Post by Gary » Mar 13, 2012 11:14 pm

死妻嬢母

死 Dead / Death to / Dying / To Die / To Expire
妻 Wife
孃 more often written 嬢 Woman / Unmarried Girl / Miss
母 Mother

死妻 (si3 qi1) = Dead Wife
As a short phrase, it could also mean "wish your wife die / be dead".
Basically, there is no reasonable explanation as to why this was tattooed, or believed to have a good meaning. There is no way to make this not sound bad. I assume this was a mistake, though it almost seems malicious (like somebody tricked him at the tattoo parlor).

嬢母 (niang2 mu3) = Mother. This is an ancient way to say mother, it's only commonly used in books like "Journey to the West" AKA "The Monkey King" from around the 16th century. I believe it was also used as early as the 12th century when the novel, "The Water Margin" was written. This is definition of the two characters together (the two are a complete word when written together). Separately, the first character would be used to mean "unmarried girl" and the second, "mother". Kind of confusing, I know. That first character's meaning has evolved or changed over time a bit.

The problem is, the first "dead / death" character could be applied to both wife and mother. So in a way, this looks like a wish that your wife and mother die soon, or wishing death on your wife and mother.

There's a lot of mismatching on the whole set of tattoos here. The "godson" title is modern, and only used by Chinese Christians. The mother is very ancient (sounds like a William Shakespeare-era term). Two out of three animals are basically not the right match to represent years if it was intended purpose.

The "dead wife" part is the worst, but the whole thing is a mess to be honest. At the very least, have him cover up or laser off the "death" character.

I can't set any of this up for a wall scroll purchase for you. None of my calligraphers would want to write any of this.

I hate giving out news like this. It's worse when it's face-to-face. I'm a Platoon Sergeant in my U.S. Army National Guard unit. My troops know I read and speak Japanese and Chinese, so I always get asked to decipher their tattoos, and tattoos of their girlfriends. It's crazy, but literally half the time, the tattoos either have unintended or offensive meanings. Tattoo artists don't seem to care what they ink, and often have incorrect Asian characters on their flashers. They don't care, and thus people like you suffer. It's so frustrating!

Sorry the news is not better,
-Gary.

Sarah04
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Joined: Mar 12, 2012 11:47 am

Re: Custom Design

Post by Sarah04 » Mar 14, 2012 11:59 am

Hi Gary,

Thank you for taking the time to look at this. The tattoos are not meant to represent a phrase just idividual symbols taking that into account do you think you maybe able to re-consider and do the scrolls?

Thank You

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Gary
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Re: Custom Design

Post by Gary » Mar 15, 2012 12:05 pm

The first tattoo is just random or nonsense characters. I can probably get my standard (economy) calligrapher to do that. However, the master calligrapher would be resistant.
Here is the link if you want to order that:
Godson Swine Goat Dog

The second tattoo is really a "bad luck" or "bad omen" kind of thing. I have to pay triple the price for calligraphy that's intended for the deceased (it's a superstitious thing in China). But this one is wishing someone dies. I don't think any calligrapher will write that, even if I offer 5 times the normal price.

These are artists. You really can't ask an artist to paint something terrible. It's like asking Picasso to paint a decapitated dead body. It just doesn't work. I would "lose face" just for asking a calligrapher to consider this.

I'm really confused here. Why would you, the wife, want a wall scroll that wishes you were dead? The first time a Chinese or Japanese person walks into your house and sees such a wall scroll, they will run away terrified, or at the least, be offended or confused. No good can come of this unless your husband lasers off or covers up the "death character".

I've literally spent $30 on the translator, and 2 hours of my own time, just to tell you how tragic your husband's tattoo is. I would love to recoup some of that money via making wall scrolls for you, but I cannot ethically offer that service with "death" included in the characters. I would rather take the loss than even try to do this and lose face (AKA dishonor myself in the eyes of my calligrapher friends).

The only way I can do this is offer the good titles separately:
Wife
Mother (ancient version)

-Gary.

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