Chinese / Japanese Calligraphy Portrait
"Dragon" Japanese / Chinese Character
A quick lesson in Chinese Hanzi and Japanese Kanji
The three boxes in the middle below are all forms of
Traditional Chinese Characters often referred to as Hanzi in Chinese, and Kanji
Ancient Official Script
If you want to open your mind to more, read below...
Examples of the earliest pictographs or hieroglyphics in China date back almost 5000 years. The area now known as China was a fragmented region with various kingdoms rising and falling. Each kingdom or nationality in China had it's own writing system, and could not effectively communicate with people of other kingdoms.
Finally, in about 221 B.C. the Qin Dynasty unified all of China. One of the Qin Emperor's goals was to standardize the writing system across all of his empire.
The official script was the second-generation of writing approved during Qin.
This official script was still very complex to write, with the invention of the printing press still thousands of years away, official scribes literally had their hands full as they penned various documents. Historian will argue this point, but the Traditional Chinese Characters that you see today entered a somewhat final lexicon during the Wei kingdom (220-265 A.D.) and the Jin Dynasties (265-420 A.D.)
The adoption of Simplified Chinese Characters happened under Chairman Mao in the early 1950s in an effort to make it easier for under-educated people to learn to write. However, true calligraphers will only write Traditional Chinese Characters. Places like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and several other regions in Asia that were unaffected by Chairman Mao's rule still use traditional characters in day to day life.
Traditional Chinese Characters are known in Japanese as Kanji. In Japan, these characters are used every day in newspapers, magazines, documents, and personal letters. However, they are mixed with Japanese-specific characters called Hiragana, which means a Chinese person trying to read a Japanese newspaper can only get the gist of what the story might be about.
In China, people speak all kinds of languages such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghainese, Tibetan and many other regional languages. When two Chinese people meet, they might not be able to understand each other because they speak different Chinese languages. But they can write down what they are trying to say, and be easily understood thanks to the Qin emperor's dream of a standardized writing system.
Think about this fact:
One third of the world's population can understand the Chinese characters shown above, while only 6% of the people in the world can natively understand the English words that I am writing here.
© 2005 OrientalOutpost.com
This Chinese character is "long" which means dragon.
(Note: This "long" is not English, so the "o" vowel sound is more like "oh" in English)
In Chinese culture, the dragon represents power and for many generations, only the emperor could dare to wear the symbol of a dragon on their clothing.
If you hang this character on your wall, it indicates that you are strong and powerful. A great gift for a corporate executive with a chip on his shoulder - lol.
This is probably the most popular Chinese character for tattoos these days. You'll see it on the shoulders of pro-basketball players, and on the hips of pop star divas. Of course, half of them have no idea what this symbol means, and the other half incorrectly think it directly means "warrior" or "power".
Of course, long before it became a tattoo staple, the mythological dragon roamed the earth - at least in the legends and minds of Asian people.
The history of the dragon is hidden deep in myth and history. Drawings and symbols of this mythological animal can be traced back to prehistoric tribal peoples of China. Evidence of the dragon's importance in Chinese culture can be traced to dragon figures and other artifacts unearthed from the Yin Dynasty (3000 years ago).
About the materials and construction of this painting:
The calligraphy was done using black Chinese ink on xuan paper (known incorrectly in the west as "rice paper"). The raw artwork was then taken to our Wall Scroll Workshop where it was laminated to more sheets of xuan paper, and built into a beautiful portrait with silk brocade border.
About the artist:
This calligraphy was created by Li Dan-Qing of Beijing. He's an older gentleman who has been involved with the art community of China, all of his life. Now in retirement, he creates calligraphy for us for sort of "hobby income".