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4 Elements in Chinese / Japanese...

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  1. Five Elements

  2. Four Elements

  3. Five Elements

  4. Godai / Five Elements

  5. Five Elements

  6. Five Elements Tai Chi Fist

  7. Earth

  8. Gold / Metal

  9. Wood

10. Sky / Air / Ether / Space

11. Water

12. Fire

13. Shidai / Sida / Mahabhuta

14. Wind and Rain

15. Earth

16. Ba Gua

17. Steel

18. Sky / Ether / Void / Emptiness / Unreality

19. Body and Mind

20. Saturn

21. Shingitai / Shin Gi Tai

22. Fire Tiger

23. Clarity

Five Elements

wǔ xíng
gogyou
Five Elements Vertical Wall Scroll

五行 is the title of the five elements which are: wood, fire, water, earth, and metal.

The first character means "5" and the second character is simply "elements."

According to ancient Chinese science, all matter in the world is made up of these elements. One idea presented with the five elements is that when energy is added, matter is believed to expand. When energy is removed, matter contracts. Oddly, this concept is not far from Einstein's theories, and modern science. Just a few thousand years before Einstein.


More info: Wikipedia - Five Elements (Wu Xing).


See Also:  Wood | Fire | Water | Earth | Metal | Five Elements

Four Elements

Buddhist Term
dì shuǐ huǒ fēng
chisuikafuu
Four Elements Vertical Wall Scroll

地水火風 is a Buddhist term that means "earth, water, fire, wind."

地水火風 is often just referred to as "the four elements." There is a more common title (the five elements) which adds wood to the mix. These four elements are used in some sects of Japanese Buddhism (not so much in Chinese).

Five Elements

chi sui ka fuu kuu
Five Elements Vertical Wall Scroll

地水火風空 is the specifically-Japanese version of the five elements. 地水火風空 is a little different than the ancient or original Chinese version.

The elements are written in this order:
1. Earth / Terra / Ground
2. Water
3. Fire
4. Wind / Air
5. Sky / Emptiness / Void / Ether

Note: This set of Kanji can also be romanized as "ji sui ka fuu kuu," "jisuikafuukuu," or "jisuikafuku."


These can also be written in the order 地火風水空 (chi ka sui fuu kuu). Let me know when you place your order if you want the Kanji to be in this character order.

Godai / Five Elements

wǔ dà
godai
Godai / Five Elements Vertical Wall Scroll

五大 is the Japanese title for the five elements.

In Japan, the five elements differ slightly from the original Chinese. Therefore, in Japanese philosophy you have: earth, water, fire, wind and void (space).

The meaning of the first character is 5, but the second character means great or large. Some translate this as the five majors. 大 is only understood to be "elements" when you have 五 in front of it.

In Buddhism, this can be short for 五大明王, or the five great and wise kings.

Five Elements

jīn mù shuǐ huǒ tǔ
Five Elements Vertical Wall Scroll

金木水火土 is a list of the Chinese characters for the five elements in a comfortable order (meaning that they simply "feel right" to a Chinese person who views this arrangement).

The order is metal, wood, water, fire, earth.

Note that sometimes the metal element is translated as gold. And earth refers to soil versus the whole planet earth.

Five Elements Tai Chi Fist

wǔ xíng tài jí quán
go gyou tai kyoku ken
Five Elements Tai Chi Fist Vertical Wall Scroll

五行太極拳 is a certain school or style of Tai Chi (Taiji). The characters literally mean "Five Elements Tai Chi Fist."

Notes:
In Taiwan, it would be Romanized as "Wu Hsing Tai Chi Chuan" - see the standard Mandarin method above in the gray box (used in mainland China and the official Romanization used by the Library of Congress).

The last three characters are sometimes translated as "Grand Ultimate Fist," so the whole thing can be "Five Elements Grand Ultimate Fist" if you wish.

I have not confirmed the use of this title in Korean but if it is used, it's probably only by martial arts enthusiasts. The pronunciation is correct as shown above for Korean.

Earth

(One of the five elements)
tsuchi
Earth Vertical Wall Scroll

土 is earth, soil, ground or Terra.


Earth is one of the five elements that ancient Chinese believed all things were composed of. These elements are also part of the cycle of Chinese astrology. Every person has both an animal sign, and one of the five elements according to the date of their birth.


See Also:  Five Elements | Chinese Zodiac

Gold / Metal

(One of the five elements)
jīn
kin
Gold / Metal Vertical Wall Scroll

金 is the symbol for metal (often means gold or money) in Chinese, Korean and Japanese.

In an interesting twist, in Japanese, this Kanji can also mean "Friday." I guess Friday is "the golden day" in Japan.


Gold / Metal is one of the five elements that ancient Chinese believed all things were composed of. These elements are also part of the cycle of Chinese astrology. Every person has both an animal sign, and one of the five elements according to the date of their birth. See also Five Elements and Chinese 12 Animals / Zodiac.

Wood

(One of the five elements)
ki
Wood Vertical Wall Scroll

木 is the symbol for wood in Japanese, Korean and Chinese.

This can sometimes mean "tree" depending on context. In fact, the character comes from a pictogram that is supposed to resemble a tree.


Wood is one of the five elements that ancient Chinese believed all things were composed of. These elements are also part of the cycle of Chinese astrology. Every person has both an animal sign, and one of the five elements according to the date of their birth. See also Five Elements and Chinese 12 Animals / Zodiac.

Sky / Air / Ether / Space

tiān kōng
ten kuu
Sky / Air / Ether / Space Vertical Wall Scroll

天空 means sky in most context but it can also refer to air, space, the heavens, or ether.

Water

(One of the five elements)
shuǐ
mizu / sui
Water Vertical Wall Scroll

水 is the symbol for water in Japanese and Chinese.


Water is one of the five elements that ancient Chinese believed all things were composed of. These elements are also part of the cycle of Chinese astrology. Every person has both an animal sign, and one of the five elements according to the date of their birth. See also Five Elements and Chinese 12 Animals / Zodiac.

Fire

(One of the five elements)
huǒ
hi
Fire Vertical Wall Scroll

火 is the symbol for fire, flame, or blaze in Chinese, Korean and Japanese.


Fire is one of the five elements that ancient Chinese believed all things were composed of. These elements are also part of the cycle of Chinese astrology. Every person has both an animal sign, and one of the five elements according to the date of their birth. See also Five Elements and Chinese 12 Animals / Zodiac.


See Also:  Five Elements

Shidai / Sida / Mahabhuta

sì dà
shi dai
Shidai / Sida / Mahabhuta Vertical Wall Scroll

In Buddhism, this is mahābhūta, the four elements of which all things are made: earth, water, fire, and wind.

This can also represent the four freedoms: speaking out freely, airing views fully, holding great debates, and writing big-character posters.

In some context, this can be a university or college offering four-year programs.

To others, this can represent the Tao, Heaven, Earth and King.

Going back to the Buddhist context, these four elements "earth, water, fire, and wind" represent 堅, 濕, 煖, 動, which is: solid, liquid, heat, and motion.

Wind and Rain

fēng yǔ
fuu-u
Wind and Rain Vertical Wall Scroll

風雨 is wind and rain in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.

This can also refer to the elements or trials and hardships (in life).

Earth

(Used in Japanese version of five elements)
chi / ji / tsushi / tsuchi
Earth Vertical Wall Scroll

地 is the single-character element and title of the planet Earth in Chinese, old Korean Hanja and Japanese Kanji.

Because this is a single-character, the definition is a little ambiguous, and can have many meanings depending on the context in which it is used. These meanings include: earth, ground, land, soil, dirt, place, territory, bottom (of a package, book, etc.), earth (one of the Japanese five elements), the region in question, the local area, skin, texture, fabric, material, weave, base, background, one's true nature, narrative (i.e. descriptive part of a story), real life, actuality, etc.

In Japanese, this Kanji can be pronounced several ways, including chi, ji, tsushi, or tsuchi.
地 is also an element of the Japanese version of the five elements (the original Chinese version uses a different version of earth).

Ba Gua

bā guà
Ba Gua Vertical Wall Scroll

八卦 is the Chinese title for Bagua or Ba Gua.

To put it simply, this represents the eight elements often seen around the yin yang symbol.

gāng
hagane
Steel Vertical Wall Scroll

鋼 is the Chinese character and Japanese Kanji for steel (as in iron mixed with carbon and other elements to make it stronger).

This can also be the name Hagane in Japanese. Like Mr. Steel in English. It can also be pronounced as Tsuyoshi or Kou when used as personal or given names in Japan.

Sky / Ether / Void / Emptiness / Unreality

(Used in Japanese version of five elements)
kōng
kuu / kara / sora / ron
Sky / Ether / Void / Emptiness / Unreality Vertical Wall Scroll

This single character means empty, void, hollow, vacant, vacuum, blank, nonexistent, vacuity, voidness, emptiness, non-existence, immateriality, unreality, the false or illusory nature of all existence, being unreal.

In Buddhist context, this relates to the doctrine that all phenomena and the ego have no reality but are composed of a certain number of skandhas or elements, which disintegrate. The void, the sky, space. The universal, the absolute, complete abstraction without relativity. The doctrine further explains that all things are compounds, or unstable organisms, possessing no self-essence, i.e. are dependent, or caused, come into existence only to perish. The underlying reality, the principle of eternal relativity, or non-infinity, i.e. śūnya, permeates all phenomena making possible their evolution.

From Sanskrit and/or Pali, this is the translation to Chinese and Japanese of the title śūnya or śūnyatā.

In Japanese, when pronounced as "ron" (sounds like "roan") this can be a given name. It should be noted that this Kanji has about 5 different possible pronunciations in Japanese: kuu, kara, sora, ron, and uro. 空 is also an element in the Japanese version of the five elements.

Body and Mind

shēn xīn
shin shin
Body and Mind Vertical Wall Scroll

身心 means, "body and mind" or "mental and physical" in Chinese and Japanese.

In the Buddhist context, body and mind encompass the five elements (skandha) of a sentient being.
The body is the physical material (rūpa) of life. Mind embraces the other four skandhas which are consciousness, perception, action, and knowledge.

Saturn

tǔ xīng
to shou
Saturn Vertical Wall Scroll

土星 is the Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja for the planet Saturn.

The literal meaning of these characters is "earth star". The earth character is on of the five elements of Chinese culture. This earth character regards soil or dirt, not the planet Earth.

Saturn has been titled 土星 for at least 2000 years.

Shingitai / Shin Gi Tai

xīn jì tǐ
shin gi tai
Shingitai / Shin Gi Tai Vertical Wall Scroll

心技体 is the Japanese title "shin gi tai" or "shingitai."

This can refer to the three elements of Sumo wrestlers or martial artists, "heart-technique-physique."

Here is what each character represents:

心 (shin) mind, heart and spirit.

技 (gi) skill, knowledge and experience.

体 (ti) body and physical effort.

心技体 have the same meanings in Chinese, though this title is used much more often in Japanese.

Fire Tiger

huǒ hǔ
hi tora
Fire Tiger Vertical Wall Scroll

火虎 is the Chinese and Japanese title for "fire tiger".

If you were born between 9 Feb 1986 and 28 Jan 1987, or between 13 Feb 1926 and 1 Feb 1927, you are a fire tiger according to the Chinese Zodiac.

There are 12 animals and 5 elements in the cycle. Therefore, the fire tiger comes around once every 60 years. The next will be in 2046.

The branch of the zodiac for tiger is written 寅 when dating ancient documents and artwork, but 虎 is the way to write the character for an actual tiger.

Clarity

qīng
sei
Clarity Vertical Wall Scroll

清 means clarity or clear in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja. Looking at the parts of this character, you have three splashes of water on the left, "life" on the top right, and the moon on the lower right.

Because of something Confucius said about 2500 years ago, you can imagine that this character means "live life with clarity like bright moonlight piercing pure water." The Confucian idea is something like "Keep clear what is pure in yourself, and let your pure nature show through." Kind of like saying, "Don't pollute your mind or body, so that they remain clear."

This might be stretching the definition of this single Chinese character but the elements are there, and "clarity" is a powerful idea.


Korean note: Korean pronunciation is given above but this character is written with a slight difference in the "moon radical" in Korean. However, anyone who can read Korean Hanja, will understand this character with no problem (this is considered an alternate form in Korean). If you want the more standard Korean Hanja form (which is an alternate form in Chinese), just let me know.

Japanese note: When reading in Japanese, this Kanji has additional meanings of pure, purify, or cleanse (sometimes to remove demons or "exorcise"). Used more in compound words in Japanese than as a stand-alone Kanji.


The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji (Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Five Elements五行gogyou / gogyowǔ xíng / wu3 xing2 / wu xing / wuxingwu hsing / wuhsing
Four Elements地水火風
地水火风
chisuikafuu
chisuikafu
dì shuǐ huǒ fēng
di4 shui3 huo3 feng1
di shui huo feng
dishuihuofeng
ti shui huo feng
tishuihuofeng
Five Elements地水火風空
地水火风空
chi sui ka fuu kuu
chisuikafuukuu
chi sui ka fu ku
chisuikafuku
Godai
Five Elements
五大godaiwǔ dà / wu3 da4 / wu da / wudawu ta / wuta
Five Elements金木水火土jīn mù shuǐ huǒ tǔ
jin1 mu4 shui3 huo3 tu3
jin mu shui huo tu
jinmushuihuotu
chin mu shui huo t`u
chinmushuihuotu
chin mu shui huo tu
Five Elements Tai Chi Fist五行太極拳
五行太极拳
go gyou tai kyoku ken
gogyoutaikyokuken
go gyo tai kyoku ken
gogyotaikyokuken
wǔ xíng tài jí quán
wu3 xing2 tai4 ji2 quan2
wu xing tai ji quan
wuxingtaijiquan
wu hsing t`ai chi ch`üan
wuhsingtaichichüan
wu hsing tai chi chüan
Earthtsuchitǔ / tu3 / tut`u / tu
Gold
Metal
kinjīn / jin1 / jinchin
Woodkimù / mu4 / mu
Sky
Air
Ether
Space
天空ten kuu / tenkuu / ten ku / tenkutiān kōng
tian1 kong1
tian kong
tiankong
t`ien k`ung
tienkung
tien kung
Watermizu / suishuǐ / shui3 / shui
Firehihuǒ / huo3 / huo
Shidai
Sida
Mahabhuta
四大shi dai / shidaisì dà / si4 da4 / si da / sidassu ta / ssuta
Wind and Rain風雨
风雨
fuu-u / fu-ufēng yǔ / feng1 yu3 / feng yu / fengyufeng yü / fengyü
Earthchi / ji / tsushi / tsuchidì / di4 / diti
Ba Gua八卦bā guà / ba1 gua4 / ba gua / baguapa kua / pakua
Steel
haganegāng / gang1 / gangkang
Sky
Ether
Void
Emptiness
Unreality
kuu / kara / sora / ron
ku / kara / sora / ron
ku / kara / sora / ron
kōng / kong1 / kongk`ung / kung
Body and Mind身心shin shin / shinshinshēn xīn / shen1 xin1 / shen xin / shenxinshen hsin / shenhsin
Saturn土星to shou / toshou / to sho / toshotǔ xīng / tu3 xing1 / tu xing / tuxingt`u hsing / tuhsing / tu hsing
Shingitai
Shin Gi Tai
心技体shin gi tai
shingitai
xīn jì tǐ
xin1 ji4 ti3
xin ji ti
xinjiti
hsin chi t`i
hsinchiti
hsin chi ti
Fire Tiger火虎hi tora / hitorahuǒ hǔ / huo3 hu3 / huo hu / huohu
Clarityseiqīng / qing1 / qingch`ing / ching
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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Clarity Vertical Wall Scroll
Clarity Vertical Wall Scroll
Clarity Vertical Wall Scroll
Clarity Vertical Wall Scroll


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Clarity Vertical Portrait
Clarity Horizontal Wall Scroll
Clarity Vertical Portrait
Dictionary

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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 4 Elements Kanji, 4 Elements Characters, 4 Elements in Mandarin Chinese, 4 Elements Characters, 4 Elements in Chinese Writing, 4 Elements in Japanese Writing, 4 Elements in Asian Writing, 4 Elements Ideograms, Chinese 4 Elements symbols, 4 Elements Hieroglyphics, 4 Elements Glyphs, 4 Elements in Chinese Letters, 4 Elements Hanzi, 4 Elements in Japanese Kanji, 4 Elements Pictograms, 4 Elements in the Chinese Written-Language, or 4 Elements in the Japanese Written-Language.

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