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2. Fire Horse
12. Red Demon
15. Hua Mulan
17. Push or Knock
Year of the Horse / Zodiac Sign
龍馬精神 is an old proverb that is used to wish someone good health and success combined as a great compliment.
The meaning is “The vigor and spirit of the legendary dragon-horse.” These four characters are often accompanied by four more which mean “...and the power and prestige of the tiger.” Here we are just offering the first part which is considered the short version.
By giving a wall scroll like this to someone, you were either wishing or telling them that they have an amazing quality. There is also a suggestion of good health - at least anyone with the vigor of a dragon horse would seem to also be in good health.
Note: In Japanese, this would be read as the spirit of 坂本龍馬 (Sakamoto_Ryōma), a beloved rebel who help abolish the old Japanese feudal system. This can be confusing, so I am declaring this proverb to be Chinese only.
龍馬精神虎虎生威 is an old proverb that is used to wish someone great health and success combined as a great compliment.
The meaning is “The vigor and spirit of the legendary dragon-horse and the power and prestige of the tiger.”
By giving a wall scroll like this to someone, you were either wishing or telling them that they have these qualities. There is also a suggestion of good health - at least anyone with the vigor of a dragon horse would seem to also be in good health.
Innocent Children's Games
青梅竹馬 means “green plums and hobby-horse.”
Figuratively, it means “innocent children's games,” “childhood sweethearts,” or “a couple who grew up as childhood friends.”
This phrase may sound a little strange as it's a kind of Chinese proverb or idiom. It makes much more sense in Chinese than in English.
一角獣 is the Japanese name for the western unicorn (a horse with a spiral horn emerging from the head). This can also refer to a narwhal, depending on context.
一角獣 is an unusual title for a Japanese wall scroll but it's OK if you really love unicorns.
Japanese have their own ancient unicorn-like creature called a “kirin” (or qilin in the original Chinese).
馬球 is the Chinese title for the ancient game of polo.
During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), the elite and rich would mount their horses and engage in this rigorous sport. It was the only sport of that period that women were also known to play.
The original polo came from Persia and may have been played in China hundreds of years before the Tang popularized it.
The characters “馬球” literally mean “horse ball.”
花木蘭 is the name of the famous Chinese woman warrior Hua Mulan.
She was made famous in the west by Disney's animated movie, “Mulan.”
Most of the historical information about her comes from an ancient poem. It starts with a concerned Mulan, as she is told a man from each family is to serve conscription in the army. Her father is too old, and her brother is too young. Mulan decides to take the place of her father. After twelve years of war, the army returns, and the best warriors are awarded great posts in the government and riches. Mulan turns down all offers and asks only for a good horse for the long trip home. When Mulan greets visiting comrades wearing her old clothes, they are shocked to find the warrior they rode into battle with for years is actually a woman.
麒麟 is the title of a mythical beast of Asia.
The animal is thought to be related to the giraffe, and in some ways, it is a giraffe. However, it is often depicted with the horns of a dragon or deer and sometimes with the body like a horse, but many variations exist.
In Japanese, it is pronounced “Kirin” as in “Kirin Ichiban” beer.
1. This is sometimes spelled as “kylin.”
2. In Japanese, this is the only Kanji word for giraffe. Therefore in Japan, this word needs context to know whether you are talking about the mythical creature or the long-necked giraffe of Africa.
3. Apparently, this was the first word used for regular giraffes in China (some were brought from Africa to China during the Ming Dynasty - probably around the year 1400). Though the mythical creature may have existed before, the name “qilin” was given to the “new giraffe.” This is because, more than 600 years ago, giraffes somewhat matched the mythical creature's description when Chinese people saw them for the first time. Later, to avoid such an ambiguous title, a three-character word was devised to mean a “giraffe of Africa.” The characters for “qilin” shown here are only for the mythological version in modern Chinese.
4. More information about the qilin / kirin from Wikipedia.
5. This creature is sometimes translated as the “Chinese Unicorn,” although it is generally portrayed with two horns. I think this is done more for the fantasy aspect of the unicorn and because most westerners don't know what a qilin or kirin is (this avoids a long explanation by the translator).
6. In Korean, this can mean kirin or simply giraffe (usually, the mythological creature is what they would think of when seeing these characters alone on a wall scroll).
To weigh one's words
During the Tang Dynasty, a man named Jia Dao (born in the year 779), a well-studied scholar and poet, went to the capital to take the imperial examination.
One day as he rides a donkey through the city streets, a poem begins to form in his mind. A portion of the poem comes into his head like this:
“The bird sits on the tree branch near a pond,
A monk approaches and knocks at the gate...”
At the same time, he wondered if the word “push” would be better than “knock” in his poem.
As he rides down the street, he imagines the monk pushing or knocking. Soon he finds himself making motions of pushing and shaking a fist in a knocking motion as he debates which word to use. He is quite a sight as he makes his way down the street on his donkey with hands and fists flying about as the internal debate continues.
As he amuses people along the street, he becomes completely lost in his thoughts and does not see the mayor's procession coming in the opposite direction. Jia Bao is blocking the way for the procession to continue down the road, and the mayor's guards immediately decide to remove Jia Bao by force. Jia Bao, not realizing that he was in the way, apologizes, explains his poetic dilemma and awaits his punishment for blocking the mayor's way.
The mayor, Han Yu, a scholar and author of prose himself, finds himself intrigued by Jia Dao's poem and problem. Han Yu gets off his horse and addresses Jia Bao, stating, “I think knock is better.” The relieved Jia Bao raises his head and is invited by the mayor to join the procession, and are seen riding off together down the street, exchanging their ideas and love of poetry.
In modern Chinese, this 反復推敲 idiom is used when someone is trying to decide which word to use in their writing or when struggling to decide between two things when neither seems to have a downside.
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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji (Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|uma||mǎ / ma3 / ma|
|oma hi / omahi||huǒ mǎ / huo3 ma3 / huo ma / huoma|
|Flying Dragon Horse||飛龍馬|
|hi ryuu me / hiryuume / hi ryu me||fēi lóng mǎ|
fei1 long2 ma3
fei long ma
|fei lung ma
|The Spirit of the Dragon Horse||龍馬精神|
|lóng mǎ jīng shén|
long2 ma3 jing1 shen2
long ma jing shen
|lung ma ching shen
|The Spirit of the Dragon Horse and Power of a Tiger||龍馬精神虎虎生威|
|lóng mǎ jīng shén hǔ hǔ shēng wēi|
long2 ma3 jing1 shen2 hu3 hu3 sheng1 wei1
long ma jing shen hu hu sheng wei
|lung ma ching shen hu hu sheng wei|
|Green Plum and Bamboo Horse||青梅竹馬|
|qīng méi zhú mǎ|
qing1 mei2 zhu2 ma3
qing mei zhu ma
|ch`ing mei chu ma
ching mei chu ma
|bahitsu||mǎ pǐ / ma3 pi3 / ma pi / mapi||ma p`i / mapi / ma pi|
|ki shi / kishi||qí shì / qi2 shi4 / qi shi / qishi||ch`i shih / chishih / chi shih|
|xiǎo mǎ / xiao3 ma3 / xiao ma / xiaoma||hsiao ma / hsiaoma|
|yě mǎ / ye3 ma3 / ye ma / yema||yeh ma / yehma|
|shimauma||bān mǎ / ban1 ma3 / ban ma / banma||pan ma / panma|
|Red Demon||赤鬼||akaoni||chì guǐ / chi4 gui3 / chi gui / chigui||ch`ih kuei / chihkuei / chih kuei|
|dú jiǎo shòu|
du2 jiao3 shou4
du jiao shou
|tu chiao shou
|Unicorn||一角獣||ikkakujuu / ikakuju|
|mǎ qiú / ma3 qiu2 / ma qiu / maqiu||ma ch`iu / machiu / ma chiu|
|huā mù lán|
hua1 mu4 lan2
hua mu lan
|麒麟||kirin||qí lǐn / qi2 lin3 / qi lin / qilin||ch`i lin / chilin / chi lin|
|Push or Knock||反復推敲|
|fǎn fù tuī qiāo|
fan3 fu4 tui1 qiao1
fan fu tui qiao
|fan fu t`ui ch`iao
fan fu tui chiao
|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.
Some people may refer to this entry as Horse Kanji, Horse Characters, Horse in Mandarin Chinese, Horse Characters, Horse in Chinese Writing, Horse in Japanese Writing, Horse in Asian Writing, Horse Ideograms, Chinese Horse symbols, Horse Hieroglyphics, Horse Glyphs, Horse in Chinese Letters, Horse Hanzi, Horse in Japanese Kanji, Horse Pictograms, Horse in the Chinese Written-Language, or Horse in the Japanese Written-Language.
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