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Before in Chinese / Japanese...

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Personalize your custom “Before” project by clicking the button next to your favorite “Before” title below...

  1. Fix roof before the rain; Dig the well before you are thirsty

  2. Have a Walking Stick at the Ready Before You Stumble

  3. Hoes Before Bros

  4. The Night is Darkest Before the Dawn

  5. Death Before Dishonor

  6. Death Before Surrender

  7. Death Before Dishonor

  8. Death Before Surrender

  9. Honorable Death - No Surrender

10. Live Free or Die

11. Chaos

12. Sakuragi

13. Konichiwa

14. Survivor

15. Prophet Muhammad

16. Truth Flashed Through The Mind

17. Moroto

18. Shinkou / Shinko

19. Warrior Saint / Saint of War

20. War

21. Respect and Loyalty

22. Seiseki

23. Hiro

24. A Deliberate Inaction is Better than a Blind Action

25. Tran

26. 1000 good moves ruined by 1 bad

27. Polo

28. Sumo Wrestler

29. Ume

30. Legendary Turtle

31. Tai Chi Wing Chun Kung Fu

32. Yoko / Brilliant / Glorious

33. Opportunity

34. Zenmai / Royal Fern

35. Read 10,000 Books, Travel 10,000 Miles

36. Leopard / Panther / Jaguar

37. Five Elements

38. Drinking the water of a well: One should never forget who dug it

39. Guan Gong / Warrior Saint

40. Adventure

41. Flower

42. In Flowers the Cherry Blossom, In Men the Samurai

43. Sincere Heart

44. Learn From Your Predecessors

45. Police / Public Security Bureau

46. Nguyen / Ruan

47. United States Marine Corps

48. Diligence

49. Goddess of Mercy and Compassion

50. Lee / Plum

51. Walking 100 Miles: Stopping at 90 miles, is the same as stopping half-way.

52. Inspiration

53. Koi Fish / Nishiki Goi

54. Shaolin

55. Beauty / Beautiful / Handsome

56. Honor

57. Ronin / Masterless Samurai

58. Frightful Demon / Asura

59. Kai Zen / Kaizen

60. Jujitsu / Jujutsu

61. Martial Arts Master

62. Lingering Mind

63. No Mind / Mushin

64. Unselfish: Perfectly Impartial

65. Glory and Honor

66. Kirin / Giraffe / Mythical Creature

67. The one who retreats 50 paces mocks the one to retreats 100

68. Past experience is the teacher for the future.

69. Kenpo / Kempo / Quan Fa / Chuan Fa

70. Tiger Rumor

71. Zen / Chan / Meditation

72. Mountain Travels Poem by Dumu

Fix roof before the rain; Dig the well before you are thirsty

bǔ lòu chèn tiān qíng wèi kě xiān jué jǐng
Fix roof before the rain; Dig the well before you are thirsty Vertical Wall Scroll

This Chinese proverb literally translates as: Mend the roof while the weather is fine, [and when you are] not yet thirsty, dig the well beforehand.

In simple terms, this means: Always be prepared in advance.

Have a Walking Stick at the Ready Before You Stumble

koro ba nu saki no tsue
Have a Walking Stick at the Ready Before You Stumble Vertical Wall Scroll

This Japanese proverb literally translates as: Have a walking stick ready before stumbling.

This is similar to the English idiom, "A stitch in time saves nine."

In simple terms, this means: Always be prepared in advance.


Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.

Hoes Before Bros

jiàn sè wàng yì
Hoes Before Bros Vertical Wall Scroll

This modern Chinese idiom means to put love before loyalty, or to forget loyalty when in love.

This would be roughly equivalent to the English, "Hoes before bros."

The Night is Darkest Before the Dawn

lí míng qián de hēi àn
The Night is Darkest Before the Dawn Vertical Wall Scroll

This is the most natural way to write, "The night is darkest before the dawn," in Chinese.

The words break down this way by meaning this way:
1.黎明 dawn / daybreak
2.前 before / in front / ago / former / previous / earlier / front
3.的 (possessive particle) / of
4.黑暗 dark / darkly / darkness

If you try to understand the Chinese word order and grammar, it's like, "Before dawn, is the darkest [time]".

Death Before Dishonor

You can die or kill, but never dishonor or disgrace yourself
kě shā bù kě rǔ
Death Before Dishonor Vertical Wall Scroll

This almost directly matches the idea of "Death Before Dishonor," while also being an ancient Chinese proverb.

The direct meaning is, "[you] can die/kill [but you] cannot [allow] dishonor/disgrace [upon yourself]." Chinese grammar, and especially ancient grammar, is a little different than English. Not nearly as many articles are needed, and a lot is implied.

There are a lot of ways to express ideas similar to "Death Before Dishonor" in Chinese, and I would rate this one in the top two.

Death Before Dishonor

A soldier can die or kill, but never dishonor or disgrace himself
shì kě shā bù kě rǔ
Death Before Dishonor Vertical Wall Scroll

This almost directly matches the military idea of "Death Before Dishonor," while also being an ancient Chinese proverb.

The direct meaning is, "[A] soldier/warrior can die/kill [but he/she] cannot [allow] dishonor/disgrace [upon himself/herself]." Chinese grammar, and especially ancient grammar, is a little different than English. Not nearly as many articles are needed, and a lot is implied.

There are a lot of ways to express ideas similar to "Death Before Dishonor" in Chinese, and I would rate this one in the top two.

This is the original form of this proverb with the character for "soldier/warrior" at the beginning. Most of the time, this character is dropped, and this becomes a five-character proverb (the soldier/warrior part is implied, even without the character being present in the proverb). We also offer the shorter version.

Death Before Dishonor

fu mei yo yo ri shi
Death Before Dishonor Vertical Wall Scroll

不名誉より死 is the Japanese version of "Death Before Dishonor."

Japanese grammar is a bit different than English, so this really means something like "Rather die than to be dishonored." However, the "dishonor" is the first three Kanji, and death is the last Kanji. There are two Hiragana (より) which indicate the preference is death when comparing dishonor to death.


Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.

Death Before Surrender

Rather die than compromise
níng sǐ bù qū
Death Before Surrender Vertical Wall Scroll

寧死不屈 is often translated as "Death Before Dishonor."

The literal translation is more like, "Better die than compromise." The last two characters mean "not to bend" or "not to bow down." Some might even say that it means "not to surrender." Thus, you could say this proverb means, "Better to die than live on my knees" or simply "no surrender" (with the real idea being that you would rather die than surrender).

Death Before Dishonor

Better to be broken jade than unbroken pottery
níng wéi yù suì bú wéi wǎ quán
Death Before Dishonor Vertical Wall Scroll

寧為玉碎不為瓦全 is the long version of a Chinese proverb which means, "rather be shattered piece of jade than an unbroken piece of pottery."

A little more explanation:
Death is implied with the "broken" meaning. Jade is one of the most precious materials in Chinese history, and in this case is compared with one's honor and self-worth. Pottery is just something you eat off of, it has no deep value, just as a person who has lost their honor, or had none to begin with.
Thus, this means, "better to die with honor than to live in shame" or words to that effect.

This is often translated in English as "Death Before Dishonor," the famous military slogan.

I would also compare this to the English proverb, "Better to die on your feet than live on your knees."


This is an idiom. It therefore doesn't directly say exactly what it means. If you think about the English idiom, "The grass is always greener," it does not directly say "jealousy" or "envy" but everyone knows that it is implied.

Death Before Dishonor

Better to be broken jade than unbroken pottery
níng wéi yù suì
Death Before Dishonor Vertical Wall Scroll

寧為玉碎 is the short version of a longer Chinese proverb which means, "rather be shattered piece of jade than an unbroken piece of pottery."

寧為玉碎 just say the "rather be a broken piece of jade" part (the second half is implied - everyone in China knows this idiom).

A little more explanation:
Death is implied with the "broken" meaning. Jade is one of the most precious materials in Chinese history, and in this case is compared with one's honor and self-worth. Pottery is just something you eat off of, it has no deep value, just as a person who has lost their honor, or had none to begin with.
Thus, this means, "better to die with honor than to live in shame" or words to that effect.

寧為玉碎 is often translated in English as "Death Before Dishonor," the famous military slogan.

I would also compare this to the English proverb, "Better to die on your feet than live on your knees."

Death Before Surrender

nìng sǐ bù xiáng
Death Before Surrender Vertical Wall Scroll

This ancient Chinese proverb can be translated as "Rather to die than surrender," "Prefer death over surrender," "To prefer death to surrender," or simply "No surrender."

寧死不降 is probably the closest proverb to the English proverb "Better to die on your feet than live on your knees."

Honorable Death - No Surrender

gyokusai shugi
Honorable Death - No Surrender Vertical Wall Scroll

This ancient Japanese proverb can be translated as "The principle of honorable death and no surrender," or simply "No surrender." If you directly translate this, you get something that means "Doctrine of suicide," or "Ideology of honorable death."

玉砕主義 is a specifically-Japanese proverb that embraces the long history of honorable suicide or self-sacrifice for honor in Japanese culture.

Live Free or Die

Give me liberty or give me death
bú zì yóu wú nìng sǐ
Live Free or Die Vertical Wall Scroll

不自由毋寧死 means, "Give me liberty or give me death," in Chinese.

This is also the best way to say, "Live free or die."

The characters break down this way:
不 = Not; none; without.
自由 = Freedom; liberty; freewill; self-determination.
毋寧 = Rather; would rather; rather be.
死 = Dead; death.

This will go nicely next to your, "Don't tread on me," flag. This phrase is known well enough in China that it's listed in a few dictionaries. Though I doubt you will find too many Chinese citizens willing to yell this on the steps of the capital in Beijing.

hùn dùn
konton
Chaos Vertical Wall Scroll

混沌 is the Japanese, Korean and Chinese word that means absolute confusion, disorder and chaos.

This more directly refers to primal chaos or primeval chaos.

When reading something about Chinese mythology, you may find this term used to describe the formless mass before creation.

Chinese scientists sometimes use this word to refer to the nebulous state before the universe was formed or nebulosity.

In some context, this could mean "a state of confusion."

Sakuragi

sakuragi
Sakuragi Vertical Wall Scroll

桜木 is the Japanese surname Sakuragi.

In the past, before WWII, it would be common to see Sakuragi in the traditional form of 櫻木.

Konichiwa

konichiwa
Konichiwa Vertical Wall Scroll

This colloquial Japanese greeting means hello, or good day.

こにちわ is the common greeting for daytime or afternoon (after morning, before the sun sets).


Note: Because this title is entirely Japanese Hiragana, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.

Survivor

sei zon sha
Survivor Vertical Wall Scroll

生存者 is how survivor is written in Japanese.

生存者 is a strange selection for a wall scroll in Japanese culture, so take that into consideration before you choose this for your calligraphy artwork.

Prophet Muhammad

PBUH
mù shèng
Prophet Muhammad Vertical Wall Scroll

穆聖 is the Chinese title for the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

I'm not sure this is appropriate for members of all Muslim sects to hang on their wall, so please make your own careful decision before you order this.

Truth Flashed Through The Mind

cān wù
Truth Flashed Through The Mind Vertical Wall Scroll

參悟 is a Chan / Zen Buddhism concept that means "to understand (mystery) from meditation," or "to see truth flash through the mind."

參悟 is a pretty deep idea, therefore, your own study and contemplation may be required before you can fully appreciate it.

Moroto

moroto
Moroto Vertical Wall Scroll

師戸 is a Japanese surname that romanizes as Moroto.

師戸 is also a place name in Japan.

There are a few other Japanese surnames that have the same romanization, so be sure this is the right one before you order.

Shinkou / Shinko

shinkou / shinko
Shinkou / Shinko Vertical Wall Scroll

信耕 is a Japanese surname that can be romanized as Shinkou or Shinko.

信耕 is not the only Japanese Kanji surname that romanize as Shinkou, so make sure it's the right one before you order.

Warrior Saint / Saint of War

wǔ shèng
Warrior Saint / Saint of War Vertical Wall Scroll

This Chinese title, Wusheng means, Saint of War.

武聖 is usually a reference to Guan Yu (關羽), also known as Guan Gong (關公).

Some Chinese soldiers still pray to Wusheng for protection. They would especially do this before going into battle.

zhàn
sen
War Vertical Wall Scroll

戰 / 戦 means war, battle, or fight.

戰 / 戦 is often used to title various wars. For instance, if you add the character for "2" before this character, you have the Chinese title for WWII.

In certain context, someone can use this word to mean campaign, game, or match.


戦Note: In Japan, they tend to use the form shown to the right. If you pick the Japanese master calligrapher, you may get/request this version. It should also be noted that this Kanji is seldom used alone in Japanese.

Respect and Loyalty

zūn jìng zhōng chéng
son kei chu sei
Respect and Loyalty Vertical Wall Scroll

尊敬忠誠 means respect and loyalty in Chinese.

尊敬忠誠 is a word list (not a normal Chinese or Japanese phrase).

Word lists like this are not very common or natural in Chinese, so try to look for a better phrase to match your idea before you settle on this.

Seiseki

seiseki
Seiseki Vertical Wall Scroll

星石 is a Japanese word that means meteorite (literally "star stone").

星石 is also the common given name "Seiseki."
Please note this is not the only Japanese given name that romanizes as Seiseki. Be sure to get the right one before order (contact me first if needed).

hiro
Hiro Vertical Wall Scroll

緋色 means brilliant red or scarlet in Japanese.

緋色 is often romanized as Hiro or Hiiro and can be a given name (more often for females than males).

緋色 is not the only Japanese word or name that romanizes as Hiro, so be sure you have the right one before you order.

A Deliberate Inaction is Better than a Blind Action

yí dòng bù rú yí jìng
A Deliberate Inaction is Better than a Blind Action Vertical Wall Scroll

Sometimes this is translated by others as "Look before you leap" but the more accurate and direct translation is the one I used in the title.

While somewhat military in its origin, this proverb can apply to any situation where a decision needs to be made, but perhaps there are still some "unknowns."

This phrase suggests that in our "action based" world, sometimes the "smarter move" is "no move at all."


See Also:  Better to Choose Nothing Rather Than Make a Poor Choice

Tran

Surname
chén
chan
chin
Tran Vertical Wall Scroll

陳 is the Chinese character that was the Vietnamese surname Trần before Vietnam romanized their language.

This can also refer to the Trần Dynasty of Vietnam (1225 to 1400).

陳 is also the Chinese surname Chen, Chin or Chan, Korean surname Jin, and Japanese Surname Yo or Chin.

1000 good moves ruined by 1 bad

bú pà qiān zhāo huì zhǐ pà yī zhāo shú
1000 good moves ruined by 1 bad Vertical Wall Scroll

This Chinese proverb literally translates as: Do not worry about making a thousand clever moves; what [one has to] fear is one bad move.

Figuratively, this means: Even if you have made many clever moves before, one wrong move will ruin the whole game.

I compare this to the English saying, "It takes only one Aw-shit to wipe out a thousand Attaboys."

mǎ qiú
Polo Vertical Wall Scroll

馬球 is the Chinese title of 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 is the only sport of that period where 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."

Sumo Wrestler

lì shì
ri kishi
Sumo Wrestler Vertical Wall Scroll

This literally means "strong man" but is more commonly used as a title for sumo wrestlers.

In Japanese, this is a Rikishi.

力士 is also used in Chinese and old Korean with the same meaning. Occasionally, this will also be used to refer to a strong or mighty man, hero, demigod etc. But anyone in the CJK world will first think of a sumo wrestler before the more literary usage as a strong man or demigod.

méi
ume
Ume Vertical Wall Scroll

梅 can romanize as Ume, a Japanese surname.

梅 is also sometimes used as a female given name in both Chinese and Japanese. However, pronunciation is Mei in Chinese and Ume in Japanese.

The meaning is "Japanese apricot" (Prunus mume). It can also refer to a Chinese plum.

Note: 梅 is not the only name or character that romanizes as Ume in Japanese. Make sure you have the right Kanji before you order.

Legendary Turtle

áo
Legendary Turtle Vertical Wall Scroll

鼇 means "legendary turtle" in Chinese. 鼇 is a great mythological turtle that travels the seas. The creature is comparable to the dragon of China, however, it so happens that dragons became a bit more famous as history progressed. In modern Chinese, this character can just refer to a large sea turtle.

Note: 鼇 can be pronounced in Korean but this is a very rare Korean Hanja form - it hasn't been used in Korea for at least a few hundred years (even before they switched to Hangul characters).

Tai Chi Wing Chun Kung Fu

tài jí yǒng chūn gōng fu
Tai Chi Wing Chun Kung Fu Vertical Wall Scroll

太極詠春功夫 is the title Tai Chi Wing Chun Kung Fu.

Please note that it can be romanized a variety of ways such as:
Tai Chi Ving Tsun Kung Fu
Tai Qi Yong Chun Gong Fu
Taai Gik Wing Ceon Gung Fu

Be sure this is the right title for what you are looking for before you order.

Yoko / Brilliant / Glorious

yào
you kou
Yoko / Brilliant / Glorious Vertical Wall Scroll

燿 means brilliant or glorious in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.

I am listing this character as it is a common Japanese given name that romanizes as Yoko or Youkou. It can also be romanizes as these names as well: Yo, Teru, Akira.

As with most Japanese names, this is not the only character or only name that romanizes as Yoko. Be sure you are getting the correct character before you order.

Opportunity

hata
Opportunity Vertical Wall Scroll

機 is an odd one - I've seen this on coffee cups and posters with the meaning of "opportunity."

機 is a correct definition but this character also means "machine." In fact, if you put the character for "flying" in front of this character, you have the Chinese word for "airplane" (literally: flying machine). Alone, on a wall scroll, it will be generally understood as "opportunity" but I want you to know this extra information before you make your selection. Note that in Japanese and Korean, this has a similar meaning but can also mean machine or loom.


See Also:  Success

Zenmai / Royal Fern

wēi
zenmai
Zenmai / Royal Fern Vertical Wall Scroll

In Japanese, 薇 is usually romanized as zenmai, and refers to the royal fern (Osmunda Japonica).

In Chinese, this may refer to a different species of fern, Osmunda Regalis.

Other translations include: flowering fern; osmund; fiddlehead fern.

In Japan, this can also be romanized as Uei, and used as a personal name.

Please note that 薇 is not the only character(s) in Japanese that can romanize as zenmai. Be sure you have the right word or name before you order.

Read 10,000 Books, Travel 10,000 Miles

dú wàn juǎn shū, xíng wàn lǐ lù
Read 10,000 Books, Travel 10,000 Miles Vertical Wall Scroll

This is a lifelong suggestion for expanding your horizons by gaining knowledge, experience, and seeing the world.

Of course, this was written long ago when it was hard to travel 10,000 miles (at least 1000 years before the invention of the airplane).
With air travel and the business I'm in, I often achieve that lifetime goal on a monthly basis.
However, I am a little behind in the book count.

Note: An ancient Chinese mile (里 or lǐ) referred to in this proverb is about a third of a British/American mile. However, at that time, this was a great distance to travel.

Leopard / Panther / Jaguar

bào
hyou
Leopard / Panther / Jaguar Vertical Wall Scroll

豹 is the Chinese and Japanese word for the big cat known as a leopard, panther or Jaguar.

This can refer to most cats of the Panthera genus as well as the Puma genus (but this is not used for most kinds of lions, except smaller ones like the mountain lion).

Because Jaguars are not native to Asia, the characters for "American continent" is usually added before this character to specifically designate a Jaguar.

This also kind of means Panther or Leopard in Korean Hanja but in modern Korean, they add a Hangul character to complete the word.

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

Drinking the water of a well: One should never forget who dug it

chī shuǐ bú wàng jué jǐng rén
Drinking the water of a well: One should never forget who dug it Vertical Wall Scroll

This proverb suggests that one should always be grateful to those who helped you succeed.

And remember your ancestors and those that came before you whose sacrifices made your present life better.

Some Chinese will separate the intended meaning from this proverb and translate this as "Don't forget the people who once helped you." In Modern China, this idiom is virtually never used to refer to an actual well.

Note: This can be pronounced in Korean but it's not a commonly used phrase.

Guan Gong / Warrior Saint

guān gōng
Guan Gong / Warrior Saint Vertical Wall Scroll

This Chinese title, Guan Gong means, Lord Guan (The warrior saint of ancient China).

Guan Gong Warrior Saint

While his real name was Guan Yu / 關羽, he is commonly known by this title of Guan Gong / 關公.

Some Chinese soldiers still pray to Guan Gong for protection. They would especially do this before going into battle. Statues of Guan Gong are seen throughout China.

Adventure

tàn xiǎn
tanken
Adventure Vertical Wall Scroll

If you lead a life of adventure (like I do), a 探險 wall scroll is for you.

Alone, the first character can mean "to explore," "to search out," or "to scout." The second character holds the meanings of "dangerous" and "rugged." Together these two characters create the word that means "adventure" or "to explore."

探険 is a modern Japanese Kanji version, but it more precisely means exploration or expedition rather than adventure. 探險 is the old/ancient Japanese version used before WWII. Let us know if you want the modern Japanese version instead.


See Also:  Bon Voyage | Travel

Flower

huā
hana
Flower Vertical Wall Scroll

花 is the simple way to write "flower" in Chinese, Japanese, and old Korean. It can also mean blossoms or can refer to a fancy or assorted pattern.

Note: In some context it can mean "spend money." However, as a single character, it will be read as "flower."

This has the meaning of Xochitl (flower) in Spanish, so if your name is Xochitl, I suggest this character to represent your name.

More random information about this character:
花 is the Korean surname spelled as "Hwa" before the Korean Romanization reformation of 2000-2001.
It's also a somewhat common given name in China (for females).
花 is a borrowed word from Chinese, so it sounds similar in Chinese and Korean.

In Flowers the Cherry Blossom, In Men the Samurai

hana wa sakuragi hito wa bushi
In Flowers the Cherry Blossom, In Men the Samurai Vertical Wall Scroll

This Japanese proverb simply reads, "[In] Flowers it's Cherry Blossoms, [In] Men it's Warriors."

This is meant to say that of all the flowers in the world, the cherry blossom is the best. And of all men in the world, the Samurai or Warrior is the best

This proverb has been around for a long time. It's believed to have been composed sometime before the Edo Period in Japan (which started in 1603).

Some will drop one syllable and pronounce this, "hana wa sakura hito wa bushi." That's "sakura" instead of "sakuragi," which is like saying "cherry blossom" instead of "cherry tree."


The third character was traditionally written as 櫻. But in modern Japan, that became 桜. You may still see 櫻 used from time to time on older pieces of calligraphy. We can do either one, so just make a special request if you want 櫻.


Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.

Sincere Heart

xuě xīn
Sincere Heart Vertical Wall Scroll

When you take this word apart, you find the sum is a little different than the parts. The first character means blood and the second means heart. It is important to note that for thousands of years, it was believed that your heart was both your soul and your mind in Asian culture. When you add blood to the heart, it is your whole being - it is pure and clean dedication with your whole soul.

Most Chinese dictionaries define this as sincerity of heart or a MEDICAL TERM!!!
Please think carefully before ordering this selection - it was only added as others have used this for coffee cups and other novelties (though perhaps naively).

Learn From Your Predecessors

When the cart in front overturns, be cautions with your own
qián chē zhī fù hòu chē zhī jiàn
Learn From Your Predecessors Vertical Wall Scroll

This Chinese proverb suggests looking at the circumstances and toils of those you proceeded before you, and learning from their experience.

This more literally means, "the cart in front overturns, a warning to the following cart."

This is figuratively translated as, "draw lesson from the failure of one's predecessor," "learn from past mistakes," or compared to the English idiom, "once bitten twice shy."

Other more-direct translations:
Make the overturning of the chariot in front a warning for the chariot behind.
Learn caution through an unpleasant experience.
The wrecked coach in front should be a warning.
The overturned cart in front serves as a warning to the carts behind.

Police / Public Security Bureau

gōng ān
kou an
Police / Public Security Bureau Vertical Wall Scroll

公安 is the Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja title for (The Ministry of) Public Security. 公安 can also generally mean public safety, public security, or public welfare. It is a positive term in Japan, were some even name their daughters "Kouan" (this title).

In China, this is the kinder name for the PSB or Public Security Bureau. It's really the national police of China - occasionally brutal, and seldom properly-trained or educated. Once in a while, you find a PSB officer who lives up to the title of 公安. Before the 1989 massacre, it was the PSB officers who refused to stop nor kill any of the protesting college students (so they're not all bad). The Chinese government had to call in soldiers from Inner-Mongolia to kill thousands of protesters.

Nguyen / Ruan

Surname
ruǎn
jyun
Min / Gen
Nguyen / Ruan Vertical Wall Scroll

阮 / 阮 is the original Chinese character that represented the Vietnamese surname Nguyễn before Vietnam stopped using Chinese characters and romanized their language. It is probably the most common surname in all of Vietnam. While romanized as Nguyen, it sounds more like the English word "Win" or "When." 阮 / 阮 can also represent the Nguyen Dynasty in Vietnam which lasted from 1802 to 1945.

阮 / 阮 is also the Chinese surname Ruan, most Chinese with this surname have ancestors from a small state named Ruan during the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC) located in the southeast of modern-day Gansu Province.

In Japanese, this can be the rare surnames pronounced Min, Gen, Ken, Gan, or En.

Besides a surname, this character also represents an ancient musical instrument.

United States Marine Corps

bei kai hei tai
United States Marine Corps Vertical Wall Scroll

米海兵隊 is the Japanese way to write "United States Marine Corps" or simply "U.S. Marines."

Breaking down each Kanji, this means:
"rice (American) ocean/sea soldiers/army/military corps/regiment/group."

This title will only make sense in Japanese, it is not the same in Chinese! Make sure you know your audience before ordering a custom wall scroll.

If you are wondering about the rice, America is known as "rice country" or "rice kingdom" when literally translated. The Kanji for rice is often used as an abbreviation in front of words (like a sub-adjective) to make something "American." Americans say "rice-burner" for a Japanese car, and "rice-rocket" for a Japanese motorcycle. If you did the same in Japanese, it would be exactly the opposite meaning.


Note: I have not verified this but I've found this title used for U.S. Marines in Korean articles, so it's most likely a normal Korean term as well (but only in Korean Hanja).


See Also:  Marine Corps | Navy | Army | Art of War | Warrior | Military

Diligence

qín
kin
Diligence Vertical Wall Scroll

This single-character means diligence or "sense of duty" in Chinese and Korean (also understood in Japanese but not commonly-seen as a stand-alone Kanji).

As a single character on a wall scroll, this will only be seen with this meaning. However, it can also mean industrious, hardworking, frequent, regular, constant, energy, zeal, fortitude, or virility.

In Buddhism this can represent vīrya (viriya), the idea of energy, diligence, enthusiasm, or effort. It can be defined as an attitude of gladly engaging in wholesome activities, and it functions to cause one to accomplish wholesome or virtuous actions. Some Buddhists may even define this as "manliness" (a definition from a hundred years ago, before equality).

If you, or someone you know is a hard-worker (or needs a reminder to be diligent), then this is the wall scroll to have in your/their office.


See Also:  Tenacity | Undaunted

Goddess of Mercy and Compassion

This is the long or more formal version of this title
guān shì yīn
Goddess of Mercy and Compassion Vertical Wall Scroll

觀世音 is the longer, and perhaps more formal title for the Buddhist deity known as the Goddess of Mercy or Bodhisattva of Compassion.

The longer title of this bodhisattva is Romanized in the following ways:
Mandarin Chinese: Guanshi Yin, Kuan-shih Yin.
Japanese: Kanzeon.
Sanskrit: Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.
Korean: Gwan-se-eum.
Vietnamese: Quan Thế Âm.
Thai: Prah Mae Kuan Eim.
English: Bodhisattva of Mercy and Salvation, Goddess of Compassion, Buddha of Mercy, et al.

Please view our more common and shorter version "Guan Yin" before you make a decision. Also, note that the first character has a slight variation in Japanese. If your audience is specifically Japanese, you may want to select that version.


See Also:  Buddhism | Goddess

Lee / Plum

lee
ri / sumomo
Lee / Plum Vertical Wall Scroll

李 is the most common Chinese character which sounds like "Lee" or "Li" and is used as a surname / family name in China.

李 actually means "Plum." So it's really Mr. Plum and Mrs. Plum if you translated the name instead of romanizing.

李 is not the only character in Chinese that can be romanized as "Lee" or "Li." If your family name is "Lee" or "Li" please be sure this is the correct character before you order this scroll (look at your grandparents' Chinese passports or other documents if you are an ABC and are trying to create a heritage wall scroll).

Famous people with this surname include Bruce Lee (Li Xiao-Long), Minister Li Peng, and famous Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai. In Korea, this is the original character for a surname that romanizes as "Yi".


Note: This also one version of Lee that is a common Korean surname. However, it's often romanized as "Yi" and sometimes as "Ri" or "Rhee."

Walking 100 Miles: Stopping at 90 miles, is the same as stopping half-way.

xíng bǎi lǐ zhě bàn jiǔ shí
Walking 100 Miles: Stopping at 90 miles, is the same as stopping half-way. Vertical Wall Scroll

This old Chinese proverb speaks to the act of giving up. This phrase suggests that no matter how close you are to finishing your task or journey, giving up just before you finish, is just as bad as giving up halfway.

50% finished or 90% finished, the result is the same: "You are not finished."

You can take what you want from this proverb but I think it suggests that you should finish what you start, and especially finish that last 10% of your journey or project so that you can honestly say "it's finished."

Some notes: The character, 里, that I am translating as "mile" is really an ancient "Chinese mile" which is actually about half a kilometer - it just doesn't sound right to say "When walking 100 half-kilometers..."

Inspiration

líng gǎn
reikan
Inspiration Vertical Wall Scroll

靈感 is the Chinese word that is the closest to hitting the mark for the English word inspiration.

In a more extended context, I have even seen this translated as "brain wave."

The first character means alert, departed soul, efficacious, quick, effective or intelligence.
The second character means to feel, to move, to touch or to affect.
The combined meaning of these two characters changes a bit but I think it's nice to know the individual meanings to give you a better understanding of where a word comes from.

You could describe this word as, "the thought that pops into your head just before you patent the greatest widget ever invented, that everyone in the world will want."
At least, that's the idea.

This term can also mean "intelligent thought" if you were to translate it directly from each of these characters. If you are looking for inspiration or otherwise need to be inspired, this is the word for you.


霊When the first character was absorbed into Japanese from Chinese, an alternate form became the standard in Japan. The Kanji shown to the right is the form currently used in Japan. This is still considered an alternate form in China to this day. It's readable by both Chinese and Japanese people but if your audience is Japanese, I recommend the Kanji shown to the right - just click on that Kanji to order that version.

Koi Fish / Nishiki Goi

jǐn lǐ
nishiki goi
Koi Fish / Nishiki Goi Vertical Wall Scroll

If you like or collect and maintain koi fish, this is the wall scroll for you.

Technically, this is a certain and revered species of "koi fish" in Japan but it is the most normal selection for a wall scroll (more normal than the actual Kanji for "koi" or "fish" alone.

This literally means "brocade carp" or "embroidered carp." This term is also used to mean the same thing in China (which is the origin of koi fish breeding and cultivation, several generations before they became popular in Japan).

For those of you that don't know, the Kanji for "koi" (which is pronounced "goi" in this entry) really means "carp." If you want the word that means "koi fish," it would just be the generic word for "carp fish." That would include both colorful carp, and the more mundane gray carp (the ones people eat, if they don't mind lots of bones).

Shaolin

Little Forest
shǎo lín
sho rin
Shaolin Vertical Wall Scroll

The Shaolin monks of China have been practicing the art of Kung Fu for thousands of years. While there are many schools of Kung Fu in China, Shaolin are one of the more religiously devout and disciplined.

The title of Shaolin actually refers to a specific Buddhist monastery. It should be noted that the Shaolin were famous in China long before the Kung Fu TV show. Their fame in China is due to the monks' heroic and swift rescue an emperor during the Tang Dynasty. Most Chinese people are not keenly aware of the Kung Fu TV show, and have no idea who David Carradine is or anything about his character, Kwai Chang Caine.

Note: The literal meaning of these two characters is "little forest."

The fame of the Shaolin has spread all over Asia, as even though this is a Chinese title, the same characters are used in Japanese with the same meaning.

Beauty / Beautiful / Handsome

měi
bi
Beauty / Beautiful / Handsome Vertical Wall Scroll

美 is often used to describe the beauty of a woman. However, when applied to a man, it can mean handsome. It's also the first character in the word for "beauty salon" which you will see all over China and Japan.

This can be used as the given name for a girl (spell it or say it as "Mei" or "May").

For a bit of trivia: The title for the "USA" in Chinese is "Mei Guo" which literally means "Beautiful Country." This name was bestowed at a time before Chairman Mao came to power and decided that China didn't like the USA anymore (even though we fought together against the Japanese in WWII). But these days, Chinese people love Americans (but have distaste for American politics and policy). But I digress...

美 is also how "Beautiful" is written in Japanese Kanji and Korean Hanja. 美 can also mean: very satisfactory; good; to be pleased with oneself; abbreviation for the USA; fine; handsome; admirable; madhura; sweet; pleasant.


See Also:  Beautiful Woman | Beautiful Girl

Honor (Japanese / Simplified version)

míng yù
meiyo
Honor (Japanese / Simplified version) Vertical Wall Scroll

This version of honor is about having or earning the respect of others and about your reputation.

It is the status of being worthy of honor (not to be confused with doing honorable things or specific actions - see our other "honor" listing for that).

譽 Both modern Japanese and modern mainland Chinese use the same simplified version of the second character of honor. You can make a special request for the traditional second character as shown to the right (just click on that character to the right of you want to order that version). Before WWII, both Japan and China used the traditional form but modern Japanese and Chinese use this simplified form. Koreans still use the traditional form when they are not writing in their modern Hangul glyphs.


This is also a virtue of the Samurai Warrior
See our page with just Code of the Samurai / Bushido here

Ronin / Masterless Samurai

làng rén
rou nin
Ronin / Masterless Samurai Vertical Wall Scroll

The Ronin have no master - The most famous are the 47 ronin created after their Lord committed suicide. This term was not exactly a positive title for the Samurai of ancient Japan. However, in recent years, movies and video games have glorified the term Ronin.

In Chinese, this term has the original meaning of a hobo, vagabond or ruffian.
In Korean Hanja, these characters would be read as adventurer, wanderer, someone without a steady job, or someone who is wasting away time.

In modern Japan, this term is used as a nickname for a high school student who has failed a college entry exam (and is trying again).

In Chinese and Korean, the Japanese definition of "Masterless Samurai" is known because of the historical context, even in Japanese, the literal translation is closer to the Chinese and Korean definitions shown above.

This will make a fine wall scroll if you are a fan of the Ronin, or see yourself as a Ronin of sorts. However, please think twice before getting a Ronin tattoo!

Frightful Demon / Asura

ē xiū luó
ashura
Frightful Demon / Asura Vertical Wall Scroll

This demon title comes from the ancient Sanskrit word Asura.

阿修羅 is often used in Buddhism when describing various demons. Sometimes defined as "Fighting and battling giant demon."

In the context of Buddhism: This title originally meant a spirit, spirits, or even the gods (perhaps before 1700 years ago). It now generally indicates titanic demons, enemies of the gods, with whom, especially Indra, they wage constant war. They are defined as "not devas," and "ugly," and "without wine." There are four classes of asuras, separated according to their manner of rebirth. They can be egg-born, womb-born, transformation-born, and spawn- or water-born. Their abode is in the ocean, north of Sumeru but certain of the weaker dwell in a western mountain cave. They have realms, rulers, and palaces, as have the devas.

In terms of power, Asuras rank above humans but below most of the other deities. They live in the area near the coastal foot of Mount Sumeru (on the northern side). Their domain is partially or wholly in the ocean.

Kai Zen / Kaizen

gǎi shàn
kai zen
Kai Zen / Kaizen Vertical Wall Scroll

改善 means betterment, improvement, to make better, or to improve - specifically incremental and continuous improvement.

改善 became very important in post-war Japan when Edwards Deming came to Japan to teach concepts of incremental and continuous improvement (for which the big 3 auto-makers did not want to hear about at the time - even kicking Deming out of their offices). The Japanese workforce absorbed this concept at a time with their culture was in flux and primed for change.

This kaizen term is closely associated with the western title "Total Quality Management." Perhaps dear to my heart since I spent years studying this at university before I moved to China where TQM did not seem to exist. Slowly, this concept has entered China as well (I've actually given lectures on the subject in Beijing).

If you are trying to improve processes at your business or need to remind yourself of your continuous TQM goals, this would be a great wall scroll to hang behind your desk, or in your workplace.


See Also:  Kansei

Jujitsu / Jujutsu

róu shù
juu jutsu
Jujitsu / Jujutsu Vertical Wall Scroll

柔術 has been somewhat incorrectly spelled and pronounced "Jujitsu" for some time in the English-speaking world. The correct Japanese Romaji is Jujutsu or Juujutsu.

A little background on the word: By combining the Kanji pronounced "Ju" (which means flexible, pliable, gentle, yielding) with the Kanji pronounced "Jutsu" (which means art, or technique), we get a meaning that can be translated as "flexible technique," "gentle art" or "yielding technique."
柔術 does make sense in Chinese as well, although pronounced, "rou shu" in China.

The Jujutsu system has a history in Japan that started well-before the 1600's. Some see this style as a variation of the "Empty Hand Method" (Karate-do). Even the samurai of old used some Jujutsu methods in defending themselves with their unarmed hands against weapons that could pierce their heavy armor.

There are convoluted relationships between various schools and systems of martial arts but it's generally accepted that Jujutsu led to the development of Judo and a few other variations.

Martial Arts Master

wǔ yún zhě
bugeisha
Martial Arts Master Vertical Wall Scroll

武芸者 is the Japanese Kanji title for "Martial Arts Master." It suggests that you have reached at least the level of black belt, and are probably to the level where you are ready to become an instructor.

Please consider carefully where you stand before ordering this phrase on a wall scroll. If you are not a master, this will make you look a bit foolish.

If you want to get this as a gift for your master at the dojo. Try to discreetly make sure this term is used in your school. Different schools and styles of Japanese martial arts use different terms. You may notice in the Romaji and the characters, this has the same characters as "geisha" which means "person skilled in arts" (what a geisha girl really is). The title here has the character for "martial," "warrior," and/or "military" in front of it. Therefore the literal translation is "martial art person."

These Kanji are valid Chinese characters and Korean Hanja but this title does not really make sense in Chinese and not often used in Korean, though a Chinese or Korean would be able to guess the meaning by looking at the first and last characters.

Lingering Mind

Zanshin
cán xīn
zan shin
Lingering Mind Vertical Wall Scroll

First off, this should only be used in context of Japanese martial arts. In Chinese, it's a rather sad title (like a broken heart). In Chinese, the first character alone means destroyed, spoiled, ruined, injured, cruel, oppressive, savage, incomplete, disabled. However, in Japanese, it's remainder, leftover, balance, or lingering.
The second character means heart, mind, soul, or essence in both languages.

殘心 is one of the five spirits of the warrior (budo), and is often used as a Japanese martial arts tenet. Under that context, places such as the Budo Dojo define it this way: The spirit of zanshin is the state of the remaining or lingering spirit. It is often described as a sustained and heightened state of awareness and mental follow-through. However, true zanshin is a state of focus or concentration before, during, and after the execution of a technique, where a link or connection between uke and nage is preserved. Zanshin is the state of mind that allows us to stay spiritually connected, not only to a single attacker but to multiple attackers and even an entire context; a space, a time, an event.


残In modern Japan (and Simplified Chinese), they use a different version of the first character, as seen to the right. Click on this character to the right instead of the button above if you want this modern Japanese version of lingering mind / zanshin.

No Mind / Mushin

wú xīn
mu shin
No Mind / Mushin Vertical Wall Scroll

In Japanese, this word means innocent, or one with no knowledge of good and evil. It literally means "without mind."

無心 is one of the five spirits of the warrior (budo), and is often used as a Japanese martial arts tenet. Under that context, places such as the Budo Dojo define it this way: "No mind, a mind without ego. A mind like a mirror which reflects and dos not judge." The original term was "mushin no shin," meaning, "mind of no mind." It is a state of mind without fear, anger, or anxiety. Mushin is often described by the phrase, "mizu no kokoro," which means, "mind like water." The phrase is a metaphor describing the pond that clearly reflects it's surroundings when calm but whose images are obscured once a pebble is dropped into its waters.

This has a good meaning in conjunction with Chan / Zen Buddhism in Japan. However, out of that context, it means mindlessness or absent-minded. To non-Buddhists in China, this is associated with doing something without thinking.
In Korean, this usually means indifference.

Use caution and know your audience before ordering this selection.


More info: Wikipedia: Mushin

Unselfish: Perfectly Impartial

dà gōng wú sī
Unselfish: Perfectly Impartial Vertical Wall Scroll

This Chinese proverb comes from an old story from some time before 476 BC. About a man named Qi Huangyang, who was commissioned by the king to select the best person for a certain job in the Imperial Court.

Qi Huangyang selected his enemy for the job. The king was very confused by the selection but Qi Huangyang explained that he was asked to find the best person for the job, not necessarily someone that he personally liked or had a friendship with.

Later, Confucius commented on how unselfish and impartial Qi Huangyang was by saying "Da Gong Wu Si" which if you look it up in a Chinese dictionary, is generally translated as "Unselfish" or "Just and Fair."

If you translate each character, you'd have something like,

"Big/Deep Justice Without Self."

Direct translations like this leave out a lot of what the Chinese characters really say. Use your imagination, and suddenly you realize that "without self" means "without thinking about yourself in the decision" - together, these two words mean "unselfish." The first two characters serve to really drive the point home that we are talking about a concept that is similar to "blind justice."

One of my Chinese-English dictionaries translates this simply as "just and fair." So that is the short and simple version.

Note: This can be pronounced in Korean but it's not a commonly used term.


See Also:  Selflessness | Work Unselfishly for the Common Good | Altruism

Glory and Honor

róng
ei
Glory and Honor Vertical Wall Scroll

榮 relates to giving someone a tribute or praise. It's a little odd as a gift, so this may not be the best selection for a wall scroll.

I've made this entry just because this character is often misused as "honorable" or "keeping your honor." It's not quite the same meaning, as this usually refers to a tribute or giving an honor to someone.

榮 is often found in tattoo books incorrectly listed as the western idea of personal honor or being honorable. Check with us before you get a tattoo that does not match the meaning you are really looking for. As a tattoo, this suggests that you either have a lot of pride in yourself or that you have a wish for prosperity for you and/or your family.

栄In modern Japanese Kanji, glory and honor looks like the image to the right.

There is a lot of confusion about this character, so here are some alternate translations for this character: prosperous, flourishing, blooming (like a flower), glorious beauty, proud, praise, rich, or it can be the family name "Rong." The context in which the character is used can change the meaning between these various ideas.

In the old days, this could be an honor paid to someone by the Emperor (basically a designation by the Emperor that a person has high standing).

To sum it up: 榮 has a positive meaning, however, it's a different flavor than the idea of being honorable and having integrity.

Kirin / Giraffe / Mythical Creature

qí lǐn
keilun
kirin
Kirin / Giraffe / Mythical Creature Vertical Wall Scroll

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.

Kirin - Mythical Beast and Great Japanese Beer!
Notes:

1. 麒麟 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". 麒麟 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", even though 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).

The one who retreats 50 paces mocks the one to retreats 100

The pot calls the kettle black
wù shí bù xiào bǎi bù
The one who retreats 50 paces mocks the one to retreats 100 Vertical Wall Scroll

During the Warring States Period of what is now China (475 - 221 B.C.), the King of Wei was in love with war. He often fought with other kingdoms just for spite or fun.

One day, the King of Wei asked the philosopher Mencius, "I love my people, and all say I do the best for them. I move the people from famine-stricken areas to places of plenty, and transport grains from rich areas to the poor. Nobody goes hungry in my kingdom, and I treat my people far better than other kings. But why does the population of my kingdom not increase, and why does the population of other kingdoms not decrease?"

Mencius answered, "Since you love war, I will make this example: When going to war, and the drums beat to start the attack, some soldiers flee for their lives in fear. Some run 100 paces in retreat, and others run 50 steps. Then the ones who retreated 50 paces laugh and taunt those who retreated 100 paces, calling them cowards mortally afraid of death. Do you think this is reasonable?

The King of Wei answered, "Of course not! Those who run 50 paces are just as timid as those who run 100 paces."

Mencius then said, "You are a king who treats his subjects better than other kings treat their people but you are so fond of war, that your people suffer from great losses in battle. Therefore, your population does not grow. While other kings allow their people to starve to death, you send your people to die in war. Is there really any difference?"

This famous conversation led to the six-character proverb shown here. It serves as a warning to avoid hypocrisy. It goes hand-in-hand with the western phrase, "The pot calls the kettle black," or the Biblical phrase, "Before trying to remove a splinter from your neighbor's eye, first remove the plank from your own eye."

Past experience is the teacher for the future.

Past events not forgotten serve as teachers for later events.
qián shì bú wàng hòu shí zhī shī
Past experience is the teacher for the future. Vertical Wall Scroll

The most literal translation to English of this ancient Chinese proverb is:
"Past events not forgotten serve as teachers for later events."

However, it's been translated several ways:
Don't forget past events, they can guide you in future.
Benefit from past experience.
Past experience, if not forgotten, is a guide for the future.
Past calamity is my teacher.
A good memory for the past is a teacher for the future.
The remembrance of the past is the teacher of the future.
If one remembers the lessons of the past; They will serve as a guide to avoid mistakes in the future.

The origin:
This proverb comes from the 5th century B.C. just before the Warring States Period in the territory now known as China.
The head of the State of Jin, Zhi Bo, seized power in a coup. He did this with help from the armies of the State of Han and Wei. Instead of being grateful for the help from Han and Wei, he treacherously took the land of Han and Wei. Never satisfied, Zhi Bo employed the armies of Han and Wei to attack and seize the State of Zhao.

The king of Zhao took advice from his minister Zhang Mengtan and secretly contacted the Han and Wei armies to reverse their plans and attack the army of Zhi Bo instead. The plan was successful, and the State of Zhao was not only saved but was set to become a powerful kingdom in the region.

Zhang Mengtan immediately submitted his resignation to a confused king of Zhao. When asked why, Zhang Mengtan said, "I've done my duty to save my kingdom but looking back at past experience, I know sovereign kings are never satisfied with the power or land at hand. They will join others and fight for more power and more land. I must learn from past experiences, as those experiences are the teachers of future events."
The king could not dispute the logic in that statement and accepted Zhang Mengtan's resignation.

For generations, the State of Zhao continued to fight for power and land until finally being defeated and decimated by the State of Qin (which lead to the birth of the Qin Dynasty in 221 B.C.).

Kenpo / Kempo / Quan Fa / Chuan Fa

quán fǎ
kenpou
Kenpo / Kempo / Quan Fa / Chuan Fa Vertical Wall Scroll

This form of martial arts can be translated in several ways. Some will call it "fist principles" or "the way of the fist," or even "law of the fist." The first character literally means fist. The second can mean law, method, way, principle or Buddhist teaching.

Kempo is really a potluck of martial arts. Often a combination of Chinese martial arts such as Shaolin Kung Fu with Japanese martial arts such as Karate, Jujutsu (Jujitsu), Aikido, and others. You may see the term "Kempo Karate" which basically means Karate with other disciplines added. In this way, Kempo becomes an adjective rather than a title or school of martial arts.

These facts will long be argued by various masters and students of Kempo. Even the argument as to whether it should be spelled "kenpo" or "Kempo" ensues at dojos around the world (the correct Romaji should actually be "kenpou" if you precisely follow the rules).

The benefit of Kempo is that the techniques are easier to learn and master compared to pure Kung Fu (wu shu). Students are often taught basic Karate moves, kicks, and punches before augmenting the basic skills with complex Kung Fu techniques. This allows students of Kempo achieve a level where they can defend themselves or fight in a relatively short amount of time (a few years rather than a decade or more).

Because the definition of this word is so fluid, I should make some notes here:

1. Purists in Okinawa will claim that "Okinawa Kenpo" or "Ryukyu Hon Kenpo" is the original and true version of this martial art from the old kingdom. There is actually little or no connection between Okinawa Kenpo and the way the word is used elsewhere.

2. In Chinese, where these characters are pronounced "quan fa" (sometimes Romanized as "chuan fa" because the Chinese-pinyin "q" actually sounds like an English "ch" sound), these characters do not hold the connotation of being a mixed martial art. It is simply defined as "the law of the fist."

3. In my Japanese dictionary, it oddly defines Kenpo as "Chinese art of self-defense." I personally don't feel this is the most common way that people perceive the word but just something you should know.

Tiger Rumor

sān rén chéng hǔ
Tiger Rumor Vertical Wall Scroll

These four characters together relay the meaning that can be expressed in English as, "When three people say there's a tiger running in the street, you believe it."

Of course, there is an ancient story behind this idiom...

三人成虎 is actually a proverb that resulted from a conversation that occurred around 300 B.C.

The conversation was between the king of the Wei kingdom and one of the king's ministers named Pang Cong.

It was near the end of one of many wars, this time with the Zhao kingdom. Pang Cong was to be sent by the king to the Zhao kingdom with the king's son who was to be held hostage. It was common at the time for a king to make his son a hostage to secure stable peace between warring kingdoms.

Before minister Pang Cong departed, he asked his king, "If one person told you there was a tiger running in the street, would you believe it?."

"No," the king said.

The minister continued, "What if two people told you?"

The king replied, "Well, I would have my doubts but I might believe it."

The minister continued, "So, what if three people told you that there is a tiger running in the streets?"

The king replied, "Yes, I would believe it, it must be true if three people say it."

The minister then reminded the king, "Your son and I are now traveling far away to live in the distant Zhao kingdom - much farther from your palace than the street. Rumors may fly about me in my absence, so I hope your majesty will weight such rumors appropriately."

The king replied, "I have every trust in you, do not worry"

While the minister was gone, the king's enemies gossiped about minister Pang Cong on many occasions. At first, the king thought nothing of these comments and rumors. But slowly as the rumors mounted, the king began to suspect ill of his minister.

Some time later when peace was well-established, the minister and prince were freed and returned to the kingdom of Wei. The king received his son, BUT DID NOT EVEN SUMMON MINISTER PANG CONG TO THE PALACE!

Hopefully this story will help you see how dangerous words can be when used to promote rumors, or create ill will. And perhaps will inspire you to not believe everything you hear.

There is also a secondary suggestion in this idiom that gossip is as ferocious as a tiger. Some Chinese people who don't know the ancient story above may believe that this scroll means that rumors are as vicious as three tigers.

Note: This proverb appears in my Korean dictionary but is not well-known in Korea.

Zen / Chan / Meditation

...as in Zen Buddhism
chán
zen
Zen / Chan / Meditation Vertical Wall Scroll

First let's correct something: The Japanese romanization for this character, "Zen" has penetrated the English language. In English, it's almost always incorrectly used for phrases like "That's so zen." Nobody says "That's so meditation" - right? As the title of a sect, this would be like saying, "That's soooo Baptist!"

禪 by itself just means "meditation." In that context, it should not be confined to use by any one religion or sect.

Regardless of the dictionary definition, more often than not, this character is associated with Buddhism. And here is one of the main reasons:
Zen is used as the title of a branch of Mahayana Buddhism which strongly emphasizes the practice of meditation.
However, it should be noted that Buddhism came from India, and "Chan Buddhism" evolved and developed in medieval China. The Chinese character "Chan" was eventually pronounced as "Zen" in Japanese. Chan Buddhists in China have a lot in common with Zen Buddhists in Japan.

More about the history of Zen Buddhism here.

Please also note that the Japanese Kanji character for Zen has evolved a little in Japan, and the two boxes (kou) that you see at the top of the right side of the character have been replaced by three dots with tails. Japanese Zen Kanji The original character would still be generally understood and recognized in Japanese (it's considered an ancient version in Japan) but if you want the specifically modern Japanese version, please click on the zen Kanji to the right. Technically, there is no difference in Tensho and Reisho versions of Zen since they are ancient character styles that existed long before Japan had a written language.

Chinese Zen/Chan CharacterThere is also an alternate/shorthand/simplified Chinese version which has two dots or tails above the right-side radical. This version is also popular for calligraphy in China. If you want this version, just click the character to the right.


Further notes: Zen is just one of seven sects of Buddhism practiced in Japan. The others are 律 Ritsu (or Risshū), 法相 Hossō, 論 Sanron 華嚴 Kegon, 天台 Tendai, and 眞言 Shingon.

Mountain Travels Poem by Dumu

yuǎn shàng hán shān shí jìng xiá bái yún shēng chù yǒu rén jiā tíng chē zuò ài fēng lín wǎn shuàng yè hóng yú èr yuè huā
Mountain Travels Poem by Dumu Vertical Wall Scroll

This poem was written almost 1200 years ago during the Tang dynasty.

It depicts traveling up a place known as Cold Mountain, where some hearty people have built their homes. The traveler is overwhelmed by the beauty of the turning leaves of the maple forest that surrounds him just as night overtakes the day, and darkness prevails. His heart implores him to stop, and take in all of the beauty around him.

First before you get to the full translation, I must tell you that Chinese poetry is a lot different than what we have in the west. Chinese words simply don't rhyme in the same way that English, or other western languages do. Chinese poetry depends on rhythm and a certain beat of repeated numbers of characters.

I have done my best to translate this poem keeping a certain feel of the original poet. But some of the original beauty of the poem in it's original Chinese will be lost in translation.


Far away on Cold Mountain, a stone path leads upwards.
Among white clouds, people's homes reside.
Stopping my carriage I must, as to admire the maple forest at nights fall.
In awe of autumn leaves showing more red than even flowers of early spring.


Hopefully, this poem will remind you to stop, and "take it all in" as you travel through life.
The poet's name is "Du Mu" in Chinese that is: 杜牧.
The title of the poem, "Mountain Travels" is: 山行
You can have the title, poet's name, and even Tang Dynasty written as an inscription on your custom wall scroll if you like.

More about the poet:

Dumu lived from 803-852 AD and was a leading Chinese poet during the later part of the Tang dynasty.
He was born in Chang'an, a city of central China and former capital of the ancient Chinese empire in 221-206 BC. In present-day China, his birthplace is currently known as Xi'an, the home of the Terracotta Soldiers.

He was awarded his Jinshi degree (an exam administered by the emperor's court which leads to becoming an official of the court) at the age of 25, and went on to hold many official positions over the years. However, he never achieved a high rank, apparently because of some disputes between various factions, and his family's criticism of the government. His last post in the court was his appointment to the office of Secretariat Drafter.

During his life, he wrote scores of narrative poems, as well as a commentary on the Art of War and many letters of advice to high officials.

His poems were often very realistic, and often depicted every day life. He wrote poems about everything, from drinking beer in a tavern to weepy poems about lost love.

The thing that strikes you most is the fact even after 1200 years, not much has changed about the beauty of nature, toils and troubles of love and beer drinking.




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Gallery Price: $150.00

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

Title CharactersRomaji (Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Fix roof before the rain; Dig the well before you are thirsty補漏趁天晴未渴先掘井
补漏趁天晴未渴先掘井
bǔ lòu chèn tiān qíng wèi kě xiān jué jǐng
bu3 lou4 chen4 tian1 qing2 wei4 ke3 xian1 jue2 jing3
bu lou chen tian qing wei ke xian jue jing
pu lou ch`en t`ien ch`ing wei k`o hsien chüeh ching
pu lou chen tien ching wei ko hsien chüeh ching
Have a Walking Stick at the Ready Before You Stumble転ばぬ先の杖koro ba nu saki no tsue
korobanusakinotsue
Hoes Before Bros見色忘義
见色忘义
jiàn sè wàng yì
jian4 se4 wang4 yi4
jian se wang yi
jiansewangyi
chien se wang i
chiensewangi
The Night is Darkest Before the Dawn黎明前的黑暗lí míng qián de hēi àn
li2 ming2 qian2 de hei1 an4
li ming qian de hei an
limingqiandeheian
li ming ch`ien te hei an
limingchienteheian
li ming chien te hei an
Death Before Dishonor可殺不可辱
可杀不可辱
kě shā bù kě rǔ
ke3 sha1 bu4 ke3 ru3
ke sha bu ke ru
keshabukeru
k`o sha pu k`o ju
koshapukoju
ko sha pu ko ju
Death Before Dishonor士可殺不可辱
士可杀不可辱
shì kě shā bù kě rǔ
shi4 ke3 sha1 bu4 ke3 ru3
shi ke sha bu ke ru
shikeshabukeru
shih k`o sha pu k`o ju
shihkoshapukoju
shih ko sha pu ko ju
Death Before Dishonor不名譽より死
不名誉より死
fu mei yo yo ri shi
fumeiyoyorishi
Death Before Surrender寧死不屈
宁死不屈
níng sǐ bù qū
ning2 si3 bu4 qu1
ning si bu qu
ningsibuqu
ning ssu pu ch`ü
ningssupuchü
ning ssu pu chü
Death Before Dishonor寧為玉碎不為瓦全
宁为玉碎不为瓦全
níng wéi yù suì bú wéi wǎ quán
ning2 wei2 yu4 sui4 bu2 wei2 wa3 quan2
ning wei yu sui bu wei wa quan
ningweiyusuibuweiwaquan
ning wei yü sui pu wei wa ch`üan
ning wei yü sui pu wei wa chüan
Death Before Dishonor寧為玉碎
宁为玉碎
níng wéi yù suì
ning2 wei2 yu4 sui4
ning wei yu sui
ningweiyusui
ning wei yü sui
ningweiyüsui
Death Before Surrender寧死不降
宁死不降
nìng sǐ bù xiáng
ning4 si3 bu4 xiang2
ning si bu xiang
ningsibuxiang
ning ssu pu hsiang
ningssupuhsiang
Honorable Death - No Surrender玉砕主義gyokusai shugi
gyokusaishugi
Live Free or Die不自由毋寧死
不自由毋宁死
bú zì yóu wú nìng sǐ
bu2 zi4 you2 wu2 ning4 si3
bu zi you wu ning si
buziyouwuningsi
pu tzu yu wu ning ssu
putzuyuwuningssu
Chaos混沌kontonhùn dùn / hun4 dun4 / hun dun / hundunhun tun / huntun
Sakuragi桜木sakuragi
Konichiwaこにちわkonichiwa
Survivor生存者sei zon sha
seizonsha
Prophet Muhammad穆聖
穆圣
mù shèng / mu4 sheng4 / mu sheng / musheng
Truth Flashed Through The Mind參悟
参悟
cān wù / can1 wu4 / can wu / canwuts`an wu / tsanwu / tsan wu
Moroto師戸moroto
Shinkou
Shinko
信耕shinkou / shinko
shinko / shinko
shinko / shinko
Warrior Saint
Saint of War
武聖
武圣
wǔ shèng / wu3 sheng4 / wu sheng / wusheng
War戰 / 戦
senzhàn / zhan4 / zhanchan
Respect and Loyalty尊敬忠誠
尊敬忠诚
son kei chu sei
sonkeichusei
zūn jìng zhōng chéng
zun1 jing4 zhong1 cheng2
zun jing zhong cheng
zunjingzhongcheng
tsun ching chung ch`eng
tsunchingchungcheng
tsun ching chung cheng
Seiseki星石seiseki
Hiro緋色hiro
A Deliberate Inaction is Better than a Blind Action一動不如一靜
一动不如一静
yí dòng bù rú yí jìng
yi2 dong4 bu4 ru2 yi2 jing4
yi dong bu ru yi jing
yidongburuyijing
i tung pu ju i ching
itungpujuiching
Tranchinchén / chen2 / chench`en / chen
1000 good moves ruined by 1 bad不怕千招會隻怕一招熟
不怕千招会只怕一招熟
bú pà qiān zhāo huì zhǐ pà yī zhāo shú
bu2 pa4 qian1 zhao1 hui4 zhi3 pa4 yi1 zhao1 shu2
bu pa qian zhao hui zhi pa yi zhao shu
pu p`a ch`ien chao hui chih p`a i chao shu
pu pa chien chao hui chih pa i chao shu
Polo馬球
马球
mǎ qiú / ma3 qiu2 / ma qiu / maqiuma ch`iu / machiu / ma chiu
Sumo Wrestler力士ri kishi / rikishilì shì / li4 shi4 / li shi / lishili shih / lishih
Ume
umeméi / mei2 / mei
Legendary Turtleáo / ao2 / ao
Tai Chi Wing Chun Kung Fu太極詠春功夫
太极咏春功夫
tài jí yǒng chūn gōng fu
tai4 ji2 yong3 chun1 gong1 fu
tai ji yong chun gong fu
taijiyongchungongfu
t`ai chi yung ch`un kung fu
taichiyungchunkungfu
tai chi yung chun kung fu
Yoko
Brilliant
Glorious
you kou / youkou / yo ko / yokoyào / yao4 / yao
Opportunity
hatajī / ji1 / jichi
Zenmai
Royal Fern
zenmaiwēi / wei1 / wei
Read 10,000 Books, Travel 10,000 Miles讀萬卷書行萬里路
读万卷书行万里路
dú wàn juǎn shū, xíng wàn lǐ lù
du2 wan4 juan3 shu1 xing2 wan4 li3 lu4
du wan juan shu xing wan li lu
duwanjuanshuxingwanlilu
tu wan chüan shu hsing wan li lu
Leopard
Panther
Jaguar
hyou / hyobào / bao4 / baopao
Five Elements五行gogyou / gogyowǔ xíng / wu3 xing2 / wu xing / wuxingwu hsing / wuhsing
Drinking the water of a well: One should never forget who dug it吃水不忘掘井人chī shuǐ bú wàng jué jǐng rén
chi1 shui3 bu2 wang4 jue2 jing3 ren2
chi shui bu wang jue jing ren
chishuibuwangjuejingren
ch`ih shui pu wang chüeh ching jen
chih shui pu wang chüeh ching jen
Guan Gong
Warrior Saint
關公
关公
guān gōng
guan1 gong1
guan gong
guangong
kuan kung
kuankung
Adventure探險
探险 / 探険
tankentàn xiǎn / tan4 xian3 / tan xian / tanxiant`an hsien / tanhsien / tan hsien
Flowerhanahuā / hua1 / hua
In Flowers the Cherry Blossom, In Men the Samurai花は櫻木人は武士
花は桜木人は武士
hana wa sakuragi hito wa bushi
Sincere Heart血心xuě xīn / xue3 xin1 / xue xin / xuexinhsüeh hsin / hsüehhsin
Learn From Your Predecessors前車之覆后車之鑒
前车之覆后车之鉴
qián chē zhī fù hòu chē zhī jiàn
qian2 che1 zhi1 fu4 hou4 che1 zhi1 jian4
qian che zhi fu hou che zhi jian
ch`ien ch`e chih fu hou ch`e chih chien
chien che chih fu hou che chih chien
Police
Public Security Bureau
公安kou an / kouan / ko an / koangōng ān / gong1 an1 / gong an / gongankung an / kungan
Nguyen
Ruan
阮 / 阮
Min / Genruǎn / ruan3 / ruanjuan
United States Marine Corps米海兵隊bei kai hei tai
beikaiheitai
Diligencekinqín / qin2 / qinch`in / chin
Goddess of Mercy and Compassion觀世音
观世音
guān shì yīn
guan1 shi4 yin1
guan shi yin
guanshiyin
kuan shih yin
kuanshihyin
Lee
Plum
ri / sumomolǐ / li3 / li
Walking 100 Miles: Stopping at 90 miles, is the same as stopping half-way.行百里者半九十xíng bǎi lǐ zhě bàn jiǔ shí
xing2 bai3 li3 zhe3 ban4 jiu3 shi2
xing bai li zhe ban jiu shi
xingbailizhebanjiushi
hsing pai li che pan chiu shih
hsingpailichepanchiushih
Inspiration靈感
灵感
reikanlíng gǎn / ling2 gan3 / ling gan / lingganling kan / lingkan
Koi Fish
Nishiki Goi
錦鯉
锦鲤
nishiki goi
nishikigoi
jǐn lǐ / jin3 li3 / jin li / jinlichin li / chinli
Shaolin少林sho rin / shorinshǎo lín / shao3 lin2 / shao lin / shaolin
Beauty
Beautiful
Handsome
biměi / mei3 / mei
Honor (Japanese
Simplified version)
名譽
名誉
meiyomíng yù / ming2 yu4 / ming yu / mingyuming yü / mingyü
Ronin
Masterless Samurai
浪人rou nin / rounin / ro nin / roninlàng rén / lang4 ren2 / lang ren / langrenlang jen / langjen
Frightful Demon
Asura
阿修羅
阿修罗
ashuraē xiū luó
e1 xiu1 luo2
e xiu luo
exiuluo
o hsiu lo
ohsiulo
Kai Zen
Kaizen
改善kai zen / kaizengǎi shàn / gai3 shan4 / gai shan / gaishankai shan / kaishan
Jujitsu
Jujutsu
柔術
柔术
juu jutsu / juujutsu / ju jutsu / jujutsuróu shù / rou2 shu4 / rou shu / roushujou shu / joushu
Martial Arts Master武芸者bugeishawǔ yún zhě
wu3 yun2 zhe3
wu yun zhe
wuyunzhe
wu yün che
wuyünche
Lingering Mind殘心
残心
zan shin / zanshincán xīn / can2 xin1 / can xin / canxints`an hsin / tsanhsin / tsan hsin
No Mind
Mushin
無心
无心
mu shin / mushinwú xīn / wu2 xin1 / wu xin / wuxinwu hsin / wuhsin
Unselfish: Perfectly Impartial大公無私
大公无私
dà gōng wú sī
da4 gong1 wu2 si1
da gong wu si
dagongwusi
ta kung wu ssu
takungwussu
Glory and Honor
荣 / 栄
eiróng / rong2 / rongjung
Kirin
Giraffe
Mythical Creature
麒麟kirinqí lǐn / qi2 lin3 / qi lin / qilinch`i lin / chilin / chi lin
The one who retreats 50 paces mocks the one to retreats 100五十步笑百步wù shí bù xiào bǎi bù
wu4 shi2 bu4 xiao4 bai3 bu4
wu shi bu xiao bai bu
wushibuxiaobaibu
wu shih pu hsiao pai pu
wushihpuhsiaopaipu
Past experience is the teacher for the future.前事不忘后事之師
前事不忘后事之师
qián shì bú wàng hòu shí zhī shī
qian2 shi4 bu2 wang4 hou4 shi2 zhi1 shi1
qian shi bu wang hou shi zhi shi
ch`ien shih pu wang hou shih chih shih
chien shih pu wang hou shih chih shih
Kenpo
Kempo
Quan Fa
Chuan Fa
拳法kenpou / kenpoquán fǎ / quan2 fa3 / quan fa / quanfach`üan fa / chüanfa / chüan fa
Tiger Rumor三人成虎sān rén chéng hǔ
san1 ren2 cheng2 hu3
san ren cheng hu
sanrenchenghu
san jen ch`eng hu
sanjenchenghu
san jen cheng hu
Zen
Chan
Meditation

zenchán / chan2 / chanch`an / chan
Mountain Travels Poem by Dumu遠上寒山石徑斜白雲生處有人家停車坐愛楓林晚霜葉紅於二月花
远上寒山石径斜白云生处有人家停车坐爱枫林晚霜叶红于二月花
yuǎn shàng hán shān shí jìng xiá bái yún shēng chù yǒu rén jiā tíng chē zuò ài fēng lín wǎn shuàng yè hóng yú èr yuè huā
yuan3 shang4 han2 shan1 shi2 jing4 xia2 bai2 yun2 sheng1 chu4 you3 ren2 jia1 ting2 che1 zuo4 ai4 feng1 lin2 wan3 shuang4 ye4 hong2 yu2 er4 yue4 hua1
yuan shang han shan shi jing xia bai yun sheng chu you ren jia ting che zuo ai feng lin wan shuang ye hong yu er yue hua
yüan shang han shan shih ching hsia pai yün sheng ch`u yu jen chia t`ing ch`e tso ai feng lin wan shuang yeh hung yü erh yüeh hua
yüan shang han shan shih ching hsia pai yün sheng chu yu jen chia ting che tso ai feng lin wan shuang yeh hung yü erh yüeh hua
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.


Many custom options...


Mountain Travels Poem by Dumu Vertical Wall Scroll
Mountain Travels Poem by Dumu Vertical Wall Scroll
Mountain Travels Poem by Dumu Vertical Wall Scroll
Mountain Travels Poem by Dumu Vertical Wall Scroll


And formats...

Mountain Travels Poem by Dumu Vertical Portrait
Mountain Travels Poem by Dumu Horizontal Wall Scroll
Mountain Travels Poem by Dumu 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 Before Kanji, Before Characters, Before in Mandarin Chinese, Before Characters, Before in Chinese Writing, Before in Japanese Writing, Before in Asian Writing, Before Ideograms, Chinese Before symbols, Before Hieroglyphics, Before Glyphs, Before in Chinese Letters, Before Hanzi, Before in Japanese Kanji, Before Pictograms, Before in the Chinese Written-Language, or Before in the Japanese Written-Language.

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