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10. Everyday Life
11. Happy Birthday
12. Sun / Solar
16. Hello / Ni Hao
17. New Beginning
21. Gold / Metal
30. Love Life
31. Guan Yu
33. Yin Yang
34. Bonsai / Penzai
37. Nguyen / Ruan
38. Birth / Life
46. Push or Knock
This Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja phrase suggests doing a good deed each day, or doing one good turn a day.
It literally reads, "One Day, One Good (Deed)".
日 is how to write "day" in Chinese, Japanese and Korean Hanja.
This can also mean "Sun", the star in the middle of the Solar system in which we live. In Japanese, it can also mean "sunshine" or even "Sunday".
When writing the date in modern Chinese and Japanese, putting a number in front of this character indicates the day of the month. Of course, you need to indicate the month too... The month is expressed with a number followed by the character for the moon. So "three moons ten suns" would be "March 10th" or "3/10".
Note: 日 is also the first character for the proper name of Japan. Remember that Japan is "The land of the rising sun"? Well, the first character for Japan means "sun" the second means "origin" so you get the real meaning now. Sometimes, in China, this sun character can be a short name for Japan or a suffix for something of or from Japan.
今を生きる is a Japanese phrase that can be translated as "live for the day", "live for the moment", "seize the day", or "make the most of the present".
You can think of this as the Japanese version of "Carpe Diem".
Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.
好好學習天天向上 is a famous proverb by Chairman Mao Zedong that sounds really strange when directly translated into English.
I include it in our database of phrases to illustrate how different the construction and grammar can be between Chinese and English. The direct translation is "Good Good Study, Day Day Up". In Chinese, a repeated character/word can often serve to reinforce the idea (like saying "very" or suggesting "a lot of"). So "good good" really means "a lot of good". While "day day" can be better translated as "day in day out". The idea of "up" has a meaning in China of "rising above" or "improving".
After understanding all of this, we come up with a slightly better translation of "With lot of good study, day in day out, we raise above".
The more natural translation of this proverb would be something like, "study hard, and keep improving".
活在今天 is not really an eastern concept, so it does not translate into a phrase that seems natural on a wall scroll.
However, if this is your philosophy, the characters shown here do capture your idea of living for today or living in the moment. 活在今天 literally say "Live in today" and they are grammatically correct in Chinese.
Note: This kind of makes sense in Korean Hanja but the grammar is Chinese, so it’s not that natural in Korean.
一日千秋 is a Japanese and Chinese proverb about missing someone.
一日千秋 is often used to express how hard it is to wait for someone's return, or to be away from someone.
Some will translate this as, "one day feels like a very long time", or "waiting for someone (something) is hard".
You might see this romanized as a single word, Ichijitsusenshuu, or as "Ichijitsu Senshuu" from Japanese.
If you break down the characters one-by-one, we get:
一 = one / a
日 = day / sun (can also represent time, or a date)
千 = 1000 / a thousand
秋 = autumn / fall
Together, 千秋 can mean, "autumn comes thousand times" (or 1000 years). It can also be read as 1000 periods of time.
However you literally read this, it relays the idea of heartache as you wait for someone that you miss.
In simple terms, this means "from now on" but you can also interpret it as "Now is the beginning of the future" or "From this day forward.
The first two characters roughly mean "henceforth". The last two characters mean later, afterward, following, or "in the future".
This simply means everyday life or regular life.
You can also translate it as "Living day to day".
祝誕生日 is the shortest way to write "Happy Birthday" in Japanese.
The first Kanji means "wish" or "express good wishes", and the last three characters mean "birthday".
Because a birthday only lasts one day per year, we strongly suggest that you find an appropriate and personal calligraphy gift that can be hung in the recipient's home year-round.
生日快樂 is how to write "Happy Birthday" in Chinese.
The first two characters mean "birthday", and the second two characters mean "happiness", or rather a wish for happiness.
Because a birthday only lasts one day per year, we strongly suggest that you find an appropriate and personal calligraphy gift that can be hung in the recipient's home year-round.
日 is the word for sun. It also means day, and can refer to the day of the month when expressing the date.
Example: October 1st would be "10 Moons, 1 Sun".
日 is also the first Kanji for the title of Japan (in Chinese, Japanese Kanji and Korean Hanja). Thus, this character is used as an adjective for things that are Japanese.
Ever heard of Japan being called, "The land of the rising sun"? Well, that's what the full title of Japan means.
Depending on context, this character can mean Sunshine or Sunlight.
Note: In Japanese, this Kanji has a variety of possible pronunciations. The pronunciation changed depending on context and how this Kanji is combined with other Kanji. When used alone, this is usually "hi" (pronounced like "hee") but sometimes it’s "nichi." When combined, it can be "tsu," "ni," "ka," and a few others.
現世 is a very short way to write "live in the moment" or "live in the now" in Japanese.
This short word is open to interpretation. It's used in Japanese Buddhism to mean "the current epoch" or "the current age" (the current age is but a brief moment in the greater scope of existence). When used in that context, this is pronounced "utsushiyo" or "ustusiyo" in Japanese. Otherwise, it's pronounced "gensei" in Japanese.
Other translation possibilities include:
Note: This is also a word in Chinese and old Korean Hanja. While the meaning is more or less the same, this is not recommended for a wall scroll if your audience is Chinese or Korean. This selection is best if your audience is Japanese.
時機 is a common way to express day-to-day opportunities.
It's sometimes used to express "an occasion".
你好 is the day to day way to say hello in Chinese.
The characters literally mean, "You good?" It's sort of the equivalent of "What's up?" in English, where nobody expects an actual answer.
This explanation is here for educational purposes only. 你好 is an oral word which is not appropriate for a scroll (not a bad meaning, just very odd for a wall scroll).
伊始 is a short version of "new beginning" or simply "beginning" in Chinese characters.
You can also translated this as "from this moment on", "starting now" or "henceforth".
In day-to-day speech, this word can apply to starting new job, beginning a new career, entering a new chapter of your life, or taking a new position (in politics, scholarship, etc).
This is an old Japanese proverb that suggests you try to never forget the enthusiasm you had as a child when you try new things (or even face the day-to-day). Basically avoid having a mundane attitude that many people get with age.
You'll find this Japanese proverb translated a few different ways. Here are some of them:
Don't forget your first resolution.
Never forget your child-like enthusiasm.
Forget not the beginner's mind.
Try never to lose your initial enthusiasm (freshness of attitude).
Note: This is sometimes written as 初心忘る可からず. The one shown above is used about 10x more often. There’s only one character difference between the two versions.
Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.
天 means "heaven" or "sky" in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
The context determines if you are talking about heaven or the sky above (often they are the same concept).
When combined with other characters, words like "today" and "tomorrow" are created. While sometimes the character for "sun" is used to mean "day", often "sky" represents "day" in Asian languages.
Example: 今天 (this sky) = "today", 明天 (next sky) = "tomorrow" in modern Chinese and Japanese.
In Chinese culture, regardless of which religion, it's almost always assumed that God (and any other deities) live up above in the sky. The concept of God living in the sky is likely the reason heaven is associated with this character.
The equation goes something like this: God's domain is the sky, thus, the sky is heaven.
Note: As a single character, this is a little ambiguous, so you might want to choose our Kingdom of Heaven selection instead.
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.
感激 is thankfulness or being grateful for what you have.
It is an attitude of gratitude for learning, loving and being. Appreciate the little things that happen around you and within you every day. Think positively. Thankfulness brings contentment.
Different meaning in Japanese - more like "deep emotion," "impression," "inspiration" - not recommended for a Japanese audience.
This encompasses the idea of meditation.
It's also a term used to describe a deep form of day-dreaming, exploring one's imagination, the act of contemplating, or the idea of contemplation. 冥想 is often associated with Buddhism, however, the word "Zen" in Japanese (or "Chan" in Chinese) is probably more commonly used (or better known in the west).
See Also: Zen
忠 is the simplest way to write the word loyalty in Chinese and Japanese.
A single character like this leaves the meaning open. But alone, a Chinese or Japanese person would think of loyalty to duty or loyalty to one's master (in ancient times). I suppose that it could be loyalty to your boss or company in this day in age.
忠 can also mean fidelity or faithfulness.
This can also be romanized as "chung".
Joyfulness is an inner sense of peace and happiness.
You appreciate the gifts each day brings. Without joyfulness, when the fun stops, our happiness stops. Joy can carry us through the hard times even when we are feeling very sad.
快樂 can also mean pleasure, enjoyment, delight, cheerful, or merry. In some ways, this is the essence that makes someone to be perceived as a charming person.
See Also: Happiness
This Chinese philosophy tells of how we continue to learn throughout our lives.
This proverb can be translated in a few ways such as "Study has no end", "Knowledge is infinite", "No end to learning", "There's always something new to study", or "You live and learn".
The deeper meaning: Even when we finish school we are still students of the world gaining more knowledge from our surroundings with each passing day.
熱愛生命 is the Chinese phrase for "Love Life" or "Love of Life".
If you love your life, or want a reminder on your wall to keep you loving your life each day, this is the selection for you.
To clarify, this is different than "A life full of love", or "love while you live". With this phrase, you are loving the state of being alive.
Note: Korean pronunciation is included above, though use of this phrase in Korean has not been verified.
關羽 is the name Guan Yu, Army General for the Kingdom of Shu.
He is also known as Guan Gong (like saying Duke Guan or Sir Guan)
He was immortalized in the novel, "Romance of the Three Kingdoms".
He was a fearsome fighter, also famous for his virtue and loyalty. He is worshiped by some modern-day soldiers and has the title "Warrior Saint" in China. Some believe he offers safety and protection for military servicemen.
Guan Yu lived until 219 A.D.
正精進 is one of the Noble Eightfold Paths of Buddhism. Right Effort, along with Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration constitute the path to Concentration or Perfect Thought.
Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake in each moment, the effort to overcome laziness and defilement, the effort to make each activity of our day meditation. This concept is about pursuing wholesome things that promote good karma.
Another definition: Cultivation of what is karmically wholesome and avoidance of what is karmically unwholesome.
This term is exclusively used by devout Buddhists. It is not a common term, and is remains an unknown concept to most Japanese and Chinese people.
These are the characters that literally mean yin and yang in written form (versus the common yin yang symbol). The first character has the element of the moon, while the second character has the element of the sun, so you can see, even in written form, they suggest the balance of opposites (of night and day). You could also translate this title as "sun and moon".
Note: This title is often misspelled as Ying Yang instead of Yin Yang.
See Also: Taoism
盆栽 is the word that refers to the culture, hobby and to the miniature trees themselves that have become popular around the world.
Like many things, this art migrated from China to Japan some time ago but we tend to associate it with Japanese culture and even use the Japanese word in English.
Granted, in present day, this hobby seems to be more popular in Japan but still has a great following in China and even a little in Korea as well.
Note: Many people confuse the title of the bonsai tree with "banzai" which is a form of "hooray" in Japanese. I have also seen it misspelled as "bansai". The correct Romanization (Romaji) is "bonsai".
星 is how "star" is written in Chinese, Japanese, and old Korean.
Thousands of years ago, when this character was first developed, there was belief that you could see remnants of stars in everything. In fact, some early Chinese men of science suggested that all living things came from "stardust" or cosmic debris. This could explain why the upper portion of this character mans "sun" (a star itself) and the lower portion means "birth" or "life".
Oddly enough, modern-day scientists suggest that we are all made up of cosmic dust. Seems they were getting it right in China at a time when the western world thought the Earth was flat and the Church was claiming that the sun and all cosmic bodies revolved around the Earth.
天恩 is the deepest way to say "Heaven's Grace" or "God's Grace" in Chinese.
The first character means Heaven or sky (referring in this case to the domain of God).
The second character means grace, blessings, benevolence, favor/favour, acts of kindness, merits, or beneficial influence.
This title can also be defined as:
Blessings of Heaven, Favor of the Emperor, Divination's luckiest day, or blessings of nature. Note: When you see "Emperor" above, keep in mind that the Emperor, like the Pope is theoretically chosen by God, or seen as an emissary or conduit of God in ancient Asian culture. It would only be read that way in a certain context such as, "The Emperor, in his mercy, bestowed upon him Heaven's Grace and the prisoner was set free".
Note: Technically, this is a Japanese word too (pronounced "ten-on") but it’s rarely used in Japan anymore. Therefore, this title is best if your audience is Chinese.
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.
This Chinese word means "to be born" and "to give birth".
Also, it's often used to refer to life itself, and sometimes "to grow".
生 is used in a lot of compound words such as "yi sheng", which means "doctor" (literally "healer of life"), "sheng ri" which means "birthday" (literally "birth day") and "xue sheng" which means student (literally "studying life" or "learner [about] life"). Few Chinese people will think of the literal meaning when this use words like doctor and student - but it is interesting to note.
生 has the same root meaning in Korean Hanja and Japanese. However, in Japanese, there are many possible pronunciations, and this can be used to mean "raw" or "unprocessed" (as in draft beer). Therefore, not be the best if your audience is Japanese.
See Also: Vitality
In China, this proverb is used in response to a good joke or witty comment.
The story goes that Mr. Feng and Mr. He were both senior officials in the Song Dynasty (about a thousand years ago). One day, Mr. Feng walked into their shared office wearing a new pair of boots. The boots caught the eye of Mr. He who said, "New boots! - how much were they?". Mr. Feng lifted one of the boots off the ground as if to show it off and responded, "900 coins".
Astonished, Mr. Feng explained, "900? How can that be? - I paid 1800 coins for my boots!". Mr. Feng then lifted his other foot off the ground and said, "This boot was also 900 coins".
It is said that the whole room was shaking from the laughter of all that heard Mr. Feng's joke on Mr. He.
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: .
The title of the poem, "Mountain Travels" is:
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.
師父 means master in Chinese (occasionally used in Korean Hanja and Japanese as well). In the context of Martial Arts, this is the master and teacher who instructs students.
The second character by itself means father. Thus, you get the "Fatherly Master" translation. There's an old Chinese saying that goes something like, "One who is your teacher for one day, is your father for life".
Language notes: I've often seen this romanized as "sifu", this is actually the Cantonese romanization. In Mandarin Chinese, it's "shifu". The pronunciation in Mandarin is actually like "sure foo" (using typical English pronunciation). There's an "R-sound" in there, which is not obvious from the romanization. Many martial arts studios incorrectly pronounce this like "she foo" (which is actually the Japanese pronunciation). In Cantonese, it sounds like "Sea foo" (almost like "sea food", minus the "d" on the end).
師父 is kind of a weird selection for a calligraphy wall scroll, this entry is more for educational purposes. But you are welcome to buy it if you feel it's appropriate for your circumstances.
This Chinese proverb means, "Bore a hole on the wall to make use of the neighbor's light to study".
鑿壁偷光 is a nice gift for a very studious person.
Kuang Heng was born during the Western Han period. He was very fond of reading ever since he was young. However, he could not go to school since his family was poor, and he had to borrow books from people to learn.
In order to borrow these books he normally did chores for people who had them. When he became older, he had to work in the field from sunrise to sunset since his family's financial situation did not get any better. Thus, he tried to study at night but he had no lamp.
One day, he noticed that there was light from the neighbor's house coming through a crack in the wall. This made him very happy, so he dug a larger hole from the crack and read in the light that shone through. This diligent study eventually made him an accomplished person.
Many things have opposite properties. The water you drink can also drown you. Pork may nourish you and keep you alive but under-cook it and it could kill you. Potassium nitrate is often used as a fertilizer to grow the food that sustains us but it's also been used as an explosive to topple buildings and destroy us.
This concept is easily associated with "yin yang" where an element has two opposite properties that are as different as night and day.
This proverb's meaning can be summed up this way: "Anything that can lead you to success may also contain great risks".
This phrase is known in literary circles by Korean people (scholars or literature). It is therefore also a valid proverb in Korean Hanja, though most Koreans would not be able to make sense of it.
Please note that there is an unwritten rule when the same character appears twice in the same phrase, the calligrapher will alter the appearance so that no two characters are exactly alike in the same piece. This calligraphy has two repeating characters that will be written differently than they appear here.
孔子 is how to write the name of the great sage, known in the West as Confucius.
His real name is Kongzi (The name Confucius is a westernized version of his name - his family name is Kong, and "zi" was added as a title of distinction).
He lived some 2500 years ago in Qufu, a town in modern-day Shandong Province of Northern China (about 6 hours south of Beijing by bus). He was a consort to Emperors, and after his death, the impact of his philosophies still served to advise emperors, officials, and common people for generations.
Also during these thousands of years, the Kong family remained powerful in China, and the Kong estate was much like the Vatican in Rome. The Kong estate existed as if on sovereign ground with its own small garrison of guards and privileges of a kingdom within an empire.
This was true up until the time the Kong family had to flee to Taiwan in 1949 when the Red Army took victory over the Nationalists during the Revolution. The home of Confucius was later razed and all statues defaced or stolen during the Cultural Revolution. Finally, after years of smearing his name and image, it is once again okay to celebrate the teachings of Confucius in mainland China.
This speaks to the cunning character of a sly rabbit. Such a rabbit will not have just one hole but rather a few entrances and exits from his liar.
About 2,250 years ago a very rich man told his assistant to go and buy something wonderful that he did not yet posses. He was a man that already had everything, so the assistant went to a local village that owed a great deal of money to the rich man. The assistant told the village elders that all debts were forgiven. All the villagers rejoiced and praised the rich man's name. The assistant returned to the rich man and told him he had purchased "benevolence" for him. The rich man was mildly amused but perhaps a bit confused by the action.
Some time later, the rich man fell from the favor of the Emperor, and was wiped out without a penny to his name. One day he was walking aimlessly and stumbled into the village in which the debts had been forgiven. The villagers recognized the man and welcomed him with open arms, clothed, fed, and gave him a place to live.
Without trying, the man had become like the sly and cunning rabbit. When his exit was blocked, he had another hole to emerge from - and was reborn. This story and idiom comes from a book titled "The Amendment" - it's unclear whether this man actually existed or not. But the book did propel this idiom into common use in China.
Still today this idiom about the rabbit is used in China when suggesting "backup plans" alternate methods, and anyone with a good escape plan.
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 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.
This Chinese proverb means, the one who retreats 50 paces mocke the one who retreats 100 paces.
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".
A husband and wife separated and reunited.
About 1500 years ago in China, there lived a beautiful princess named Le Chang. She and her husband Xu De Yan loved each other very much. But when the army of the Sui Dynasty was about to attack their kingdom, disposed of all of their worldly possessions and prepared to flee into exile.
They knew that in the chaos, they might lose track of each other, so the one possession they kept was a bronze mirror which is a symbol of unity for a husband and wife. They broke the mirror into two pieces, and each of them kept half of the mirror. They decided that if separated, they would try to meet in the fair during the 15th day of the first lunar month (which is the lantern festival). Unfortunately, the occupation was brutal, and the princess was forced to become the mistress of the new commissioner of the territory, Yang Su.
At the Lantern Festival the next year, the husband came to the fair to search for his wife. He carried with him, his half of the mirror. As he walked through the fair, he saw the other half of the mirror for sale at a junk market by a servant of the commissioner. The husband recognized his wife's half of the mirror immediately, and tears rolled down his face as he was told by the servant about the bitter and loveless life that the princess had endured.
As his tears dripped onto the mirror, the husband scratched a poem into his wife's half of the mirror:
You left me with the severed mirror,
The mirror has returned but absent are you,
As I gaze in the mirror I seek your face,
I see the moon but as for you, I see not a trace.
The servant brought the inscribed half of the mirror back to the princess. For many days, the princess could not stop crying when she found that her husband was alive and still loved her.
Commissioner Yang Su, becoming aware of this saga realized that he could never obtain the love of the princess. He sent for the husband and allowed them to reunite.
This proverb, 破鏡重圓, is now used to describe a couple who has been torn apart for some reason (usually divorce) but have come back together (or remarried).
It seems to be more common these days in America for divorced couples to reconcile and get married to each other again. This would be a great gift if you know someone who is about to remarry their ex.
Long ago in what is now China, there were many kingdoms throughout the land. This time period is known as "The Warring States Period" by historians because these kingdoms often did not get along with each other.
Some time around 279 B.C. the Kingdom of Chu was a large but not particularly powerful kingdom. Part of the reason it lacked power was the fact that the King was surrounded by "yes men" who told him only what he wanted to hear. Many of the King's court officials were corrupt and incompetent which did not help the situation.
The King was not blameless himself, as he started spending much of his time being entertained by his many concubines.
One of the King's ministers, Zhuang Xin, saw problems on the horizon for the Kingdom, and warned the King, "Your Majesty, you are surrounded by people who tell you what you want to hear. They tell you things to make you happy, and cause you to ignore important state affairs. If this is allowed to continue, the Kingdom of Chu will surely perish, and fall into ruins".
This enraged the King who scolded Zhuang Xin for insulting the country and accused him of trying to create resentment among the people. Zhuang Xin explained, "I dare not curse the Kingdom of Chu but I feel that we face great danger in the future because of the current situation". The King was simply not impressed with Zhuang Xin's words.
Seeing the King's displeasure with him and the King's fondness for his court of corrupt officials, Zhuang Xin asked permission of the King that he may take leave of the Kingdom of Chu, and travel to the State of Zhao to live. The King agreed, and Zhuang Xin left the Kingdom of Chu, perhaps forever.
Five months later, troops from the neighboring Kingdom of Qin invaded Chu, taking a huge tract of land. The King of Chu went into exile, and it appeared that soon, the Kingdom of Chu would no longer exist.
The King of Chu remembered the words of Zhuang Xin, and sent some of his men to find him. Immediately, Zhuang Xin returned to meet the King. The first question asked by the King was, "What can I do now?"
Zhuang Xin told the King this story:
A shepherd woke one morning to find a sheep missing. Looking at the pen saw a hole in the fence where a wolf had come through to steal one of his sheep. His friends told him that he had best fix the hole at once. But the Shepherd thought since the sheep is already gone, there is no use fixing the hole.
The next morning, another sheep was missing. And the Shepherd realized that he must mend the fence at once. Zhuang Xin then went on to make suggestions about what could be done to reclaim the land lost to the Kingdom of Qin, and reclaim the former glory and integrity in the Kingdom of Chu.
The Chinese idiom shown above came from this reply from Zhuang Xin to the King of Chu almost 2,300 years ago.
It translates roughly into English as...
"Even if you have lost some sheep, it's never too late to mend the fence".
This proverb is often used in modern China when suggesting in a hopeful way that someone change their ways, or fix something in their life. It might be used to suggest fixing a marriage, quit smoking, or getting back on track after taking an unfortunate path in life among other things one might fix in their life.
I suppose in the same way that we might say, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" in our western cultures to suggest that you can always start anew.
Note: This does have Korean pronunciation but is not a well-known proverb in Korean (only Koreans familiar with ancient Chinese history would know it). Best if your audience is Chinese.
This in-stock artwork might be what you are looking for, and ships right away...
The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji (Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|One Good Deed Each Day||一日一善||ichinichichizen||yī rì yī shàn|
yi1 ri4 yi1 shan4
yi ri yi shan
|i jih i shan
|Progress Day by Day||日漸|
|rì jiàn / ri4 jian4 / ri jian / rijian||jih chien / jihchien|
|Day||日||hi / nichi||rì / ri4 / ri||jih|
|Live For The Day|
Seize The Day
|今を生きる||ima wo i ki ru|
|Good Good Study, Day Day Up||好好學習天天向上|
|hǎo hǎo xué xí tiān tiān xiàng shàng|
hao3 hao3 xue2 xi2 tian1 tian1 xiang4 shang4
hao hao xue xi tian tian xiang shang
|hao hao hsüeh hsi t`ien t`ien hsiang shang
hao hao hsüeh hsi tien tien hsiang shang
|Live For The Day||活在今天||huó zài jīn tiān|
huo2 zai4 jin1 tian1
huo zai jin tian
|huo tsai chin t`ien
huo tsai chin tien
|One Day Seems Like 1000 Years||一日千秋||ichi jitsu sen shuu |
ichi jitsu sen shu
|yí rì qiān qiū|
yi2 ri4 qian1 qiu1
yi ri qian qiu
|i jih ch`ien ch`iu
i jih chien chiu
Seize the Day
|把握今日||bǎ wò jīn rì|
ba3 wo4 jin1 ri4
ba wo jin ri
|pa wo chin jih
|From this Moment Forward|
From this Day Forward
|cóng cǐ yǐ hòu|
cong2 ci3 yi3 hou4
cong ci yi hou
|ts`ung tz`u i hou
tsung tzu i hou
|Everyday Life||日常生活||nichi jou sei katsu|
nichi jo sei katsu
|rì cháng shēng huó|
ri4 chang2 sheng1 huo2
ri chang sheng huo
|jih ch`ang sheng huo
jih chang sheng huo
|Happy Birthday||祝誕生日||shuku tan jou bi|
shuku tan jo bi
|shēng rì kuài lè|
sheng1 ri4 kuai4 le4
sheng ri kuai le
|sheng jih k`uai le
sheng jih kuai le
|日||hi / nichi||rì / ri4 / ri||jih|
|Live In The Moment|
Live In The Now
|gen sei / gensei||xiàn shì / xian4 shi4 / xian shi / xianshi||hsien shih / hsienshih|
|shí jī / shi2 ji1 / shi ji / shiji||shih chi / shihchi|
|慈心||jishin||cí xīn / ci2 xin1 / ci xin / cixin||tz`u hsin / tzuhsin / tzu hsin|
|你好||nǐ hǎo / ni3 hao3 / ni hao / nihao|
|New Beginning||伊始||yī shǐ / yi1 shi3 / yi shi / yishi||i shih / ishih|
|Never Forget Your First Resolution||初心忘るべからず / 初心忘る可からず|
|sho shin wasu ru be ka ra zu|
|Heaven||天||ten||tiān / tian1 / tian||t`ien / tien|
|金||kin||jīn / jin1 / jin||chin|
|Always Be Prepared||飽帶干糧暖帶衣|
|bǎo dài gān liáng nuǎn dài yī|
bao3 dai4 gan1 liang2 nuan3 dai4 yi1
bao dai gan liang nuan dai yi
|pao tai kan liang nuan tai i
|Thankfulness||感激||kangeki||gǎn jī / gan3 ji1 / gan ji / ganji||kan chi / kanchi|
|Meditation||冥想||mei sou / meisou / mei so / meiso||míng xiǎng|
|Teach A Man To Fish||授人以魚不如授人以漁|
|shòu rén yǐ yú bù rú shòu rén yǐ yú|
shou4 ren2 yi3 yu2 bu4 ru2 shou4 ren2 yi3 yu2
shou ren yi yu bu ru shou ren yi yu
|shou jen i yü pu ju shou jen i yü|
|No Place Like Home||在家千日好出門一時難|
|zài jiā qiān rì hǎo chū mén yì shí nán|
zai4 jia1 qian1 ri4 hao3 chu1 men2 yi4 shi2 nan2
zai jia qian ri hao chu men yi shi nan
|tsai chia ch`ien jih hao ch`u men i shih nan
tsai chia chien jih hao chu men i shih nan
|Loyalty to Duty or Master||忠||chuu / chu||zhōng / zhong1 / zhong||chung|
|kai raku / kairaku||kuài lè / kuai4 le4 / kuai le / kuaile||k`uai le / kuaile / kuai le|
|Learning is Eternal||學無止境|
|xué wú zhǐ jìng|
xue2 wu2 zhi3 jing4
xue wu zhi jing
|hsüeh wu chih ching
|rè ài shēng mìng|
re4 ai4 sheng1 ming4
re ai sheng ming
|je ai sheng ming
|guān yǔ / guan1 yu3 / guan yu / guanyu||kuan yü / kuanyü|
|6. Right Effort|
|sei shou jin|
sei sho jin
|zhèng jīng jìn|
zheng4 jing1 jin4
zheng jing jin
|cheng ching chin
|in you / inyou / in yo / inyo||yīn yáng / yin1 yang2 / yin yang / yinyang|
|盆栽||bon sai / bonsai||pén zāi / pen2 zai1 / pen zai / penzai||p`en tsai / pentsai / pen tsai|
|Star||星||hoshi||xīng / xing1 / xing||hsing|
|Grace from Heaven|
Grace from God
|天恩||tiān ēn / tian1 en1 / tian en / tianen||t`ien en / tienen / tien en|
|阮 / 阮|
|Min / Gen||ruǎn / ruan3 / ruan||juan|
|生||shou / iku / sho / iku / sho / iku||shēng / sheng1 / sheng|
|The Whole Room Rocks With Laughter||哄堂大笑||hōng tāng dà xiào|
hong1 tang1 da4 xiao4
hong tang da xiao
|hung t`ang ta hsiao
hung tang ta hsiao
|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|
|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
|shi fu / shifu||shī fù / shi1 fu4 / shi fu / shifu||shih fu / shihfu|
|Diligent Study Proverb||鑿壁偷光|
|záo bì tōu guāng|
zao2 bi4 tou1 guang1
zao bi tou guang
|tsao pi t`ou kuang
tsao pi tou kuang
|Not Only Can Water Float A Boat, It Can Sink It Also||水能載舟亦能覆舟|
|shuǐ néng zài zhōu yì néng fù zhōu|
shui3 neng2 zai4 zhou1 yi4 neng2 fu4 zhou1
shui neng zai zhou yi neng fu zhou
|shui neng tsai chou i neng fu chou|
|Confucius||孔子||koushi / koshi||kǒng zǐ / kong3 zi3 / kong zi / kongzi||k`ung tzu / kungtzu / kung tzu|
|A sly rabbit has three openings to its den||狡兔三窟||jiǎo tù sān kū|
jiao3 tu4 san1 ku1
jiao tu san ku
|chiao t`u san k`u
chiao tu san ku
|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
|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
|wu shih pu hsiao pai pu
|Broken Mirror Rejoined||破鏡重圓|
|pò jìng chóng yuán|
po4 jing4 chong2 yuan2
po jing chong yuan
|p`o ching ch`ung yüan
po ching chung yüan
|Better Late Than Never||亡羊補牢猶未為晚|
|wáng yáng bǔ láo yóu wèi wéi wǎn|
wang2 yang2 bu3 lao2 you2 wei4 wei2 wan3
wang yang bu lao you wei wei wan
|wang yang pu lao yu wei wei wan
|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.
Successful Chinese Character and Japanese Kanji calligraphy searches within the last few hours...
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.
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