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These two characters contain the ideas of "fate," "destiny," "fortune" and "luck" in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
運命 is often defined as "a person's fate" in various dictionaries.
These two characters can be reversed (written in either order) and yield roughly the same meaning.
This particular character order happens to be more common in old Korean and less common in modern Chinese.
These two characters contain the ideas of "fate," "destiny," "fortune" and "luck." You can also say that it means "what life throws at you" or "your lot in life" because the first character contains the idea of "life" or "living."
This version is really only used in Chinese. There's another version with just the characters reversed that is more universal. In fact, just skip this one. The opposite character order is better.
These two characters contain the ideas of fate. But this is specifically the fate or destiny that brings two people together.
緣份 / 緣分 is like the chance meeting of two people that leads some time later to marriage.
This could also be the chance meeting of two business people, who become partners and build a huge and successful company.
Basically, this is an idea often associated with a fateful meeting leading to good fortune.
Some will define this word as, "The destiny brings you two together," or "Meant to be."
Note: The second character can also be written without the left radical, as shown to the right. If you have a preference, please let use know in the special instructions for your project. There is no difference in meaning or pronunciation, just two (alternate) ways to write the same character.
因緣 is the Buddhist concept of a chance meeting or an opportunity that presents itself by fate.
Sometimes this is used to describe a cosmic chain of events or cause and effect.
It also is used to describe predestined relationships between people - and sometimes married couples (although if you want one about marriage, try this: Fate / Destiny of Lovers.
因緣 can also be translated as origin, karma, destiny, affinity, connection, and relation. This all depends on context - seen alone on a wall scroll, this will be read with a "fate / chance" meaning by a Chinese person, or a Korean person who can read Hanja.
The more complex definition of this word would be, "Direct causes and indirect conditions, which underlie the actions of all things."
This concept is known as nidana in the original Sanskrit. Also sometimes presented as hetupratyaya (or "hetu and prataya") which I believe is Pali.
Note: Japanese will tend to use this version of the second Kanji:
If you order this from the Japanese master calligrapher, expect that you'll get this version. However, this word often carries a negative connotation in Japanese (bad things happen), as it is used that way in a certain Japanese idiom. Therefore, this may not be the best choice if Japanese is your target language.
命 is often translated as "destiny."
Sometimes this character is simply translated as "life" but more in terms of one's lot in life. In certain context, this can mean command or decree (generally from a king or emperor). Of course, such a decree are part of fate and lead you to fulfill your destiny.
In Chinese, this word leans toward the fate or destiny definition.
In Korean, it is usually read simply as "life."
In Japanese, it can mean all definitions shown above, depending on context.
See Also: Good Fortune
These two characters mean, "Destiny that brings lovers together." It can also be translated technically as, "Predestined matrimonial affinity" (wow, talk about taking the romance out of this word - that was from the Oxford C-E dictionary).
Basically, this is talking about the fate (or karma) that brings a husband and wife together. I would translate this as "Together by fate" or "Joined by destiny" but in the context of marriage. You could use this for non-married lovers but the first character has a suggestion that this refers to those that are married.
天意 is a way to express destiny in a slightly religious way. Literally this means "Heaven's Wish" or "Heaven's Desire" with the idea of fate and destiny being derived as well. It suggests that your destiny comes from God / Heaven and that your path has already been chosen by a higher power.
My Japanese dictionary defines this word as "divine will" or "providence" but it also holds the meaning of "the will of the emperor." Therefore, I don't suggest this phrase if your audience is Japanese - it feels a little strange in Japanese anyway.
姻緣紅線 is the legendary red string of destiny that binds all soul mates or lovers together.
In ancient Chinese culture, a mythological matchmaker named 月老 (Yuè Lǎo) was the controller of the fate that led lovers to meet. He did this by tying a celestial red string to the ankle of each person. Sometime during their life, they will meet and marry as fate dictates.
While the origin of the red string comes from China, it has spread to other parts of Asia (such as Japan where it's known as 赤い糸).
This literally translates as, "the red string" or "the red thread" in Japanese but the real meaning is much deeper...
In Japanese culture, it's believed that fate, destiny, or karma joins lovers by an unseen string, tied around one little finger of each. 赤い糸 is how soul mates fine and are drawn to each other.
The Japanese concept of the red thread of fate, by most estimations, comes from Chinese folklore, where it's known as 姻緣紅線. The only difference being that in China, the celestial red thread is tied around the ankles of the lovers (versus what is usually represented to be the pinky finger in Japan).
緣 / 縁 is a complicated single character. It can mean a lot of different things depending on how you read it.
In Japanese, it can mean fate; destiny; a mysterious force that binds two people together; a relationship between two people; bond; link; connection; family ties; affinity; opportunity; chance (to meet someone and start a relationship). It can also mean "someone to rely on," relative, reminder, memento, or the female given name, Yori.
It's basically the same in Chinese, where it's defined as cause, reason, karma, fate, or predestined affinity.
In Buddhist context, it's Pratyaya. 緣 / 縁 is the concept of indirect conditions, as opposed to direct causes. It's when something happens (meeting someone) by circumstance, or a contributing environment. Instead of a direct cause or act, it is a conditioning cause without direct input or action by the involved people.
Occasionally, this character is used in a facetious way to say hem, seam, or edge of clothing. In this case, it's the seam that brings or holds the clothing together.
Note: Japanese will tend to use the variant of this Kanji shown to the right. If you want this version (and are ordering this from the Japanese master calligrapher), click on the Kanji at the right instead of the button above.
The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji(Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|un mei / unmei||yùn mìng / yun4 ming4 / yun ming / yunming||yün ming / yünming|
|mìng yùn / ming4 yun4 / ming yun / mingyun||ming yün / mingyün|
|緣份 / 緣分|
缘份 / 缘分
|yuán fèn / yuan2 fen4 / yuan fen / yuanfen||yüan fen / yüanfen|
因缘 / 因縁
|in nen / innen||yīn yuán / yin1 yuan2 / yin yuan / yinyuan||yin yüan / yinyüan|
|命||inochi / mei||mìng / ming4 / ming|
|The Karma/Fate/Destiny that Brings Lovers Together||姻緣|
|yīn yuán / yin1 yuan2 / yin yuan / yinyuan||yin yüan / yinyüan|
|Destiny Determined by Heaven||天意||teni||tiān yì / tian1 yi4 / tian yi / tianyi||t`ien i / tieni / tien i|
|The Red Thread of Fate||姻緣紅線|
|yīn yuán hóng xiàn|
yin1 yuan2 hong2 xian4
yin yuan hong xian
|yin yüan hung hsien
|The Red String||赤い糸||akai ito / akaiito|
|The Mysterious Bond Between People||緣 / 縁|
|en||yuán / yuan2 / yuan||yüan|
Love by Fate
|In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.|
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.
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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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