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Emptiness in Chinese / Japanese...

Buy an Emptiness calligraphy wall scroll here!

Start your custom "Emptiness" project by clicking the button next to your favorite "Emptiness" title below...

  1. Sky / Ether / Void / Emptiness / Unreality
  2. True Emptiness Yields Transcendent Existence
  3. Nothingness / Empty / Void
  4. Nothing / Nothingness
  5. Humble / Modesty / Humility
  6. Five Elements

Sky / Ether / Void / Emptiness / Unreality

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

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

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

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

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

True Emptiness Yields Transcendent Existence

China zhēn kōng miào yǒu
Japan shin kuu myou u
True Emptiness Yields Transcendent Existence

According to Soothill 眞空妙有 means:
The true void is the mysteriously existing; truly void, or immaterial, yet transcendentally existing.

眞空妙有 is the state of being absolutely nonexistent after removing all errant worldly influences. 眞空妙有 is achieved when all forms of existence is seen for their real nature.


This is a complex Buddhist concept. Feel free to add to the conversation about this concept here: Asian Forum: Shinku Myou

Nothingness / Empty / Void

China xū kōng
Japan kokuu
Nothingness / Empty / Void

虛空 means empty space, empty sky, or void.

In the Buddhist context, it can mean "emptiness of the material world." This can also be used as an adjective to modify other words with a meaning of unreal or insubstantial.

Nothing / Nothingness

China
Japan mu
Nothing / Nothingness

無 is the simple way to express "nothing."

However, this single character leaves a bit of mystery as to what you might really mean if you hang it as a wall scroll. I'm not saying that's a bad thing; as you can decide what it means to you, and you won't be wrong if you stay within the general context.

More info: 無 is usually used as a suffix or prefix for Chinese and Japanese words (also old Korean). It can be compared to "un-" or "-less" in English. It can also mean "not to have," no, none, not, "to lack," or nothingness.

Humble / Modesty / Humility

China qiān xū
Japan ken kyo
Humble / Modesty / Humility

In Japanese, first Kanji means "self-effacing," "humble oneself," "condescend," "be modest." The second means "void" or "emptiness."

謙虚 is the most common way to say humble or modest in Japanese without a derogatory meaning (some other words suggest weakness but this version holds a better humble meaning).


See Also:  Moderation

Five Elements

Japan chi sui ka fuu kuu
Five Elements

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

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

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


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

Search for Emptiness in my Japanese & Chinese Dictionary


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

Title CharactersRomaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Sky
Ether
Void
Emptiness
Unreality
kuu / kara / sora / ron
ku / kara / sora / ron
ku/kara/sora/ron
kōng / kong1 / kongk`ung / kung
True Emptiness Yields Transcendent Existence眞空妙有shin kuu myou u
shinkuumyouu
shin ku myo u
shinkumyou
zhēn kōng miào yǒu
zhen1 kong1 miao4 you3
zhen kong miao you
zhenkongmiaoyou
chen k`ung miao yu
chenkungmiaoyu
chen kung miao yu
Nothingness
Empty
Void
虛空
虚空
kokuu / kokuxū kōng / xu1 kong1 / xu kong / xukonghsü k`ung / hsükung / hsü kung
Nothing
Nothingness

muwú / wu2 / wu
Humble
Modesty
Humility
謙虚ken kyo / kenkyoqiān xū / qian1 xu1 / qian xu / qianxuch`ien hsü / chienhsü / chien hsü
Five Elements地水火風空
地水火风空
chi sui ka fuu kuu
chisuikafuukuu
chi sui ka fu ku
chisuikafuku
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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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.
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Allow a few weeks for delivery. Rush service speeds it up by a week or two for $10!

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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.

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