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The word namaste comes from Sanskrit and is a common greeting in the Hindi and Nepali languages exchanged by devout Hindu or Buddhist people in Southern Asia (especially India).
Here you can see the Chinese form (and Japanese but not well-known in Japan) of this word which is used describe a Buddhist (or Hindu) greeting with palms closed together in a prayerful manner, generally at chest level. However, this selection of characters describes the act, and is not a word spoken during the greeting. In fact, words or a greeting is seldom spoken when two Chinese or Japanese Buddhists meet. The greeting is silent, and respectful but composed completely of body language.
Note that the greeting namaste as well as the act of placing palms together are used both as a hello and goodbye (kind of like the word aloha in Hawaiian).
合掌 is the act of greeting someone (can also be done when departing) with hands brought together in a prayerful manner.
In India, this would be accompanied by the verbal greeting and blessing of "Namaste". In China, Japan, and Korea, this is how Buddhists will greet each other. Sometimes done by people who are not devout Buddhists in China, Japan, and Korea to show respect, reverence or great thanks to someone for a gift, forgiveness, or some honor that has been bestowed.
In Japan, this is almost always associated with a deep bow. In China where bowing is not an everyday occurrence, there may be a shallow bow but the act will be done with deep feeling. Korean culture seems to have more bowing than China but less than Japan.
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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji (Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|Namaste - Greeting||合十||gou juu / goujuu / go ju / goju||hé shí / he2 shi2 / he shi / heshi||ho shih / hoshih|
|Gassho||合掌||gasshou / gasho||hé zhǎng / he2 zhang3 / he zhang / hezhang||ho chang / hochang|
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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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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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