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17. The Guts Theory
19. Inner Strength
27. The Force
28. Eyeballs / Eyes
30. Charisma / Charm
39. Inner Strength
50. Ba Ji Quan
53. Sword Saint
自力 is a word in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, old Korean, and Buddhist term meaning: power within oneself; self-sufficient; by oneself; self-made; self-power; inner ability.
This can be read as "girl power", "woman power", or "female strength".
女力 is kind of a strange or unofficial title in Chinese and Japanese. At least, it's not common for a wall scroll.
This should be "onna ryoku" in Japanese but I found some who suggest it should be "me riki".
力操正 is a Korean martial arts title meaning, "Power Control".
It's most often cited as one of the 8 key concepts from Tang Soo Do.
This can be pronounced in Chinese but will only be recognized by those familiar with martial arts terms.
力 is the simplest form of "power" or "strength".
In Japanese it is pronounced "chikara" when used alone, and "ryoku" when used in a sentence (there are also a few other possible pronunciations of this Kanji in Japanese).
In some context, this can mean ability, force, physical strength, capability, and influence.
悟性 means the power of understanding and insight in Chinese.
It is often associated with Neo-Confucianism. In that regard, it means to realize, perceive, or have the perception of man's true nature. It can also mean to find your soul, the soul of others, or the soul of the world. Some will translate this simply as the state of being "savvy".
In Japanese, this is often translated as wisdom and understanding.
This is an old proverb that is used to wish someone great health and success combined as a great compliment.
The meaning is "The vigor and spirit of the legendary dragon-horse, and the power and prestige of the tiger".
By giving a wall scroll like this to someone, you were either wishing or telling them that they have these qualities. There is also a suggestion of good health - at least anyone with the vigor of a dragon horse, would seem to also be in good health.
This "strong" character means strength, force, powerful, better, stubborn, and stiff (yes, all of this in one character). This "strong" has less to do with physical strength and more to do with having a winning attitude, or just having the ability to win at something.
Note that most of the time, this character is pronounced "qiang" but when used with the meaning of stubborn, unyielding, or stiff, it is pronounced "jiang" in Chinese.
Also, sometimes "qiang" is used in modern Chinese to describe people that do crazy things (Example: Bicycling from Beijing to Tibet alone). I sometimes can be found outside my Beijing apartment wearing nothing but shorts and a tee-shirt while eating an ice cream during a snow storm, just to hear my neighbors call me "qiang". Maybe they mean "strong" but perhaps they are using the new meaning of "crazy strong".
Also a Korean Hanja with same meaning but mostly used in compound words.
強 is used in Japanese (though normally in compound words). In Japanese, it has the same meaning but in some context can mean "a little more than..". or "a little over [some amount]". Most Japanese would read this as tough, strength, stiff, hard, inflexible, obstinate, or stubborn.
This ancient "One Justice Can Overpower a Hundred Evils" idiom and proverb is famous in China. But it has been around so long that its origins have long been forgotten.
It could be something that Confucius or one of his disciples said but no one can say for sure.
氣力 can mean any of the words in the title above, and in some context, can also mean, effort, will-power, or talent.
氣力 refers mostly to physical strength (as opposed to mental or spiritual).
In modern Japan, they use a simplified first character for this word. If you want to order this title with that special Japanese version, click on the character to the right instead of the button above.
耐力 means stamina or endurance. However, depending on context, it can also mean patience or tolerance.
耐力 is the first part of titles like "endurance swimming".
The first character means, "to tolerate" or "to endure".
The second character is "power".
Together, you could say this word means, "the power to endure".
動力 can be used for motivation - it can also mean power / motion / propulsion / force. It can be anything internal or external that keeps you going.
動力 is the safest way to express motivation in Chinese. If your audience is Japanese, please see the other entry for motivation. 動力 is a word in Japanese and Korean but it means "motive power" or "kinetic energy" (without the motivation meaning that you are probably looking for).
想像力 is probably the best way to express "imagination" in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
It literally means "your strength to imagine". As the last character means strength or ability, while the first two mean imagine or conceptualize. My Japanese dictionary defines this as, "The power of imagination". While my Korean dictionary says, "imaginative power".
This title suggests having the power to recover, restore, rehabilitate. This can refer to yourself, someone else, or even to something, like rehabilitating a burned forest. 恢復力 is the essence of resilience in life.
The first two characters are a word that means to reinstate, to resume, to restore, to recover, to regain, to rehabilitate, restoration, rehabilitation, recovery, return, improvement, recovery (from an illness), recuperation, or convalescence.
The last character means strength or power.
This Japanese title refers to the belief that where there's a will, there's a way.
Another way to translate this is, "The Guts Theory" or "The Doctrine of Will-Power". Maybe breaking down the meaning of the characters will help clarify this:
根性 = will-power; guts; temper; nature; spirit; nature and character; the nature of the powers of any sense.
論 = theory; doctrine; treatises on dogma, philosophy, discipline, etc.
凰 is another simple way to write "Phoenix" in Chinese. 凰 is the specifically female element of phoenix, so this is how you write "female phoenix". 凰 is sometimes used to represent the female empress (many times in history, China was ruled by a woman, in much the same way queens came to power in Europe).
Note that the emperor is always represented as a dragon (not the male version of phoenix).
If you see yourself as a strong woman, this might be scroll for you to express "woman power" or "powerful woman" in a cool way.
內力 is the shorter version of inner-strength (can also be translated as "internal force"). The first character holds the meaning of "inner" or "internal". The second character means "power", "force" or "strength".
內力 is kind of a Kung Fu way of talking about an inner power or strength from within. 內力 is sort of a way to express "inner-chi". 內力 is clearly something that you might hear in a real Chinese Kung Fu movie.
While understood in both Chinese and Japanese, this can have a secondary meaning of "inner stress" in Japanese.
This can be defined as "The Law of Buddha", "The Power of Buddha", or simply "Dharma".
This Chinese word is a form of personal strength.
It is a word that describes a person who is willing to take a risk. In English, we might say, "Someone with guts".
An example might be a person that is not rich but invests a lot of money into something (knowing they could double their money, or lose it all). Win or lose, this is a person that knows or pushes their potential.
Tearing this word apart, the first character means "to compel", urgent, urge, force, imminent, or "spur on". The second means power, strong, bear, or exert.
Note: 迫力 is also a word in Japanese Kanji and Korean Hanja but with a meaning more like force, intensity, appeal, strength, impact, force, or simply power.
勢 is a word that means potential or momentum in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
Depending on context, this can also be translated as influence, tendency, military strength (potential) or power.
眼 is the simplest way to write eyes or eyeballs in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
This can also mean eyesight, sight, vision, look, stare, glance, viewpoint, insight, perceptivity, the power of observation, or simply the eye.
力量 is a general strength term.
It can refer to mental or physical strength (depending on context). 力量 can also be used to describe strength in terms of capability, capacity, ability and even tact. Some may translate this as power or force.
魅力 is the Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja for charm, fascination, glamor/glamour, charisma, attraction, appeal.
The literal meaning of these two characters roughly translates as, "charming power".
魅力 is also a Japanese female given name, Miryoku.
皇后 is the title of empress or emperess, the female form of emperor.
皇后 is used in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
While the emperor's reign was for life, if he died, his wife would hold his power. In this case, a woman was the ultimate ruler of the greater part of East Asia (what is now China) until her death and the succession of the emperor's firstborn son to lead the empire. Numerous times in various Chinese dynasties, an empress took power in this way.
The first character means emperor by itself.
The second character alone can mean "wife of an emperor or king" (the first character clarifies that we are talking about an empress and not a queen). It can also mean sovereign or last offspring, depending on context.
Note: In some books, this word is translated as queen. While only incorrect if you get technical (because an empress is theoretically a higher level than a queen), the meaning is very similar.
皇后 is sometimes used for the title of queen but more technically, this is the wife of the emperor (a higher level than a queen).
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.
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.).
This Japanese proverb literally translates as "inner/internal strength/power [versus] outward-appearance [the] merit/virtue/good quality [does] excel/surpass/exceed/outweigh".
More naturally in English, this would be "Inner Strength Outweighs Outward Appearance".
Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.
台灣 is the Chinese name for the Republic of China which is more commonly known as Taiwan.
The island of Taiwan is actually considered a renegade province of mainland China. It became the last holdout of the former government of China after Chairman Mao took power during the revolution that followed WWII.
Note: There are a few ways to write Taiwan: 台湾 / 薹灣 / 台灣.
If you need a certain version, just let me know in the "Special Instructions" tab when you order.
See Also: Asia
力量與榮譽 is, "strength and honor" in Chinese.
The first two characters are usually understood as (physical) strength but can also mean power or force.
The middle character is a connecting particle like, "and".
The last two characters are a way to say, honor but can also be understood as honorable reputation, honorary, or glory.
案山子 is a Japanese word that means scarecrow.
Colloquially, this can also refer to a figurehead within a corporation (stands tall with authority, but has no backbone or power).
This can also be the Japanese given name Kagashi, or female given names Kakashi, Anzanshi, or Anzanko.
Sometimes the title 鳥威し is used for scarecrows in Japan, but 案山子 is far more common.
自強 is the kind of inner-strength that applies to a person who has will-power and can inspire themselves to do great things.
自強 can also be the creed of a person that always pursues self-improvement.
Other translations: self-strengthening, striving for improvement, self-improvement, strive to become stronger, and self-renewal.
內在力量 is the slightly-verbose way to say inner-strength.
The first two characters mean "intrinsic" or "inner". The second two characters mean "power", "force" or "strength" (especially physical strength). 內在力量 is more a short phrase rather than just a word in Chinese and Korean. This can sort of be understood in Japanese but it's not normal/proper Japanese.
力と名譽 is, "strength and honor" in Japanese Kanji (with one Hiragana).
The first Kanji is understood as strength, power, or force.
The second character is a connecting particle like, "and" or "with".
The last two Kanji mean honor, honour, credit, or prestige. This last word is also used in the Bushido code to mean honor.
体力 means "physical strength" or "physical power".
The first character was first simplified in Japan. Later, that simplified version became the standard in mainland China. Just in case you want this version, it is offered here. I suggest it if you audience is Japanese. Most Chinese know the older traditional version which looks like 體力.
体力 can also be defined: stamina; endurance; physical strength; resilience; resistance to disease; clout; stability.
五祖拳 is a martial arts concept (or school) known as Five Ancestors' Fist.
The first character means five.
The second means ancestor, forefather, or grandparents.
The third means fist.
The ancestors referred to by this title and whose attributes contribute to this style are as follows:
1. Grace of the White Crane.
2. Agility of the Monkey.
3. Precision and skill of Emperor Taizu (great mythical ancestor).
4. Power of Luohan (Buddhist arhat).
5. Breath of Damo (founder of Buddhism, or the first Buddha).
金剛 can translate as adamantine from Chinese, Japanese, and old Korean.
Other meanings and translations can include diamond, thunderbolt, Indra's indestructible weapon, Buddhist symbol of the indestructible truth, Vajra (a mythical weapon), guardian deity, hardness, indestructibility, power, the least frangible of minerals.
The Chinese pronunciation of "Jīn Gāng" became the loanword used in English as "King Kong". You can see King Kong as the indestructible ape guardian deity depending on how you read the story.
These three characters are a word that means "strength of creativity" or sort of "creativity (is your) strength".
This can also be translated as "ingenuity".
Creativity is the power of imagination. It is discovering your own special talents. Daring to see things in new ways and find different ways to solve problems. With your creativity, you can bring something new into the world.
The first character means "to create" the second means "to make or build". Together they mean "creative". The third character means "strength".
化身 is a way to say avatar in Chinese characters, Korean Hanja, and Japanese Kanji.
化身 is the original Buddhist idea of avatar (not the movie). 化身 can also mean: incarnation; reincarnation; embodiment; personification; impersonation.
化身 is the Chinese word used for the original Sanskrit, nirmāṇakāya. Alternates for nirmāṇakāya include 應身, 應化身, or 變化身. In the context of Buddhism, this is a Buddha's metamorphosic body, which has the power to assume any shape to propagate the Truth. This title, 化身, is used for the appearance of a Buddha's many forms.
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.
This is a proverb that seems to be aimed at world leaders or others in power. Perhaps a suggestion to avoid the practice of "fear mongering" opting instead for a policy of benevolence and justice.
An example: When the Bush administration told Pakistan they could either join America in the "war on terror", or expect some bombs to be coming their way, Bush gained this kind of "less-than-genuine respect" from Pakistanis.
Leaders in places like North Korea and even Saudi Arabia reap the same bogus respect from their own citizens.
Note that calligraphers do not like to repeat the same characters in exactly the same way in the same piece of artwork. So expect the characters that are repeated to be written in different forms in the real artwork (unlike the way they are displayed to the left).
皇帝 means emperor in Chinese, Japanese, and old Korean.
From times of old, the emperors of Asia ruled under the authority of God himself. In fact, one definition of an emperor is a ruler put in power by God. This definition separates emperors from the various kings in Chinese history (although defining who is a king versus an emperor gets vague sometimes).
Occasionally, the emperor's wife was widowed, and she took the role of an empress until her death (see our entry for empress if that is what you are looking for).
These two characters mean intelligence or intelligent.
The first character means wisdom, intellect or knowledge.
The second means ability, talent, skill, capacity, capable, able, and can even mean competent.
Together, the compound word can mean "capacity for wisdom", "useful knowledge", or even "mental power". Obviously this translates more clearly into English as "intelligence".
Note: 智能 / 知能 is not the same word used to mean "military intelligence". See our other entry for that.
In modern Japan, they tend to use a version of the first character without the bottom radical. If your audience for this artwork is Japanese, please click on the Kanji to the right instead of the button above.
八極拳 is "Ba Ji Quan" or "Eight Extremes Fist".
Some also translate this as "Eight Extremities Fist", though I don't feel that's accurate.
八極拳 (Bājíquán) is a Chinese martial art that features explosive, short-range power and is famous for its elbow strikes. It originated in the Hebei Province in Northern China but spread to Taiwan and other places.
The full title is 開門八極拳 (Kāimén Bājíquán), which means Open-Door Bajiquan.
Other romanizations include: BaJiQuan, Pa Chi Ch`üan, or Pa Chi Chuan.
In Japan, this is known as Hakkyokuken.
This proverb can also be translated as "The whole world is one family".
It is used to mean that all humans are related under heaven.
The first two characters can be translated as "the world", "whole country", "descended from heaven", "earth under heaven", "the public" or "the ruling power".
The second two characters can mean "one family", "a household", "one's folks", "a house" or "a home". Usually this is read as "a family".
Note: This proverb can be understood in Japanese, though not commonly used.
龍馬精神 is an old proverb that is used to wish someone good health and success combined as a great compliment.
The meaning is "The vigor and spirit of the legendary dragon-horse". These four characters are often accompanied by four more which mean, "...and the power and prestige of the tiger". Here we are just offering the first part which is considered the short version.
By giving a wall scroll like this to someone, you were either wishing or telling them that they have an amazing quality. There is also a suggestion of good health - at least anyone with the vigor of a dragon horse, would seem to also be in good health.
Note: In Japanese, this would be read as the spirit of 坂本龍馬 (Sakamoto_Ryōma), a beloved rebel who help abolish the old Japanese feudal system. This can be confusing, so I am declaring this proverb to be Chinese only.
This can be translated as "Sword Saint", "God of the Sword" or "Saint of the Sword". 剣聖 / 剣聖 is an ancient Japanese title bestowed on a master with the greatest of skills in swordsmanship.
Keep in mind that this is an antiquated term. It will only be understood in the context of martial arts. The pronunciation "kensei" also applies to other words like "constitutional government" and power (these words have different kanji and are completely unrelated).
Notes: 剣聖 / 剣聖 is sometimes Romanized as "kensei", "ken sei", and incorrectly as "Kensai".
Chinese Note: This title is pronounceable in Chinese but seldom, if ever used in Chinese. Also, the first character is an alternate character form for sword, currently only used in Japan.
This proverb literally means:
"Strength [and] Love [are] Not Two [separate ideas/concepts/things]".
You'll find this proverb translated from Japanese to English as:
Love and strength are not separate.
Power and love are indivisible.
Strength and love in harmony.
Strength and love stand together.
Old Japanese grammar is quite different than English, and so this proverb says a lot within the brevity of just 4 characters. If you just read these characters directly as, "Strength Love Not Two", you'd probably miss the real meaning.
According to the Swedish Shorinji Kempo Federation, this is the second characteristic of Shorinji Kempo.
This post really explains the concept best in my opinion: Bushido by MS: Riki Ai Fu Ni, which states: "Riki Ai Funi" is the philosophy that power (Riki) and love (Ai) are indivisible. More concretely, a person, who is powerful but does not have love, cannot control and misuse his/her power; on the other hand, a person, who has loved ones but is not powerful enough, cannot protect himself/herself nor loved ones.
協力 is a Japanese word that means cooperation.
If you look at the second character, which means "strength" or "power", and then you look at the first character, you will see that the first character seems to represent multiple "strengths" together. Thus, you can visually see the meaning of this word as "stronger when working together". The combination of characters that form this word is commonly seen in Japanese Kanji and Korean Hanja but not used in China (however, a Chinese person could probably guess the meaning, and it can be pronounced in Chinese).
It is implied that you are cooperating to create some project or product.
This can also be translated as "joint effort".
See Also: Partnership
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.
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.
鷄 or 雞 is the character for rooster or chicken in Chinese, old Korean, and Japanese.
If you were born in the year of the rooster (chicken), you . . .
Have a unique sense of color.
Are high principled and responsible.
Have persuasive power.
Have a great ability to communicate.
Please note: There are a few different ways to write rooster / chicken as shown to the right. If you are particular about the form, please let us know when you place your order.
See also our Chinese Zodiac page.
This is referred to as passage or chapter 33 of the Dao De Jing (often Romanized as "Tao Te Ching").
These are the words of the philosopher Laozi (Lao Tzu).
During our research, the Chinese characters shown here are probably the most accurate to the original text of Laozi. These were taken for the most part from the Mawangdui 1973 and Guodan 1993 manuscripts which pre-date other Daodejing texts by about 1000 years.
Grammar was a little different in Laozi’s time. So you should consider this to be the ancient Chinese version. Some have modernized this passage by adding, removing, or swapping articles and changing the grammar (we felt the oldest and most original version would be more desirable). You may find other versions printed in books or online - sometimes these modern texts are simply used to explain to Chinese people what the original text really means.
This language issue can be compared in English by thinking how the King James (known as the Authorized version in Great Britain) Bible from 1611 was written, and comparing it to modern English. Now imagine that the Daodejing was probably written around 403 BCE (2000 years before the King James Version of the Bible). To a Chinese person, the original Daodejing reads like text that is 3 times more detached compared to Shakespeare’s English is to our modern-day speech.
While on this Biblical text comparison, it should be noted, that just like the Bible, all the original texts of the Daodejing were lost or destroyed long ago. Just as with the scripture used to create the Bible, various manuscripts exist, many with variations or copyist errors. Just as the earliest New Testament scripture (incomplete) is from 170 years after Christ, the earliest Daodejing manuscript (incomplete) is from 100-200 years after the death of Laozi.
The reason that the originals were lost probably has a lot to do with the first Qin Emperor. Upon taking power and unifying China, he ordered the burning and destruction of all books (scrolls/rolls) except those pertaining to Chinese medicine and a few other subjects. The surviving Daodejing manuscripts were either hidden on purpose or simply forgotten about. Some were not unearthed until as late as 1993.
We compared a lot of research by various archeologists and historians before deciding on this as the most accurate and correct version. But one must allow that it may not be perfect, or the actual and original as from the hand of Laozi himself.
This can also mean: "Place Strict Standards on Oneself in Public Service".
This Chinese proverb is often used to express how one should act as a government official. Most of us wish our public officials would hold themselves to higher standards. I wish I could send this scroll, along with the meaning to every member of Congress, and the President (or if I was from the UK, all the members of Parliament, and the PM)
The story behind this ancient Chinese idiom:
A man named Cai Zun was born in China a little over 2000 years ago. In 24 AD, he joined an uprising led by Liu Xiu who later became the emperor of the Eastern Han Dynasty.
Later, the new emperor put Cai Zun in charge of the military court. Cai Zun exercised his power in strict accordance with military law, regardless of the offender's rank or background. He even ordered the execution of one of the emperor's close servants after the servant committed a serious crime.
Cai Zun led a simple life but put great demands on himself to do all things in an honorable way. The emperor rewarded him for his honest character and honorable nature by promoting him to the rank of General and granting him the title of Marquis.
Whenever Cai Zun would receive an award, he would give credit to his men and share the reward with them.
Cai Zun was always praised by historians who found many examples of his selfless acts that served the public interest.
Sometime, long ago in history, people began to refer to Cai Zun as "ke ji feng gong".
This Chinese proverb means "Be undaunted in the face of repeated setbacks".
More directly-translated, it reads, "[Overcome] a hundred setbacks, without flinching". 百折不撓 is of Chinese origin but is commonly used in Japanese, and somewhat in Korean (same characters, different pronunciation).
This proverb comes from a long, and occasionally tragic story of a man that lived sometime around 25-220 AD. His name was Qiao Xuan and he never stooped to flattery but remained an upright person at all times. He fought to expose the corruption of higher-level government officials at great risk to himself.
Then when he was at a higher level in the Imperial Court, bandits were regularly capturing hostages and demanding ransoms. But when his own son was captured, he was so focused on his duty to the Emperor and the common good that he sent a platoon of soldiers to raid the bandits' hideout, and stop them once and for all even at the risk of his own son's life. While all of the bandits were arrested in the raid, they killed Qiao Xuan's son at first sight of the raiding soldiers.
Near the end of his career, a new Emperor came to power, and Qiao Xuan reported to him that one of his ministers was bullying the people and extorting money from them. The new Emperor refused to listen to Qiao Xuan and even promoted the corrupt Minister. Qiao Xuan was so disgusted that in protest he resigned his post as minister (something almost never done) and left for his home village.
His tombstone reads "Bai Zhe Bu Nao" which is now a proverb used in Chinese culture to describe a person of strength will who puts up stubborn resistance against great odds.
My Chinese-English dictionary defines these 4 characters as, "keep on fighting in spite of all setbacks", "be undaunted by repeated setbacks" and "be indomitable".
Our translator says it can mean, "never give up" in modern Chinese.
Although the first two characters are translated correctly as "repeated setbacks", the literal meaning is "100 setbacks" or "a rope that breaks 100 times". The last two characters can mean "do not yield" or "do not give up".
Most Chinese, Japanese, and Korean people will not take this absolutely literal meaning but will instead understand it as the title suggests above. If you want a single big word definition, it would be indefatigability, indomitableness, persistence, or unyielding.
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.
The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji (Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|Power of Oneself|
|自力||jiriki||zì lì / zi4 li4 / zi li / zili||tzu li / tzuli|
|女力||onna ryoku / me riki|
onnaryoku / meriki
|nǚ lì / nv3 li4 / nv li / nvli||nü li / nüli|
|Control of Power||力操正||lì cào zhèng|
li4 cao4 zheng4
li cao zheng
|li ts`ao cheng
li tsao cheng
|力||chikara / ryoku||lì / li4 / li|
|Power of Understanding and Wisdom||悟性||gosei||wù xìng / wu4 xing4 / wu xing / wuxing||wu hsing / wuhsing|
|The Spirit of the Dragon Horse and Power of a Tiger.||龍馬精神虎虎生威|
|lóng mǎ jīng shén hǔ hǔ shēng wēi|
long2 ma3 jing1 shen2 hu3 hu3 sheng1 wei1
long ma jing shen hu hu sheng wei
|lung ma ching shen hu hu sheng wei|
|kyou / kyo||qiáng / qiang2 / qiang||ch`iang / chiang|
|One Justice Can Overpower 100 Evils||一正壓百邪|
|yī zhèng yā bǎi xié|
yi1 zheng4 ya1 bai3 xie2
yi zheng ya bai xie
|i cheng ya pai hsieh
气力 / 気力
|kiryoku||qì lì / qi4 li4 / qi li / qili||ch`i li / chili / chi li|
|den||diàn / dian4 / dian||tien|
|den ki / denki|
|耐力||nài lì / nai4 li4 / nai li / naili|
|douryoku / doryoku||dòng lì / dong4 li4 / dong li / dongli||tung li / tungli|
|xiǎng xiàng lì|
xiang3 xiang4 li4
xiang xiang li
|hsiang hsiang li
|huī fù lì|
hui1 fu4 li4
hui fu li
|The Guts Theory||根性論||kon jou ron|
kon jo ron
|Phoenix (female)||凰||ou / o||huáng / huang2 / huang|
|nai ryoku / nairyoku||nèi lì / nei4 li4 / nei li / neili|
|佛法||fó fǎ / fo2 fa3 / fo fa / fofa|
|迫力||hakuryoku||pò lì / po4 li4 / po li / poli||p`o li / poli / po li|
|Strength and Courage||力と勇氣|
|riki to yu ki|
|Strength and Love||力與愛|
|lì yǔ ài|
li4 yu3 ai4
li yu ai
|li yü ai
|Lee||力||lì / li4 / li|
|tai ryoku / tairyoku||tǐ lì / ti3 li4 / ti li / tili||t`i li / tili / ti li|
|zei||shì / shi4 / shi||shih|
|The Force||原力||yuán lì / yuan2 li4 / yuan li / yuanli||yüan li / yüanli|
|眼||gan||yǎn / yan3 / yan||yen|
|力量||riki ryou / rikiryou / riki ryo / rikiryo||lì liàng / li4 liang4 / li liang / liliang|
|魅力||miryoku||mèi lì / mei4 li4 / mei li / meili|
|Empress||皇后||kou gou / kougou / ko go / kogo||huáng hòu|
|Past experience is the teacher for the future.||前事不忘后事之師|
|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
|Inner Strength is Better than Outward Appearance||内面の強さは外見の良さに勝る||naimen no tsuyosa ha gaiken no yosa ni masaru|
|Taiwan||台湾 / 薹灣 / 台灣|
|tai wan / taiwan||tái wān / tai2 wan1 / tai wan / taiwan||t`ai wan / taiwan / tai wan|
|Flexibility Overcomes Strength||以柔克剛|
|yǐ róu kè gāng|
yi3 rou2 ke4 gang1
yi rou ke gang
|i jou k`o kang
i jou ko kang
|Strength and Honor||力量與榮譽|
|lì liàng yǔ róng yù|
li4 liang4 yu3 rong2 yu4
li liang yu rong yu
|li liang yü jung yü
|zì qiáng / zi4 qiang2 / zi qiang / ziqiang||tzu ch`iang / tzuchiang / tzu chiang|
|nèi zài lì liàng|
nei4 zai4 li4 liang4
nei zai li liang
|nei tsai li liang
|Strength and Honor||力と名譽|
|chikara to mei yo|
|tairyoku||tǐ lì / ti3 li4 / ti li / tili||t`i li / tili / ti li|
|Five Ancestors Fist||五祖拳||wǔ zǔ quán|
wu3 zu3 quan2
wu zu quan
|wu tsu ch`üan
wu tsu chüan
|kongou / kongo||jīn gāng / jin1 gang1 / jin gang / jingang||chin kang / chinkang|
|chuàng zào lì|
chuang4 zao4 li4
chuang zao li
|ch`uang tsao li
chuang tsao li
|Avatar||化身||keshin||huà shēn / hua4 shen1 / hua shen / huashen|
|Destiny Determined by Heaven||天意||teni||tiān yì / tian1 yi4 / tian yi / tianyi||t`ien i / tieni / tien i|
|Respect out of fear is never genuine; Reverence out of respect is never false||打怕的人是假的敬怕的人是真的||dǎ pà de rén shì jiǎ de jìng pà de rén shì zhēn de|
da3 pa4 de ren2 shi4 jia3 de jing4 pa4 de ren2 shi4 zhen1 de
da pa de ren shi jia de jing pa de ren shi zhen de
|ta p`a te jen shih chia te ching p`a te jen shih chen te
ta pa te jen shih chia te ching pa te jen shih chen te
|Emperor||皇帝||koutei / kotei||huáng dì / huang2 di4 / huang di / huangdi||huang ti / huangti|
|智能 / 知能|
|chinou / chino||zhì néng / zhi4 neng2 / zhi neng / zhineng||chih neng / chihneng|
|Ba Ji Quan||八極拳|
|hakkyo ku ken|
hakyo ku ken
|bā jí quán|
ba1 ji2 quan2
ba ji quan
|pa chi ch`üan
pa chi chüan
|One Family Under Heaven||天下一家||tenka ikka / tenkaikka / tenka ika / tenkaika||tiān xià yī jiā|
tian1 xia4 yi1 jia1
tian xia yi jia
|t`ien hsia i chia
tien hsia i chia
|The Spirit of the Dragon Horse||龍馬精神|
|lóng mǎ jīng shén|
long2 ma3 jing1 shen2
long ma jing shen
|lung ma ching shen
|Sword Saint||剣聖 / 剣聖|
|Strength and Love in Unity||力愛不二|
|riki ai fu ni |
|kyouryoku / kyoryoku||xié lì / xie2 li4 / xie li / xieli||hsieh li / hsiehli|
|美||bi||měi / mei3 / mei|
|ashura||ē xiū luó|
e1 xiu1 luo2
e xiu luo
|o hsiu lo
|鷄 or 雞|
鸡 or 鶏
|niwatori||jī / ji1 / ji||chi|
Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33
|zhī rén zhě zhī yě zì zhī zhě míng yě shèng rén zhě yǒu lì yě zì shèng zhě qiáng yě zhī zú zhě fù yě qiáng xíng zhě yǒu zhì yě bù zhī qí suǒ zhě jiǔ yě sǐ ér bù wáng zhě shòu yě|
zhi1 ren2 zhe3 zhi1 ye3 zi4 zhi1 zhe3 ming2 ye3 sheng4 ren2 zhe3 you3 li4 ye3 zi4 sheng4 zhe3 qiang2 ye3 zhi1 zu2 zhe3 fu4 ye3 qiang2 xing2 zhe3 you3 zhi4 ye3 bu4 zhi1 qi2 suo3 zhe3 jiu3 ye3 si3 er2 bu4 wang2 zhe3 shou4 ye3
zhi ren zhe zhi ye zi zhi zhe ming ye sheng ren zhe you li ye zi sheng zhe qiang ye zhi zu zhe fu ye qiang xing zhe you zhi ye bu zhi qi suo zhe jiu ye si er bu wang zhe shou ye
|chih jen che chih yeh tzu chih che ming yeh sheng jen che yu li yeh tzu sheng che ch`iang yeh chih tsu che fu yeh ch`iang hsing che yu chih yeh pu chih ch`i so che chiu yeh ssu erh pu wang che shou yeh
chih jen che chih yeh tzu chih che ming yeh sheng jen che yu li yeh tzu sheng che chiang yeh chih tsu che fu yeh chiang hsing che yu chih yeh pu chih chi so che chiu yeh ssu erh pu wang che shou yeh
|Work Unselfishly for the Common Good||克己奉公||kè jǐ fèng gōng|
ke4 ji3 feng4 gong1
ke ji feng gong
|k`o chi feng kung
ko chi feng kung
|Undaunted After Repeated Setbacks||百折不撓|
|hyaku setsu su tou|
hyaku setsu su to
|bǎi zhé bù náo|
bai3 zhe2 bu4 nao2
bai zhe bu nao
|pai che pu nao
|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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