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To weigh one's words
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 反復推敲 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.
The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|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
|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.
Some people may refer to this entry as Push or Knock Kanji, Push or Knock Characters, Push or Knock in Mandarin Chinese, Push or Knock Characters, Push or Knock in Chinese Writing, Push or Knock in Japanese Writing, Push or Knock in Asian Writing, Push or Knock Ideograms, Chinese Push or Knock symbols, Push or Knock Hieroglyphics, Push or Knock Glyphs, Push or Knock in Chinese Letters, Push or Knock Hanzi, Push or Knock in Japanese Kanji, Push or Knock Pictograms, Push or Knock in the Chinese Written-Language, or Push or Knock in the Japanese Written-Language.
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