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2. Read / Study
Drill a hole in the wall to get light to read by.
鑿壁偷光 is a Chinese proverb that means “Bore a hole in the wall to make use of the neighbor's light to study.”
This is a nice gift for a very studious person.
Kuang Heng was born during the Western Han period. He has been very fond of reading ever since he was young. However, he could not attend school since his family was poor, and he had to borrow books from people to learn.
To borrow these books, he normally did chores for people who had them. When he became older, he had to work in the field from sunrise to sunset since his family's financial situation did not improve. Thus, he tried to study at night, but he had no lamp.
One day, he noticed the light from the neighbor's house coming through a crack in the wall. This made him very happy, so he dug a larger hole from the crack and read in the light that shone through. This diligent study eventually made him an accomplished person.
讀 is a Chinese character that means “to read out loud,” or “to study books.”
Very seldom used in Japanese anymore (except occasionally in Buddhism).
學 is “study” or “learn” in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
學 is a very broad character that can mean a lot of things related to scholarship. It can refer to a school (in fact, if you put the character for “big” in front of this, you have “college” or “university,” if you put the word for “middle,” you have “middle school.” This can also mean science; the process of acquiring knowledge; learning; scholarship; erudition; knowledge. It can also add the Chinese or Japanese version of “-ology” (the study of) too many words.
There is a very common simplified version of this character. You will see this form in modern Japan and mainland China, Singapore, and other places. If you want this simplified version, please click on the character shown to the right instead of the "select and customize" button above.
好好學習天天向上 is a famous proverb by Chairman Mao Zedong that sounds really strange when directly translated into English.
I include it in our database of phrases to illustrate how different the construction and grammar can be between Chinese and English. The direct translation is “Good Good Study, Day Day Up.” In Chinese, a repeated character/word can often serve to reinforce the idea (like saying “very” or suggesting “a lot of”). So “good good” really means “a lot of good.” While “day day” can be better translated as “day in day out.” The idea of “up” has a meaning in China of “rising above” or “improving.”
After understanding all of this, we come up with a slightly better translation of “With a lot of good study, day in and day out, we raise above.”
The more natural translation of this proverb would be something like, “study hard, and keep improving.”
(When you see a wise person, try to be like them)
When you meet a wise person, you should learn from them and be inspired to become as wise as they are.
見賢思齊 is a pretty long proverb in English, but in Chinese, it's only four characters.
However, in Chinese, the deeper meaning often surpasses the dictionary definition of each character.
In this case, you should seek wise people to learn from throughout your life...
Always try to learn enough to become equal to them. It also suggests that learning and seeking wisdom is a non-ending cycle.
See Also: Knowledge
New ideas coming from past history
溫故知新 is a proverb from Confucius that is used in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cultures.
It can be translated in several ways:
Coming up with new ideas based on things learned in the past.
Examine things of the past, and obtain new knowledge.
Developing new ideas based on the study of the past.
Gain new insights through restudying old issues.
Understand the present by reviewing the past.
Learning from the past.
Review the old and know the new.
Taking a lesson from the past.
Taking a lesson from the wisdom of the ancients.
Follow the old ways.
The direct translation would be, “By asking old things, know new things.”
The Character meanings breakdown this way:
溫故 = ask old
知新 = know new
Explained: To learn new things that are outside of your experience, you can learn from old things of the past. You can find wisdom in history.
Note: Japanese use a variant of the first Kanji in modern times.
Therefore if you order this from a Japanese calligrapher, expect the first Kanji to look like 温 instead of 溫.
In addition to 温故知新 as mentioned above, this is sometimes written as 温古知新 in Japan.
When the cart in front overturns, be cautious with your own
前車之覆后車之鑒 is a Chinese proverb that suggests looking at the circumstances and toils of those you proceeded before you and learning from their experience.
This more literally means “the cart in front overturns, a warning to the following cart.”
This is figuratively translated as “draw a lesson from the failure of one's predecessor,” “learn from past mistakes,” or compared to the English idiom, “once bitten twice shy.”
Other more-direct translations:
Make the overturning of the chariot in front a warning for the chariot behind.
Learn caution through an unpleasant experience.
The wrecked coach in front should be a warning.
The overturned cart in front serves as a warning to the carts behind.
讀萬卷書行萬里路 is a lifelong suggestion for expanding your horizons by gaining knowledge, experience, and seeing the world.
Of course, this was written long ago when it was hard to travel 10,000 miles (at least 1000 years before the invention of the airplane).
With air travel and the business I'm in, I often achieve that lifetime goal on a monthly basis.
However, I am a little behind in the book count.
Note: An ancient Chinese mile (里 or lǐ) referred to in this proverb is about a third of a British/American mile. However, at that time, this was a great distance to travel.
行万里路胜读万卷书 translates a few ways:
To travel ten thousand miles beats reading ten-thousand books.
Better to travel ten thousand li than to read ten thousand books. (a “li” is an ancient Chinese mile)
Traveling thousands of miles is better than reading thousands of books.
No matter how you slice it, this Chinese proverb is claiming that experience is more profound and meaningful than what you can get from a book. Go do it! Don't just read about it.
百胜难虑敌三折乃良医 is a Chinese proverb that literally translates as: [Even a general who has won a] hundred victories [may be] hard put to see through the enemy's [strategy], [but one who has] broken [his] arm three [times] [will] be a good doctor.
Figuratively, this means: One cannot always depend on past successes to guarantee future success but one can always learn from lessons drawn from failure.
You may learn when everything goes right but the lessons learned when everything goes wrong are more vivid and lead to long-lasting wisdom.
Another way to look at this: One cannot always depend on past successes to guarantee future success but one can always learn from lessons drawn from failure.
Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.
This in-stock artwork might be what you are looking for, and ships right away...
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Learn From Wisdom
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Learning Leads to Knowledge, Study Leads to Benevolence, Shame Leads to Courage
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You May Learn From Victory, You Will Learn From Failure
The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji (Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|Diligent Study Proverb||鑿壁偷光|
|záo bì tōu guāng|
zao2 bi4 tou1 guang1
zao bi tou guang
|tsao pi t`ou kuang
tsao pi tou kuang
|doku||dú / du2 / du||tu|
|gaku||xué / xue2 / xue||hsüeh|
|Learning leads to Knowledge, Study leads to Benevolence, Shame leads to Courage||好學近乎知力行近乎仁知恥近乎勇|
|hào xué jìn hū zhī lì xíng jìn hū rén zhī chǐ jìn hū yǒng|
hao4 xue2 jin4 hu1 zhi1 li4 xing2 jin4 hu1 ren2 zhi1 chi3 jin4 hu1 yong3
hao xue jin hu zhi li xing jin hu ren zhi chi jin hu yong
|hao hsüeh chin hu chih li hsing chin hu jen chih ch`ih chin hu yung
hao hsüeh chin hu chih li hsing chin hu jen chih chih chin hu yung
|Good Good Study, Day Day Up||好好學習天天向上|
|hǎo hǎo xué xí tiān tiān xiàng shàng|
hao3 hao3 xue2 xi2 tian1 tian1 xiang4 shang4
hao hao xue xi tian tian xiang shang
|hao hao hsüeh hsi t`ien t`ien hsiang shang
hao hao hsüeh hsi tien tien hsiang shang
|Learn from Wisdom||見賢思齊|
|jiàn xián sī qí|
jian4 xian2 si1 qi2
jian xian si qi
|chien hsien ssu ch`i
chien hsien ssu chi
|Learn New Ways From Old|
|on ko chi shin |
|wēn gù zhī xīn|
wen1 gu4 zhi1 xin1
wen gu zhi xin
|wen ku chih hsin
|Learn From Your Predecessors||前車之覆后車之鑒|
|qián chē zhī fù hòu chē zhī jiàn|
qian2 che1 zhi1 fu4 hou4 che1 zhi1 jian4
qian che zhi fu hou che zhi jian
|ch`ien ch`e chih fu hou ch`e chih chien
chien che chih fu hou che chih chien
|Read 10,000 Books, Travel 10,000 Miles||讀萬卷書行萬里路|
|dú wàn juǎn shū, xíng wàn lǐ lù|
du2 wan4 juan3 shu1 xing2 wan4 li3 lu4
du wan juan shu xing wan li lu
|tu wan chüan shu hsing wan li lu|
|Better to Travel 10,000 Miles than Read 10,000 Books||行萬里路勝讀萬捲書|
|xíng wàn lǐ lù shèng dú wàn juǎn shū|
xing2 wan4 li3 lu4 sheng4 du2 wan4 juan3 shu1
xing wan li lu sheng du wan juan shu
|hsing wan li lu sheng tu wan chüan shu|
|You May Learn from Victory, You Will Learn from Failure||百勝難慮敵三折乃良醫|
|bǎi shèng nán lǜ dí sān zhé nǎi liáng yī|
bai3 sheng4 nan2 lv4 di2 san1 zhe2 nai3 liang2 yi1
bai sheng nan lv di san zhe nai liang yi
|pai sheng nan lü ti san che nai liang i|
|You May Learn from Victory, You Will Learn from Failure||勝って得るものも有れば負けて得るものも有る||katte erumono mo areba makete erumono mo aru|
|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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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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