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Three in Chinese / Japanese...

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Start your custom “Three” project by clicking the button next to your favorite “Three” title below...

  1. Three

  2. Three Kingdoms

  3. The Three Truths

  4. Three Treasures of Buddhism

  5. Three Souls

  6. Three Treasures of Chinese Medicine

  7. Romance of the Three Kingdoms

  8. When Three People Gather,...

  9. A sly rabbit has three openings to its den


Three

The number three
China sān
Japan san
Three Vertical Wall Scroll

三 / 參 is the number three in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja. 三 / 參 is a strange selection for a wall scroll, so it's here mostly for reference. I guess it's OK if the number three is important to you.


參参 Because this character is rather simple (just three lines), there is an anti-fraud way to write three on bank documents. These variants are shown to the right.

Three Kingdoms

China sān guó
Japan mitsu kuni
Three Kingdoms Vertical Wall Scroll

三國 is the title for the Three Kingdoms period (220-280 A.D.) in Chinese history.

In Korean Hanja, this can also refer to one of several Three Kingdoms periods in Korean history.

In Japanese, this could refer to the Chinese Three Kingdoms period, or be the surname Mitsukuni.

The Three Truths

China sān dì
Japan san dai / san tai
The Three Truths Vertical Wall Scroll

三諦 is a Buddhist term that means "threefold truth" or "three dogmas."

The three truths are:
1. All things are void (卽空).
2. All things are temporary (卽假).
3. All things are in the middle state between these two (卽中).

Three Treasures of Buddhism

China sān bǎo
Japan san bou
Three Treasures of Buddhism Vertical Wall Scroll

三寶 is the title for "Three Precious Treasures of Buddhism."

These three treasures are the Buddha 佛, the Dharma 法 (teachings or the law of the Buddha), and the Sangha 僧 (the community of monks or followers).

This term is used by most (perhaps not all) Buddhists in China, Japan, and South Korea (written the same it the original form, but pronounced differently in each language). Non-Buddhists may just read this as, "Three Treasures," without the religious context. For instance, there is also a, "Three Treasures of Chinese Medicine," that is sometimes titled the same way.


In modern Japanese and Simplified Chinese, this is written 三宝 instead of 三寶.

Three Souls

China sān hún
Japan san tamashi
Three Souls Vertical Wall Scroll

三魂 is a Daoist / Taoist term, "three immortal souls."

Three Treasures of Chinese Medicine

China jīng qì shén
Three Treasures of Chinese Medicine Vertical Wall Scroll

These are the characters jing, qi, and shen.

As a set, these three characters are known in English as the treasures of traditional Chinese medicine, the treasures of Qi Gong, or the three treasures of Taoism / Daoism.

Sometimes this set is titled as 三寶 (sānbǎo) or "three treasures" but here, we're writing each treasure out.

Here's how these characters are perceived in this context...
Jing: nutritive essence; refined; perfected; pure
Qi: vitality; energy; force; breath; vigor
Shen: spirit; soul; mind; being

To keep it simple, you can use, "essence, vitality and spirit," to define these.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Novel Title
China sān guó yǎn yì
Romance of the Three Kingdoms Vertical Wall Scroll

三國演義 is the Chinese title for The Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong.

三國演義 is one of the most famous novels of Chinese literature.

When Three People Gather,
Wisdom is Multiplied

Japan san nin yore ba monju no chie
When Three People Gather, / Wisdom is Multiplied Vertical Wall Scroll

This literally means, "when three people meet, wisdom is exchanged."

Some will suggest this means when three people come together, their wisdom is multiplied.

That wisdom part can also be translated as wit, sagacity, intelligence, or Buddhist Prajna (insight leading to enlightenment).

In the middle of this proverb is "monju," suggesting "transcendent wisdom." This is where the multiplication of wisdom idea comes from.


Note: This is very similar to the Chinese proverb, "When 3 people meet, one becomes a teacher."


Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.

When Three People Gather,
One Becomes a Teacher

China sān rén xíng bì yǒu wǒ shī
When Three People Gather, / One Becomes a Teacher Vertical Wall Scroll

This literally means, "when three people meet, one becomes the teacher."

This famous Chinese philosophy suggests that when people come together, they can always learn from each other.

One person must be the teacher and others learn. And in turn, the others become the teachers of the knowledge they posses.

It is important to remember that we all have something to teach, and we all have something to learn as well.

A sly rabbit has three openings to its den

-or- The crafty rabbit has three different entrances to its lair
China jiǎo tù sān kū
A sly rabbit has three openings to its den Vertical Wall Scroll

This speaks to the cunning character of a sly rabbit. Such a rabbit will not have just one hole but rather a few entrances and exits from his liar.

About 2,250 years ago a very rich man told his assistant to go and buy something wonderful that he did not yet posses. He was a man that already had everything, so the assistant went to a local village that owed a great deal of money to the rich man. The assistant told the village elders that all debts were forgiven. All the villagers rejoiced and praised the rich man's name. The assistant returned to the rich man and told him he had purchased "benevolence" for him. The rich man was mildly amused but perhaps a bit confused by the action.

Some time later, the rich man fell from the favor of the Emperor, and was wiped out without a penny to his name. One day he was walking aimlessly and stumbled into the village in which the debts had been forgiven. The villagers recognized the man and welcomed him with open arms, clothed, fed, and gave him a place to live.

Without trying, the man had become like the sly and cunning rabbit. When his exit was blocked, he had another hole to emerge from - and was reborn. This story and idiom comes from a book titled "The Amendment" - it's unclear whether this man actually existed or not. But the book did propel this idiom into common use in China.

Still today this idiom about the rabbit is used in China when suggesting "backup plans" alternate methods, and anyone with a good escape plan.

Search for Three in my Japanese & Chinese Dictionary




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

Title CharactersRomaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Three三 / 參
三 / 参
sansān / san1 / san
Three Kingdoms三國
三国
mitsu kuni / mitsukunisān guó / san1 guo2 / san guo / sanguosan kuo / sankuo
The Three Truths三諦
三谛
san dai / san tai
sandai / santai
sān dì / san1 di4 / san di / sandisan ti / santi
Three Treasures of Buddhism三寶
三宝
san bou / sanbou / san bo / sanbosān bǎo / san1 bao3 / san bao / sanbaosan pao / sanpao
Three Souls三魂san tamashi
santamashi
sān hún / san1 hun2 / san hun / sanhun
Three Treasures of Chinese Medicine精氣神
精气神
jīng qì shén
jing1 qi4 shen2
jing qi shen
jingqishen
ching ch`i shen
chingchishen
ching chi shen
Romance of the Three Kingdoms三國演義
三国演义
sān guó yǎn yì
san1 guo2 yan3 yi4
san guo yan yi
sanguoyanyi
san kuo yen i
sankuoyeni
When Three People Gather, Wisdom is Multiplied三人寄れば文殊の知恵san nin yore ba monju no chie
sanninyorebamonjunochie
When Three People Gather, One Becomes a Teacher三人行必有我師
三人行必有我师
sān rén xíng bì yǒu wǒ shī
san1 ren2 xing2 bi4 you3 wo3 shi1
san ren xing bi you wo shi
sanrenxingbiyouwoshi
san jen hsing pi yu wo shih
sanjenhsingpiyuwoshih
A sly rabbit has three openings to its den狡兔三窟jiǎo tù sān kū
jiao3 tu4 san1 ku1
jiao tu san ku
jiaotusanku
chiao t`u san k`u
chiaotusanku
chiao tu san ku
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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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.

Some people may refer to this entry as Three Kanji, Three Characters, Three in Mandarin Chinese, Three Characters, Three in Chinese Writing, Three in Japanese Writing, Three in Asian Writing, Three Ideograms, Chinese Three symbols, Three Hieroglyphics, Three Glyphs, Three in Chinese Letters, Three Hanzi, Three in Japanese Kanji, Three Pictograms, Three in the Chinese Written-Language, or Three in the Japanese Written-Language.

79 people have searched for Three in Chinese or Japanese in the past year.
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