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木 is the symbol for wood in Japanese, Korean and Chinese. This can sometimes mean "tree" depending on context. In fact, the character comes from a pictogram that is supposed to resemble a tree.
Wood is one of the five elements that ancient Chinese believed all things were composed of. These elements are also part of the cycle of Chinese astrology. Every person has both an animal sign, and one of the five elements according to the date of their birth. See also Five Elements and Chinese 12 Animals / Zodiac.
杯水車薪 is a warning against a futile effort. This proverb literally refers to one who is "trying to put out a burning cart of wood with a cup of water," or "throw a cup of water on a cartload of wood." The lesson to be learned is about using the right measure or tool for the job, and not to waste your effort if you are inadequately equipped for the task at hand - in other words the postscript should be "go get a bucket or a fire hose."
金木水火土 is a list of the Chinese characters for the five elements in a comfortable order (meaning that they simply "feel right" to a Chinese person who views this arrangement).
The order is metal, wood, water, fire, earth.
Note that sometimes the metal element is translated as gold. And earth refers to soil versus the whole planet earth.
竹 is the character that means bamboo in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja. In Asian cultures, bamboo is often seen as a symbol of a noble gentleman (being tall, straight, and honest).
There are also some multi-character bamboo words that regard individual bamboo plants, species of bamboo, bamboo as lumber, and edible bamboo shoots. However, this single-character seems most appropriate for a wall scroll, and covers the whole category of Asian bamboo.
五行 is the title of the five elements which are: wood, fire, water, earth, and metal.
The first character means "5" and the second character is simply "elements."
According to ancient Chinese science, all matter in the world is made up of these elements. One idea presented with the five elements is that when energy is added, matter is believed to expand. When energy is removed, matter contracts. Oddly, this concept is not far from Einstein's theories, and modern science. Just a few thousand years before Einstein.
More info: Wikipedia - Five Elements (Wu Xing).
These four characters together translate in English to a strong form of "profound" or "written with a forceful hand."
But there is much more to the story...
The deep meaning behind this proverb comes from a man named Wan Xizhi who lived in the third century.
He was a great writer and calligrapher whose writing style influenced generations of other writers and calligraphers.
He once wrote words on a piece of wood to be taken to an engraver.
When the engraver began to carve the characters into the wood, he found that Wang Xizhi's writing had penetrated the wood about 3/8 of an inch.
Thus people believed that his words were so powerful, and so profound this it caused the ink from his brush to penetrate the wood deeply.
The proverb literally means "penetrated wood three fen" (fen is an ancient Chinese measurement a little over to 1/8 of an inch or almost 4mm).
木星 is the planet Jupiter in Chinese characters, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
The literal meaning is "wood star."
This can also be a given name (Mokusei) or the surname (Kiboshi) in Japanese.
地水火風 is a Buddhist term that means "earth, water, fire, wind." 地水火風 is often just referred to as "the four elements." There is a more common title (the five elements) which adds wood to the mix. These four elements are used in some sects of Japanese Buddhism (not so much in Chinese).
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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|
|Wood||木||ki||mù / mu4 / mu|
|Put out a burning wood cart|
with a cup of water
|bēi shuǐ chē xīn|
bei1 shui3 che1 xin1
bei shui che xin
|pei shui ch`e hsin
pei shui che hsin
|Five Elements||金木水火土||jīn mù shuǐ huǒ tǔ|
jin1 mu4 shui3 huo3 tu3
jin mu shui huo tu
|chin mu shui huo t`u
chin mu shui huo tu
|Bamboo||竹||take||zhú / zhu2 / zhu||chu|
|Five Elements||五行||gogyou / gogyo||wǔ xíng / wu3 xing2 / wu xing / wuxing||wu hsing / wuhsing|
|入木三分||rù mù sān fēn|
ru4 mu4 san1 fen1
ru mu san fen
|ju mu san fen
|Jupiter||木星||Mokusei||mù xīng / mu4 xing1 / mu xing / muxing||mu hsing / muhsing|
|dì shuǐ huǒ fēng|
di4 shui3 huo3 feng1
di shui huo feng
|ti shui huo feng
|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.
Some people may refer to this entry as Wood Kanji, Wood Characters, Wood in Mandarin Chinese, Wood Characters, Wood in Chinese Writing, Wood in Japanese Writing, Wood in Asian Writing, Wood Ideograms, Chinese Wood symbols, Wood Hieroglyphics, Wood Glyphs, Wood in Chinese Letters, Wood Hanzi, Wood in Japanese Kanji, Wood Pictograms, Wood in the Chinese Written-Language, or Wood in the Japanese Written-Language.
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