Inch by inch (1)

March 25, 2008 at 11:07 pm | Posted in All My Sketches, Misc. | Leave a comment
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I bet this one is the most well known among all 15 inchies I drew. Taiji symbolreflects the concept of Yin and Yang. For me, it’s rather a religious symbol as it’s usually seen in Taoist temples. The Taiji symbol together with Bagua is a very important component for Fengshui. I’ve seen a Taiji-Bagua on the roof of a friend’s home. Such an ornament is said to be talismanic.

All these 3 are Chinese characters, whereas only the first one is regular. The other two are rather decoration scripts. The first one,喜, refers to Joy, the first of seven normal human emotions (joy, anger, sorrow, fear, love, hate and desire: 七情). I saw this character on a colleague’s necklace the other day. This block was actually the first one I drew. This character also represents good things, e.g. expecting a child and weddings.

It’s widely used in pair, like 囍, especially for wedding decorations, called double happiness, generally red. Speaking of colors, white is usually avoided in a traditional Chinese wedding and many other celebration events, as white is the color of death. This double happiness character is also one of the basic patterns in traditional Chinese paper cutting. The only decoration for my own wedding was such a paper cutting made by myself. There are many variant cutting patterns of this character.

The next one in purple is the character 寿, which means longevity, and the last one is 福, luck.  There are way too many variants to list for both characters. Many calligraphists can write over 100 variants for each of them. Putting 100 寿 or 福 together is sort of a wish for getting extreme long life or extremely lucky, because the number 100 in Chinese can imply infinity. The 100 variants of the same character can be layout differently.

BTW: the last character is in fact up-side-down. In Chinese, particularly Mandarin, the character for reverse (倒) sounds the same as the character for coming (到), so the up-side-down character of luck indicates luck is approaching. People also write the character for spring (春) up-side-down to celebrate the Chinese New Year, literally Spring Festival in Chinese, which is the beginning of the spring.

It’s very interesting for myself to think of all these traditional things and put them into words. Please be patient with me. I will go over the inchies one by one.

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