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Foreigners experience writing Spring Festival couplets in Jinan, Shandong

2021/1/18 16:52:22

The Spring Festival couplet (chunlian) is a Chinese custom with a long history and rich cultural significance, as well as a form of traditional art integrating poetic and calligraphic beauty. On the morning of January 16, five international students of Shandong University visited the headquarter of China Shandong Website to learn to write Spring Festival couplets from two calligraphy teachers.

Naomi Christiane, from Gabon, Munguni Edwin, from Uganda, Natividad Mico Bindang, from Equatorial Guinea, and Raheem Al-Hajj and Aziz Al-Hajj, from Yemen, met in the meeting room of China Shandong Website, where the ink brushes, ink cases, ink brush washers and red rice papers have been set out on the table covered with felt pad, together with a display of finished Spring Festival couplets brought by the two teachers, Wang Yonghua and Niu Yong.

Niu Yong told the students that the Spring Festival couplet, deriving from the peach wood charms (taofu), aims to increase the festive mood and convey peoples’ good wishes for the coming year. Taking a simple and classic couplet, “Chun Hui Da Di, Fu Man Ren Jian” (Spring brightens the earth, Blessings fill the world) as an example, he explained the stylistic features of Spring Festival couplets, where the first (right) line and the second (left) line of a couplet must be equal in length, identical in structure, reverse in tones, and corresponding in meanings.

Wang Yonghua improvised an application-oriented lecture on the basics of Chinese calligraphy, starting with the five major script styles, the technique to wield the ink brush in a stroke, the different structures of Chinese characters, and the spatial layout of a piece of work, as he wrote a Chinese character “Fu” (basically means luck, fortune, or blessings) as an example.

Holding Chinese ink brush for the first time, the students were excited and uncertain. Under the hand-by-hand, step-by-step guidance of the teachers, they are making progress very fast. In addition to intimating the teachers’ demonstrations, they also tried to create their own works.

Naomi wrote “Fu” (wealthy) on a diamond-shaped piece of red paper for “Fu” (blessings). Edwin and Natividad wrote “Ji Xiang Ru Yi” (Everything goes well) and matched them with “Chun Hui Da Di” (Spring brightens the earth) as the two rhyme with the same sound. Aziz was very interested in his Chinese zodiac “Dragon” (“long” in Chinese) and asked Mr. Wang on the spot for the way of writing the character “Long” in calligraphy. Raheem wrote “I love China”, “I love Shandong University” in both Chinese and in Arabic, creatively integrating elements of different cultures.

The international students spoke highly of this activity, where they can better understand traditional Chinese culture in an interactive way, which is rewarding and more interesting than book-learning. “I will live in Jinan for another five years”, said Aziz, “I will learn more about Chinese culture”.

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Sponsor:Information Office of Shandong Provincial People’s Government