Tag Archives: Chinese culture

The Eight Legged Essay

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The Diurnal Cycle and Chinese Hours

Long ago in a distant land, I, Aku… wait… let me start over.

Long ago in China, the diurnal cycle of day, dusk, night, and dawn was divided into twelve two-hour hours and each hour was named after an animal in the Chinese Zodiac. The Hour of the Rat was from 11 P.M. to 1 A.M., and so on. These animals were also assigned directions: Rat being North, Ox being NNE, etc. Many are familiar with the animals having “years”, so if you were born in a certain animal’s year, you might have certain attributes. These twelve animals are certainly multi-purpose!

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Wan Shou Wu Jiang

While eating out the other day I noticed a melamine plate with an interesting fourfold arrangement of Chinese characters on it. After asking the waitress what they meant and she didn’t know, I decided to figure them out using “the internet”. I first tried to use a photo of one of the characters with Google translate, but that didn’t seem to work. Next I tried several “draw the character” websites like Mobilefish, but those are tricky and require you to draw the strokes of the character in the correct sequence. Finally, with some success I was able to determine that the characters “Wan Shou Wu Jiang” (wàn shòu wú jiāng or 萬壽無疆) mean “infinite long life”, and are on many Chinese tableware, both antique and everyday.

I have to say I think representing fourfolds with such tidy logograms is quite beautiful and I would enjoy seeing my diagrams translated into them.

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