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Clarity in Chinese / Japanese...

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Clarity

China qīng
Japan sei
Clarity Vertical Wall Scroll

清 means clarity or clear in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja. Looking at the parts of this character, you have three splashes of water on the left, "life" on the top right, and the moon on the lower right.

Because of something Confucius said about 2500 years ago, you can imagine that this character means "live life with clarity like bright moonlight piercing pure water." The Confucian idea is something like "Keep clear what is pure in yourself, and let your pure nature show through." Kind of like saying, "Don't pollute your mind or body, so that they remain clear."

This might be stretching the definition of this single Chinese character but the elements are there, and "clarity" is a powerful idea.


Korean note: Korean pronunciation is given above but this character is written with a slight difference in the "moon radical" in Korean. However, anyone who can read Korean Hanja, will understand this character with no problem (this is considered an alternate form in Korean). If you want the more standard Korean Hanja form (which is an alternate form in Chinese), just let me know.

Japanese note: When reading in Japanese, this Kanji has additional meanings of pure, purify, or cleanse (sometimes to remove demons or "exorcise"). Used more in compound words in Japanese than as a stand-alone Kanji.

Mirror: Beautiful Clarity

China míng jìng
Japan mei kyou
Mirror: Beautiful Clarity Vertical Wall Scroll

While this means mirror in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja, it's commonly used as a metaphor for something beautiful and bright or something that provides clarity and insight.

Purity

Clean and Pure
China jìng
Japan jou
Purity Vertical Wall Scroll

淨 is the most simple way to express purity or cleanliness in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja. As a single character, the concept is broad: This can be a verb (the act of cleaning, purifying, or to cleanse) but it can also be the state of being clean, pure, and chaste. In some context, it can be a place to clean (like a bathing room for the soul in a Buddhist context). In Japanese, this can be a female given name "Jou" or "jō" (the Japanese equivalent of the English girl's name "Chastity").

Devotion / Dedication / Attentive / Focused

China zhuān xīn
Japan sen shin
Devotion / Dedication / Attentive / Focused Vertical Wall Scroll

The first character means "for a particular person, occasion, or purpose," "focused on one single thing," "concentrated" and sometimes, "special."

The second character means "heart" or "mind" by itself.

Together, these two characters make a word that means, "paying attention with your heart." It's often translated as, "dedication," as in "be absorbed in" or "concentrate one's efforts." It's also used to mean, "with single mind," "whole-heartedly," "paying attention," "undivided attention," "concentration (-ed)," "engrossed," "devotionally (listening/watching)," and/or "attentive."

My favorite translation, which comes from the Oxford Advanced Chinese/English Dictionary is, "wholehearted devotion."

If it seems like the meaning of this word is quite open, you are correct. The context in which the word is used matters a lot. It can mean different things depending on how you use it. This makes it kind of nice as you can decide what this means to you (within some limits). This word is always positive in meaning, so even if a Chinese person reads it differently than you, it will still have a good meaning.


専In Japanese, they tend to use a variation of the second character which has one less stroke. If you want your calligraphy written this Japanese form, please click on the Kanji shown to the right instead of the button above. Note: Japanese and Chinese people will recognize either form.


See Also:  Faith | Devotion

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Characters

If shown, 2nd row is Simp. Chinese

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