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Old 01-16-2014, 10:20 AM   #1
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Default Blockheads Chinese Princess - what do characters mean?

This is a long shot, but I figured I'd ask here first:

I just bought the Blockheads Chinese Princess set off Etsy, and as I was cutting out the sheet, I started wondering exactly what the Chinese writing meant. Especially the one large set of characters. Here's a picture, maybe someone happens to know:

blockeadschineseprincess2.jpg

That large set of characters - how can I use it if I have no idea what it means? Wish the packaging said. Now that Blockheads is no more (sadly), I can't call them to ask. I am assuming the brick and mortar store closed down when the website did.
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Old 01-16-2014, 10:47 AM   #2
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Your annotations on that photo are hilarious. I'll tweet this on our account and see if anyone can help.
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Old 01-16-2014, 11:04 AM   #3
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Thank you! I can usually figure out enough of the words in French to know basically what it's about, but with Asian writing (I have a Japanese one as well) I am always nervous that it says either something weird, or that it is at cross purposes with the reason for the card.
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Old 01-16-2014, 11:39 AM   #4
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I forwarded the picture to my ex - he's fluent in Chinese and Japanese and can read about 1500 characters, so he might be able to at least give us an idea of what's being said. I don't know if/when he'll respond (very volatile and unpredictable, that one - but brilliant, as well), but if/when he does, I'll be sure to let you know! (and no, he's not Asian, but he majored in Japanese, minored in Mandarin Chinese and worked for the NSA back in the day)
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Old 01-16-2014, 11:50 AM   #5
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Thanks, Sue!
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachelrose View Post
That large set of characters - how can I use it if I have no idea what it means?
I know exactly what you mean! I got a few Chinese characters in a grab bag of UM stamps years ago and felt I couldn't use them without knowing what they meant. At the time, one of my husband's PhD students was Chinese so I stamped them out and had him take a look - he not only told me what each character meant but he complimented the style and quality of the calligrahy, too!

Hope you get somewhere finding the meanings for these.
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Old 01-16-2014, 01:16 PM   #7
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I thought maybe as a last resort I might ask Lisa Yang at Local King. They aren't her stamps, but I have bought many stamps and dies from her, so maybe she wouldn't mind. I think she is Chinese. There are some medallions in the set as well. They must mean something.

Then I have to figure out what the Japanese script I have says! I bought it to go with my Japanese figures (I don't mix Chinese and Japanese on the same card) and it came with no translation.

It always seems strange to me that translations are not provided for all Asian-themed stamps, Chinese or Japanese. Yes, the characters are graphically lovely, but they are writing, and do mean something. You could be stamping knock-knock jokes on a sympathy card for all you know.
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Old 01-16-2014, 01:45 PM   #8
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I emailed my dad, but he doesn't check his email often, and the print (especially the four tinier characters on the bottom left) might be too small for him to see.
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Old 01-16-2014, 02:18 PM   #9
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Whenever you get around to using the character stamps, please make sure they are oriented in the right direction. Several years ago SU had some large Asian character stamps. The way they were shown on the catalogue page was correct but they sample card on which it was used had the characters upside down. Don't know Asian customs but in some cultures doing something like that shows disrespect and is very hurtful.

Someone I know had an Asian business associate from an Asian country staying as a very nice New York hotel on a business trip. The management thought it would be nice and more comfortable for him to stay in one of their Asian theme decorated suites. The manger asked the hotel guest if everything was to his liking and he replied, "The Asian character items displayed would be better right side up!"

Hope someone can translate the characters on your stamps.
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Old 01-16-2014, 04:03 PM   #10
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Okay, this is what my dad said:
The one with the face "大江东去" means: The big river floats to the east. It might mean that "there is no return". Or "it's gone forever".
The other one I could not read it clearly.

edited to add: I then took your photo, cropped it with only the print that he couldn't see, enlarged it, and sent it to him again. But now it may be too blurry for him to make out. Perhaps if you still haven't gotten an answer you can scan it into your computer at 300 dpi and repost it here?
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Old 01-16-2014, 05:06 PM   #11
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When I stamp any Oriental writing and don't which direction is up, I try to stamp in all directions and use it as a background. That way, there is no clear top or bottom. The comment about not mixing Chinese and Japanese makes me wonder how many times I've done that because I didn't recognize the difference??
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Old 01-16-2014, 06:42 PM   #12
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I don't either just by looking, but I know which is which because when I buy them, it says what they are.

I like your idea of using them as graphic elements in BGs, and if you are not making an Asian themed card, it doesn't seem at all wrong to mix them.

But if I am doing an Asian themed card, with other Asian elements, I would not mix the two. I wouldn't put Chinese text with an image of a geisha, for instance. That's just me, though, and probably lots of people don't give it a second thought. !
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Old 01-17-2014, 03:19 AM   #13
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I don't know if it holds true across the board, but the Chinese characters are largely the same as the Japanese characters. The difference is the way they're conjugated. Hiragana characters are used in Japanese (for native words), as well as Katakana characters (for foreign words, which are written phonetically). If you find a Hiragana/Katakana chart, you could see if any of those characters showed up in the text - then you'd know it was Japanese. If not, it'd probably be okay to use for either Chinese or Japanese.
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Old 01-17-2014, 04:36 AM   #14
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I just always go by how the stamp was sold. If it was sold as "Chinese text" or "Chinese poetry" then that's how I am going to use it. If it says "Japanese text" then I will only use it with Japanese images.

Trying to figure it out on my own is too hard! Of course, my method puts complete trust in the company knowing!
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Old 01-17-2014, 05:07 AM   #15
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I avoided the French Script stamp for years for the same reason and now that I broke down and use it and the script from French Foliage, I still wonder what in the world I have written on my cards. Along the same lines, I always carefully peruse the dictionary pages that I'm using-every once in a while there is something on there that I'd rather not feature on a card!
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Old 01-17-2014, 05:35 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaxsix View Post
I avoided the French Script stamp for years for the same reason and now that I broke down and use it and the script from French Foliage, I still wonder what in the world I have written on my cards. Along the same lines, I always carefully peruse the dictionary pages that I'm using-every once in a while there is something on there that I'd rather not feature on a card!
Slightly OT, but DH looked closely at the Christmas card I gave him this year and said it was a bit morbid to have used DP with death notices on it.I had some Asian character rub-ons once which came with the meaning of each character - it was great! French Script, I do remember once working out what it was. I like the SU one but there's definitely some reason that I've never gone for the IO one.
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Old 01-17-2014, 05:47 AM   #17
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I just bought the IO one but haven't even unwrapped it. I guess I am going to have to get it out and look at it. Eeek.
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Old 01-17-2014, 09:07 AM   #18
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It won't work for Japanese or Chinese, but try Google Translate for French/German/ Spanish etc. I go to a European Store locally to pick up foodie goodies, and I am a bit of a risk taker, and pick up something unusual that catches my eye and I come home and type the instructions etc in Google Translate..works a treat.. and I have found some fantastic ingredients that way
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Old 01-17-2014, 09:32 AM   #19
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Sophie - I only now realized I had missed your posts!!! - I scrolled down too far on the thread when I got one of my email notifications. Thank you so much for getting that info for me.

The big river floats to the east. There is no return. Hmmm... I wonder what that points to. It sounds sort of Taoist.

Here's the longer piece, scanned in, maybe easier to see:

chineseprincess-copy.jpg

And yes, Jukie, I use Google Translate a lot. But that SU stamp in French has such teeny tiny weird writing, I can't for the life of me make it out to input it.
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Old 01-17-2014, 11:52 AM   #20
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Rachel, No, my dad says "the big river floats to the east" is what the big characters say. He is only speculating about what the deeper meaning might be. He couldn't read the smaller print, because it is in "cursive"? But he suggested that I print it out and give it to my mom and have her take it to her Chinese friends in church - he said someone there would know... so I'll print it out and take it to my mom's when I visit her on Sunday.

edited to add: Thank you for reposting it!! I was able to enlarge the text greatly (most of their friends are elderly, with bad eyesight), and it's printed out and put with the other stuff I'm going to take to my mom's on Sunday!
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Old 01-17-2014, 01:22 PM   #21
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Yes, I got that - it's the big characters that say "The big river floats to the east." I am intrigued as to what it might mean.

And it is me who should be thanking you (or would that be "It is I who should be thanking you..."), for taking the trouble to play around with my original image and then taking my repost of it and enlarging it to bring it over to your Mom for her to show her Chinese friends.

Maybe they will know what "The big river floats to the east" might mean !
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Old 01-18-2014, 02:13 AM   #22
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French Script is a poem by Victor Hugo which was set to music by Gabriel Fauré.

Puisque mai tout en fleur dans les prés nous réclame,
Viens! ne te lasse pas de mêler à ton âme
La campagne, les bois, les ombrages charmants,
Les larges clairs de lune au bord des flots dormants,
Le sentier qui finit ou le chemin commence,
Et l'air et le printemps et l'horizon immense,
L'horizon que ce monde attache humble et joyeux
Comme une lèvre au bas de la robe des cieux!
Viens! et que le regard des pudiques étoiles
Qui tombe sur la terre à travers tant de voiles,
Que l'arbre pénétré de parfums et de chants,
Que le souffle embrasé de midi dans les champs,
Et l'ombre et le soleil et l'onde et la verdure,
Et le rayonnement de toute la nature
Fassent épanouir, comme une double fleur,
La beauté sur ton front et l'amour dans ton cœur!

I don't think the stamp starts at the very beginning of the poem, though. Without the actual stamp in front of me (and I don't have this one, I keep looking for it at a good price since I already have En Francais).
Translation: Since May all in bloom is calling us in the meadows Come! and don’t be tired of mixing your soul With the countryside, the woods, the charming shades, The wide moonlights on the banks of sleeping waters, The track where the path is starting, And the air and the spring and the immense horizon, –An horizon that this world is attaching humble and joyous Like a hem at the bottom of the robe of the sky!

Come! and may the gaze of the modest stars Which falls on the earth through so many veils, May the tree pervaded with perfumes and songs, May the scorching breath of midday in the fields, And the shade and the sunshine and the water and the greenery, And the glow of the whole nature Cause to open, like a double flower, Beauty on your forehead and love in your heart!

En Francais is another poem - Aube (Dawn) by Rimbaud

J'ai embrassé l'aube d'été.

Rien ne bougeait encore au front des palais. L'eau était mortre . Les camps d'ombres ne quittaient pas la route du bois. J'ai marché, réveillant les haleines vives et tièdes; et les pierries regardèrent, et les ailes se levèrent sans bruit.

La première enterprise fut, dans le sentier déjà empli de frais et blêmes éclats, une fleur qui me dit son nom.

Je ris au wasserfall blond qui s'échevela à travers les sapins: à la cime argentée je reconnus la déesse.

Alors je levai un à les voiles. Dans l'allée, en agitant les bras. Par la plaine, où je l'ai dénoncée au coq. A la grand'ville elle fuyait parmi les clochers et les dômes, et, courant comme un mendiant sur les quais de marbre, je la chassais.

En haut de la route, près d'un bois de lauriers. Je l'ai entourée avec ses voiles amassés, et j'ai senti un peu son immense corps. L'aube et l'enfant tombèrent au bas du bois.

Au réveil, il était midi.

Only the parts not in italics are on the stamp. The part which is on the stamps translates as :
I embraced the summer dawn.
Nothing stirred on the face of the palaces.... Crowds of shadows lingered on the road to the woods. I walked, dreaming the warm, brisk winds, and precious stones looked on, and wings soared in silence.

The first venture, on the path already full of fresh and pale glitterings, was a flower who told me her name.

I laughed at the white waterfall dishevelled through the pine trees...


My issue with the IO one is that it's simply repetitive phrases. En Francais repeats, but it's not so obvious.

For the IO French Text stamp, the first line is just a repeat of "round and fresh like the moon"
The second line reads "at the heart of town, on this street"
3rd line - "the cross is golden in the heavenly night".

OK, as far as I can tell they're all from poems by Paul Verlaine, but they're just totally random snippets and it doesn't work for me.
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Old 01-18-2014, 05:23 AM   #23
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Dang Sabrina!! You got all the accents and stuff too! I love French. It is much easier for me than Chinese.
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Old 01-18-2014, 05:40 AM   #24
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Thank you, Sabrina! I am impressed!

I actually don't so much mind the repetition on the IO stamp if that's what it says. All three phrases are melodious and there are no words I would mind showing anywhere noticeable (although I would rather the word "cross" was not there and I find the choice of including it odd). I say that because the Hero Arts Friends Definition BG stamp has some words and phrases in it like "one that reduces or threatens to reduce competition" which I have had end up right in some obvious place, next to a focal image, and having the word "threaten" in a place where you know someone's eye is going to go is kind of annoying. In that case you can only just assume people aren't reading your BG, but as your experience with your DH has proven, it isn't always so!
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Old 01-18-2014, 09:01 AM   #25
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Oh - there were several more lines on the IO stamp before it started repeating lines as well as snippets! But I was out really late last night and was too tired this morning to keep going.
And the quote with the cross - it's from a poem called (translated) The Cathedral is Majestic, so in that context it makes a little more sense.

@Sophie, I've started using Character Map for all my accents . I keep losing the link you gave me a few years back, and sometimes those ASCII codes didn't work anyway - operator error, I am sure.
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Old 01-18-2014, 09:25 AM   #26
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Not that it doesn't make sense to me. It's simply that I don't see why there would be a line with a Christian reference on their stamp. I know some companies do specialize in stamps with Christian scripture, images, etc. But I thought of IO as non-denominational. That's why it surprised me. If the stamp were in English and had a clearly Christian reference I would not have bought it. I am a non-denominational stamper.

This makes me feel more strongly than ever that stamp companies that sell stamps which have non-English text (particularly if they are based in the USA), ought to be clear about what the text says.
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Old 01-18-2014, 10:48 AM   #27
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Oh Sabrina, I don't even bother with links anymore. I go directly to Google and type in "a accent grave ascii code" etc.
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Old 01-19-2014, 03:12 AM   #28
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The big river flows to the east.. Maybe someone was giving a tourist directions....
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Old 01-19-2014, 07:26 AM   #29
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Okay Robin, I showed the writing to my mom, who said she also didn't understand it, and the best she could do was to give me a word-for-word translation. But she kept emphasizing that that was NOT an accurate translation of its meaning (like if some crude translation program translated some other language into English word for word - it would sound stilted and non-sensical to us, and it would not be accurate). She also said that this writing is Mandarin from Taiwan, and all the church people mostly know the Mandarin from mainland China. Anyway, so here goes... and the order is right-most column first (so backwards, to us), top to bottom:

Rightmost column:
Over the condition, that lake, mountain, beautiful view, wind, heaven, earth, become, south, arrive

Next column:
Inside the cave, the deep back of the interior cave wall, west, pillow, [ four characters that she doesn't know ], and/with [ a connecting word - either "and" or "with" ], very high tall peak (not a gradual rise to a high peak, like a mountain, but a sharp and steep rise, more like um, the thing on top of the highest Chicago? skyscraper)

next column plus the top character of the left-most column:
close (as in "near", not "shut"), walking around and around without a specific destination, few of the sentences that get into my heart, and bringing comfort

left-most column:
top character is "comfort". She says the next two are missing some marks and are incomplete - maybe missed during the copying. The fourth character means "motion".

The four tiny characters of the left-most column:
She says the combination of the first two characters means "explanation". The next two character combinations is the name of a town where she's visited! She thinks the English spelling of it is "Han Chou" (maybe "Han Zhou").

The little square, the big square, and the circle are people's names. The tradition is that people have rubber stamps (like us! ) of their names and they stamp them inside books etc. to identify them as theirs. Or if it's an artist, he'll stamp his name on his artwork, etc.

My mom said this was a poem in the Buddhism um...realm. She said some of the words she didn't understand because she isn't Buddhist. She gave the example of the word "messiah" and said for example someone who isn't Jewish or Christian might not fully understand the meaning of the word "messiah", so she doesn't fully understand the meaning of some of those words. She speculates that perhaps Buddhists have a book or some collections of literature, much like Christians have the Bible, and that perhaps this poem was taken from that collection of literature.

Also, she explained more in detail about the bigger words near the face: She said that those four characters are in Mandarin from mainland China (whereas the four-columned poem is in Mandarin from Taiwan). She said that there are phrases that describe little streams, and then rivers, and then large rivers, and then humongous gigantic rivers that no one can even go boating on. She said here the first two words mean that humongous gigantic river. She (and my dad also) wasn't sure about the third word because the handwriting wasn't very clear (just like sometimes even though the lines themselves are very clear, the handwriting itself is illegible). She said she thought it might be this one word that meant one after another (like chunks of food is one after another on a barbeque skewer). And the last word on there is definitely "east".

She said you would get a much more accurate translation if you could find a Buddhist from Taiwan (who can read Mandarin from Taiwan), who reads Buddhist literature, instead of just praying to Buddha (or whatever). She has a Buddhist friend, but she is Vietnamese (not Taiwanese) and she doesn't read anything; just prays.

Okay, I think that's all. Sorry it is not so accurate.
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Old 01-19-2014, 07:37 AM   #30
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Oh, also, sometimes there were character combinations - like two characters combine to form one meaning... so if the number of characters in a column didn't add up to the number of um, words or phrases that I typed for that column, that may be why.

Also, I forgot to say, my mom didn't bother taking it to church because she was pretty sure that everyone there who can read Chinese (some of those people's children can't) can only read the Mandarin from mainland China, or if they could read the one from Taiwan, they wouldn't be able to translate it any better than she did. Her church is a Christian one, not a Buddhist one (obviously heh heh).
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Old 01-19-2014, 07:53 AM   #31
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Ah yes. Hangzhou it is...
Hangzhou - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Look at the first two Chinese characters - they match the two bottom-most of the tiny characters on the left-most column.
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Old 01-19-2014, 08:10 AM   #32
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So glad I decided to read this post because it contains some very interesting information.
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Old 01-19-2014, 08:55 AM   #33
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Ugh... also forgot to mention that English is not my mom's first language, so her English translation itself might be a little bit off. (this is why I went into such long-winded explanations of some of the characters - my mom went on and on describing the meaning 'cause she wasn't sure she had the right English words).
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Old 01-19-2014, 09:01 AM   #34
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This is really fascinating on several levels.

First, I want to thank you SO much for taking all this trouble, Sophie. And for your parents' patience with it. Really, MANY thanks!

The thing about the smaller rivers flowing into larger rivers and into a very big river that flows to the east strikes me as either Buddhist or Taoist, actually. I seem to dimly recall something that uses that metaphor, but would have to look around to find it.

Buddhist have quite a large canon of beautiful literature and poetry, which varies somewhat depending on the type of Buddhism it is and even the lineage within a school of Buddhism. They have no such thing as a Bible, not as in the Jewish/Christian concept of one central book. But many, many writings, which are the writings of great teachers. The purported words of the Buddha are contained in those writings, but they go far beyond those words.

Even though we can't really know the precise meaning of the longer piece, the fact that it is a Buddhist poem is nice for me to know. Firstly because I can be assured that it isn't anything weird or nonsensical. And also because I am interested in Buddhism.

I figured the small squares and circles were chop marks.

Hangzhou is the location of a very famous Buddhist temple in China.

Your Vietnamese friend is probably a Pure Land Buddhist. Chanting is common in all Buddhist traditions, but praying is most especially part of the Pure Land school. Pure Land is very prevalent in Vietnam.
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Old 01-19-2014, 09:11 AM   #35
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You're welcome! I googled a little bit, trying to find the specific poem this was taken from, but I got really sleepy so I quit. You might have better luck 'cause you know a LOT more about Buddhism than I do!
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Old 01-19-2014, 02:15 PM   #36
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This is totally down my dad's alley! (We're Chinese too) He loves studying characters and poems... he's looking at this now. Translation coming soon I think!
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Old 01-19-2014, 03:05 PM   #37
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!!!

I have to say, I never thought this thread would be so much fun, or that people would jump on this with so much enthusiasm. I am so grateful to everyone!

Thank you, LysaQ!
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Old 01-19-2014, 04:50 PM   #38
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Ok, it's a bit complicated to translate literally as SophieLaFontaine wrote- but what I got from his explanation was that this person went across the border/over the mountains and saw such a beautiful site and scenery of rivers and mountains and was so inspired...

I hope that helps a little!
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Old 01-19-2014, 04:55 PM   #39
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Well, poetry is quite hard to translate from one language to another. Yes, putting this together with what Sophie posted I do get a sense of what it might be about. Especially if I look at it through a Buddhist lens.

Thank you very much!
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