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Chinese Tradition:“Duilian” or Chinese Couplets

2018/8/8 1:29:00
Chinese Tradition:“Duilian” or Chinese Couplets
In the past two weeks, I was staying with my parents and enjoying the spring festival in my hometown. One of the most important traditions of spring festival is paste Duilian.
Duilian, Chinese couplets written on scrolls, etc. or a pair of scrolls containing a poetic couplet is a unique literary genre in China. Generally speaking, duilian can be classified into Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) couplets, wedding couplets, longevity couplets, elegiac couplets, decorative couplets, trade couplets, social couplets, and miscellaneous couplets including facetious or humorous couplets.
Couplets can be long or short. The shortest one contains one or two characters, and the longest one several hundred characters, which can be seen on ancient Chinese architecture. The structure of the couplets can be parallel in meaning or antithetical in meaning. Duilian developed from antithesis or antithetical parallelism of regulated verse, a poem of eight lines, each containing five or seven characters, with a strict tonal pattern and rhyme scheme. Therefore it contains some of the characteristics of this special poetic form.
A couplet must have the following features:
one, each line having an equal number of characters, and the same sense groups.
two, strictly adhering to the tonal patterns, e. g. level tone versus oblique tone;
three, characters of the same part of speech having to be used, and in the same position, that is, function words versus function words and content words versus content words. In other words, it should be nouns versus nouns, verbs versus verbs,adjectives versus adjectives, numerals versus numerals, adverbs versus adverbs, and that characters of corresponding parts of speech in either line should be in the same position;
four, the interconnection of the contents. The meaning of the first line should be interrelated to that of the second, yet the two sentences must not have the same meaning.
As for pasted or hung couplets, it is a tradition to write them vertically and when pasted or hung, the first line should always be on the right and the second on the left, not the other way round.
Another thing, closely related to the couplet, is called heng pi, a horizontal scroll bearing an in-scription, or horizontal plaque, which is in fact the title or theme of the couplet.A good heng pi adds the finishing touch to the couplet.
Whether it is to chant things to express one's aspirations or describe the scenery to give vent to one’s feelings, the writer is expected to be very good at summarization, and proficient in Chinese so as to produce a couplet in a few characters, which is excellent in both content and language, full of aesthetic beauty, and thought-provoking.
With the cultural exchanges among different countries, duilian or Chinese couplets began to spread to Vietnam, Korea, Japan, and Singapore. And the custom of pasting Spring Festival couplets during the New Year is observed in these countries as well.

Paste Duilian


Duilian for Spring Festival

The culture of Spring Festival couplet in China is so profound. I get it!
2018/3/8 15:01:27