Chinese puzzle

Chinese characters

Can any of you decipher the Chinese in this image?

The larger characters appear to be “仙露明珠方 朗潤松風水月北” (xiān lù míng zhū fāng lǎng rùn sōng fēng shuǐ yuè běi).

The smaller characters on the left appear to be “??扵甾香饭石生?” (??zāi xiāng fàn dàn shēng ?) – I’m not sure about the first two or the last one.

I know what parts of it mean, but not the whole thing.

[Update 21/11/2010]: according to a friend or a friend, the characters are “仙露明珠方明润,松风明月比清华。 于留香馆,石生画。” This is from 《小窗幽记》 (xiăochuāng yōujì) in 《醉古堂剑扫》 (zuì gŭ táng jiàn săo), Volume 12, Paragraph 121.

6 thoughts on “Chinese puzzle

  1. If your friend of a friend is correct, it’s interesting that the artist behind this piece adopted three different versions of 明 within the text. Any reason why that might be?

  2. The one that looks like 水 isn’t something I’d have ever guessed to be 明. ~四月 is spot on. ~艮月 i can buy but I’ve not seen it before.

  3. Your friend of a friend may have accidentally typed one of the characters wrong — the second 明 should be 朗 (which would make the couplet actually show up on a Google search).

    For a comparison of the simplified and traditional characters:
    S: 仙露明珠方朗润, 松风明月比清华. 于留香馆, 石生画.
    T: 仙露明珠方朗潤, 松風水月比清華. 於留香館, 石生畫.

    The layout of the couplet is odd to say the least; I wonder what the object in the photo actually is and where the photo was taken.

  4. Correction to S: 松风 *水* 月比清华

    The third character there is definitely 水. Haha, at first I didn’t even understand what the previous posters were talking about regarding the “third 明”!

  5. Here’s some more information about it:






  6. the reference on the roundel does not refer to the Qinghua (Tsing hua) area in Beijing (Peking). The whole sentence is a couplet and the signature of the painter of the fan“仙露明珠方朗润,松风水月比清华(couplet) 于留香馆石生画(signature)”

    The couplet itself is derived from an article written by Emperor Taizong of the Tang dynasty. ( During his ruling, he sent a Buddhist monk Xuanzang ( to India, to study the scripture of the Buddha. After he returned from India, the monk Xuanzang composed his studying into a scripture for Chinese Buddhism believers. To praise his achievement, Emperor Taizong wrote an article as a preface to this scripture.

    One of the sentence was like this:

    松风水月,未足比其清华;仙露明珠,讵能方其朗润 (I’ve underlined the words that used in the couplet). This sentence means ‘even the wind in the pine trees (松风), the moon mirrored in the lake(水月), are not comparable to his [refer to the monk Xuanzang] grace and glamour(清华); nor the dewdrop of the morning(仙露), and the pearl of precious(明珠), could compete with his brightness and mercy(朗润).

    As you can see, the word Qinghua (Tsinghua) in the sentence, as well as in the reference, means ‘grace and glamour’. The name of the Qinghua area probably came from this article itself. Writing a little poem or couplet on artworks is very popular in Chinese traditional painting. It is only a custom to enhance the essence of the painting, or sometimes as a record of specific incident. In the case of this particular roundel, it could only be the first one, although separating Qinghua from the other parts of the sentence is quite peculiar.

    As for the signature, it means ‘Scholar Shi (石生) painted this at Liuxiang House (留香馆)’. It is another tradition for the Chinese scholars to name their studio/study, and Liuxiang House is most probably the name of the painter’s studio.

    I am told this is what is this right?

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