Spring Couplets / 春联 / Chūnlián

Before decorations for the Lunar New Year in the dining hall come down later this week, I thought some might be interested to learn more about the spring couplets (春联/chūnlián) that were hand scribed by our very own accomplished calligrapher Hanson Zhang C’19.


Although they may appear to be simple five word phrases, each line of a spring couplet follows a very strict rhyme and lexical pattern and most often convey a fortuitous outlook for the new year. New couplets are hung around the doorways of most homes in China during this time and will remain there for entirety of the year. 


Calligraphy itself is still a very relevant and revered art form in China, as it has been for many moons. Being adept at calligraphy has always been a prerequisite for any decent intellectual, and it takes many years of practice for most to approach a respectable level of skill. Although just an armchair enthusiast myself, it is obvious Hanson is a very adept calligrapher and has put a lot of time into perfecting his penmanship. 


Below are the poems and their phonetic transliterations (a.k.a. pinyin), a literal word-for-word translation and a “rough” real translation. They would be read top-to-bottom and right-to-left.

Couplets at the entrance to Alumni Hall:


Pinyin: Jiāng Shān Qiān Gǔ Xiù

Literal Translation: Rivers Mountains Thousand Ancient Splendid

“Rough” Real Translation: Rivers and mountains eternally splendid



Tiān Dì Yī Jiā Chūn

Heaven Earth One Family Spring

The entire universe as one family is joyful


Couplets at the entrance to the main serving room of the dining hall:


Yún Lái Hè Zì Wǔ

Clouds Come Cranes Cause Dance

Clouds come and the cranes begin to dance



Huā Hǎo Niǎo Néng Gē

Flowers Beautiful Birds Can Sing

The flowers are beautiful and the birds begin to sing


P.S.) Joe Wang C’ 17 should also be recognized for organizing the decorations for the third year in a row!




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