Four Character Puzzle

04 Mar 2007

In Chongqing my wife’s cousin gave her a Buddhist pendant as a gift. On one side was a form which consisted of four Chinese characters blended together. Can you see them?

4 Character Riddle

The four characters together actually form a (Buddhist?) saying. For the answer, see below.

4 Character Riddle: answer

The meaning of 善唯呈和 is something like “goodness alone produces harmony.” I thought that was pretty cool.

The Chinese people I talked to around here had not heard this saying before, but apparently this “four characters in one” form is rather well known in the Chongqing/Sichuan area.

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. Hmmm, now that I think about it I wonder if 善唯呈和 means “only goodness produces harmony” or “goodness only produces harmony.”

    Anyone? Anyone?

  2. John,

    I found this article. Don’t know if it helps. http://zhidao.baidu.com/question/44280.html?fr=qrl3

  3. only goodness produces harmony

    hummm, i don’t see reading Chinese clockwise very often. in this case, reading crossly doesn’t make any sense.

    trivia: I’ve never heard of this before. I grew up in Soochow area.

  4. pharmine Says: March 6, 2007 at 12:38 am

    That reminded me of “吾唯知足” (I am content and have few wants)
    carved on the surface of a water basin made of stone in Ryoanji-temple in Kyoto, Japan. They say these four characters are related to 老子 or 禅.

    Position: 吾: top, 足: bottom, 唯: right, 知: left
    In Japanese it is read clockwise: “吾れ唯足るを知る(ware tada taru wo shiru)”

  5. Skills, John, skills. I appreciate the character separation in the Buddhist pendant. What are your thoughts or interpretation on your meaning of “goodness alone produces harmony.”

  6. Do a google search of “唯善呈和”–a little different from the way you’ve put–it and you will find some information… I think the meaning becomes more clear too.

  7. Do a google search of “唯善呈和”–a little different from the way you’ve put it–and you will find some information… I think the meaning becomes more clear too.

  8. Yeah, i forget the name of a resturant which shares 口, should be ? 味 品 ? something. the same.

  9. Pharmine,

    That’s really cool, thanks! (And half a thanks to Kastner as well…)

  10. I am a Chinese ,born and grow up in Sichuan for 17 years,studying in Chongqing for 4 years,but I have never heard of that 善唯呈和 “goodness alone produces harmony”—–“four characters in one”!It’s damn new and cool!!!

  11. Nicholas Says: March 11, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    I’m from Sichuan and have never heard of that saying either.

  12. john, if you ever get a tattoo, that’s what you should get. awesome meaning, very aesthetically pleasing, and neat “history.”

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