Couplet knowledge: How should Spring Festival couplets be posted? Six requirements for writing couplets and three methods for writing couplets

Couplet is one of the excellent traditional cultures. It combines poetry and calligraphy. In a short couplet, it carries the unique beauty of rhythm and form of Chinese characters.

It is a pity that modern people have a very shallow understanding of couplets. Some people regard couplets as couplets, and some even regard two sentences that read smoothly and seem to have the same number of words as couplets. If these shallow understandings become popular all over the world, then the meaning of couplets The culture carried by them has also been eliminated, so it is necessary to popularize the common sense of couplets.

Couplet knowledge: How should Spring Festival couplets be posted? Six requirements for writing couplets and three methods for writing couplets Photo 2

Zeng Guofan’s couplet calligraphy

1. How should Spring Festival couplets be posted?

Spring Festival couplets are the most common application of couplets in real life. Every New Year, when red Spring Festival couplets are pasted on the door, the entire land of China will show a new look, and every household will exude joy.

However, there are big differences in how to post Spring Festival couplets.

Before paper was invented, bamboo was the most important writing carrier for our ancients. When weaving bamboo slips, weaving them vertically from right to left was easier to carry and read. Therefore, the ancients formed the habit of writing from top to bottom, from top to bottom. The writing habit of writing from right to left.

The same is true for couplets. Among the ancients, couplets were always pasted from right to left.

To be more specific, when a person is facing the door, the couplet is posted on the right side and the lower couplet is posted on the left side.

But now, many people do not write Spring Festival couplets themselves, but buy Spring couplets in the market. Spring couplets often have horizontal inscriptions. The merchants who make Spring Festival couplets may not understand the writing methods of the ancients, or they may want to cater to the reading methods of modern people. Most of the horizontal batches they produced were read from left to right.

At this time, if we post Spring Festival couplets according to the way the ancients pasted couplets, then the couplets will be read from right to left, and the horizontal batch will be read from left to right. The reading methods are contradictory to each other, which destroys the integrity and unity of the Spring Festival couplets.

Couplet knowledge: How should Spring Festival couplets be posted? Six requirements for writing couplets and three methods for writing couplets Photo 4

Qing Dynasty Min-Confucian Couplet Calligraphy

Some people will say that we should change the way of pasting couplets from left to right. This not only ensures the unity of couplets and horizontal criticism, but also conforms to the way modern people read. It is better to get the best of both worlds.

But I don’t agree with this view. Traditional culture has been lost to us again and again. Couplets are one of the few Chinese characters that still retain vertical writing. So wouldn’t it be better if we retain some of the ancient traditions when posting couplets? ?

My suggestion is, don’t buy those nonsense couplets on the market, pick up a brush and write your own.

2. Six requirements for writing couplets.

If you write couplets yourself, you must understand the requirements of the couplets, otherwise the couplets you write will not make sense.

There are six basic requirements for couplets:

(1) The number of words is equal.

The number of words in the upper and lower lines of a couplet must be equal, which is the most obvious feature of the couplet.

According to folklore, when Yuan Shikai passed away, someone sent him this couplet:

Yuan Shikai through the ages

Long live the Chinese people

There are five characters in the first couplet and six characters in the second couplet. People have never seen such a couplet and were confused about its meaning, so someone asked the author what he meant. The author said: “Yuan Shikai is sorry for the Chinese people.” Although they are both nouns, Yuan Shikai only has Three words, Chinese people are four words, so Yuan Shikai cannot be compared to the Chinese people.

This tells us that upper and lower couplets with unequal number of words cannot be relative.

Couplet knowledge: How should Spring Festival couplets be posted? Six requirements for writing couplets and three methods for writing couplets Photo 6

Kang Youwei’s couplet calligraphy

Couplets require an equal number of words, but it should be noted that duplicate words should be avoided as much as possible in the upper and lower couplets. The same word cannot appear in different positions in the upper and lower couplets, that is, avoid “overlapping words in different positions”; the same word cannot appear in the same position in the upper and lower couplets, that is, avoid “overlapping words in the same position”.

Avoiding heavy characters is a general requirement for couplets. In special circumstances, due to the needs of expression, heavy characters may also appear. For example, the same position-heavy words of some function words are allowed .

For example, there is a famous couplet in the Maitreya Hall of Tanzhe Temple:

A big belly can tolerate things that are difficult to tolerate in the world;

Smile when you open your mouth and laugh at the ridiculous people in the world.

The word “Zhi” in the upper and lower lines is repeated in the same position, but because it is a fictitious word, it is allowed.

There is also a more special “heterotopic mutual repetition” format, that is, transposition, which is also allowed.

For example, Lin Sen wrote an elegiac couplet to Dr. Sun Yat-sen:

One person for eternity

One person through the ages

Another example is what Liu Xiyi, a poet of the Tang Dynasty, said in “The Sadness of the Age”: “The flowers are similar every year, but the people are different every year.” These are all transpositions in the couplets, and they can be placed in different positions to emphasize each other.

Couplet knowledge: How should Spring Festival couplets be posted? Six requirements for writing couplets and three methods for writing couplets Photo 8

Couplet calligraphy of Wu Zhiying, a talented woman in the Republic of China

(2) Level and oblique are harmonious.

Ping and oblique are the classification of Chinese character tones. There are four tones in ancient Chinese: Ping, Shang, Lai and Ru. Ping is the flat tone, and Shang, Lai and Ru are the oblique tones. Modern Chinese also has four tones, Yin Ping, Yang Ping, Shang Tone, and Lai Tone.

There are three main requirements for the level and obliqueness of couplets: within the sentence, the oblique and oblique parts alternate; within the couplet, the oblique and oblique parts are relative to each other;

Alternate oblique and oblique sentences, that is, in the upper couplet or second line, oblique and oblique sentences should appear alternately. The contemporary couplet Yu Dequan summarized a set of “horseshoe rhyme” rules. In short, it is “Pingping Ping Ping Ping Ping Ping”, like the rhythm of horseshoe. Of course, this is not absolute. The main purpose is to avoid multiple consecutive words with the same tone in the upper or lower couplets.

The oblique and oblique characters in the lines are opposite to each other, which means that the characters in the corresponding positions of the upper and lower lines are oblique and opposite. Of course, when creating a couplet, it is impossible to make the characters in the same oblique and oblique position. Even if it can be done, it will give people a very stiff feeling. Therefore, this requirement is mainly for the characters in the couplet that are in the position of stress (pronounced ” zhòng” ). Specifically, the words at the end of a phrase or at a rhythm point should be oblique and oblique, and the last characters (sentence foot) of each clause in a long couplet should be oblique and oblique.

The last word of the first line must be in the flat tone, and the last word in the second line must be in the flat tone.

The first two requirements of levelness can be relaxed appropriately, but “leveling up and closing” must be strictly observed, because it is an important symbol to distinguish the upper and lower lines.

Couplet knowledge: How should Spring Festival couplets be posted? Six requirements for writing couplets and three methods for writing couplets Photo 10

Liang Qichao’s couplet calligraphy

(3) Relative parts of speech.

Parts of speech are relative, that is, words in the same position in the upper and lower lines have the same part of speech. That is, noun to noun, verb to verb, adjective to adjective, adverb to adverb.

In 1932, when enrolling students at Tsinghua University, Mr. Chen Yinke formulated the Chinese liberal arts test questions. As one of the test questions, he wrote the following couplet: Sun Xingzhe.

The first couplet is a person’s name, and the second couplet must also be a person’s name. At the same time, “行” is a verb, and “人” is a function word. The same position in the second couplet must also be paired with the same part of speech. It can be said that this first couplet, It not only examines students’ understanding of traditional culture, but also examines students’ understanding of Chinese parts of speech.

The standard answer given by Mr. Chen Yinke is “Zu Chongzhi”. The surname “ancestor” is used against “sun”, the verb “chong” is used against “Xing”, and the function word “zhi” is used against “zhe”, which is very neat.

Zhou Zumo, one of the candidates at that time, gave the second line “Hu Shizhi”, “Hu” to “Sun”, “Shi” to “Xing”, “Zhi” to “Zhe”, which was also very neat. Mr. Chen Yinke praised it very much. , Later, Zhou Zumo became a famous master of linguistics.

Couplet knowledge: How should Spring Festival couplets be posted? Six requirements for writing couplets and three methods for writing couplets Photo 12

Chen Yinke’s couplet calligraphy

In addition to the relative requirements for the major categories of parts of speech, the sub-categories of parts of speech should also be as relative as possible, such as personal names to personal names, place names to place names, quantifiers to quantifiers, and locative words to locative words.

for example:

In the torii cage, looking at Kongming, thinking about Zhang Fei, but helpless Guan Yu;

How can a fish swim on land when it leaves the water, is placed halfway up a mountain, and rolls down the east slope?

This couplet uses the names of people to write opposite each other, which is extremely interesting. Banshan is the name of Wang Anshi, so it can be compared with Kong Ming; Dongpo is Su Shi’s name, so it can be used with Zhang Fei; Lu You and Guan Yu are also opposite names. What’s even better is that the first couplet is all about characters from the Three Kingdoms, and the second couplet is about characters from the Song Dynasty.

Couplet knowledge: How should Spring Festival couplets be posted? Six requirements for writing couplets and three methods for writing couplets Photo 14

Lin Huiyin’s couplet calligraphy

(4) The structure is the same.

There are five basic grammatical structures in Chinese: parallel phrases, partial phrases, verb-object phrases, verb-complement phrases, and subject-predicate phrases.

In couplets, phrases in the same position in the upper and lower couplets must have the same grammatical structure. That is, parallel phrases versus combined phrases, partial phrases versus partial phrases…

Using the previous example to analyze, the first couplet “looking at Kongming” and “thinking about Zhang Fei” are both a verb plus a personal noun, which are verb-object phrases. In the same position in the second line, “set halfway up the mountain” and “roll to the east slope” ” is also a verb plus a personal noun, and it is also a verb-object phrase. This means that the structure is the same.

Couplet knowledge: How should Spring Festival couplets be posted? Six requirements for writing couplets and three methods for writing couplets Photo 16

Lu Xun’s couplet calligraphy (Luo Wen is one of Lu Xun’s pen names)

(5) The rhythm is consistent.

Generally speaking, as long as the first four requirements are met, the upper and lower rhythms of the couplets will be consistent.

But it still needs to be mentioned. Chinese is composed of monosyllabic words, and it naturally has a stronger sense of rhythm than other languages. Couplets are the ultimate expression of the beauty of Chinese rhythm.

The rhythm is consistent, that is, the pauses in the upper and lower lines must be consistent.

Let me take a nonsense couplet as an example: “The peonies are beautiful, but the durians smell bad.” The sentence fragment of the upper and lower couplets is: “The peonies / are beautiful, but the durians / are / very smelly.” “Peony” is a three-character noun, and “durian” “” is a two-character word, and the second line has an additional adverb “very”, which is inconsistent in rhythm.

The upper and lower couplets with inconsistent rhythms are very awkward to read, and people with a little sense of language can detect it.

Couplet knowledge: How should Spring Festival couplets be posted? Six requirements for writing couplets and three methods for writing couplets Photo 18

Talented women of the Republic of China talk about moonlight couplet calligraphy

(6) The theme is unified.

Excellent couplets require that the contents of the upper and lower couplets are related and the theme is unified.

Couplets can easily become word games. Sometimes, in order to be consistent, the relevance of the content is often ignored, and the upper and lower couplets each express a theme.

Take a famous palindrome couplet as an example:

Shanghai tap water comes from the sea

Huangshan larch leaves fall yellow

This couplet, the upper and lower couplets are read the same when read forward and backward. It is a very clever palindrome couplet. It is okay to regard it as a word game, but it cannot be regarded as an excellent couplet because its upper and lower couplets are completely useless. Associated.

If we write this couplet down, where should we hang it? If it is hung in Huangshan, the first couplet will be unclear; if it is hung in the Shanghai Waterworks, the second sentence will be unclear.

Therefore, a good couplet must have a unified theme.

Couplet knowledge: How should Spring Festival couplets be posted? Six requirements for writing couplets and three methods for writing couplets Photo 20

Principal Jiang’s couplet calligraphy

3. Three methods of pairing couplets.

Now that we understand the requirements of couplets, let’s take a look at how to pair them. The following three methods of pairing couplets are derived from “theme unity”.

(1) Correct opposition.

Correct antithesis means that the upper and lower couplets are written from the front side of the subject respectively. The meanings of the upper and lower couplets are similar, close, complementary and contrasting.

For example, Lin Zexu wrote this couplet:

Baifuping blossoms into wealth

Nine pictures circle the bamboo for peace

The first couplet writes about wealth and honor, and the second couplet writes about peace. They are all written around auspicious themes.

Couplet knowledge: How should Spring Festival couplets be posted? Six requirements for writing couplets and three methods for writing couplets Photo 22

Lin Zexu’s couplet calligraphy

(2) Opposition to the law.

The opposing method is to write the first couplet from the two opposite sides of the theme . One couplet talks about the positive side, one couplet talks about the negative side, one couplet talks about the past, and the other talks about the present. The objections form a sharp contrast in content, thus highlighting the theme.

Xu Teli, a famous educator in modern times, once wrote this couplet to encourage young people:

Read books about the country often

Do nothing that is not beneficial to your body and mind

The first couplet describes what should be done, and the second couplet describes what should not be done. The upper and lower couplets complement each other, highlighting the theme that young people should have lofty aspirations and noble sentiments.

(3) String pairing method.

The tandem couplet method is a running pair. The upper and lower couplets have the same meaning. The two sentences cannot be separated from each other, let alone inverted. There is a certain order in the language structure. In running water pairing, the upper and lower lines have relationships such as succession, progression, cause and effect, assumptions, and conditions.

Du Fu’s “Wen Guanjun Takes Henan and Hebei”: “That is, from Ba Gorge to Wu Gorge, then go down to Xiangyang to Luoyang.” The meaning of the upper and lower couplets is consistent, which is a neat pair of flowing water.

Couplet knowledge: How should Spring Festival couplets be posted? Six requirements for writing couplets and three methods for writing couplets Photo 24

Guo Moruo’s seven-character couplet written by Lu Xun

Gu Xiancheng, a member of the Donglin Party in the late Ming Dynasty, wrote this couplet in Wuxi Donglin Academy:

The sound of wind and rain and the sound of reading fill my ears

Care about family affairs, state affairs, and everything in the world

The first couplet says that students devote themselves to studying, while the second couplet writes that students care about national affairs. From studying to caring about national affairs, there is a progressive relationship. This is also a very classic running water pair.

4. Conclusion

The form of couplets is concise and easy to learn. It is one of the best forms for inheriting traditional culture.

We often say that traditional culture is disappearing, and even the atmosphere of traditional festivals is getting weaker and weaker. So during the New Year, pick up a brush, write down a couplets, and then paste them on the door with your own hands, which makes the New Year more ritualistic. , the atmosphere of the Spring Festival is more intense.

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