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Chrysanthemum

| 2018-05-03
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Ju refers to all kinds of chrysanthemum that are native to China. As one of the four “gentlemen flowers” in Chinese culture, ju symbolizes elegant self-esteem, persistent pursuit of one’s dreams as well as homesickness.


 

落花无言,人淡如菊
luòhuā wúyán, rén dàn rú jú
Luohua means “falling flowers.” Wuyan means “silent.” Ren means “a person” while dan means “simple and elegant.” Ru means “being like” while ju refers to chrysanthemum. This idiom, taken literally, means “as silent as falling flowers while as simple and elegant as chrysanthemum.”


Originally, these verses were commentary on the elegant style of poetry-writing by Sikong Tu (837-908). It is now used to say that one maintains an elegant attitude, and shows neither complaint nor anger in the face of failure or obstruction.



松菊主人
sōng jú zhŭrén
Song refers to pine trees while ju means chrysanthemum. Zhuren means “master.” This idiom, taken literally, means the master of pine trees and chrysanthemum.


This idiom originates from Tao Yuanming’s famous ballad-poem Homeward Ho which includes these two lines “Wild weeds have grown on the courtyard paths; But the pine trees and chrysanthemums remain.” As the forefather of all hermit poets in China, Tao’s admiration for the ju flowers shaped its cultural status.


The master of pine trees and chrysanthemum originally refers to Tao Yuanming. This idiom is used to refer to any person who chooses to live a hermit life.


 

秋菊春兰
qiū jú chūn lán
Qiu means “autumn” while chun means “spring.” Ju refers to chrysanthemum while lan refers to orchids. This idiom, taken literally, means the chrysanthemum in the fall and the orchids in the spring.


Originating from a song of Chu style by Qu Yuan which includes following lines “Orchids in spring we’ll lay and ju in fall for e’er and aye,” this idiom considers the orchids and the chrysanthemum as excellent symbols of each respective season.


This idiom is now used to say that every thing has its beauty or advantages, just like there are orchids in spring and chrysanthemums in fall.

 

(edited by CHEN ALONG)