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I keep seeing parts of modern duilian's made of one 成语 + three random characters.

Something like: 国泰民安 + 增财富

  • How did duilian evolve to this level?
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  • seems kind of a generalization... can you provide more examples? Where do these duilian come from/where do you see them? I know some high school teachers in China with very good Chinese (i.e., rigorous classical education) who can write terrific duilian, but I wouldn't expect the same quality from a pair you buy in a store, for example... Mar 20, 2015 at 21:05

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This observation is merely coincidental. The first 4 characters need not come from classical Chinese idiom (成語), and the remaining 3 are by no means random.

Couplet (Duilian) has specific rules. The linked article has a list of requirements and its etymology.

For example, the cliché duilian

天增歲月人添壽

春滿乾坤福滿門

"天增歲月" is not a recognized chengyu, but means "As heaven attains greater age"; "人添壽" is not random but has to relate to it, meaning "people enjoy longer years".

Moreover, a line of 7 characters is common but it is not a requirement.

For example, the famous (but modern (19th century)) couplet in Temple of Zhuge Liang in Chengdu

能攻心則反側自消從古知兵非好戰

不審勢即寬嚴皆誤後來治蜀要深思

also meet the requirement.

Duilian

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