I am looking to get a translation of this calligraphy piece into English. (It was done as a demonstration by a Chinese artist at college ~1976.) Thank you!
the seal is “董陽孜”, the name of the calligrapher.
the text is “海內存知己・天涯若比鄰”
Perhaps a poetic reply in contrast to Pedroski's vast-ranging culturo-historical reply since it is a somewhat poetic Chinese phrase?
Within the deep blue sea,
My friends are found to be;
Far off to Earth's frontier,
They are but actually near.
1Thank you for the poetic interpretation! It sparked a memory of when it was done (45 years ago!), that the artist said (through a translator) it was something like "All within the four seas are as one" - Is that a possible interpretation? Or something along those lines? Jun 6, 2022 at 1:00
1Quote:- "All within the four seas are as one" Yes, exactly. This is akin to the idea of the illusion of Time & Space as barriers. This Chinese saying is more about Space. A famous Cantonese song refers to this, that mountains & rivers, great & strong as they are, are never barriers -- youtu.be/NFkSWibxn0k Jun 6, 2022 at 3:07
ancient people believed China was surrounded by four seas,
thus (they) referred to "four seas" as all the territories of China.
Originally (it) referred to (the) monarch who controlled everything under heaven (天下）,
(who) ruled the whole country.
Nowadays it is a general reference to people who drift around without a fixed location or just want to travel.
(for whom) everywhere, anywhere can be their home.
Explanation of this saying: 海內存知己・天涯若比鄰
Within the four seas (you) have intimate friends,
even at the far ends of the earth,
(they) still feel as close as neighbours.
My attempt at translation:
(All) In China (are) intimate friends, (those) on the far horizon (are) just like neighbours.
[There are about 200 million workers who leave their villages to seek work in other towns and cities. Come Spring Festival, they all go home. This must be the biggest migration of people in the world, in peace time or war. It's called 春运 chūnyùn]
Wow, thanks for all that! It sparked a memory of when it was done (45 years ago!), that the artist said (through a translator) it was something like "All within the four seas are as one" - Is that a possible interpretation? Or something along those lines? Jun 6, 2022 at 0:57
Yes, counter-intuitively, the sea refers to the land: 海內 within the (four) seas (which were thought to surround China), not to something, like your friends, being actually immersed!– PedroskiJun 6, 2022 at 6:31