The following sentence is from a short story by Eileen Chang.


The English translation goes as follows:

Just then, a darling little wooden clog, with a painted spray of golden plum blossoms on a bright red background, skimmed through the air and smacked Weilong right in the knee; she had to bend over and rub the spot, it hurt so much.

I'm having trouble parsing "一隻朱漆描金折枝梅的玲瓏木屐". This is what I have:

一隻[a] 朱漆[red laquered] 描金[gold traced] 折 枝 梅[plum] 的 玲瓏[exquisite] 木屐[clog].

Perhaps I'm missing something obvious, but I don't understand what 折 and 枝 means in this sentence. Perhaps 枝 is used as a measure word for 梅, but with 折 I'm lost.

2 Answers 2


Here 枝 is not a classifier, or a measure word in your terminology.

折枝 (break/snap + branch) is a type of Chinese paintings. If I remember correctly, it first appeared as a type in Tang Dynasty and got fixed in Song Dynasty. The paintings only depict the snapped branches of plants, not the whole plant.

Under this category, many types of flowers are painted. 梅 is a popular one.

Later 折枝梅 became one decorative pattern (纹) we put on things like porcelain. Like the following picture: enter image description here

朱漆描金 follows the tradition of naming decoratives. But usually we add 纹 after the pattern name 折枝梅. So in full it's 一只朱漆描金折枝梅纹的玲珑木屐.


折枝梅 seems to be the name of a popular novel with below graphic illustrations.

enter image description here

enter image description here

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