In Chinese literature, poetry, song, etc. 西海 is used more often than 东海. Is it because 西 in Chinese literature more romantic than 东?

For example if I compose a poem, would it be weird if I use 东海 instead?

  • 西海 is used more often than 东海? What proof do you have?
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 16:59
  • Please show examples of both in literature. Perhaps we can take it from there.
    – monalisa
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 17:30
  • We still need to consider 北海 & 南海 as well? In English literature we have "Go East, Young Man", by William O. Douglas. And "Go West, Young Man", coined by Horace Greeley. So, it's 50-50? Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 2:20
  • take reference to 我居北海君南海 I live in 北海(渤海) You live in 南海(廣州 四會) (寄黃幾復 •黃庭堅) or 君( you )處( stay in )北海,寡人( I )處( stay in )南海 Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 5:22
  • I don't think I have ever encountered 西海 in Chinese literature... Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 4:10

1 Answer 1


You must consider the geography of China. The majority of the population resides on the eastern side of the country, in an elongated region that stretches from north to south. The term '西海' is not commonly used, as there aren't many famous seas on the western side of China. For reference, the north, east, and south sides of China all have coastlines. Take, for example, the phrase '我居北海君南海'. Here, both '北海' and '南海' symbolize long distances rather than actual seas. Given the population distribution, the terms north and south are frequently used to indicate distance. As for the west, it's characterized more by deserts and exotic landscapes than by seas.

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