春聯 Chunlian calligraphy, Kuaizi Road, Foshan
𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘯𝘭𝘪𝘢𝘯, 𝘚𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘳 𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘕𝘦𝘸 𝘠𝘦𝘢𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘵 𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘨𝘳𝘢𝘱𝘩𝘺…
With black or golden characters written on red paper, Spring Couplets are composed of a pair of poetry lines vertically pasted on both sides of the front door and a horizontal scroll affixed above the door frame on the day before Chinese New Year. The couplets express the joy of the beginning of spring with wishes for a better life in the new year.
The first line (upper scroll) and the second line (lower scroll) have equal length (often 7 characters) with the meanings of both scrolls complementing or contrasting each other and corresponding characters need to be of the same grammatical category. The wording of chunlian must be concise, clever and cheery. Tone patterns are also emphasized but rhythm is not important. The horizontal scroll above the door usually concludes the meanings of both side door scrolls.
The couplets were originally narrow boards from peach wood during the Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BC) with people believing that peach trees can chase evil away. During the Five Dynasties (907-960 AD), the wood boards were replaced by paper, and people focused more on bright wishes for the future during the Song Dynasty (906-1279 AD). The custom became especially popular during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD), a common tradition lasting up to today.
Many couplets are printed nowadays but couplet calligraphy is still very much alive among people all over China as well, especially for customized meanings. Not only the structure and meaning of the couplets are strictly abided by ancient rules (though it has been easing up in modern times), also pasting the couplets aside and above the house door is paired with traditions and timing.
Pictures credit : amigosdechina IG