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一二三, the simplest Chinese characters but beautiful poem !

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

The simplest Chinese character is one 一 yī. It is the first character taught to children and also the first one that you will learn during the Chinese Calligraphy 书法 shū fǎ lessons. Believe or not, it is not that easy to write a perfect horizontal stroke with a brush. The following 2 numbers are also composed with horizontal strokes, 2 for 二 èr, and 3 for 三 sān. Very logical, isn’t it? These 3 simple Chinese characters can teach us some fondations of Chinese Calligraphy 书法 shū fǎ : 1. The horizontal stroke shouldn’t be perfectly horizontal. 2. The beginning and ending of the stroke need the particular attention. 3. The writing order is from the top to the bottom, and from the left to the right. 4. The lowest horizontal stroke is usually the longest in order to keep the perfect balance.

You can easily find these Chinese characters on the sign board of some restaurants. In Singapore for example, there is a famous Chinese restaurant which name is 店小二 diàn xiǎo èr,”the little second in the shop”, 小二 xiǎo èr is an ancient term meaning waiter. Another well known dessert shop’s name is 一碗甜品 yī wǎn tián pǐn,”one bowl of sweet things”, which couldn’t be more explicit.

There is an ancient Chinese poem using mainly the numbers from 1 to 10, extremely minimalist, but describing a peaceful scene of which all people are dreaming.

yī qù èr sān lǐ

一 去 二 三 里,

yān cūn sì wǔ jiā

烟 村 四 五 家。

tíng tái liù qī zuò

亭 台 六 七 座,

bā jiǔ shí zhī huā

八 九 十 枝 花。

Once travailing two or three kilo-meters,

Light smoke covering a village of four or five houses.

Scattering six or seven terraces,

All surrounded by eighty ninety flowers

Lao Long and Xiao Ling explain more details in the following video. Learn Chinese online with Ling Long !

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