Name games

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 April, 2011, 12:00am


Chinese metaphysical terms are metaphorical or figurative, in keeping with the classical Chinese poetic or mnemonic form in which they were originally written or passed down from master to disciple.

The tou fa ('peach blossoms'; tao hua in Putonghua) sector does not mean peach blossoms will spring here in March or April. The peach blossom is used as a metaphor for romance and intimacy. The Tai Sui, or Grand Duke, refers to one of the 60 gods that represent each of the years of the 60-year zodiac cycle and to whom our ancestors paid their respects to at temples. The literal translation, 'old age', is clearly not what it means in this case.

The sang cheng paht chee (sheng cheng ba zi in Putonghua) refers to the eight characters of birth, which are the characters that indicate the four elements and four animals that represent the time, day, month and hour of birth. As they are arranged in four columns (si ju) they are also known as the four pillars.

Chi mei dao shou, another form of astrology, has been translated as the 'purple star astrology'. In reality, chi mei (zi wei in Putonghua) refers to the Emperor star, which makes emperor's gate or emperor astrology a more appropriate name.