Couplets in Chinese culture

2010-02-09 16:41 BJT

Poetic couplet is two successive rhyming lines in poetry. Chinese couplets known as duilian or "antithetical couplets" may be seen on doorways in Chinese communities worldwide. Couplets displayed as part of the Chinese New Year festival, on the first morning of the New Year, are called chunlian. These are usually purchased at a market a few days before and glued to the doorframe.

During the Spring Festival of every year, all families in both urban and rural areas traditionally handpick a pair of Spring Festival couplets to paste on the door, adding some joyous atmosphere to the festival.

The text of the couplets is often traditional and contains hopes for prosperity. Other chunlian reflect more recent concerns. For example, the CCTV New Year's Gala usually promotes couplets reflecting current political themes in mainland China.

Eight is considered a lucky number in Chinese tradition, so some Chinese couplets consists of two lines of four characters each. Couplets are often written vertically from top to bottom to add formality.

The couplet is composed of two parts, the first line and the second line. There are a few points one should bear in mind when writing or buying the couplets: the numbers of words, parts of speech and sentence structures in the two lines must be the same; the content of the two lines must be related to each other; the tonal patterns and rhythms of the two lines must be the same. In addition, the couplets should be posted vertically, with the first line on the right and the second line on the left. 


Editor: Yang Jie | Source: