From 2013 The Year of the Serpent came many things but one strand of that delightful coincidence of epiphanies that have made up my life over the last four years was an intersection of optimism and happiness – two important requirements for the journey forward. At a deeper level than the surface of an idea the realisation that the fullest experience of Being was through Love. No less than when I was young and the physical demonstration sated it but more urgently now as that experience is a memory gloriously vivid but …only a memory. It would seem for the aging that the fading of Love as an imperative in your life drains the will to be of Life.
The pomegranate is a fruit that for it’s eccentric form and flavour has been an element in the legends of many cultures from the neolithic.Firstly throughout the mediteranean and since the the fifth century moving from the first garden, throughout the world along the trade routes.
It talks to the promise of life, bursting and spreading it’s seed on the ground, and through the agency of small birds, is dismembered and dispersed from where it hangs. It’s chambered interior disgorging it’s contents in the service of Life.BLOG CALENDAR 2013


For the Chinese to whom it was introduced via the Silk Road during the Tang Dynasty, it symbolises fecundity by way of a play on the characters in its name. For the Granadans it was the pride and beauty of their city causing them to integrate it into the detail of their buildings, their walls and paths and their heraldry, from Moorish times to the present. For the British it is the Grenadier Guards who hefted deadly exploding devices in war, returning to guarding royalty in peace time.


There are two of its bushy trees  near my Melbourne home that I have enjoyed watching for years as  the sparse beautiful flowers wilt after fertilization birthing from their base, first green hard balls, growing, changing colour to a fiery orange before splitting and exploding their edible magenta seeds.


Melbourne’s large middle eastern population has meant that the pomegranate as an orchard fruit, is in plentiful supply in supermarkets. For all it’s bold beauty though it doesn’t provide it’s delicious sweet acidic juice in great quantities – however this is in plentiful supply, in asceptic packaging, at the same supermarkets. Fragrantly delicious pomegranate pavlovas were my special treat in Melbourne last C’mas,  prepared by my daughter.





The Pomegranate as a glyph for optimism embodies passion and hope .







Double happiness 雙喜 shuāngxǐ  is seen recurring as a Chinese glyph that constitutes the Double Happiness character. A ligature of the double xi (JOY) character  Whilst xixi in appearance it is still pronounced as shuāngxǐ. It is  found as a decorative motif in both modern and antique decorative arts for nuptials and in the embellishment of wedding gifts often together with the the bat as a creature of great fortune.

A Tang Dynasty narrative of the character’s  origin is best quoted from the public domain here as whilst details differ, the same story almost word for word is repeated across the internet.

~ There is a short story behind the origin of the Chinese symbol for double happiness. During the period of Tang Dynasty in ancient China, a young boy was on his way to appear for an examination to become a minister. The boy fell ill while he was traveling through a mountainous region. A herbal practitioner and his daughter took care of the boy, after which he recovered quickly. When the boy had to leave, he found it difficult to say adieu to the girl as he fell in love with her. The girl thus wrote down the right hand part of an antithetical couplet for the boy; which was as follows.

“Green trees against the sky in the spring rain while the sky set off the spring trees in the obscuration.”


The young boy took it and left for the capital to attend the examination. During the examination, he was asked by the emperor to complete the right hand part of a couplet which said,

“Red flowers dot the land in the breeze’s chase while the land colored up in red after the kiss”.


The boy instantly realized that the sentence written by the herbal practitioner’s daughter was a perfect match for the one given by the emperor. Thus, he gave the right answer and stood first in the examination. Impressed by the performance of the boy, the emperor adjudged him as the new minister. After becoming the minister, the young boy married the herbal practitioner’s daughter. On the occasion of their wedding, the HAPPY character was doubled and put on a red paper. The symbol was used to mark the happiness of the event. The double happiness symbol thus attained a respectable position in Chinese art of calligraphy and is used in weddings.

The double happiness symbol is an ornamental design used in decorations and could be translated as ‘Double Happy’ or ‘Double Joy’. This motif is pronounced as shuāngxǐ in Chinese. This double happiness symbol is actually a ligature, i.e. a ‘glyph’ formed of two separate units called ‘graphemes’. Grapheme is a fundamental unit of any written language while a glyph could be the variant of graphemes, a compound character (ligature) or a diacritic (a character with marks present above or below it). ~


There is another version that is so specific in it’s detail to presume it as a claim to authorship by Wang Anshi a Chancellor Northern Song Dynasty and one of the 8 Great Prose Masters of the Tang and Song Dynasties .

The girl’s couplet that changed his life…

“Walking horse lantern, horse lantern walking, lantern extinguished horse stopped trotting”


…and Emperor Shenzong’s, that surprisingly complemented it in his final test for the job.

“Flying tiger flag, flag tiger flying, flag rolling tiger hide itself .”


I find myself drawn more to the first version for it’s allusion to the visual, to tranquility of nature and the colour of human passion over the politics of power implied in the second pair of couplets whilst readily accepting that the green and red play is a later invention to illustrate the ever wonderful metaphor of these two combative hues. They after all complementary as are surely the partners in a successful, fruitful marriage.

Whatever the provenance the Double Happiness glyph in red is ever present at Chinese weddings.

I wonder (very briefly) who wrote the green and red couplets but am doubly happy to accept they were written after the fact by a person who truly believed in the symbol’s efficacy as a talisman of good fortune.


A Chop to be cut in soft stone before this author leaves Kuching.


Thank You Mother.


Author’s Note: Google translate has been used and checked back for the Chinese versions of the couplets. Below is the Chinese text of an article expounding Wang Anshi as the author. It is translated in the web based article at :


Other web articles referenced are :





 王安石23歲那一年赴京趕考,來到汴梁(今河南開封)後到城東馬家鎮的舅父家住宿。晚飯後上街散步,走過當地鄉紳馬員外家門口,只見眾人圍著門前掛著的走馬燈指指點點。王安石上前一看,見走馬綵燈上閃出「走馬燈,馬燈走,燈熄馬停步」的對子。他不禁拍手稱好:「好對呀好對!」這時,旁邊站著的一位老家人向他作揖:「哈哈,這上聯已貼了好幾個月,至今尚無人對出,相公既說好對,請你略等片刻,讓我進去稟報我家員外知道,一定求教。」王安石剛才是讚賞上聯出得好,並不想對下聯。不料老家人要請他對下聯,他因明日要去赴考,也無時間思考答對,不等老家人出來,便急急地回到舅父家去了。
 第二天,在考場上,王安石發揮得淋漓盡致,答卷十分出色。主考大人見他胸有成竹,下筆如有神,便傳他面試。主考大人見提出的問題他對答如流,於是指著考場門前的飛虎旗說:「飛虎旗,飛虎旗,旗卷虎藏身。」王安石十分敏捷地反應,這是要他對下聯。他想起馬員外家門前的走馬燈,不假思索地對答:「走馬燈,走馬燈,燈熄馬停步。」主考大人見王安石年紀輕輕,卻才思敏捷,對他大為讚賞。
 王安石考畢,回到舅父家去等待朝廷放榜。誰知剛進舅父家門,只見馬員外家那位老家人已在恭候:「哎喲,相公,昨天我找你好半天,今天才打聽到你住在這裡。快去快去,我家員外等急啦。」一面說,一面拉著王安石就走。
 馬員外一見王安石,急忙施禮讓座,取出筆墨紙硯,請他寫答下聯。王安石就將主考大人的上聯揮筆寫上:「飛虎旗,虎旗飛,旗卷虎藏身。」馬員外看他寫得龍飛鳳舞,下筆如神,十分滿意。便吩咐丫環拿給女兒去看。馬小姐一看,字體遒勁,對仗工整,含羞應承。馬員外大喜,便對王安石說明:「此上聯是我獨生女為選婿而出,已懸掛多日,至今尚無人應對。現在,為王相公對出,聯句成對,姻緣成雙。」馬員外徵得王安石舅父同意,就擇良辰吉日,為他們兩人完婚。
 到了結婚的大喜日子。忽然,大門外人歡馬叫,兩個報子高聲前來報導:「王大人官星高照,金榜題名,頭名狀元,明日一早,皇上召見,請赴瓊林宴!」
 王安石與馬小姐拜過天地,進入洞房。新娘笑著對王安石說:「王郎才高學廣,一舉成名,今晚又逢洞房花燭真是『大登科』與『小登科』,雙喜臨門啊!」王安石聽後,哈哈大笑,便將此事經過敍述了一遍,說:「全仗娘子出得好聯,下官何功之有!」王安石春風得意,不僅順利通過考試,而且又娶到了員外美貌的千金為妻,真是喜上加喜。
 於是,他一連寫了兩個鬥大的紅「喜」字,連在一起,貼在大門上,以表示他內心的喜悅之情。又吟詩一首:
 巧對聯成紅雙喜,天媒地證結絲羅;金榜題名洞房夜,「小登科」遇「大登科」。
 從此以後,人們遇有喜慶吉日,在大門上,器具上,都要貼上大大的大紅「囍」字,這個習俗一直流傳到現在,它給婚禮增添了喜慶的色彩,成為中華民族特有的民間風俗。

張貼者: Stone 於 星期六, 4月 12, 2008  

One Response to “C’MAS 2013 ~ OPTIMISTIC JOY”

  1. Alain Pierre Babin Says:

    Made me double HAPPY reading this…big ups Fred! respect.

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