The Sanchon Hunjang remembers being in elementary school. Ah what a carefree time. The home room teacher apparently thought it would be wise to give us a taste of what the 근심 and 걱정 of the dog-eat-dog real world would really be like. She decided to read us The Hobbit
. And of course she proceeded to do just that. No show of hands here. Elementary school does not believe in 민주주의.
In the book, there was a scene where Bilbo and Gollum decide to have a riddle contest to see whether one of them becomes a guide or the other becomes dinner.
There were such charming examples as:
This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds stones to meal;
Slays kings, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.
A box without hinges, key or lid,
Yet golden treasure inside is hid.
if you can't remember and really must
I ran across a Chinese riddle in a rhymed couplet, of course, that follows the same vein. If you can't guess the answer, you won't become dinner. But if someone would like to buy
dinner for the Sanchon Hunjang, I wouldn't turn that down^^
So without further adieu....to which object does this refer:
畵 圓 書 方; 龍 短 虎 長
This all tranlates(?), of course, as "Painting 畵 is round 圓, Writing 書 is square 方; dragon 龍 is short 短, 虎 tiger 長 is long." I guess it just comes down to interpretation, now. What is all this describing? Here's a small hint:you're looking for an object in nature
(Very small hint. Select to view.)
And here's the answer, just to double check that you've gotten it right ^^:
I don't think the first half bears much explanation. If you draw a picture of it, it will be round and look like a circle. Possibly with some rays eminating from it. If you were to write it (and by "write", of course I mean in 眞文 진문
, none of that girlie 諺文 언문
schlock) then it would look very squarish in shape: 日. Unless you were to write 太陽, in which case it would be a pretty complicated outline...
I can't help but think that the last half of the riddle was added to throw people off who were otherwise on the right track. "The dragon is short, the tiger is long," what is that supposed to mean?
Well, of course in the old days, time was kept differently than it is now. A week was 1O days, not seven, and called a 순 旬.
You can still see the remnants of this in how people talk about the first 1O day week of the month 초순 初旬 = "early in the month," the middle 1O day week of the month 중순 中旬 and the last 1O day week of the month 하순 下旬. And a day wasn't divided into 24 hours, but 12--each two modern hours in length and named after one of the Chinese zodiac animals: 자 子 rat, 축 丑 bovine, 인 寅 tiger, 묘 卯 hare, 진 辰 dragon, 사 巳 snake, 오 午 horse, 미 未 sheep, 신 申 monkey, 유 酉 chicken, 술 戌 dog, 해 亥 pig. These hours used sinfied names (like 진시
"hour of the dragon" or 인시
"hour of the tiger"). You can also find pure Korean translations in older sources, but these are translations. It is interesting to see how they point to the complex consonant clusters that Korean used to have:
. Tell ol' Sanchon Hunjang that
doesn't look like a mouthful to say. But Korean has already lost lots of consonant clusters and is steadily loosing more. Ask your educated Seoul friends to say "닭이 운다" and listen closely for the ㄺ. Of course I don't hear anyone decrying the way nobody puts the "k" in "knife" any more, so maybe I'd better get back on topic...
The hour of the tiger was at dawn (3:00~5:00 a.m.) and the hour of the dragon was later in the morning (7:00~9:00 a.m.), so shadows at the hour of the tiger are much longer than those at the hour of the dragon. And shadows point back to the sun that casts them. So, sure the degree of difficulty ratchets up immensely in the second line, as the degree of ambiguity really takes off. But it does point to a single motif. Sort of...
And there you have it!