"Long time fan, first time caller Just wondering what you thought about this painting Ive seen it over and over for the past few years, and have always wondered whether it was accurate [means "chaos"] or not "
I have seen this character 屯 before as well. Even though, the translation for it has always been "chaos", I never knew if it is indeed correct or not.
One thing for sure, the character was originally in the oldest Chinese classical text "Yi Jing" (or "I Ching"), the "Book of Changes" (also called "The Book of Wisdom"):
In Yi Jing, hexagram 03, depicted |:::|: is named 屯 (chún), Sprouting. Other translations: R. Wilhelm, Difficulty at the Beginning; G. Whincup, Gathering Support; E. Shaughnessy (Mawangdui), Hoarding.
The modern day meaning of 屯 is "village, hamlet; camp; station". In Japanese, the word for "chaos" is 混沌. If the character is indeed 屯, in Japanese this character has the meaning for "gather" but is mostly used nowadays as the symbol for "ton" as in "the cargo weighed in at two tons." According to the Chinese cultural section of About.com, "chaos" is 混沌 as well. (thanks Rex)
The word "chaos" originally comes from Greek and stood for "the confused unorganized state of primordial matter before the creation of distinct forms" according to Merriam Webster and is the opposite of "cosmos" which is "an orderly harmonious systematic universe".
As of right now, I still do not know if 屯 is "chaos" or not. Anyone?
When I mentioned to him that I have checked in "I Ching", which states 屯 means "sprouting", that is a little far off from "chaos".
"Japanese and Chinese has many interpretations of kanji . The statement you made above is the representation of the kanji entitled chaos, "from chaos sprouts new life a new beginning . In its smallest form everything moves fast from neutron to proton... Chaos that begins life . As a forest is engufled by fire , life starts anew . As we stumble in life ... We find the good and move forward."
If that is indeed the case, wouldn't it be more appropriate to translate 屯 as "sprouting" or "birth", rather than "chaos"? Also, I asked him if he happen to have a literary source that can verify his statement.
"I guess I could explain these thoughts on my site. And no , no source. As educated in the language as you seem. Most characters for Chinese and Japanese were from a simple drawing as a start. I would guess by the way the kanji is it is representing life starting."
When I forwarded the tattoo image above to my associates, each one of them had their own interpretations.
Aaron: "The first one 昆 is usually pronounced 'kon', and it kind of means 'a swarm'. But evidently it used to be read 'ani', which is older brother. Also I guess it also meant grandchildren or something at another time. The second character 券 means 'certificate', basically. So I have no idea. Brother certificate? A swarm of certificates?"
Rex: "This has no meaning in Japanese what so ever. The first character is used in 昆虫 insects (referring to "variety" kinds of bugs) and is also used in 昆弟 referring to two brothers - 昆 - represents the older brother - but this is never used at all. Maybe they meant to write 拳 "fist" instead. What they have here, 券, is 'ticket'. Looks like they messed up again."
I guess 昆拳 may be the tattoo owner's original intention to represent the insect-like fighting style, which is common in武朮. For example, there is a fighting style mimics the insect mantis called 螳螂拳.
Todd (aka. "You Dork") points out the tattoo may just mean "theater ticket". Considering the second character 券 indeed means "ticket", and there is a style of opera in China called 昆曲.
"Japanese symbol that guy, you are all included too, don't think you are not. Unless you have spent time in Tokyo, you have no need to link yourself to its culture. After all, When is the last time you see a Japanese dude with 'Brave' written in English across his ankle?"
In October 14, 2004, when I first saw this tattoo, I was stunned and speechless. It literally means "crazy diarrhea" in both Chinese Hanzi and Japanese Kanji. 狂 = crazy 瀉 = to flow out, diarrhea
One comment from the supposely owner of the tattoo (he/she submitted the comment anonymously and there is no confirmation) claimed that:
"I knew pretty much what it meant and got it as a joke to people who get stupid shit tattooed onthemselves without knowing what it was. Though yes I thought it meant violent diarrhea, crazy diarrhea isn't too far off. I had help from an asian friend of mine to pick this out."
I wonder if this is the same person, or there has been a "crazy diarrhea" cult spawned.