Numbers Translation Ⅲ
Eight is an even number and is favored by people, as it sounds similar to 发(fa) which means fortunate and prosperous. Two and eight may mean both are fortunate (双发), double eight may mean more fortunate (发发)。 Number 918 is homophone of 就要发, destined to fortune and prosperity, number 168 is homophone with 一路发, fortunate all the way. It is interesting to note that the 29th Olympic Games in Beijing open at 8p.m. on August 8th,2008. And astonishingly, the telephone number 8888888 was auctioned off for 2.33 million yuan in Sichun.
Like some other numbers, there are also many eights in subject related to Chinese cultural history. Some example include: the eight treasures of Buddhism, the eight divine beings of Taoism, the eight traditional musical instruments, the eight categories in fortune telling, the essays to be written with eight components in Ming and Qing dynasties at imperial examinations, and old style piece of furniture known as the eight immortals table.
In regards to food, there is congee with eight delicacies, and the eight pickled delicacies. There are also eight principles of Chinese medicine, and eight characters about one’s birth that are used in match-making.
Once again, there are also numerous idioms that incorporate the character for eight, including 八面威风,八仙过海,才高八斗,and many more.
But in some places, eight is connected with “apart”. In these places there is a saying, “do not return home on the eighth day.” In addition, some senior citizens in their eighties are reluctant to tell their true age because they hate to pass away.
Nine is a number related to sophisticated ideas. It is the biggest cardinal number and the highest Yang number. Plain Questions of the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine noted that all numbers start at one and terminate at nine. Nine means the highest and the most, and also means everlasting. Emperors chose it as a symbol of royalty. The three major palaces in the Palace Museum have the height, according to the traditional Chinese measurement system, of nine zhang and nine chi.
The rows of nails on gates, whether they be large or small, are numbered in nine both horizontally and vertically. The staircases in each palaces are made up of either nine steps or multiples of nine. The inner city in Beijing had nine gates, and it is said there are 9,999 rooms in the Palaces Museum. In Qianlong’s reign during the Qing Dynasty, two Nine Dragon Screens were built, one at Beihai and one at the Forbidden City.
On the other hand, nine sometimes is interpreted as a symbol for disaster. A proverb states, “Implicit or explicit nine, one might be sick or die.” Explicit nine here refers to the ages of 9, 19, 39, etc., and implicit nine refers to the ages of 18, 27, 36, etc., which are multiples of nine. It was believed that people at these ages are prone to illness and even death. People at these ages who believe in such a notion will say they are one year younger or older than they actually are, as a way to avoid the number nine.
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