Chinese Headboard

   I recently redecorated one of my guest rooms using several pieces of Asian furniture and artwork that I had.  Many of these pieces had belonged to my grandmother, Evelyn.  The patchwork quilt with the Asian fan pattern was handmade by my other grandmother, Oleah.
   I did not actually build this headboard -- I only repainted it.  But I was very pleased with the way that it turned out.

   The headboard is only made from laminated particle board (that was trying desperately to look like solid maple).  I painted it black and then added three Chinese characters to it for some detail.  I made the stencils for the Chinese characters by enlarging some photocopies of the characters from a book that I have titled, "The Spirit of the Chinese Character", by Barbara Aria and Russell Eng Gon.

   I painted the Chinese characters with gold leaf paint.  The contrast between the black and the gold looks great and the gold leaf paint is very elegant.  The three Chinese characters I chose were Love, Peace and Beauty.  Below are some close-up photos of the characters, along with some explanations of their origins.  These explanations are also from the book "The Spirit of the Chinese Character".

   LOVE (Ai)
   "The character for ai, the 'love' that one person feels for another, suggests that although the word is now used as freely in China as elsewhere, love was once considered a highly spiritual emotion.  Some sages believed it to be a form of giving that should be extended not only to those closest to us, but to more distant members of society as well.
   In the center is the 'heart' pictogram.  Above and below 'heart' are the characters for 'breath' and 'graceful movement'.  Love, therefore, can be seen as a kind of inspiration.  It breathes life into the heart, and brings grace to the body."

   PEACE (P'ing)
   "A pictogrammatic 'shield' or 'bamboo stem' is balanced on each side by a single tongue of 'fire', producing p'ing.
   The character for 'peace' illustrates a vital principle in classical Chinese thought -- the principle of balance between opposing forces.  When there is equilibrium among humans, then nature and the heavens are balanced, and peace prevails.
   The character can also be interpreted to represent a balance of power: Equal shields on either side lead to peace."

   BEAUTY (Mei)
   "The character for mei combines two pictograms to express the Chinese ideal of 'beauty'.
   Above is the character for 'sheep', showing the face and horns of the animal traditionally seen by the Chinese as a model of gentleness and passivity: the inner beauty implied by mei.  Sheep have no will, no striving.  They follow their natures and live in harmony with one another.  Below 'sheep' is the pictogram denoting 'big' or 'adult' -- a 'person' with arms outstretched.
   Beauty: the docility of a sheep as displayed by an adult.

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