Crossing Ts and dotting Eyes

It’s finals week! I hope everyone (for whom it’s applicable) is putting the finishing touches on their projects and ready for winter break!


Literally: picture – dragon – point; dot – pupil (of the eye)

Alternately: Putting the finishing touches on something. Making a written or visual work of art vivid and complete with some final, vital addition. Painting in the pupil in the eye of a dragon.

Notes: Note that is pronounced ryou here rather than the more common ryuu. Be careful not to replace with the similar-looking : the former pairs the eye radical with the old-style “blue” character, while the latter pairs the sun radical with the modern version. It is acceptable, but uncommon, to replace with without any change in meaning or pronunciation.

This compound is often used when something is lacking, as 画竜点睛を欠く (~ wo kaku).

This compound comes from ancient China. There’s a story of the painter Zhang Sengyou, who was commissioned to paint some dragons on a temple wall, but left out the pupils. Here there is some variation in the story, but someone – either Zhang himself, under pressure, or a meddler – added pupils to one or two of the dragons, at which point they came to life, extricated themselves from the wall they’d been painted on, and flew off amid thunder and lightning; no doubt very very frightening.


This is exactly what it looked like. Source: a blog that uses encoding my browser can’t read, but which is probably also introducing 四字熟語.

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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4 Responses to Crossing Ts and dotting Eyes

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