What’s in a Name

Design & Production: PALETTERA
Photography: Ikonica Images


Unlike names in English, it is very rare to have a Chinese name to be exactly the same. To understand why, imagine Chinese characters as an alphabet. A name is comprised of 2 to 3 letters, out of 50,000 to choose from, as opposed to 26 in the English alphabet. Each character or letter carries its own meaning. Therefore, a child’s name is like a poetic gift from their parents, often thoughtfully composed to carry intrinsic meanings — their hopes and dreams of how they want their child to be. Male names are often associated with common traits of masculinity, whereas female names are linked to beauty. The poetic possibilities are endless.

Using paper as medium and sculpture as method, this series brings to life the meaning of ten characters through each visual form.

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靜 Jing / Zing6

Definition: Calm, quiet, clean Associated meanings: Even-tempered. Thinks through problems. Good listener. Polite.

Notable names: 賈靜雯 Alyssa Chia (1974–p.) ∙ Taiwan ∙ Actress and Host | 許美靜 Mavis Hee (1974–p.) ∙ Singapore ∙ Singer, Songwriter and Actress | 徐靜蕾 Xu Jinglei (1974–p.) ∙ China ∙ Actress and Film Director | 李靜 Li Ching MH (1975–p.) ∙ Hong Kong ∙ Ping-Pong Athlete | 梁靜茹 Fish Leong (1978–p.) ∙ Malaysian & China ∙ Singer | 郭靜 Claire Kuo (1980–p.) ∙ Hong Kong & Taiwan ∙ Singer and Host | 朱俐靜 Miu Chu (1981–p.) ∙ Taiwan ∙ Singer

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艷 Yan / Jim6

Definition: Flashy, gorgeous, spotlight Associated meaning: Glamourous and luxurious in quality.

Notable names: 梅艷芳 Anita Mui Yim-fong (1963–2003) ∙ Hong Kong ∙ Singer and Actress | 週艷泓 Zhou Yanhong (1966–p.) ∙ China ∙ Singer | 劉艷 Liu Yan (1984–p.) ∙ China ∙ Competitive Figure Skater | 焦俊艷 Jiao Junyan (1987–p.) ∙ China ∙ Actress

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剛 Gang / Gong1

Definition: Steel Associated meanings: Tough and strong. Difficult to bend or break.

Notable names: 王剛 Wang Gang (1948–p.) ∙ China ∙ Actor and Host | 錢剛 Qian Gang (1953–p.) China ∙ Non-fiction Writer and Journalist | 馮小剛 Feng Xiaogang (1958–p.) ∙ China ∙ Director, Screenwriter and Actor | 吳剛 Wu Gang (1962–p.) ∙ China ∙ Actor | 小剛(週傳宏)Steve Chou (1969–p.) ∙ Taiwan ∙ Singer and Composer | 金剛(李信樵)Li Xinqiao (1981–p.) ∙ Taiwan ∙ Actor, Host and Former TVB Member


芳 Fang / Fong1

Definition: Floral & Fragrant Associated meaning: Personify the beauty of mother nature. Natural and virtuous. Blooming flowers attracting attention.

Notable names: 何其芳 He Qifang (1912–1977) ∙ China ∙ Poet, Essayist and Literary Scholar | 蕭芳芳 Josephine Siao Fong-fong (1947–p.) ∙ Hong Kong ∙ Actress and Singer | 方芳 Fang Fangfang (1961–p.) ∙ Taiwan ∙ Host | 潘芳芳 Lily Poon (1963–p.) ∙ Hong Kong ∙ Actress and Host | 萬芳(林萬芳)Wan Fang (1967–p.) ∙ Taiwan ∙ Singer and Host


霞 Xia / Haa4

Definition: Rosy clouds Associated meanings: Calming. Sunset.

Notable names: 沈殿霞 Lydia Shum Tin Ha (1945–2008) ∙ Hong Kong ∙ Actress, Singer and Host | 林青霞 Brigitte Lin (1954–p.) ∙ Taiwan & Hong Kong ∙ Actress and Writer | 溫碧霞 Irene Wan (1966–p.) ∙ Hong Kong ∙ Singer and Actress

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明 Ming / Ming4

Definition: Sun

Associated meaning: Chinese “sun” and “moon”. Bright, intelligent, understanding, and work with clear vision.

Notable names: 汪明荃 Liza Wang Ming-chuen (1946–p.) ∙ China & Hong Kong ∙ Actor, Singer and Host | 王明星 Ong Beng Seng (1946–p.) ∙ Singapore ∙ Businessman, 10th Richest Man in Singapore | 黃耀明 Anthony Wong Yiu-ming (1962–p.) ∙ Hong Kong ∙ Singer, Songwriter and Record Producer | 鄧建明 Joey Tang (1963–p.) ∙ Hong Kong ∙ Musician, Composer, Producer and Guitarist | 黎明 Leon Lai (1966–p.) ∙ China & Hong Kong ∙ Singer | 黃曉明 Huang Xiaoming (1977–p.) ∙ China ∙ Actor and Singer | 姚明 Yao Ming (1980–p.) ∙ China ∙ NBA Basketball Player


秀 Xiu / Sau3

Definition: Emphasis on inner beauty Associated meanings: Intelligent and clever. Lady-like personality.

Notable names: 陳獨秀 Chen Duxiu (1879–1942) ∙ China ∙ Revolutionary | 羅一秀 Luo Yixiu (1889–1910) ∙ China ∙ First Wife to Mao Zedong | 鄭秀文 Sammi Cheng (1972–p.) ∙ Hong Kong ∙ Singer and Actress

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濤 Tao / Tou4

Definition: Magnificent

Associated meanings: Often referenced to water. To achieve great accomplishments in life. Battling the billows.

Notable names: 黃金濤 Huang Jintao
(1888–1957) ∙ China ∙ Politician | 平鑫濤 Ping Xintao (1927–p.) ∙ Taiwan ∙ Filmmaker, Editor and Translator | 郭濤 Guo Tao (1969–p.) ∙ China ∙ Actor | 劉濤 Tamia Liu (1978–p.) ∙ China ∙ Actor and Singer


君 Jun / Gwan1

Definition: General Associated meaning: Ruler. Leadership. Chivalry. Responsible. Fair gentleman. Respect. Historically used to address the monarch, or someone with honour.

Notable names: 易麗君 Yi Lijun ∙ (1934–p.) ∙ China · Translator of Polish Works | 鄧麗君 Teresa Teng (1953–1995) ∙ Taiwan ∙ Singer | 吳君如 Sandra Ng Kwan Yue (1965–p.) ∙ Hong Kong ∙ Actress, Film Director and Producer | 劉奕君 Liu Yijun (1970–p.) ∙ China ∙ Actor | 王淑君 Aenie Wong (1984–p.) ∙ Malaysia ∙ Actress | 韓東君 Elvis Han (1992–p.) ∙ China ∙ Actor

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麗 Li / Lai6

Definition: Beauty Associated meanings: Decorative. Pleasant to the eye. Lace-like paper to show beauty and femininity.

Notable names: 李麗珍 Loletta Lee (1966–p.) ∙ Hong Kong ∙ Actress | 鍾麗淇 Margaret Chung (1976–p.) ∙ Canada & China ∙ Actress and Yoga Instructor | 潘嘉麗 Kelly Poon (1983–p.) ∙ Singapore ∙ Singer | 岑麗香 Eliza Sam (1984–p.) ∙ Hong Kong and Vancouver ∙ Actress


Did you find your name or a friend’s name? Share the creative with someone!

Weekly Edit, CultureRYComment