ling long

is the sound made when carved crystals touch each other and tinkle…..


Chinese does not have an alphabet as such, but it does have component parts.

They are called 部首 bushou or in English, “radicals”, and there’s hundreds of them. Under the Kangxi system, 214 radicals, in fact.

crystals 027

In our tinkling of gemstones, the first word, 玲 ling ,on one side is 土tu or earth, and the other side is 令 which is simply a classifying word. It’s a mistake to think that all characters are pictorial – often there is a meaning symbol and a sound symbol. In this case, the right side radical is a sound syllable.


The next word is also made up of the earth radical土tu, and on the other side is 龙 which means dragon.

the traditional character for dragon

I used to imagine 玲珑 ling long meant ‘the sound that a crystal carved as a dragon made when it bumped other crystals” – but that’s are rather imaginary poetic vision….. really it just an onomatopoeic word which means “tinkle” –

Or, in plain English, often used to mean exquisite – like this

珑 long – carved dragon . (“crystal dragon” should   really should be written as 水晶龙 shuijinglong , ) but i like the poetry of the characters  玲珑

The picture is very much like one I have, but taken from http://yingyujade.com/products/classic-chinese-jade-dragon-carving as I cant find my photo!

From the exquisite carved crystal dragon, and the sound it makes as it tinkles against other gemstones, we fall into a discussion about  the “alphabet” in traditional Chinese writing systems! It’s  complicated, poetic, and difficult to learn …. but… welcome to…




ling long sheng huo guan

“ling long” life station.

or something like that 🙂