Texas Instruments Chinese New Year Party (CINY)

Feb 5, 2008 @ Maxim Restaurant (11:30 AM to 1:30 PM)

Demo Videos The Wisdom of Calligrapher-Sage Decorations


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2. The Calligrapher-Sage's Couplets 王羲之 "福無雙至, 禍不單行" 的巧聯


Introduction to the Story

When the Calligrapher-Sage, Wang Hsi-Chih ( 王羲之 ), wrote a pair of couplets for the coming New Year, they were taken by pedestrians at night. It was because Wang’s calligraphy was most admired at that time in China. He wrote another pair and they were stolen again at night. 
Wang’s wife became worried at New Year’s Eve as every family had their own couplets by the door. Then Wang inscribed another pair of couplets and posted them by the gate. They read like this: “Good fortunes never arrive in a pair, disasters never walk alone.” At night, when the thieves saw this, they hesitated and would never take such a misfortune with them.
On New Year’s Day, Wang came to the gate and added “They arrived a moment ago this morning” after “Good fortunes never arrive in a pair” and “They just passed by yesterday” after “Disasters never walk alone” As the family, neighbors, and pedestrians read this, they were happy and gave big applauses. 

王羲之 "禍不單行, 福無雙至" 的巧聯

















"An Anecdote of Calligrapher-Sage Wang Hsi-Chih"



Special thanks to Vivian for directing this play and the following cast.

Cast of the Play

Background Story ( Jessie Yuan as the Announcer )

Wang Hsi-Chih ( Joshua Hough )
Mrs. Wang ( Kara Atchison )

Neighbor #1 ( Yi Qian )
Neighbor #2 ( Galen Labree )

Art Thief #1 ( Zigang Yang )
Art Thief #2 ( John Hall )

Door Frame #1 ( Mike Chisholm )
Door Frame #2 ( Terry Howard )

Announcer: When the Lunar New Year's Day is coming, every Chinese family will post a pair of couplets on both sides of the door. The couplets are written in nice calligraphy and contain words of good meanings. The Chinese believe that the couplets will bring them good fortune and prosperity for the coming year.

The calligraphy of Wang Hsi-Chih ( 王羲之 ) was most admired during his time in ancient China. He was widely regarded as the Calligrapher-Sage ( 書聖王羲之 ).

Since Wang Hsi-Chih's couplets were valuable, thieves "borrowed" them the last two nights before New Year's Day. Wang Hsi-Chih used his wisdom for the last couplets to discourage the thieves. Now, to the play.

Wang's wife: 老王, 當家的, The New Year's coming. What are you going to write in the couplets?

Wang: 筆墨紙硯伺候! (Music starts and Wang writes (揮毫)). Done! Let us post it on the door. (Wang and Wife start posting)

Neighbor #1: Good morning, Neighbor.

Wang and Wife: Good morning. Howdy!

Neighbor #2: Howdy! Mr. Wang

Neighbor #1: Oh, you got new couplets!

Neighbor #1 (read the 1st part of the couplets in Chinese): (spring)(breeze)(spring)(rain)(spring)(scenery)

Neighbor #2 (read the 1st part of the couplets in English): Spring breeze, spring rain, and spring scenery.

Neighbor #1 (read the 2nd part of the couplets in Chinese): (new)(year)(new)(age)(new)(phenomenon).

Neighbor #2 (read the 2nd part of the couplets in English): New year, new age, and new phenomenon.

Neighbor #1: very nice couplets. I can feel the New Year filled with new hope.

Wang's wife: thank you. Bye-Bye. 再見。

(Both Wang's family and neighbors go to sleep)

(Music starts and thieves sneak in)

Thief #1: It is so hard to get Master Wang's writing. Man, this is perfect.

Thief #2: 王羲之墨寶無價, 一紙難求.

Thief #1: It shouldn't count as stealing.

Thief #2: We just borrow it.

(Thieves happily left)

Wang's wife: 哎呀!親愛的,the couplets are gone.

Wang: Holly Crap!

Wang's wife: Can you write another pair?

Wang: OK, 筆墨紙硯伺候! (Music starts and Wang writes (揮毫)). Done! Let us post it on the door. (Wang and wife post and back to house )

Neighbor #1: Look, Master Wang has a new couplet now.

Neighbor #1 (read the 1st part of the couplets): (lark)(sing)(north)(star)

Neighbor #2 (read the 1st part of the couplets in English): Birds are singing toward stars in the north.


Neighbor #1 (read the 2nd part of the couplets): (swallows)(talk, murmur)(south)(suburb)

Neighbor #2 (read the 2nd part of the couplets in English): Swallows are murmuring in the south suburbs.

Neighbor #1: Birds are singing. Spring is coming. Another nice pair.

Neighbor #2: Beautiful pair.

(Both Wang's family and Neighbors go to sleep)

(Music starts and Thieves sneak in)

Thief #1 (stealing): This is another masterpiece!

Thief #2: 又一個無價之寶.

Thief #1: Anything outside of the house should be considered as public property. Shouldn't count as stealing!

Thief #2: 房子外面擺著, 應該算公共財物, 這當然也不算偷

(Thieves happily left)

(In the morning, wife wakes up, yawns and opens the door)

Wang's wife: 哎呀!小偷子! (Facing audience) 你們看到小偷子了嗎?

Wang's wife: 老王!The couplets are gone again.

Wang: Holly crap again!

Wang's wife: All the neighbors already have their own couplets. It's New Year's Eve now. What are we going to do? 辦?怎辦?

Wang: Let me think of something. 筆墨紙硯伺候! (Music starts and Wang writes (揮毫)).

(While posting)

Wang's wife: We should install a Texas Instruments' surveillance system.

Wang: Umm. Now we can have a good sleep.

(Wang and wife go back to house)

Neighbor #1(read the 1st part): They changed the couplet again. 現在是:福(fortune)(never)(two, a pair)(arrive, come).

Neighbor #2 (read the 1st part): Good fortunes never arrive in a pair.

Neighbor #1 (read the 2nd part): (disaster)(not)(single, alone)(walk)

Neighbor #2 (read the 2nd part): Disasters never walk alone

Neighbor #1: This sounds terrible.

Neighbor #2: It is weird.

Neighbor #1: Why did Master Wang post such weird couplets?

Neighbor #2: He must be crazy.

(Music starts and Thieves sneak in again)

Thief #1: Beautiful writing still, but the content is so hideous!

Thief #2: How can we take such a misfortune with us? No one wants this!

Thief #1: Leave it! Just go.

(Thieves left)

(Wang came out)

Wang: Let me finish my couplets. (Wang writing)

(Neighbors join)

Neighbor #1: Happy New Year!

Neighbor #2: 恭喜發財!

Neighbor #1: (fortune)(never)(two, pair)(arrive, come)今朝(today)(arrive, come),

Neighbor #2: Good fortunes never arrive in a pair, but it came today.



Neighbor #1: (disaster)(not)(single, alone)(walk)昨日(yesterday)(walk)

Neighbor #2: Disasters never walk alone, they went yesterday.

Neighbor #1: wow! The meaning of the couplets totally changed.

Neighbor #2: They are perfect couplets for New Year.

(Music starts, thieves join too, everybody applauses and says "恭喜發財")


The purpose of the play is to let the Americans get familiar with Chinese New Year couplets and the story of Wang Hsi-Chih. Wang never talked like that in real life. The volunteers from Texas Instruments tried to make the scripts interesting... 



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