This is a discussion on 精忠報國 or 盡忠報國 (Yue Fei's tattoo) within the Military History forums, part of the China Defense & Military category; I've seen different spellings for Yue Fei's tattoo. jìn zhōng bào guó; literally "serve the country with the utmost loyalty" ...
I've seen different spellings for Yue Fei's tattoo.
jìn zhōng bào guó; literally "serve the country with the utmost loyalty"
Which one is the correct (traditional) Chinese spelling? What's exactly the difference between the two?
精忠報國 or 盡忠報國
Last edited by greatboi; 08-30-2012 at 09:36 PM.
Though both sentences make sense, I believe the "精忠報國" is Yue Fei's while the other is not. To me, although both sentences have similar word and pronunciation but have huge difference in meaning. 盡忠 may means with all the possible patriot and 精忠 might means with the utmost spirit. The later sounds more serious and suits the case of Yue Fei. If you look at the second photo more clearly, it was signed by Chiang Ching Kuo. Just my two cents.
Last edited by SteelBird; 08-31-2012 at 08:27 PM. Reason: Spelling
I believe jobjeb got it right, and that's the "direct" cause of the differences between thoudsand years ago Yue Fei's tatoo and modern time people's artistic slogan.
The "indirect" cause, is that in Chinese culture the offspring (the modern people) CAN NOT claim, or self-dramatizing, or "artisticly expressing the commitment" - exactly like the ancestry (the older generation, despite 100 generations older or 1 generation older).
It can not be exactly the same, it's considered an offense to the ancestry if you do so. It's like self-dramatizing that you are as good as the ancestor's greatness (even you are good, you can not yelling about it). I suppose modern USA president would look George Washington in high respect that in no condition (especially in front of a TV) LOOK LIKE he is comparing himself to George Washington - That's the culture, universally.
Now, a modern general (or in this case, chief commander of 国民革命军，国军 Nationist Revolutionary Army, 蒋经国 Jiang Jingguo), trying to leave his mark to motivating his troops, in no condition it shall looks like he is comparing himself to a great historical figure Yue Fei (Yue Fei's mother actually), so the artistic expression, shall not be exactly like Yue Fei's - You can quote exactly Yue Fei's mark 精忠報國 in a book or a classroom, but since you are now making your own mark, you are not considered quoting if you write the exactly same 精忠報國， but to self-comparing to Yue Fei (and that's reputation suicide in Chinese culture), the modern people have to play the trick to chaning one character and remains almost the same meaning - thus the “盡忠報國”.
The other situation is, you don't say exactly "the other guy" said. I found interesting when I in Singapore, during election period, there is this expression that the government shall "serve the people" in great care. While "Serve the people" looks alright in English - in Chinese, “为人民服务” is like CCP's exclusive slogan and it is damn sure no Singaporean party can afford to LOOKS LIKE CCP. So at Chinese language news paper, they use the term: 为民众服务.
避讳 (avoid the subtle indication) is universal culture.
Thank you Jobjed, RedSword and Steelbird for clarifying.
The reason why I'm asking is because I just got a tattoo of 精忠報國.
Then I realized that there were two different spellings and because wikipedia and various other sources depicted the 盡 character more often.
Actually, from what I've read, the original term is "尽忠报国", while the term "精忠报国" dates from the ming/qing dynasties.
Yue Fei's tattoo is most likely a myth. It has been said that no one in his era mentioned anything about his loyalty tattoo. Even his own great grandson did not mention anything about a tattoo in his biography of his great grandfather. Since this tattoo has been considered a major symbol of his resolute loyalty to his nation, his great grandson would have mentioned it if he had one. The earliest mention of Yue Fei's tattoo was in Yuan dynasty (at least 100-200 years after his death), which described the tattoo as 尽忠报国. Then in the Ming dynasty, the tattoo became 赤心救国. The earliest mention of 精忠报国 came in 1552, almost half a millennium after his death (he was killed in 1142).
So none of the versions of the tattoo was modern invention. Jiang Jingguo simply chose the earliest version. And all of the versions seem to be fictional.
Last edited by vesicles; 09-04-2012 at 10:00 AM.
deleted because of double-posting
Last edited by vesicles; 09-04-2012 at 09:53 AM.
Hmmm, lots of conflicting theories.
Regardless of the tattoo being a myth, thats a different discussion.
Why would the spelling change from time to time? Is it because like RedSword mentioned that people do not want to "quote" others out of respect?
And do all spelling have basically the same meaning?
Also most sources seem to be wikipedia type of sources. None of them are "official" or "academic".
More pics of the "精" spelling:
How ever, this pic seems to indicate that Yue Fei signed this phrase and it has the "盡 " spelling.
Last edited by greatboi; 09-05-2012 at 09:08 PM.
I don't think it's because people not wanting to quote others. There have been many many writings about Yue Fei, only 2-3 versions of the tattoo exist. This means many authors have been quoting others. Additionally, Those carvings shown in the original post of this thread were all phrases that had been quoted by many for centuries and were NOT invented by the writers of the carving. So in other words, they were all quoting others. Again, it's only the matter of personal taste that dictated which version they picked.
Citing original work, giving names of the authors, title of the work, time when it was written, as well as what was written in these books, this is as academic as you can get. The discussion in 百度百科 is very academic, in a sense that it had a hypothesis at the beginning and presented evidence to support the hypothesis. No hear-say, no guesses, no imagining of any sort... Only solid evidence with names, time, titles.
However, in no way I am saying that the hypothesis in 百度百科 is correct. Simply, their point is the most convincing with the most solid evidence. If you disagree with this particular hypothesis, that is perfect fine. The only thing is you have to present your evidence to support your hypothesis. In fact, I would expect many such evidence exist. Otherwise, we would not be talking about this supposed tattoo. Discrediting the evidence presented in 百度百科 is NOT the way to do it.
Also, compared to those discussions based on hear-say and guesses, any source is better than none.
This might be why people use "精"...
Last edited by vesicles; 09-06-2012 at 12:24 PM.
The most laughable one would be the last where "Yur Fei" signed the writing. If anything, it was Yue's mother who came up with it. How could Yue Fei stole his mother's idea?
Last edited by vesicles; 09-06-2012 at 12:31 PM.
OK, new theory...
尽忠报国 originated much earlier before Sui/Tang dynasties (~500 A.D.) in 北史·颜之仪传: “公等备受朝恩，当尽忠报国。” And 北史 was written by 李延寿 in the Tang dynasty.
the earliest mention of 精忠报国 was found in 《精忠旗传奇》 which was written in Ming dynasty and was thought to be misled by the title of “精忠岳飞” given to Yue Fei by the Song emperor. 有学者认为，此时的“精忠报国”四字是受宋高宗御赐“精忠岳飞”4字的误导
So 尽忠报国 is NOT limited to Yue Fei at all since it came out almost 400-500 years before Yue Fei. It has been used as 成語 to describe being absolutely loyal to one's nation since ~500 A.D. So it is a general term. The author of 《宋史·岳飞传》used 尽忠报国 because it was available to him and had been in general use in his time. It can be understood as Yue's mother put the already existing term on her son's back to remind him to be loyal to his nation. In other word, she "quoted" a well-known existing 成語.
Later author 李梅草创，冯梦龙改定的《精忠旗传奇》changed it to ‘精忠报国’ because Yue Fei had the title of “精忠岳飞” given to him by the Song emperor. So They thought 精忠 would be more appropriate for Yue Fei. And looking at the name of the novel, 《精忠旗传奇》, which describes Yue Fei with the title of “精忠岳飞”, it makes perfect sense for the authors to go with “精忠报国”. Everything ties together to make a unified theme: 精忠.
SOOOO, all in all, when you see a painting/carving of 尽忠报国, it may NOT be intended to link to Yue Fei at all. It may be just a general attempt to encourage people to be loyal to their nation. And 精忠报国 may be uniquely linked to Yue Fei because the term was specifically created for Yue Fei by later admirers of Yue Fei, based on one of his titles.
So, if the tattooing could happen, it would most likely be 尽忠报国 since this term was already in general use at the time of Yue Fei. His mother was educated but not nearly talented enough to come up with her own 成語. So using an existing 成語 would make sense. Also, the chances of his mother coming up with 精忠报国 coinciding with the Song emperor coming up with the title of 精忠岳飞 was simply tooooooo slim since Yue's tattoo was not known to anyone until the very end, days before his execution.
Last edited by vesicles; 09-06-2012 at 04:37 PM.
Yeah your right. If the tattoo is a myth, then this is about which phrase relates to Yue Fei and that's exactly what I wanted to know.
I mean nobody can prove if he had a tattoo, but I like the story!
Anyways, thanks for the research. I appreciate it, 'cause I can't read Chinese. This clears a lot up.
btw what does “精忠岳飞” mean in English?
Last edited by greatboi; 09-06-2012 at 09:28 PM.