Thursday, January 20, 2005

Sacrificial Grasshopper Worshipping

(Thanks to Shannon Larrett's

I don't know if the person got this tattoo after watched Kung Fu too many times, where Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine) was called "Young Grasshopper", or he has some kind of deep connection with katydids (grasshoppers). Regardless, his tattoo says he worships grasshoppers.

Here are what some of my colleagues have commented:

Brendan: "Perhaps 'hold a sacrifice to katydids?' It doesn't even sound like a plausible transliteration of anything, except maybe a really halfassed way of writing 'Jason'. (In Cantonese it's 'jai jung,' or something like that, according to Wenlin.) I dunno - maybe it sounds like something with a Japanese reading of the characters?"

Jeremy: "Sacrificial grasshopper? 'Cultists sacrificed a grasshopper on my underwear, dying it red with blood'?"

: "I simply don't have a clue. Unless I'm too ignorant of the Chinese language, I believe the bottom character doesn't even exist! If I have to guess, this tattoo means 'worship a scarified/dead grasshopper'."

= sacrifice to, worship

= katydid, grasshopper


  1. The sino-Japanese reading of those characters would be Sai-shuu.. doesn't sound like anything English to me. The native Japanese reading is apparently even worse: matsuri-inago or matsuru-unago.

    I think in modern Japanese 祭 (or 祭り) is more commonly used for "festival" than "worship", so maybe it means "party hopper", like "social butterfly" ... yeah, reaching.

  2. A sacrifice to grasshoppers is not unheard of, really; there are cultures (including Japanese and several Chinese minorities) that have a 祭蟲節, or a festival of sacrifice to insects. And I believe there's something in one of the dynastic histories about honoring locusts to prevent them from swarming (蝗, an synonym of 螽). Mo Yan writes about 祭蝗, warding off a plague of locusts with sacrifices, as well.

    More likely is that the bearer is hard into one of those fantasy role-playing games as a member of a locust clan aligned with a Pestilence god or something.


  3. Just a request to Tian: Can you put the romanization of the characters being described? It's great to have the meanings, but a pronunciation guide (the pinyin system) would be great.

    Love the site.

  4. Just a thought: there is a well-known coffeeshop (place where marijuana and hash are sold) in amsterdam who calls himself "the grasshopper". "Grass" is slang for "weed".
    Maybe this person likes to smoke weed, who knows.

  5. In Japanese, 祭 [まつり] can mean feast in addition to the already mentioned festival. Perhaps the tattooee enjoys eating grasshoppers.

  6. A homage to Edward Gorey's "The Insect God"?