Yue Liu

蜘足常乐 (contentment)

Last summer, when I was packing for my trip to America, my parents gave me three Chinese crafts as amulets. Each of them has a different meaning, but the story I want to share at this time is about the wooden baby foot with two spiders.

I know the spider is a scary creature in western culture. Some of my American friends thought this amulet might mean that parents hope to keep bad things away from their children. Conversely, in Chinese culture, seeing a spider means that something good will happen. However, the spider on my craft has nothing to do with this prediction. It’s about the Chinese name pronunciation, actually.

蜘(pinyin, zi1) means spider in Chinese, and 足(pinyin, zu2) means foot. When you say them together, the pronunciation would be the same with 蜘足(pinyin, zhi1 zu2), which means contentment.

My father told me, the most precious thing in the world is not what you are unable to get or what you already lost, but the present that you own now. He gave this craft to me to remind me that being content is better than riches, fame, or other worldly possessions. That I should be happy with what I already have and that I should know what is enough and when I should stop.


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