Shou/Chai #1

May 2006
Sterling silver

The Chinese character 壽 (shou) and the Hebrew word חי (chai) both basically mean "life" (in the case of the Chinese, long life). Both words are also used by their respective cultures as some of the most common motifs in art and jewelry. Given my own entrenchment in both cultures, I'd wanted to combine the two somehow for a long time but had never gotten around to it.

Enter my friend Ilana, who is one of the few people I know who can claim both cultures along with me--perhaps even more so. She's half Malaysian Chinese, half caucasian, and all Jew. She came to me looking for a unique present to give to her bridesmaids, and I suggested to her the combination motifs described in the previous paragraph. She loved it, and now I had an excuse to actually execute the idea! I came up with a few designs, and she chose the one you see to the left. I modified a calligraphic rendition of 壽 to include a stylized חי at the bottom for the final design.

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