LIGHT US A NEW POEM CHEN!; They're Hard to Read but We've a Magnifying Glass Ready

By Dowdney, Mark | The Mirror (London, England), June 4, 1996 | Go to article overview

LIGHT US A NEW POEM CHEN!; They're Hard to Read but We've a Magnifying Glass Ready


Dowdney, Mark, The Mirror (London, England)


And now for today's Chinese puzzle: How do you write a poem on the head of a matchstick?

No problem, said crafty artist Chen Seng-hsien who made light work of it...not once, but TWICE.

He copied a 1,000-year-old verse onto a half-centimetre wide tip, and then repeated the feat on a second matchstick.

His works of art - which need a magnifying glass to read the tiny Chinese script - were put on display in Taipei, Taiwan, yesterday.

Spectators marvelled at the skill of the inscrutable Oriental...who refused to reveal how he did it.

He merely said that he had to seal the match heads, which are water absorbent, before he could start work.

The poem was written in the Tang Dynasty and is one of the most famous in Chinese literature.

It tells of peasants toiling in ricefields under a scorching sun.

Parents teach it to their children to remind them not to waste food.

Chen Seng-hsien may be proud of his achievement, but he's still a beginner in the art of micro-writing.

Another Chinese, Xie Shui Lin, crammed 11,660 characters, taken from the speeches of Sir Winston Churchill, onto the back of a postage stamp.

An Indian artist wrote 1,749 characters, mostly the names of countries, on a grain of rice.

While last year, another Chinese squeezed 395 characters on to a human hair two centimetres long. …

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LIGHT US A NEW POEM CHEN!; They're Hard to Read but We've a Magnifying Glass Ready
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