Origin of Jia Pingwa's Name


Before his birth, [Jia Pingwa's] mother had a prenatal consultation with a village fortune-teller. She was anxious because her first child had died soon after birth. The advice was that she should go into labour not at home but at the neighbouring village of Jinpen 金盆 (Golden Bowl), which should bring good luck to the baby. After birth, the child should be given a plain name to distract the attention of demons and to allow for a safe growth. Consequently his mother named him ‘Pingwa 平娃’, ordinary boy, which he later changed to its pun, ‘Pingwa 平凹’, meaning ‘level and uneven’...Hu Heqing regards the change of the characters as a magic transformation, for ‘level and uneven’ reflects a Taoist balance of natural elements: ‘ping’ refers to flat, unshaded places and therefore implies the element of yang, whereas ‘wa’, the indented surface, is hidden from the sun and naturally stands for the element of yin. ‘Pingwa’ hence achieves the most desirable balance between yin and yang.

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