Making a guess on lantern riddles
  Riddle Preparations


3. Responding to riddles by making links to literary references

Besides linking characters, the third key is to make link to literary references. That is to observe whether a literary reference has been incorporated or a historic event was hidden in the question. For examples, the use of the sentence “ There is only one hero for the country” to guess the person at present time “ Hsih Hsin Lieng” (“ there is only one hero for the country” were the words Hsiao Ho used to compliment Han Hsin); the sentence “ Follower’s (the humble term addressing “I” when a follower is speaking to the king in the olden days) advices are very beneficial to be heard” to guess the person in the


Jeng Era “Hsin Lin Juan” (Han Hsin said these words to compliment himself that he was more superior then Liu Bon on one occasion while discussing military matters). The literary reference of Han Hsin in the “History Book, Huai Yin Ho Series” has been incorporated into these examples.
The incorporation of literary reference in the question of the riddle is a practice that is full of culture and in general requires more use of knowledge. If the question is [太守二千石,獨公… the words are read “senior official two thousand stones, you alone”] for guessing the colloquialism used in baseball games- the answer is “ one good, one bad- key shot”. Those without sufficient knowledge of the historic literature are probably left without the slightest clue as this riddle incorporated the literary reference of Jih Hsiao Lan in the Chin Dynasty. According to history, when Jih was still a kid, one day, while she was playing the ball-kicking game on the street with other kids, the ball happened to hit the palanquin of a senior official. All the kids were hesitant to go up to the official to ask for the ball except for Jih. Upon observing that Jih was intelligent, the senior official set the upper couplet of a poem as “among the kids, only you are bad” and asked Jih to complete the lower couplet of the poem. Without thinking, Jih responded “ 太守二千擔,獨公……referring to the senior official that there are two thousand loads, you alone…” without completing the sentence. The senior official was confused and asked: “ why didn’t you complete the sentence?” Jih smiled and said: if you returned the ball to me, then you good, but not, then you are greedy”. The question of the riddle used Jih’s uncompleted sentence and upon understanding of the literary reference, the link may be made to “one good one bad- key shot”. It is indeed a piece of amazing work, but those who are reluctant to study more will probably understand the fun within.
Where the historic event is hidden in the history, it means that the question of the riddle is hidden with a person’s name and is easier to be understood. For examples: the sentence “ caught the attention of the king” incorporated the literary reference of the “Story of the Monkey King” for guessing a person’s name at present time “ Suan (Wu Kong) Jen”, the sentence “ calm and furthest” for guessing the ocean creature “ (clam) Sea horse (furthest)”, the sentence “ I agree” for guessing the name of the character in the “Four Book” “Tzen Dian” etc all are examples that should be pin-pointed at once and not be confused. As for other names used for places and mountains such as San Tong is called Lu, Se Chuan is called Shu, Tai San is called Di shall also be considered with care.
iv. Positive and Reverse Thinking
The fourth step is to think from both the positive and contrary perspectives. The question of the riddle has to be grasped positively and negatively. If a solution cannot be found positively, then why not think of the reverse. For example, the question “you and I are both meaty” for guessing a type of food “ Wei Ta Shredded Meat” (only his meat is loose- because you and I are both meaty) and the question “ not rescuing one from dying” for guessing the occupation “ doctor” (only treats the ones alive” are all examples of reverse thinking.

4. Going by the Form Code

The fifth method is to go by the “Form Code”, that is, to think on the basis of hints on riddle forms, included in the question itself. Sometimes, to enable close correlation between the question of and the answer to the riddle, the question has to be rephrased. On these occasions where the questions are rephrased, the person making the guess must understand the meaning of the various riddle forms. For example, use the sentence “ give a hand to cousin-in-law drowning” for guessing “the name of a country at the present time” and the form is noted in the question as “Rolling Curtain”. If the form is “rolling curtain”, then the answer to the riddle must comprise of more than three words and are read in the order of the last word to the first word as if rolling the curtain. The answer to this riddle is “Iraq” read as “Qari” (can give her a pull) in conformation to the question. Another example, use the sentence “ ugly words were said upfront” for guessing “a colloquialism, going downstairs”- in accordance with the form code, the answer “ the nasty person tells his story first” must be read backwards (that is to move the first word to the last word as if going downstairs). Riddle forms were seldom used in recent times but they are not as difficult as one imagined if the form code can be grasped.

5. Direct Comprehension at the show

The last key is to exert one’s imagination. The “comprehension” of lantern riddles is often the result of imagination, an important element in literature creation. Liu Sai described used the description “ Amazing thoughts” of “spirit traveling four oceans, mind going to eight extremes” to describe people guessing riddles when faced with difficult questions, are required to exhaust the thoughts, search the mind and exert strong imagination. If the question “ front and back rows are full, please do not enter” is used to guess a word, the answer is originally “齡”- covering the lower part of the character “齒”, with four people crowded on two rows of seats, linked to the meaning of “front rows and back rows are full” and combined the meanings of characters “令、止” thus fit the words of the question “please do not enter” However, the character ”齕” with part of the character “乞” meaning beg fits the meaning of the word “please” as stated in the question even better and can be considered also the right solution. The difficulty of this question is that it is difficult to imagine the hieroglyphic meaning of the character “齒”, not possible without very strong imagination. Hu Shi once used the “boundless trees with falling leaves” to link to the character “sun”, used in the riddle to comment that riddle makers “only one knows one’s toes are moving”. Because for this riddle, the words “蕭蕭” are to be used to make link to the national surnames of the Southern Song Dynasty and Second Chi Era. The character “下” refers to character “陳” of 陳霸先, and to remove the side (left ear), and the character “木” left in the character “東” falls down leaving the only character “日”. This riddle is highly imaginative but is not necessary difficult to be guessed. The question is that riddle guessing is a form of intellectual competition. It is essential to know one’s own ability and opponents’. It is not impossible to find the solution if properly grasping the style of the riddle maker.


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