The Chinese character in this design is “yume” (pronounced YOU-MAY in Japanese) and means “dream”. Characters such as this one are pictograms or tiny line drawings that have become heavily stylized through centuries of repetition.  Though now somewhat obscure, it is thought that the original picture was a crescent moon, symbolizing night, and an eye that has been covered, suggesting what the eye sees while sleeping at night, that is, a dream.

But in Japan, written language did not develop until the Japanese “borrowed” and adapted the Chinese system relatively late in its history. In the absence of written language, the early Japanese developed a rich vocabulary of graphic symbols to convey meaning based on combining images of common objects. And so it is with this design.

The meanings of some symbols seem fairly obvious.  For example, an open fan symbolizes something expanding, while ribbons or streamers wafting in the breeze often represented something being carried to heaven to receive a blessing.  But other symbols are a bit more obscure. Because the Japanese word musubi can mean either “spirit” or “to knot”, the act of tying a knot is symbolically associated with enclosing or enfolding the spirit or essence of a thing.

Taken together then, the various elements of this design could be interpreted as:

“Enfolding the spirit of an expanding dream
and carrying it upward
to receive the blessings of heaven”


to use more American phrasing:

“May all your dreams come true”

The design lends itself well to a wide range of color interpretations as shown by these samples
stitched by my wonderful test stitchers.

There are 14,398 stitches and fits in the 5 x 7 hoop.  The finished design measures 4.78″ x 6.94″ (121.3mm x 176.4mm).  A PDF file containing applique instructions is included with the design.