The T-shirt has spoken.
About some years ago, I bought a T-shirt from the Silk Market in Beijing. It had a picture of a dragon and a phoenix in a roundel (much like the illustration) beside which were some handwritten characters. I managed to figure out what the first two were without much bother (龍 lóng “dragon” and 鳳 fèng “phoenix”), but the other two characters have always looked indecipherable. Tonight I thought I’d see if I could track them down in my dictionary. The last character was quite easy to find, and I took a guess at the structure third which is written in a rather scrappy fashion.
The whole phrase is 龍鳳呈祥 (lóng fèng chéng xiáng). I thought I’d do an online search for it to confirm that this is, indeed, a phrase. But the first page I looked at had an English translation at the bottom. Now I know the traditional and simplified forms of 龍 (龙) and 鳳 (凤), hence I didn’t bother looking them up in my dictionary. And what should I find when I checked the entry for 龙?
龙凤呈祥 prosperity brought by the dragon and the phoenix; extremely good fortune
Excuse me while I go and kick myself for a bit. If you must know, I find handwritten Chinese characters intimidating because I know I’m probably going to get frustrated if I spend time trying to work out what they are. The ones I know are, perhaps, not too hard to recognise (so I’d like to think), but the ones I don’t know – that’s a different matter.