Chinese Proverbs and Fables

Discussion in 'China' started by Ray, Sep 22, 2013.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Dong Shi Xi Su - Eat In The East, Sleep In The West

    东食西宿

    齐有一女两家求之其家语女曰欲东家即左袒欲西家即右袒其女两袒曰愿东家食而西家宿以东家富而丑西家贫而美也。

    战国时, 齐国有一个女子, 生得十分美丽,父母爱她如掌上明珠。她家附近住着两家人, 东家是ㄧ位大财主可是相貌生得丑怪! 西家住着一个读书人,很有才学, 相貌也很英俊,但家徒四壁十分贫苦。

    有一天, 东西两家同时请人来说媒, 她的父母无法下决定, 于是问她说 : 「现在东西两家都来求婚, 妳自己喜欢哪一家呢? 」 女子娇羞万分,一语不发。父母以爲她害羞难於起齿, 于是说 : 「既然妳不敢开口, 那么妳如果喜欢东家就举起左手; 如果喜欢西家就举起右手。」

    结果那女子把两只手都举起来. 她的父母大异, 问道:「这是什么意思?」

    她答说: 「东家人富而丑, 西家人贫而美, 我愿嫁到东家食, 又嫁到西家宿。」

    English Translation

    dōng shí xī sù - East Eat West Sleep

    A long time ago there was a beautiful girl, whom her parents adored. As she was of an age to get married, there came two suitors. From the east came a very wealthy man, but he was very ugly. From the west came a handsome studious man, but he was very poor.

    The girl was asked which of the two men she preferred. She was very shy and did not want to say anything.

    So her parents told her, "Raise your right hand if you prefer the man from the west, or raise your left hand if you prefer the man from the east."

    The girl raised both hands.

    The parents asked her why, and the girl replied, "I can go to the east for food and clothing, and I can go to the west for sleeping."

    Dōng shí xī sù is said when commenting on greedy people.
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Dian Shi Cheng Jin - Turning Stones To Gold

    点石成金

    很久以前, 有一个国王, 他有一间藏金室, 里面藏满了金子. 但是他并不满足. 某天, 国王走进藏金室,他摸摸金子, 叹了一口气说:「唉假如这屋子也是金子造的, 那该多好啊!」

    话刚说完, 突然有一个白发老人出现在他的面前。国王吓了一跳, 白发老人说:「我是仙人, 我是来帮助你的。」

    「仙人, 是否可以让我的手指碰到的东西就变成金子。」

    好吧, 明天早晨, 当你见到第一道阳光时, 你的手指就有点金术的能力了!」 老人说完就不见了

    第二天,国王躺在牀上,刚睁开眼睛,一丝阳光穿过窗簾,照在他身上。 他想起点金术,就连忙起牀。

    他用手摸摸被子,被子变成金子。他雀跃不已,就在房间里乱摸,桌子、椅子、墙、门、窗、都变成了金子。

    他来到客厅,侍卫请他洗臉,但是,他的手碰到毛巾,毛巾变成金子,他不能用毛巾擦脸了。侍卫送来早餐,国王的手碰到碗里的饭菜,饭菜也变成了金子。

    他烦躁的走到花园,花园里正开这鲜豔的玫瑰花,国王用手一摸,玫瑰花变成金子了。这时,他的女儿在一旁看见,哭叫起来:「我要鲜豔的玫瑰花!不要黄金!女儿哭得好厉害,国王走过去抱抱她。不料女儿变成了没生命的金子像了。」

    国王后悔地哭了起来,叫着:「仙人啊,你在哪儿? 我不要点金术了!」

    白发老人又出现了,慢慢地说:「请问有点金术能让你快乐吗?请你除掉我的点金术国吧!」 国王难过地摇头。「好吧! 你到后花园的小河里去洗个澡吧! 所有被你点过的东西也用河里的水浇一浇就会复原的。」

    国王照着仙人的话去做,果然手里的点金术消失了。他盛河里的水浇在他摸过的物品上,那些东西都恢复原状。国王又拿了一些水往女儿身上一浇,国王看到女儿恢复原样,喜不自禁。

    从此以后国王不再喜欢金子,并把藏金室的金子都拿出来分给了百姓。

    English Translation

    diǎn shí chéng jīn - Turning Stones To Gold

    A long time ago there was a king who had a room for all his gold. But he was not satisfied. One day he was in the room and he touched the gold and sighed. He said "I wish this house was made from gold."

    After he said that, a long-haired old man appeared in front of him. The king was shocked, but the old man said, "I am a spirit who has come to help."

    Then the king said, "Can you make everything I touch turn to gold?"

    The old man said, "Tomorrow morning, after you see the first light of day, your finger will have the power to turn everything it touches turn to gold." Then the old man disappeared.

    The next morning, the king woke up, and saw the first light of day, and thought of this power he was to have. So he got out of bed, and touched his blanket, which turned to gold. He was very happy, and touched everything in his room - the chairs, the walls, the tables and the windows, and everything turned to gold.

    When his servant came to his room with his bath towels and washing dish, the king touched them and they all turned to gold.

    But when his breakfast arrived, and the king tried to eat it, it also turned to gold. The king began to grow frustrated.

    He walked through the garden and saw beautiful roses, but when he touched them they turned to gold.

    The king's young daughter was nearby and saw the gold roses. She began crying, saying "Where are my beautiful red roses?"

    The king tried to comfort his daughter by giving her a hug, but she turned into a gold statue.

    The king was very sad, and regretted his new power. He called the spirit and said "Where are you? I don't want this magic power."

    The old man appeared, and asked the king, "Does this power make you happy?"

    The king shook his head and said, "No, please help me get rid of it."

    The old man told the king to bathe in the spring behind the garden, and to use the water to wash everything he had touched, and everything would return to normal.

    The king followed these instructions, and everything returned to normal, including his daughter. The king was so happy he shared all his gold with his people.
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    三人成虎] / 三人成虎 - Sān Rén Chéng Hǔ

    During the Warring States Period (戰國時代 / 战国时代 - Zhàn Guó Shídài) (475 BC - 221 BC), a prince of the country of Wèi (魏國 / 魏国) was required to go to the country of Zhào (趙國 / 赵国) as a peace hostage. King Wèi ordered his councilor Páng Cōng (龐蔥 / 庞葱) to accompany the Prince.

    Páng Cōng knew he would be away for a long time, and he was afraid that his enemies would spread rumors about him.

    So Páng Cōng went to the king and asked him, "If someone came to you and said that there was a tiger in the street, would you believe him?"

    The king replied, "I would find that very hard to believe."

    Páng Cōng continued, "What if two men told you the same thing?"

    The king said that he would still find it hard to believe.

    "What about three men?" Páng Cōng asked.

    "With three men," said the king, "I would have to believe it."

    Then Páng Cōng said these words: "It is impossible for a tiger to be in a busy street, this fact is obvious. Yet when three men say it is so, we become convinced of the impossible. This is how terrible rumors are spread. I am about to go to the country of Zhào, much further than the street. While I am away, if you hear bad things about me, remember that I am your faithful servant to you. Do not believe rumors."

    The king assured Páng Cōng that he had nothing to fear, but sure enough, as soon as he was gone, the rumors began to spread. At first, the king paid them no attention, but as he kept on hearing bad things about Páng Cōng, his opinion was gradually swayed.

    After the hostage period was over, Páng Cōng and the prince returned to the country of Wèi. But by then, the king did not trust Páng Cōng, and would not see him.

    From this story we can see that the more people talk about something, even if it is not true, the more likely we are to believe it.

    三人成虎] / 三人成虎 - Sān Rén Chéng Hǔ. Three people create a tiger. This expression is said to express doubt about a widely-held idea.
     
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  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Kou Mi Fu Jian - Chinese Proverb

    Honey In The Mouth, Sword In The Stomach


    During the Tang Dynasty (唐朝 táng zhāo - 618–907 A.D.), the emperor Xuán Zōng (玄宗) had a prime minister named Lǐ Lín Fǔ (李林甫).

    Prime Minister Lǐ rose through the ranks by flattering the Emperor and deceiving his competitors. He gained inside knowledge of the Emperor's plans by bribing Xuán Zōng's favorite concubines and eunuchs. By this means, Lǐ Lín Fǔ was always able to be on the good side of the emperor.

    Lǐ Lín Fǔ was careful to maintain an agreeable and affectionate demeanor, but in reality he was jealous of other's success and would plot bring about the downfall of his enemies.

    It happened that Lǐ Shì Zhī (李適之 / 李适之), an official of the court, did something to offend Lǐ Lín Fǔ. Rather than show his displeasure, Lǐ Lín Fǔ offered some advise to Lǐ Shì Zhī.

    "I've heard that Hua Mountain has a lot of gold," said Lǐ Lín Fǔ to Lǐ Shì Zhī, "enough to make our country the richest in the world. It is a pity that the emperor doesn't know about this gold. I've been too busy to tell him, but why don't you tell him?"

    Lǐ Shì Zhī was a trusting man, so he went to the emperor to tell him about the gold in Hua Mountain. The emperor was very pleased, and asked Prime Minister Lǐ what he thought.

    Lǐ Lín Fǔ said this to the emperor: "I have heard about this gold, but I also know that Hua Mountain contains the essence (氣 / 气 qì) of the Tang Dynasty. If it were to be mined, it could result in your death. That is the reason I have never mentioned the gold to you before. The person who told you about it must want to harm you. "

    The emperor was very pleased with this display of loyalty, and very displeased with Lǐ Shì Zhī, who was banished from the kingdom.

    口蜜腹劍 / 口蜜腹剑 (kǒu mì fù jiàn) is said of anyone who appears to be kind, but is actually treacherous. The literal translation of kǒu mì fù jiàn is mouth honey, stomach sword.
     
  6. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    一毛不拔 – yī máo bù bá

    This proverb is said of someone who is stingy. The literal translation is One hair will not pull out.

    Long ago, during the Warring States period (476 - 221 BC), there lived a philosopher named Yáng Zhū, who advocated the conservation of all forms of life.

    One day, a student of Yáng Zhū asked him this question: “Would you pull out your own hair if it benefitted humanity?” Yáng Zhū did not answer, implying that he would not do this thing.

    Mencius made this comment about Yáng Zhū: “He was very selfish. He would not do a simple act that would benefit everyone. If we are not concerned about other people, humanity will be destroyed”.

    If we say that someone is yī máo bù bá, it describes a miser who is exceptionally stingy.
     
  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    一竅不通 / 一窍不通 - Yī Qiào Bù Tōng

    Emperor Zhòu (紂) was the last emperor of the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC–1046 BC). He was a brutal man, and governed his people poorly. He was obsessed with his concubine Dá Jǐ (妲己), and would do whatever whim she desired, no matter how cruel.

    The uncle of Emperor Zhòu was Bǐ Gān (比干). He was a wise man who continuously tried to guide the emperor to be a good ruler. Dá Jǐ saw Bǐ Gān as a threat to her position of influence, so she devised a plan to get rid of him.

    Dá Jǐ whispered to the emperor, “Everyday Bǐ Gān is interfering with our lives. He says he is noble, but how do we know he doesn’t have some ulterior motive? Let’s see if he is really a good person by cutting open his chest to examine his heart and liver.”

    Emperor Zhòu agreed, and Bǐ Gān died. Emperor Zhòu is remembered as the most corrupt person in Chinese history.

    Confucius, commenting on this story, said if Zhòu was intelligent, and relied on more than one source of information, Bǐ Gān would not have died such a death. So the expression yī qiào bù tōng (one intelligence does not make sense), has come to mean ignorant or illiterate.
     
  8. Bilal

    Bilal Regular Member

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    Chinese fables are always inspiring and full of wisdom...
     
  9. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    All fables, irrespective of country, are.

    Remember the fables from Arabian Nights?
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2013
  10. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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