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Chinese Idiom
邯郸学步 (hán dān xué bù)


altTradition has it that more than 2,000 years ago,there lived a young man in the Shouling area of the State of Yan (yān guó 燕国). He was at a loss as to how to behave all the time.His family members advised him to overcome this shortcoming,but he thought they were fond of poking their noses into his business and were unwilling to provide him with tuition fee.

后来居上 (hòu lái jū shàng)


altThis set phrase is derived from the complaints Ji An made to the emperor.
Ji Anlived at the time of Emperor Wudi of the Western Han Dynasty (xī hàn 西汉,206 B.C.-A.D.24). He was respected for being upright and just and for daring to speak the truth. He did not bother about amall matters in personal behaviour and in being an official. He was particular about actual effects and ,although he did not cause a stir ,he could keep the prefecture he governed in perfect order. Because of this. the imperial court transferred him to the central government from being the perfect of the Donghai Prefecture to being a commander in charge of the appointment and dismissal of the local officals.

画饼充饥 (huà bǐng chōng jī )

altIn the Three Kingdoms Period (sān guó 三国时代,220-280AD), the king of the state of Wei (wèi guó 魏国), Cao Rui (cáo ruì 曹睿), wanted to select a very capable man to work for him. He said to his ministers: "When choosing a talented person, always beware of one with a false reputation. A false reputation is just like a picture of a cake; it can' t relieve hunger."

Later, this idiom came to be used to mean comforting oneself with unrealistic thoughts, without solving practical problems.

画龙点睛 (huà lóng diǎn jīng)


In the Southern and Northern Dynasties Period (nán běi cháo 南北朝,420-589AD), there was a painter called Zhang Sengyou (zhāng sēng yóu 张僧繇). Once he visited a temple and painted on the wall four dragons, but gave none of them eyes. The onlookers felt that this was odd, and asked why he had not painted the eyes. He answered, ‘Eyes are crucial for dragons. With the eyes painted on , the dragons would fly away.’ Nobody believed this, so Zhang Zengyou took up his brush and added eyes to two of the dragons. No sooner had he finished than the two dragons flew into the sky amid a thunderstorm. The two without eyes stayed painted on the wall. This idiom is used to describe how, when writing or speaking, one or two key sentences will enhance the contents.

画蛇添足 (huà shé tiān zú)


In the Warring States Period (zhàn guó 战国,475-221BC), a man in the State of Chu (chǔ guǒ楚国) was offering a sacrifice to his ancestors. After the ceremony, the man gave a beaker of wine to his servants.

狐假虎威 (hú jiǎ hǔ wēi)

 altA tiger caught a fox in a forest, and was just about to eat it, when the fox said, 'You mustn't eat me. I was sent by Heaven to rule the animals. By eating me, you will violate the command of Heaven. If you don't believe me, just follow me to see whether the animals are of me.' The tiger agreed, and followed the fox as it walked around the forest. The animals all ran away on seeing them. The tiger thought they were of the fox, so he let it go. He didn't realise that it was him that the beasts were really of.

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