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Chengyu in Chinese / Japanese...

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  1. Great Ambitions
  2. Better Late Than Never
  3. How can you catch tiger cubs...
  4. Death Before Dishonor
  5. Mark the boat to find the lost sword...
  6. Drain the pond to get all the fish
  7. Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger
  8. Home is where the heart is
  9. The Whole Room Rocks With Laughter
10. Love and Respect
11. Realize Your Ambitions...
12. Push or Knock
13. Tiger Rumor
14. Tranquility Yields Transcendence
15. The incompetent boat pilot...
16. Walking 100 Miles:...
17. Confucius: Golden Rule / Ethic of Reciprocity
18. Brief and to the Point
19. A sly rabbit has three openings to its den
20. Unselfish: Perfectly Impartial
21. Drinking the water of a well,...
22. Bounce Back...
23. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
24. Death Before Surrender
25. Great Aspirations / Ambition
26. Patience Yields Peace of Mind
27. The Weak are Meat, The Strong Eat.
28. Work Unselfishly for the Common Good
29. No one knows a son better than the father
30. One Justice Can Overpower 100 Evils

Great Ambitions

Brave the wind and the waves
China chéng fēng pò làng
Great Ambitions

乘風破浪 is a Chinese proverb that represents having great ambitions.

The British might say "to plough through." Another way to understand it is, "surmount all difficulties and forge ahead courageously."

This can also be translated as, "braving the wind and waves," "to brave the wind and the billows," "to ride the wind and crest the waves," or "to be ambitious and unafraid."

Literally it reads: "ride (like a chariot) [the] wind [and] break/cleave/cut [the] waves," or "ride [the] wind [and] slash [through the] waves."

乘風破浪 is a great proverb to encourage yourself or someone else not to be afraid of problems or troubles, and when you have a dream just go for it.

There is an alternate version, 長風破浪, but 乘風破浪 is far more common.

Better Late Than Never

It's Never Too Late Too Mend
China wáng yáng bǔ láo yóu wèi wéi wǎn
Better Late Than Never

Long ago in what is now China, there were many kingdoms throughout the land. This time period is known as "The Warring States Period" by historians because these kingdoms often did not get along with each other.

Some time around 279 B.C. the Kingdom of Chu was a large but not particularly powerful kingdom. Part of the reason it lacked power was the fact that the King was surrounded by "yes men" who told him only what he wanted to hear. Many of the King's court officials were corrupt and incompetent which did not help the situation.

The King was not blameless himself, as he started spending much of his time being entertained by his many concubines.

One of the King's ministers, Zhuang Xin, saw problems on the horizon for the Kingdom, and warned the King, "Your Majesty, you are surrounded by people who tell you what you want to hear. They tell you things to make you happy, and cause you to ignore important state affairs. If this is allowed to continue, the Kingdom of Chu will surely perish, and fall into ruins."

This enraged the King who scolded Zhuang Xin for insulting the country and accused him of trying to create resentment among the people. Zhuang Xin explained, "I dare not curse the Kingdom of Chu but I feel that we face great danger in the future because of the current situation." The King was simply not impressed with Zhuang Xin's words.
Seeing the King's displeasure with him and the King's fondness for his court of corrupt officials, Zhuang Xin asked permission of the King that he may take leave of the Kingdom of Chu, and travel to the State of Zhao to live. The King agreed, and Zhuang Xin left the Kingdom of Chu, perhaps forever.

Five months later, troops from the neighboring Kingdom of Qin invaded Chu, taking a huge tract of land. The King of Chu went into exile, and it appeared that soon, the Kingdom of Chu would no longer exist.

The King of Chu remembered the words of Zhuang Xin, and sent some of his men to find him. Immediately, Zhuang Xin returned to meet the King. The first question asked by the King was, "What can I do now?"

Zhuang Xin told the King this story:

A shepherd woke one morning to find a sheep missing. Looking at the pen saw a hole in the fence where a wolf had come through to steal one of his sheep. His friends told him that he had best fix the hole at once. But the Shepherd thought since the sheep is already gone, there is no use fixing the hole.
The next morning, another sheep was missing. And the Shepherd realized that he must mend the fence at once. Zhuang Xin then went on to make suggestions about what could be done to reclaim the land lost to the Kingdom of Qin, and reclaim the former glory and integrity in the Kingdom of Chu.

The Chinese idiom shown above came from this reply from Zhuang Xin to the King of Chu almost 2,300 years ago.
It translates roughly into English as...
"Even if you have lost some sheep, it's never too late to mend the fence."

This proverb is often used in modern China when suggesting in a hopeful way that someone change their ways, or fix something in their life. It might be used to suggest fixing a marriage, quit smoking, or getting back on track after taking an unfortunate path in life among other things one might fix in their life.

I suppose in the same way that we might say, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" in our western cultures to suggest that you can always start anew.

Note: This does have Korean pronunciation but is not a well-known proverb in Korean (only Koreans familiar with ancient Chinese history would know it). Best if your audience is Chinese.

How can you catch tiger cubs
without entering the lair of the tiger?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained
China bú rù hǔ xué yān dé hǔ zǐ
How can you catch tiger cubs / without entering the lair of the tiger?

While perhaps no longer politically correct, this Chinese proverb is a reminder that you must take risks if you want reward.

This is similar to the English proverb, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

The literal word order of the Chinese is, "If (you) don't enter the tiger's lair/cave, how can (you) get/obtain tiger cubs?."

Death Before Dishonor

Better to be broken jade than unbroken pottery
China níng wéi yù suì
Death Before Dishonor

寧為玉碎 is the short version of a longer Chinese proverb which means, "rather be shattered piece of jade than an unbroken piece of pottery." The characters shown above just say the "rather be a broken piece of jade" part (the second half is implied - everyone in China knows this idiom).

A little more explanation:
Death is implied with the "broken" meaning. Jade is one of the most precious materials in Chinese history, and in this case is compared with one's honor and self-worth. Pottery is just something you eat off of, it has no deep value, just as a person who has lost their honor, or had none to begin with.
Thus, this means, "better to die with honor than to live in shame" or words to that effect.

寧為玉碎 is often translated in English as "Death Before Dishonor," the famous military slogan.

I would also compare this to the English proverb, "Better to die on your feet than live on your knees."

Mark the boat to find the lost sword
Ignoring the changing circumstances of the world

China kè zhōu qiú jiàn
Japan kokushuukyuuken
Mark the boat to find the lost sword / Ignoring the changing circumstances of the world

This originally-Chinese proverb is a warning to people that things are always in a state of change. Thus, you must take that into account, and not depend on the old ways, or a way that may have worked in the past but is no longer valid.

This idiom/proverb comes from the following story:
A man was traveling in a ferry boat across a river. With him, he carried a valuable and treasured sword. Along the way, the man became overwhelmed and intoxicated by the beautiful view, and accidentally dropped his prized sword into the river. Thinking quickly, he pulled out a knife, and marked on the rail of the boat where exactly he has lost his sword.

When the boat arrived on the other side of the river, the man jumped out of the boat and searched for his sword right under where he'd made the mark. Of course, the boat had moved a great distance since he made the mark, and thus, he could not find the sword.

While this man may seem foolhardy, we have to take a great lesson from this parable: Circumstances change, so one should use methods that can handle the change. In modern China, this is used in business to mean that one should not depend on old business models for a changing market.


This proverb dates back to the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC) of the territory now known as China. It has spread and is somewhat known in Japan and Korea.

Drain the pond to get all the fish

Kill the goose that lays the golden eggs
China jié zé ér yú
Drain the pond to get all the fish

In 632 BC, Duke Wen of the Kingdom of Jin was about to lead an army against the forces of the Kingdom of Chu.
The Duke asked one of his advisers, Jiu Fan, how they could possibly win the impending battle, as they were drastically outnumbered.
Jiu Fan said, "All is fair in war," and went on to suggest a plan of dishonorable tactics (cheating).
The Duke was not sure of this advice, so he asked another adviser, Yong Ji, who replied, "If you catch fish by draining the pond, you can certainly get all the fish. But there will be no fish the following year. You can cheat this one time in battle but such tactics can only be used once, as the enemy will be wise in future encounters."

The Duke heard the words of his wiser adviser but cheated to gain victory in the battle. However, he rewarded Yong Ji more than Jiu Fan at the victory celebration, stating that while Jiu Fan's advice gained one victory, the wise words of Yong Ji would last forever.

This Chinese idiom/proverb is still used, over 2600 years later to remind people not to burn bridges, cheat, or dishonor oneself in exchange for a short term gain, while sacrificing the future.

竭澤而漁 is very similar to the meaning of the English phrase, "Kill the goose that lays the golden eggs."

Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger

Undiscovered persons of exceptional ability
China cáng lóng wò hǔ
Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger

The meaning of 藏龍臥虎 is that both the tiger and dragon have amazing talents, but if they are out of view, you may not have discovered them.

This old Chinese idiom/proverb is appropriate for someone with amazing ability that keeps that ability hidden.

You might think this title is in reverse, but actually, this is the original Chinese proverb.
The movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon popularized this alternate version.

Home is where the heart is

China jiā yóu xīn shēng
Home is where the heart is

This old Chinese proverb is roughly equal to the English idiom "Home is where the heart is." If you know Chinese, you may recognize the first character as home and the third as the heart.

The Whole Room Rocks With Laughter

The perfect scroll if you love humor or as a gift for the comedian in your life
China hōng tāng dà xiào
The Whole Room Rocks With Laughter

In China, this proverb is used in response to a good joke or witty comment.

The story goes that Mr. Feng and Mr. He were both senior officials in the Song Dynasty (about a thousand years ago). One day, Mr. Feng walked into their shared office wearing a new pair of boots. The boots caught the eye of Mr. He who said, "New boots! - how much were they?." Mr. Feng lifted one of the boots off the ground as if to show it off and responded, "900 coins."
Astonished, Mr. Feng explained, "900? How can that be? - I paid 1800 coins for my boots!." Mr. Feng then lifted his other foot off the ground and said, "This boot was also 900 coins."

It is said that the whole room was shaking from the laughter of all that heard Mr. Feng's joke on Mr. He.

Love and Respect

Love and respect each other
China xiāng jìng xiāng ài
Love and Respect

相敬相愛 is an old Chinese proverb that suggests love and respect go together and are to be exchanged between people (especially couples).

The first two characters mean, "exchanging respect" or "mutual respect."

The last two characters create a word that means, "to love each other" or "mutual love."

You'll notice that the first and third characters are the same. So you can read this literally as something like "Exchange respect, exchange love" or "Mutual respect, mutual love." In English, we'd probably just say, "Mutual love and respect." Grammar differs in every language - So while the literal translation might sound a bit awkward in English, this phrase is very natural in Chinese.

Realize Your Ambitions
Ride on the Crest of Success

China dà jiǎn hóng tú
Realize Your Ambitions / Ride on the Crest of Success

This four-character proverb is used in Chinese to mean "realize your ambitions" or "exhibit your ambition and success." It's used to talk about someone with great career ambitions. Almost literally, it expresses the idea of someone unfolding a great career like a map or a set of blueprint plans.

Very literally translated, these four characters mean, "Great unfolding of a huge map" or "Great exhibition of an colossal plan."

Push or Knock

To weigh one's words
China fǎn fù tuī qiāo
Push or Knock

During the Tang Dynasty, a man named Jia Dao (born in the year 779), a well studied scholar and poet, went to the capital to take the imperial examination.

One day as he rides a donkey through the city streets, a poem begins to form in his mind. A portion of the poem comes into his head like this:

"The bird sits on the tree branch near a pond,
A monk approaches and knocks at the gate..."


At the same time, he wondered if the word "push" would be better than "knock" in his poem.

As he rides down the street, he imagines the monk pushing or knocking. Soon he finds himself making motions of pushing, and shaking a fist in a knocking motion as he debates which word to use. He is quite a sight as he makes his way down the street on his donkey with hands and fists flying about as the internal debate continues.

As he amuses people along the street, he becomes completely lost in his thoughts and does not see the mayor's procession coming in the opposite direction. Jia Bao is blocking the way for the procession to continue down the road, and the mayor's guards immediately decide to remove Jia Bao by force. Jia Bao, not realizing that he was in the way, apologizes, explains his poetic dilemma, and awaits his punishment for blocking the mayor's way.

The mayor, Han Yu, a scholar and author of prose himself, finds himself intrigued by Jia Dao's poem and problem. Han Yu gets off his horse, and addresses Jia Bao, stating, "I think knock is better." The relieved Jia Bao raises his head, and is invited by the mayor to join the procession, and are seen riding off together down the street exchanging their ideas and love of poetry.

In modern Chinese, this idiom is used when someone is trying to decide which word to use in their writing or when struggling to decide between two things when neither seems to have a downside.

Tiger Rumor

China sān rén chéng hǔ
Tiger Rumor

These four characters together relay the meaning that can be expressed in English as, "When three people say there's a tiger running in the street, you believe it."

Of course, there is an ancient story behind this idiom...

三人成虎 is actually a proverb that resulted from a conversation that occurred around 300 B.C.

The conversation was between the king of the Wei kingdom and one of the king's ministers named Pang Cong.

It was near the end of one of many wars, this time with the Zhao kingdom. Pang Cong was to be sent by the king to the Zhao kingdom with the king's son who was to be held hostage. It was common at the time for a king to make his son a hostage to secure stable peace between warring kingdoms.

Before minister Pang Cong departed, he asked his king, "If one person told you there was a tiger running in the street, would you believe it?."

"No," the king said.

The minister continued, "What if two people told you?"

The king replied, "Well, I would have my doubts but I might believe it."

The minister continued, "So, what if three people told you that there is a tiger running in the streets?"

The king replied, "Yes, I would believe it, it must be true if three people say it."

The minister then reminded the king, "Your son and I are now traveling far away to live in the distant Zhao kingdom - much farther from your palace than the street. Rumors may fly about me in my absence, so I hope your majesty will weight such rumors appropriately."

The king replied, "I have every trust in you, do not worry"

While the minister was gone, the king's enemies gossiped about minister Pang Cong on many occasions. At first, the king thought nothing of these comments and rumors. But slowly as the rumors mounted, the king began to suspect ill of his minister.

Some time later when peace was well-established, the minister and prince were freed and returned to the kingdom of Wei. The king received his son, BUT DID NOT EVEN SUMMON MINISTER PANG CONG TO THE PALACE!

Hopefully this story will help you see how dangerous words can be when used to promote rumors, or create ill will. And perhaps will inspire you to not believe everything you hear.

There is also a secondary suggestion in this idiom that gossip is as ferocious as a tiger. Some Chinese people who don't know the ancient story above may believe that this scroll means that rumors are as vicious as three tigers.

Note: This proverb appears in my Korean dictionary but is not well-known in Korea.

Tranquility Yields Transcendence

China níng jìng zhì yuǎn
Tranquility Yields Transcendence

寧靜致遠 is an ancient Chinese idiom which means "tranquility yields transcendence."

This suggests pursuing a quiet life of profound study.

The first two characters mean tranquility. The last two characters mean "go far" which suggests achieving much in your life or expanding beyond normal limits. The direct translation would read something like, "[With] tranquility [in your life, you'll] go far."

Compare this to the English idiom: Still waters run deep.

The incompetent boat pilot
blames the river for his shortcomings

China bù huì chēng chuán lài hé wān
The incompetent boat pilot / blames the river for his shortcomings

This literally translates as: [One who] cannot steer the boat blames the bends in the river.

Figuratively, this means: One who is incompetent always tries to shift the blame elsewhere.
This is similar to the English idiom, "a poor workman/craftsman blames his tools."

Walking 100 Miles:
Stopping at 90 miles, is the same as stopping half-way.

China xíng bǎi lǐ zhě bàn jiǔ shí
Walking 100 Miles: / Stopping at 90 miles, is the same as stopping half-way.

This old Chinese proverb speaks to the act of giving up. This phrase suggests that no matter how close you are to finishing your task or journey, giving up just before you finish, is just as bad as giving up halfway.

50% finished or 90% finished, the result is the same: "You are not finished."

You can take what you want from this proverb but I think it suggests that you should finish what you start, and especially finish that last 10% of your journey or project so that you can honestly say "it's finished."

Some notes: The character, 里, that I am translating as "mile" is really an ancient "Chinese mile" which is actually about half a kilometer - it just doesn't sound right to say "When walking 100 half-kilometers..."

Confucius: Golden Rule / Ethic of Reciprocity

Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself
China jǐ suǒ bú yù wù shī yú rén
Confucius: Golden Rule / Ethic of Reciprocity

Some may think of this as a "Christian trait" but actually it transcends many religions.

This Chinese teaching dates back to about 2,500 years ago in China. Confucius had always taught the belief in being benevolent (ren) but this idea was hard to grasp for some of his students, as benevolence could be kind-heartedness, or an essence of humanity itself.

When answering Zhong Gong's question as to what "ren" actually meant, Confucius said:

"When you go out, you should behave as if you were in the presence of a distinguished guest, when people do favors for you, act as if a great sacrifice was made for you. Whatever you wouldn't like done to you, do not do that thing to others. Don't complain at work or at home."

Hearing this, Zhong Gong said humbly, "Although I am not clever, I will do what you say."

From this encounter, the Chinese version of the "Golden Rule" or "Ethic of Reciprocity" came to be.
The characters you see above express, "Do not do to others whatever you do not want done to yourself."


See Also:  Confucius Teachings | Benevolence

Brief and to the Point

Speak simply, while expressing your idea completely
China yán jiǎn yì gāi
Brief and to the Point

This Chinese proverb is a suggestion that is it better to be brief, use fewer words, while still expressing your main point or idea. In another way to explain this, one should not use 100 words when 50 will do, Or, being more concise with your speech.

This can also be translated as concise, compendious, "brief in form but comprehensive in scope" or succinct.

言簡意賅 is a bit more positive than our other proverb for brevity.

A sly rabbit has three openings to its den

-or- The crafty rabbit has three different entrances to its lair
China jiǎo tù sān kū
A sly rabbit has three openings to its den

This speaks to the cunning character of a sly rabbit. Such a rabbit will not have just one hole but rather a few entrances and exits from his liar.

About 2,250 years ago a very rich man told his assistant to go and buy something wonderful that he did not yet posses. He was a man that already had everything, so the assistant went to a local village that owed a great deal of money to the rich man. The assistant told the village elders that all debts were forgiven. All the villagers rejoiced and praised the rich man's name. The assistant returned to the rich man and told him he had purchased "benevolence" for him. The rich man was mildly amused but perhaps a bit confused by the action.

Some time later, the rich man fell from the favor of the Emperor, and was wiped out without a penny to his name. One day he was walking aimlessly and stumbled into the village in which the debts had been forgiven. The villagers recognized the man and welcomed him with open arms, clothed, fed, and gave him a place to live.

Without trying, the man had become like the sly and cunning rabbit. When his exit was blocked, he had another hole to emerge from - and was reborn. This story and idiom comes from a book titled "The Amendment" - it's unclear whether this man actually existed or not. But the book did propel this idiom into common use in China.

Still today this idiom about the rabbit is used in China when suggesting "backup plans" alternate methods, and anyone with a good escape plan.

Unselfish: Perfectly Impartial

China dà gōng wú sī
Unselfish: Perfectly Impartial

This Chinese proverb comes from an old story from some time before 476 BC. About a man named Qi Huangyang, who was commissioned by the king to select the best person for a certain job in the Imperial Court.

Qi Huangyang selected his enemy for the job. The king was very confused by the selection but Qi Huangyang explained that he was asked to find the best person for the job, not necessarily someone that he personally liked or had a friendship with.

Later, Confucius commented on how unselfish and impartial Qi Huangyang was by saying "Da Gong Wu Si" which if you look it up in a Chinese dictionary, is generally translated as "Unselfish" or "Just and Fair."

If you translate each character, you'd have something like,

"Big/Deep Justice Without Self."

Direct translations like this leave out a lot of what the Chinese characters really say. Use your imagination, and suddenly you realize that "without self" means "without thinking about yourself in the decision" - together, these two words mean "unselfish." The first two characters serve to really drive the point home that we are talking about a concept that is similar to "blind justice."

One of my Chinese-English dictionaries translates this simply as "just and fair." So that is the short and simple version.

Note: This can be pronounced in Korean but it's not a commonly used term.


See Also:  Selflessness | Work Unselfishly for the Common Good | Altruism

Drinking the water of a well,
one should never forget who dug it

China chī shuǐ bú wàng jué jǐng rén
Drinking the water of a well, / one should never forget who dug it

This proverb suggests that one should always be grateful to those who helped you succeed.

And remember your ancestors and those that came before you whose sacrifices made your present life better.

Some Chinese will separate the intended meaning from this proverb and translate this as "Don't forget the people who once helped you." In Modern China, this idiom is virtually never used to refer to an actual well.

Note: This can be pronounced in Korean but it's not a commonly used phrase.

Bounce Back
Stage a Comeback

China dōng shān zài qǐ
Bounce Back / Stage a Comeback

This Chinese proverb means, "make a comeback," or "resuming after a failure." It's sometimes used in terms of losing a job and then getting it back. However, it applies to any kind of comeback after difficulty.

The literal meaning of this Chinese idiom is, "[The] Eastern Mountain Again [will] Rise."

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

China wò hǔ cáng lóng
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

臥虎藏龍 is the movie title of the Kung Fu epic that was very popular in the west a few years back.

臥虎藏龍 is actually a re-ordering of an ancient Chinese proverb that refers to undiscovered talents.

The movie was one of the most popular Chinese foreign films to ever debut in the USA but received a lukewarm reception in China.

Note: This can be pronounced in Korean but it's not a commonly used term.

Death Before Surrender

China nìng sǐ bù xiáng
Death Before Surrender

This ancient Chinese proverb can be translated as "Rather to die than surrender," "Prefer death over surrender," "To prefer death to surrender," or simply "No surrender."

寧死不降 is probably the closest proverb to the English proverb "Better to die on your feet than live on your knees."

Great Aspirations / Ambition

China hóng hú zhī zhì
Great Aspirations / Ambition

This Chinese proverb implies that having great ambitions also means that others will not understand your great expectations and ideas.

Though the actual words come from a longer saying of Confucius which goes, "The little swallows living under the eaves wouldn't understand the lofty ambitions of a swan (who flies far and wide)."

This Confucius quote has led to this idiomatic expression in China that means "think big." What you'd really be saying is "The lofty ambitions of a swan."

Note that Chinese people sometimes refer to the little swallow, as one who does not "think big" but is, instead, stuck in a rut, or just leading a mundane life. Therefore, it's a compliment to be called a swan but not a good thing to be called a swallow.

Patience Yields Peace of Mind

China néng rěn zì ān
Patience Yields Peace of Mind

This ancient Chinese proverb can be translated as, "Patience brings peace of mind," "One who has patience, finds peace," and a few other ways.

The Weak are Meat, The Strong Eat.

Meaning: Survival of the fittest
China ruò ròu qiáng shí
Japan jaku niku kyoo shoku
The Weak are Meat, The Strong Eat.

This Japanese and Chinese proverb literally means, "The weak are meat; the strong eat" or "The weak are prey to the strong."

The closest English version is, "Survival of the fittest." It also fits with the ideas of, "predatory behavior," or "The law of the jungle."

Work Unselfishly for the Common Good

China kè jǐ fèng gōng
Work Unselfishly for the Common Good

This can also mean: "Place Strict Standards on Oneself in Public Service."
This Chinese proverb is often used to express how one should act as a government official. Most of us wish our public officials would hold themselves to higher standards. I wish I could send this scroll, along with the meaning to every member of Congress, and the President (or if I was from the UK, all the members of Parliament, and the PM)

The story behind this ancient Chinese idiom:
A man named Cai Zun was born in China a little over 2000 years ago. In 24 AD, he joined an uprising led by Liu Xiu who later became the emperor of the Eastern Han Dynasty.

Later, the new emperor put Cai Zun in charge of the military court. Cai Zun exercised his power in strict accordance with military law, regardless of the offender's rank or background. He even ordered the execution of one of the emperor's close servants after the servant committed a serious crime.

Cai Zun led a simple life but put great demands on himself to do all things in an honorable way. The emperor rewarded him for his honest character and honorable nature by promoting him to the rank of General and granting him the title of Marquis.

Whenever Cai Zun would receive an award, he would give credit to his men and share the reward with them.
Cai Zun was always praised by historians who found many examples of his selfless acts that served the public interest.
Sometime, long ago in history, people began to refer to Cai Zun as "ke ji feng gong."


See Also:  Unselfish | Selflessness | Altruism

No one knows a son better than the father

China zhī zǐ mò ruò fù
No one knows a son better than the father

This can be translated as "No one knows a son better than his father."

This idiom is based on the idea that after spending many years together, family members know everything about each other. Better than anyone else, a father knows the qualities and shortcomings of his son.

If you are looking for something about "father and son," this is probably the best selection.

知子莫若父 is the original proverb (very old) but others have been composed about various combinations of mothers, sons, daughters, and fathers.

One Justice Can Overpower 100 Evils

China yī zhèng yā bǎi xié
One Justice Can Overpower 100 Evils

This ancient "One Justice Can Overpower a Hundred Evils" idiom and proverb is famous in China. But it has been around so long that its origins have long been forgotten.

It could be something that Confucius or one of his disciples said but no one can say for sure.

Search for Chengyu in my Japanese & Chinese Dictionary


The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Great Ambitions乘風破浪
乘风破浪
chéng fēng pò làng
cheng2 feng1 po4 lang4
cheng feng po lang
chengfengpolang
ch`eng feng p`o lang
chengfengpolang
cheng feng po lang
Better Late Than Never亡羊補牢猶未為晚
亡羊补牢犹未为晚
wáng yáng bǔ láo yóu wèi wéi wǎn
wang2 yang2 bu3 lao2 you2 wei4 wei2 wan3
wang yang bu lao you wei wei wan
wang yang pu lao yu wei wei wan
wangyangpulaoyuweiweiwan
How can you catch tiger cubs
without entering the lair of the tiger?
不入虎穴焉得虎子bú rù hǔ xué yān dé hǔ zǐ
bu2 ru4 hu3 xue2 yan1 de2 hu3 zi3
bu ru hu xue yan de hu zi
buruhuxueyandehuzi
pu ju hu hsüeh yen te hu tzu
pujuhuhsüehyentehutzu
Death Before Dishonor寧為玉碎
宁为玉碎
níng wéi yù suì
ning2 wei2 yu4 sui4
ning wei yu sui
ningweiyusui
ning wei yü sui
ningweiyüsui
Mark the boat to find the lost sword
Ignoring the changing circumstances of the world
刻舟求劍
刻舟求剑
kokushuukyuuken
kokushukyuken
kè zhōu qiú jiàn
ke4 zhou1 qiu2 jian4
ke zhou qiu jian
kezhouqiujian
k`o chou ch`iu chien
kochouchiuchien
ko chou chiu chien
Drain the pond to get all the fish竭澤而漁
竭泽而渔
jié zé ér yú
jie2 ze2 er2 yu2
jie ze er yu
jiezeeryu
chieh tse erh yü
chiehtseerhyü
Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger藏龍臥虎
藏龙卧虎
cáng lóng wò hǔ
cang2 long2 wo4 hu3
cang long wo hu
canglongwohu
ts`ang lung wo hu
tsanglungwohu
tsang lung wo hu
Home is where the heart is家由心生jiā yóu xīn shēng
jia1 you2 xin1 sheng1
jia you xin sheng
jiayouxinsheng
chia yu hsin sheng
chiayuhsinsheng
The Whole Room Rocks With Laughter哄堂大笑hōng tāng dà xiào
hong1 tang1 da4 xiao4
hong tang da xiao
hongtangdaxiao
hung t`ang ta hsiao
hungtangtahsiao
hung tang ta hsiao
Love and Respect相敬相愛
相亲相爱
xiāng jìng xiāng ài
xiang1 jing4 xiang1 ai4
xiang jing xiang ai
xiangjingxiangai
hsiang ching hsiang ai
hsiangchinghsiangai
Realize Your Ambitions
Ride on the Crest of Success
大展宏圖
大展宏图
dà jiǎn hóng tú
da4 jian3 hong2 tu2
da jian hong tu
dajianhongtu
ta chien hung t`u
tachienhungtu
ta chien hung tu
Push or Knock反復推敲
反复推敲
fǎn fù tuī qiāo
fan3 fu4 tui1 qiao1
fan fu tui qiao
fanfutuiqiao
fan fu t`ui ch`iao
fanfutuichiao
fan fu tui chiao
Tiger Rumor三人成虎sān rén chéng hǔ
san1 ren2 cheng2 hu3
san ren cheng hu
sanrenchenghu
san jen ch`eng hu
sanjenchenghu
san jen cheng hu
Tranquility Yields Transcendence寧靜致遠
宁静致远
níng jìng zhì yuǎn
ning2 jing4 zhi4 yuan3
ning jing zhi yuan
ningjingzhiyuan
ning ching chih yüan
ningchingchihyüan
The incompetent boat pilot
blames the river for his shortcomings
不會撐船賴河灣
不会撑船赖河湾
bù huì chēng chuán lài hé wān
bu4 hui4 cheng1 chuan2 lai4 he2 wan1
bu hui cheng chuan lai he wan
buhuichengchuanlaihewan
pu hui ch`eng ch`uan lai ho wan
puhuichengchuanlaihowan
pu hui cheng chuan lai ho wan
Walking 100 Miles: Stopping at 90 miles, is the same as stopping half-way.行百里者半九十xíng bǎi lǐ zhě bàn jiǔ shí
xing2 bai3 li3 zhe3 ban4 jiu3 shi2
xing bai li zhe ban jiu shi
xingbailizhebanjiushi
hsing pai li che pan chiu shih
hsingpailichepanchiushih
Confucius: Golden Rule
Ethic of Reciprocity
己所不欲勿施於人
己所不欲勿施于人
jǐ suǒ bú yù wù shī yú rén
ji3 suo3 bu2 yu4, wu4 shi1 yu2 ren2
ji suo bu yu, wu shi yu ren
jisuobuyu,wushiyuren
chi so pu yü, wu shih yü jen
chisopuyü,wushihyüjen
Brief and to the Point言簡意賅
言简意赅
yán jiǎn yì gāi
yan2 jian3 yi4 gai1
yan jian yi gai
yanjianyigai
yen chien i kai
yenchienikai
A sly rabbit has three openings to its den狡兔三窟jiǎo tù sān kū
jiao3 tu4 san1 ku1
jiao tu san ku
jiaotusanku
chiao t`u san k`u
chiaotusanku
chiao tu san ku
Unselfish: Perfectly Impartial大公無私
大公无私
dà gōng wú sī
da4 gong1 wu2 si1
da gong wu si
dagongwusi
ta kung wu ssu
takungwussu
Drinking the water of a well, one should never forget who dug it吃水不忘掘井人chī shuǐ bú wàng jué jǐng rén
chi1 shui3 bu2 wang4 jue2 jing3 ren2
chi shui bu wang jue jing ren
chishuibuwangjuejingren
ch`ih shui pu wang chüeh ching jen
chih shui pu wang chüeh ching jen
Bounce Back
Stage a Comeback
東山再起
东山再起
dōng shān zài qǐ
dong1 shan1 zai4 qi3
dong shan zai qi
dongshanzaiqi
tung shan tsai ch`i
tungshantsaichi
tung shan tsai chi
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon臥虎藏龍
卧虎藏龙
wò hǔ cáng lóng
wo4 hu3 cang2 long2
wo hu cang long
wohucanglong
wo hu ts`ang lung
wohutsanglung
wo hu tsang lung
Death Before Surrender寧死不降
宁死不降
nìng sǐ bù xiáng
ning4 si3 bu4 xiang2
ning si bu xiang
ningsibuxiang
ning ssu pu hsiang
ningssupuhsiang
Great Aspirations
Ambition
鴻鵠之誌
鸿鹄之志
hóng hú zhī zhì
hong2 hu2 zhi1 zhi4
hong hu zhi zhi
honghuzhizhi
hung hu chih chih
hunghuchihchih
Patience Yields Peace of Mind能忍自安néng rěn zì ān
neng2 ren3 zi4 an1
neng ren zi an
nengrenzian
neng jen tzu an
nengjentzuan
The Weak are Meat, The Strong Eat.弱肉強食jaku niku kyoo shoku
jakunikukyooshoku
jaku niku kyo shoku
jakunikukyoshoku
ruò ròu qiáng shí
ruo4 rou4 qiang2 shi2
ruo rou qiang shi
ruorouqiangshi
jo jou ch`iang shih
jojouchiangshih
jo jou chiang shih
Work Unselfishly for the Common Good克己奉公kè jǐ fèng gōng
ke4 ji3 feng4 gong1
ke ji feng gong
kejifenggong
k`o chi feng kung
kochifengkung
ko chi feng kung
No one knows a son better than the father知子莫若父zhī zǐ mò ruò fù
zhi1 zi3 mo4 ruo4 fu4
zhi zi mo ruo fu
zhizimoruofu
chih tzu mo jo fu
chihtzumojofu
One Justice Can Overpower 100 Evils一正壓百邪
一正压百邪
yī zhèng yā bǎi xié
yi1 zheng4 ya1 bai3 xie2
yi zheng ya bai xie
yizhengyabaixie
i cheng ya pai hsieh
ichengyapaihsieh
In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.



Successful Chinese Character and Japanese Kanji calligraphy searches within the last few hours...

Achieve Inner Peace
Aikido
Angel
Black
Blessing
Brave Heart
Brotherly and Sisterly Love
Chaos
Christian
Confidence
Destiny
Devil
Divine
Dream
Endurance
Energy
Enso
Family Over Everything
Father
Feng Shui
Fire
Fire Dragon
Forever
Forever Family
Forgive and Forget
God Bless You
God is Always With You
Gold
Gratitude
Hanawa
Hapkido
Happy Birthday
Happy Life
Heart Sutra
Heaven
Hello
Holy Spirit
Home is Where the Heart Is
House of Good Fortune
Indomitable
Inner Peace and Serenity
Islam
Jeet Kune Do
Kingdom of Heaven
Libra
Lightning
Live Laugh Love
Love
Love and Affection
Love and Peace
Metal
Mixed Martial Arts
Muhammad
Mushin
Music
Never Give Up
New Beginning New Life
Noble
Once in a Lifetime
Pain
Peace and Good Health
Peace and Happiness
Phoenix
Phoenix Rise from the Ashes
Power
Protect
Pure
Sacrifice
Samurai
Saudi
Self-Discipline
Silence
Sing
Snake
Strength
Strength Ability
Strong Woman
Tai Chi
Tao Te Ching
The Dao of Filial Piety
Tiger Spirit
Together
Trust
Trust No Man
Wealth

All of our calligraphy wall scrolls are handmade.

When the calligrapher finishes creating your artwork, it is taken to my art mounting workshop in Beijing where a wall scroll is made by hand from a combination of silk, rice paper, and wood.
After we create your wall scroll, it takes at least two weeks for air mail delivery from Beijing to you.

Allow a few weeks for delivery. Rush service speeds it up by a week or two for $10!

When you select your calligraphy, you'll be taken to another page where you can choose various custom options.


A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

The wall scroll that Sandy is holding in this picture is a "large size"
single-character wall scroll.
We also offer custom wall scrolls in small, medium, and an even-larger jumbo size.

A professional Chinese Calligrapher

Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.

There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.

A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.


Check out my lists of Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls and Old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.

Some people may refer to this entry as Chengyu Kanji, Chengyu Characters, Chengyu in Mandarin Chinese, Chengyu Characters, Chengyu in Chinese Writing, Chengyu in Japanese Writing, Chengyu in Asian Writing, Chengyu Ideograms, Chinese Chengyu symbols, Chengyu Hieroglyphics, Chengyu Glyphs, Chengyu in Chinese Letters, Chengyu Hanzi, Chengyu in Japanese Kanji, Chengyu Pictograms, Chengyu in the Chinese Written-Language, or Chengyu in the Japanese Written-Language.