The donkey in ancient Guizhou has exhausted its tricks

The donkey in ancient Guizhou has exhausted its tricks

Once upon a time, Qian (now Guizhou province, China) had no donkeys. One day, a man full of fancy ideas shipped a donkey to the region. But he soon discovered the donkey was no use, so he took it to a mountain and left it there.

A tiger saw the donkey and thought it was a mysterious beast. He hid himself carefully in the woods, and dared only to watch the donkey from a distance. One day, the donkey brayed. The tiger thought the donkey was going to bite him. But the donkey did nothing more.The tiger soon got used to the noise, and moved closer. At last, he decided to provoke the strange beast. The donkey couldn’t put up with this, and gave the tiger a kick. But the kick didn’t hurt very much. The tiger knew this donkey was weak. He sprang on the donkey and made a good meal of the donkey.

Later, people use it to describe someone who is at his wit’s end.

To quench one’s thirst by looking up at plums

Among the outstanding figures of Chinese history, famous either for their intelligence or treachery, Cao Cao is one of the foremost.

One hot day, he marched out his troops under a burning sun in a mountainous area. Bewilderingly he lost the way. The journey was long and the sun was scorching. After their fruitless and tiresome march, one and all voiced their great dissatisfaction with the leadership of Cao Cao. They bitterly complained of their great thirst. The antagonism of the soldiers was growing fast and they were on the verge of staging a mutiny. The subordinate officers were helpless to cope with the situation.

Cao Cao, however, in the nick of time cleverly and treacherously gave orders to his troops to march to the nearby plum trees for a rest and announced that soldiers would be allowed to eat the juicy sour fruit as much as they desired.

At the thought of the sour fruit the soldiers’ complaint of great thirst as well as the antagonistic feeling were quickly forgotten.

This story is where the proverb “to quench one’s thirst by looking up at plums” based on.

Aping a Beauty

Xi Shi, one of “Four Beauties” in the history, had a pain in her bosom, so she had a frown on her face when she went out. Dong shi is an ugly girl who lived nearby, she saw Xi Shi frowning and thought she looked very beautiful. Therefore, when she went home, she also put her hands on her bosom and had a frown on her face.

When a rich man in the neighborhood saw her, he shut his doors tightly and did not go out. When a poor man saw her, he took his wife and children and gave her a wide berth. She only knew Xi Shi’s frown looked beautiful, but she did not know the reason for its beauty.

Three at Dawn and Four at Dusk

In the state of Song there was a man who kept monkeys. He was very fond of monkeys and kept a large number of them. He could understand the monkeys and they could also understand him. He reduced the amount of food for his own family in order to satisfy the monkey’s demands.
After a while his family did not have enough to eat, so he wanted to limit the food for the monkeys. But he was afraid that the monkeys would not submit to him.

Before doing that he first played a trick on them, “If I give you three chestnuts in the morning and four in the evening, would that be enough?” he asked the monkeys.

All the monkeys rose up in a fury. After a short time he said, “If I give you four chestnuts in the morning and three in the evening, would that be enough?” All the monkeys lay on the floor, very happy with this proposal.

Adding pupils to a dragon or last touch added to a drawing

Once a famous artist Zhang Seng You drew four dragons on the walls of An Le Temple, Jin Ling, but he left the pupils of the dragons unfinished.

Someone asked him the reason of the omission. In answer, he said that if he put the pupils therein the dragons would become alive and fly away. The questioner did not believe it and requested him to complete the work. The artist nodded assent.

But as soon as the two dots were drawn, all of a sudden, there were thunder and lightning and the dragon became alive and instantly flew away, while the other three without pupils still remained there.

Based on this fairy tale, the last touch added to a drawing is said to be the act of adding pupils to a dragon, that is to say, the last touch in a masterpiece is the most important part of a drawing, or any other important business.

A bird startled by the mere twang of a bow-string

During the time of the Warring States (475-221 BC), there lived a well-known archer named Geng Ying whose art in shooting was excelled by none at his time.One day, as he was standing by the side of the King of Wei, a flock of swan were flying over. With confidence, Geng Ying said to the king, “The twang of my bow-string might bring down a bird.” The King doubted much.

Just then a solitary swan goose appeared, low and slow in its flight, sad and dolorous in its cry. Instantly Geng Ying bended his bow and forcibly pulled the bowstring. Twang! High up went the shrilling sound into the air and down fell the bird to the ground.

The king admired with bewilderment. Gang Ying then explained: “The bird was flying low and slowly, because it was already hurt; it was crying in a bitter tone, because it had lost its companions. Due to the fact that it was already hurt and sad at heart, the twang of my strong bow, that birds dreaded most, startled it. The shrilling sound made its heart beat fast, its wings weak, its balance uneven. Thus it fell down just as commonly as a man drops his chop-sticks, at the thunder-stroke, at a dinner table.”

Henceforth comes the idiom “A bird startled by the mere twang of a bow-string”, illustrating a case where a man who had been previously and repeatedly frightened became numb and stupefied by a new thing of the same nature not knowing how to face the new situation.