Dunhuang sayings

| 2016-10-11 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

God helps those who help themselves.
The phrase has the same connotations in Chinese as it does in English, and is used to encourage people not to give up.


Just under one’s mouth lies the way.
This phrase is used to encourage people to ask for directions.


The tiger and the leopard are perpetually anxious lest they encounter the xiezhi; the dragon is extremely afraid of the centipede.
The Xiezhi is a legendary beast in ancient China, which is said to be able to tell right from wrong. The proverb is used to mean that there is always one thing that can overcome another. The English counterpart is “Every bully has his master.”


A tiger, though thin, still has aspirations; a man, though poor, has long-standing willpower.
The proverb is used metaphorically to mean that a person, whether old or in distress, may still have ambitions.


A yellow crane flies a thousand li at one stretch, because it is supplied with those qualities which make it fit for flying.
The yellow crane or huanghu in Chinese refers to a kind of bird, but here it means “people of great talent.” Li is a Chinese unit of length, which equals to 0.5 kilometers. The proverb is used to mean that great achievements require sufficient preparation.


Stone can be broken; however, it will not lose its rigidity. Vermilion can be granulated; however, it will still be red.
This is used metaphorically to mean that a person of ideals and integrity would rather die than submit or be humiliated.