> Features > CHINESE PROVERBS

Mei

| 2017-11-27 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

不经一番寒彻骨,哪有梅花扑鼻香
bu jing yi fan han che gu, na you meihua pu bi xiang
Meihua means plum blossoms while hua means flowers. This proverb, taken literally, means that without the piercing chilliness of the snowfall, from whence comes the fragrant whiff of the plum blossoms? It is usually used to mean “no pain, no gain” and the soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tear.


 

梅妻鹤子
mei qi he zi
Qi” means wife; “he” means cranes and “zi” means children.


This proverb, taken literally, means taking plum blossom trees as one’s wife and cranes as children.
This proverb originates from the story of Lin Bu (967-1028), a hermit poet in the Northern Song Dynasty. Lin Bu refused to serve as a government official and lived a reclusive life in Gushan Island in Hangzhou’s West Lake. “What I desire is neither a family life nor fortune. I just feel that I am quite myself when I stay among the green hills and clean water,” he said. Lin remained unmarried and had no children throughout his life. He planted a large number of plum blossom trees and domesticated many cranes. He called the trees his wife and the cranes his children.


This story is quoted to describe a hermit life as well as upholding virtue in difficult circumstances.  


   

 

寄梅
ji mei
Ji, to mail and to place feelings on; mei, plum blossoms. This saying, taken literally, means posting plum blossoms by mail, as they are considered messengers of spring.


According to the Taiping Imperial Encyclopedia in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Lu Kai and Fan Ye in the Southern Dynasty (420-589) were good friends. Lu Kai was at the southern area of the Yangtze River. He posted a plum blossom twig to Fan at Chang’an with a poem which reads: “Encountering the mounted courier when I plucked mei, I posted these flowers to my friend at Longtou. With nothing better in the southern areas of Yangtze River, I send you a twig of spring.”


Posting mei to friends in Chinese culture shows one’s greetings and that one is missing a friend.