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Authors: Adeline Yen Mah

A Thousand Pieces of Gold

BOOK: A Thousand Pieces of Gold
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A Thousand Pieces of Gold

Growing Up Through China’s Proverbs

Adeline Yen Mah

To my husband, Bob, who knows me better than I know myself
(zhi ji)
and makes everything worthwhile

My Grandfather Ye Ye told me that when he was a boy growing up in Shanghai, he saw many large red boxes placed at major street corners. Each had four gilded characters written on its surface:
jing xi zi zhi,
“respect and cherish written words.” Workmen with bamboo poles patrolled the streets picking up any stray pieces of paper with writing. The contents of these boxes were burned at regular intervals at a special shrine in the Temple of Confucius. These paper-burning ceremonies were solemn occasions resembling high mass at a Catholic cathedral, with music and incense. Candidates who had successfully passed the imperial examination were the only ones allowed to participate. They would prostrate themselves in worship and pray to Heaven until all the paper had been reduced to ashes. On their way out, they would further show their respect by placing a donation into a separate red box labeled

 

Yi Zi Qian Jing

One Written Word Is Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold

 

Ye Ye said, “Let these proverbs I’ve taught you and the stories behind these proverbs be your most precious treasure. Cherish them and carry them with you wherever you go. Always keep in mind that life is short, riches come and go, but written words are immortal.”

Contents

Chapter 1

The Loss of One Hair from Nine Oxen

Chapter 2

Precious Treasure Worth Cherishing

Chapter 3

One Written Word Is Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold

Chapter 4

Binding Your Feet to Prevent Your Own Progress

Chapter 5

Clapping with One Hand Produces No Sound

Chapter 6

When the Map Is Unrolled, the Dagger Is Revealed

Chapter 7

Burning Books and Burying Scholars

Chapter 8

Words That Would Cause a Nation to Perish

Chapter 9

Pointing to a Deer and Calling It a Horse

Chapter 10

Little Sparrow with Dreams of Swans

Chapter 11

Destroy the Cooking Cauldrons and Sink the Boats

Chapter 12

This Young Man Is Worth Educating

Chapter 13

Banquet at Wild Goose Gate

Chapter 14

Dressed in the Finest Brocades to Parade in the Dark of Night

BOOK: A Thousand Pieces of Gold
12.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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