Monday, October 22, 2012

Chinese phrase of the day

"Drawing a snake with feet"
In the ancient state of Chu, there was once a government officer who wanted to treat his visitors with a bottle of wine. Since there were quite a few guests but only one bottle of wine, the officer asked the guests to draw a snake on the ground, and the first one to finish drawing would get the wine. There was this one person who finished drawing the snake faster than anyone else, but then he saw that others were still drawing, so he decided to add feet to his snake. This person then claimed the wine for finishing drawing the snake first…..until the officer intervened.  The officer said that the painting that he had drawn was not a snake as snakes do not have feet, and hence the second fastest person was awarded the bottle of wine.  Jaws dropped.  Scandal!  The phrase has since been used widely to describe those people who make things worse by being superfluous.


Anonymous Janet Williams said...

Indeed, this idiom is 画蛇添足 -- huà (draw) shé (snake) tiān (add) zú (feet).

To hear the pronunciation, please visit://畫蛇添足/


Good luck!

11:04 am  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Thank you Janet!

11:06 am  
Anonymous kinglear said...

" Less is more" HOWEVER, it depends a bit on the definition of a snake. If you define it as a LEGLESS creature then indeed the second person should have had the wine. I believe though that a broader definition which includes all reptiles could quite easily cover a snake with legs.. And are it's reticulated rings not kind of legs/feet? I don't know.....

1:07 pm  
Blogger Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Always learn something over here, WW.

2:47 pm  
Blogger Eurodog said...

Maybe this poor chap already had some wine or too much wine before the visit to the governmemtal and did see a snake with feet. Hence his drawing. Not too drunk to claim first price though!

5:48 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...


6:17 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home