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Chinese Folktale: the Golden and Silver Axes/Painting a Snake with Feet (with VCD)

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This book has two stories: the Golden and Silver Axes and Painting a Snake with Feet.

In the Golden and Silver Axes, a little boy accidentally drops his axe into a river. Because this was his only means of livelihood, he sits down and cries. Taking pity on him, a white-beared old man appears with a golden axe. "Was this what you had lost?", the old man asked, but the boy says it is not, and returns the same answer when a silver axe is brought to the surface. Only when his own tool is produced does he claim it. Impressed by his honesty, the god allows him to keep all three.

Hearing of the boy's good fortune, an envious neighbor throws his own axe into the river and wails for its return. When the god appears and offers him a golden axe, the man greedily claims it but is denied both that and the return of his own axe.

Painting a Snake with Feet literally means drawing a snake and adding feet to it. The idiom refers to spoiling things by doing something unnecessary.

In this story, after offering sacrifices to his ancestors, a man in the State of Chu granted a goblet of letf-over wine to his attendants, who, however, after talking among themselves decided that the wine would not be enough for all, though more than enough for one. And that it would be better for every one of them to draw a snake on the ground so that whosoever fineshed first might drink the wine.

Then one of them came out first and complacently took up the goblet, ready to drink. Holding it in his left hand, he said,"Oh, there's still time for me to supply the snake with feet." So saying,he used the other hand to do it, but before he could finish the feet another man completed his snake. He immediately seized the vessel and cried,"A snake is born without feet. How can you give it them?" With that, he gulped down the wine, and the one doing the feet ended up losing what should have belonged to him.

The book comes with Chinese characters and the Pinyin (phonetic transcriptions), and includes a VCD that children can enjoy watching on TV or computer. The VCD narrates most poems in this book in clear Mandarin Chinese, and is accompanied with animated cartoons. Please see Q & A about VCD for more details.

金斧头银斧头
有个贫苦的少年,打柴路过一条河,不小心把斧头掉进了河里,于是悲伤地在河边哭。一位路过的老爷爷钻进水里先后捞出一把金斧头和一把银斧头,少年摇摇头说不是我的,老爷爷最后捞出那把铁斧头,少年说:"就是这把就是这把!" 神仙说:“你很诚实,这另外两把斧头也送给你吧!”说完就不见了。于是, 少年拿着三把斧头回家去。

樵夫的邻居听到这件事,以为只要丢一把斧头到河里去,就可以带回三把斧头,于是也把斧头丢进河去,然后坐在河边大哭。神仙又出现了,邻居告诉神仙自己掉了三把斧头在河里。

神仙说:“你真的掉了三把斧头在河里吗?你太贪心了吧!”然后,“咻”地一声,神仙和那三把斧头都不见了。

画蛇添足
有一家人家祭祀祖宗。仪式完毕后,把剩下的一壶酒,赏给手下的办事人员喝。人多酒少,很难分配。这几个人就商量分酒的办法。有个人说:“一壶酒分给几个人喝,太少了。要喝就喝个痛快。给一个人喝才过瘾呢!”大家都这样想,可是谁也不肯放弃这个权利。另一个提议说:“这样吧,让我们来个画蛇比赛。每个人在地上画一条蛇,谁先画完,谁就喝这壶酒。”大伙儿都赞成这个办法。

于是每个人折了一根树枝,同时开始画起来。有一个人画得最快,转眼之间,把蛇画好了。他左手抓过酒壶,得意地看看同伴,心想,他们要赶上我还差得远哩。便洋洋自得地说:“我再给蛇添上几只脚,也能比你们先画完。”正当他画第二只脚的时候,另一个人把蛇画完了。他一把夺过酒壶说:“蛇本来是没有脚的,你画的根本就不是蛇。还是我先画完,酒应当归我喝。” 添画蛇脚的人无话可说,只好咽着唾沫,看别人喝酒。

画蛇添足,比喻做了多余的事,反而有害无益,徒劳无功。


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  • Model: ChineseCulture-9787531547037
  • Shipping Weight: 0.5lbs

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