Historic Chinese Legends, Tales and Idioms
Beginner - Intermediate
54 Videos

There are dozens of ethnic minority groups in China have their own folklore: much of which contains valuable historical and cultural information as well as many unique myths.

Showing 54 of 54 videos
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4:32
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Cao Chong Weighs the Elephant

This story is about Han Prime Minister Cao Cao's six-year-old son, Cao Chong (196 to 208 B.C.). The theory this little boy used to weigh an elephant is similar to Archimedes' Principle (287 to 212 B.C.), which is that the weight of an object submerged in fluid is equal to the weight of the displaced fluid.

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3:05
difficulty - Beginner Beginner
China

Kong Rong Giving Up Pears

This well-known story commonly used to educate children on the values of courtesy and fraternal love involves four-year-old Kong Rong giving up some larger pears to his older and younger brothers. Still employed in current times, this text has been used for elementary education since the Song Dynasty.

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3:10
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Sai Weng Shi Ma – A Blessing in Disguise

This idiom indicates that something seemingly bad may turn out to have been a good thing in the end, a blessing in disguise. The story in the video explains it quite well. And, while the idiom can also have the opposite meaning (a good thing becoming something bad), the former is more frequently used.

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2:37
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Dui Niu Tan Qin - Playing the Zither for a Cow

There are many different Chinese idioms out there that people use today in modern Chinese. "Dui Niu Tan Qin" literally means, "Playing the Zither for a Cow." It means that some people will just never understand or appreciate certain things.

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2:23
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China
Viewer Discretion Advised

Weddings and Honeymoons Part 1

This tells the story of how the ancestor of the Han Chinese, the Yellow Emperor, established the custom of marriage and honeymoons in China thousands of years ago, uniting tribes and bringing communal marriage to an end. Part 1 of 5.

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2:03
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Weddings and Honeymoons Part 2

This tells the story of how the ancestor of the Han Chinese, the Yellow Emperor, established the custom of marriage and honeymoons in China thousands of years ago, thus bringing communal marriage to an end. Part 2 of 5.

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1:28
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Weddings and Honeymoons Part 3

This tells the story of how the ancestor of the Han Chinese, the Yellow Emperor, established the custom of marriage and honeymoons in China thousands of years ago, thus bringing communal marriage to an end. However, it was initially met with resistance. Part 3 of 5.

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1:13
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Weddings and Honeymoons Part 4

This tells the story of how the Yellow Emperor's idea to end communal marriage was initially met with resistance and how one couple decided to flee instead of live a life of monogamy. However, after becoming lost in a huge forest, they found they had to rely on each other to survive. Part 4 of 5.

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1:51
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Weddings and Honeymoons Part 5

This tells the story of how a young couple struggled to survive in the forest after fleeing a life of monogamy. However, after discovering honey and relying on each other for survival, they soon understood what true love was and lived a happy life together. It is said to be part of the history of Chinese wedding and honeymoon customs. Part 5 of 5.

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2:13
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Lang Tun Hu Yan

This video concerns one of the stories from the very famous Chinese novel, "Journey to the West." It informs us from where the idiom, "to wolf down your food," originates.

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2:45
difficulty - Beginner Beginner
China

San Xin Er Yi

The Chinese idiom, "San Xin Er Yi," literally means, "Three hearts, two thoughts." It can be used to describe someone who splits his energy between many things instead of focusing on one task at a time. The simple vocabulary in this video gives an example of "San Xin Er Yi."

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3:19
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Chu Er Fan Er

This Chinese legend sheds light on the origin of the famous saying, "How you treat others is how you will be treated." It involves the famous and influential Chinese philosopher, Mencius, giving sage advice to a king during the Warring States period.

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1:51
difficulty - Beginner Beginner
China

Sha Ji Jing Hou

This idiom is used as a metaphor for the punishment of a person to alert others to correct their behavior.

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2:06
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Yi Jian Shuang Diao

Learn the story behind the saying, "To kill two birds with one stone."

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1:30
difficulty - Beginner Beginner
China

Hun Shui Mo Yu

Hear the story from which the saying, "Hun Shui Mo Yu" came about. It means to take advantage of a chaotic time or deliberately create confusion to obtain benefits.

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1:38
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Bo Le Shi Ma

Learn the story of Bole and the idiom derived from his tale.

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1:37
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Hua Bin Chong Ji

Find out how a passage from Cao Pi inspired the saying "to draw cakes to allay hunger" (To comfort oneself with illusions).

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1:50
difficulty - Beginner Beginner
China

Ban Tu Er Fei

This Chinese idiom advises people not to give up halfway through or leave something unfinished.

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3:07
difficulty - Beginner Beginner
China

Shou Zhu Dai Tu

"Shou Zhu Dai Tu" means, "Sitting by a stump, waiting for a careless rabbit to hit the stump." Originally, it referred to the routineer in an ironic way. Later, the metaphor came to mean one does not take the initiative to work hard and wants to get a windfall.

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2:23
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Bu Dong Zhuang Dong Part 1

The idiom "bu dong zhuang dong" is used to describe someone who pretends to know about something, but is, in fact, clueless. In this video, a man often "bu dong zhuang dong" in order to look smart. Unfortunately, he only adds to his embarrassment when he is found out.

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2:12
difficulty - Beginner Beginner
China

Bu Dong Zhuang Dong Part 2

Do you know whether ginger grows on the ground or in a tree? Unfortunately for the man in this video, neither does he.

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1:38
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Ban Men Nong Fu

This idiom literally means "to wield an axe in front of Lu Ban" and mocks someone who makes a fool of himself by showing off in front of an expert. It was coined by a Ming Dynasty scholar.

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2:03
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Bai Fa Bai Zhong

The idiom of "Bai Fa Bai Zhong" comes from a legend about an amazing archer in ancient China. See what he did to earn his place in the Chinese lexicon.

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2:08
difficulty - Beginner Beginner
China

Bi Shang Bu Zu, Bi Xia You Yu

This story brings alive the Chinese idiom about contentment. It depicts how a small little bird that is not strikingly beautiful stays happy every day.

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1:31
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Ba Xian Guo Hai, Gu Xian Shen Tong Part 1

The first part of the story about China's Eight Taoist Immortals.

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2:33
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Ba Xian Guo Hai, Gu Xian Shen Tong Part 2

The second part of the story about China’s Eight Taoist Immortals.

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1:23
difficulty - Beginner Beginner
China

Ai Wu Ji Wu

This video explains the origin of the Chinese proverb "Ai Wu Ji Wu."

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2:05
difficulty - Adv-Intermediate Adv-Intermediate
China

An Du Chen Cang Part 1

The story behind this idiom about deception comes from one of the most famous and fabled chapters in Chinese history, the much-dramatized rivalry between Xiang Yu and Liu Bang. After both generals helped to bring down the Qin Dynasty, Xiang Yu divided China into 18 kingdoms, taking vast, fertile territory for himself and giving Liu Bang remote, mountainous land.

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3:21
difficulty - Beginner Beginner
China

An Du Chen Cang Part 2

The story continues with Liu Bang plotting to seize the strategically-important Guanzhong area with a clever tactic of deception dubbed "To Secretly Cross at Chencang." After defeating Xiang Yu, Liu Bang went on to found the Han Dynasty.

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2:04
difficulty - Beginner Beginner
China

Yu Bang Zhi Zhen

Learn the story behind the idiom, "A third party benefits from a tussle."

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2:58
difficulty - Beginner Beginner
China

An Wu Tian Ri

A grizzly tale of a mysterious series of murders in Qing-era Guangdong gives us a saying which means "an absence of justice." This video explains the origins of the phrase and breaks down its meaning character by character.

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1:50
difficulty - Beginner Beginner
China

E Yu Feng Cheng

This Eastern Han-era story of a principled man who turned down a duke's invitation is the origin of an expression which means "to flatter and suck up to."

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2:13
difficulty - Beginner Beginner
China

Gui Tu Sai Pao

Never look down on someone who is not as good as you in some areas. Here's why.

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3:09
difficulty - Beginner Beginner
China

Weng Zhong Zhuo Bie

Learn how the story of two impostors inspired the idiom, "To catch a turtle in a jar" (To go after easy prey).

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1:17
difficulty - Beginner Beginner
China

Yin Lang Ru Shi

Learn how a trusting shepherd inspired the idiom, "To usher the wolf into the house" (To ask for trouble).

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2:18
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Cheng Ren Zhi Mei Part 1

The idiom, "Cheng ren zhi mei," is explained through a story. It essentially means that we should help others succeed rather than pointing out their faults.

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2:26
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Cheng Ren Zhi Mei Part 2

The antagonist of the story, Wan Renxian, still hasn't learned to "Cheng ren zhi mei," laughing at his neighbor when he injures himself. However, when he is given another golden opportunity to do a good deed, the question becomes, will he finally take it?

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2:22
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Cheng Ren Zhi Mei Part 3

When Wan Renxian comes through at a time when he is most needed, his neighbors' reaction to his kindness isn't quite what he expects. Like "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," no one is willing to believe that this time, he is really telling the truth.

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0:58
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Cheng Ren Zhi Mei Part 4

Having discovered Wan Renxian's act of kindness, his neighbors apologize and thank him. Just as with the old fortune teller, Wan Renxian should be given a chance to right his wrongs. Such is the meaning of “Cheng ren zhi mei.”

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2:35
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Quan Ren Wei Shan Part 1

Learn the story behind the idiom, "To exhort people to do good."

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1:56
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Quan Ren Wei Shan Part 2

Learn the story behind the idiom, “To exhort people to do good.”

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2:16
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Quan Ren Wei Shan Part 3

Learn the story behind the idiom, “To exhort people to do good.”

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1:06
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Quan Ren Wei Shan Part 4

Learn the story behind the idiom, “To exhort people to do good.”

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2:38
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Yu Ren Wei Shan Part 1

A tale which demonstrates the importance of not judging others’ strengths and weaknesses in accordance with our own and doing unto others as we would have done unto ourselves. Part 1.

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2:10
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Yu Ren Wei Shan Part 2

A tale which demonstrates the importance of not judging others’ strengths and weaknesses in accordance with our own and doing unto others as we would have done unto ourselves. Part 2.

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4:28
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Yu Ren Wei Shan Part 3

A tale which demonstrates the importance of not judging others’ strengths and weaknesses in accordance with our own and doing unto others as we would have done unto ourselves. Part 3.

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2:15
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Shan Zhi Pian Zheng Part 1

Confucius explains to his disciples what is good and what is evil, but there are also right and wrong ways to be good. How can good be right or wrong?

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2:36
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Shan Zhi Pian Zheng Part 2

A year has gone by and the scoundrel is still up to no good. However, when his evil deeds finally culminate in his capture, the Prime Minister does not rejoice in this news.

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1:13
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Shan Zhi Pian Zheng Part 3

Confucious teaches his disciples that just as benevolence can bring about evil deeds, so can malevolence lead to good ones.

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2:16
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Shan Zhi Pian Zheng Part 4

Confucious explains to his students that there is wrong in right, but also right in wrong and that they must understand this in order to understand good and evil.

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2:21
difficulty - Intermediate Intermediate
China

Be Honest and Trustworthy

An interesting and didactic story about a young man who tries to make money dishonestly and learns his lesson.

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1:32
difficulty - Adv-Intermediate Adv-Intermediate
China

The Origin of the Word "Tui Qiao" Part 1

Where does the term "Tui Qiao" (literally to "Push and knock") come from?

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1:38
difficulty - Adv-Intermediate Adv-Intermediate
China

The Origin of the Word "Tui Qiao" Part 2

By chance, Jia Dao meets a scholar who convinces him to aspire to a bureaucratic position.

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1:45
difficulty - Adv-Intermediate Adv-Intermediate
China

The Origin of the Word "Tui Qiao" Part 3

Jia Dao's tragic life was revered after his death.

Showing 54 of 54 videos
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