Chinese Idiom Story – Zao Bi Tou Guang

Chinese Idiom Story - Zao Bi Tou Guang

Literally meaning “bore a hole on the wall to steal light”, the idiom 鑿壁偷光 tells a story about a kid who dug a hole on the wall to make use of the neighbor’s light to study. This idiom story is used to describe someone who studies or works very hard.

This article will have basic vocabularies about “education” and “poverty”. The unique word in this article is 卷, which is used as a measure word for 書 here. Why the 書 here is using 卷 not 本? The books on Ancient China are not book-shaped, but rather in scrolls. Therefore, the measure word 卷 is more suitable in this context.

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English translation:

In the Western Han Dynasty, there was a child named Kuang Heng. He wanted to study when he was a child, but he didn’t have the money to go to school. His family is poor, therefore cannot afford books, and has to borrow books to read.

At that time, the book was very precious. People who have books will not easily lend their books to others. But because Kuang Heng was very eager to learn, he went to work for rich people in the busy farming season. However, he said that he did not want their money, he only wanted them to lend their books for him to read.

Kuang Heng went to work from day to night, and only had time to read a book when he had an afternoon rest. Because of the small amount of time, it took him half a month to finish reading a book He was very anxious and thought that if he didn’t have time to read books during the day, then he could read at night. However, Kuang Heng was very poor and did not have the money to buy the lamp oil. What should Kuang Heng do?

One night, Kuang Heng was lying on the bed memorizing the book he had read during the day. Suddenly there was a ray of light shining through the walls. He was very curious, where did this ray of light come from? He stood up and walked over to the wall to see, ah, the light that shone through his wall was from his neighbor’s lamp. Kuang Heng thought of a way. He took a small knife and dug the wall, making the hole bigger.

In this way, the light that was passing through became large. He used the light that came through to read his books. Kuang Heng continued studying hard like this, and later became a well-learned person.

The photo is taken from here.  

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