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Studious Chinaman in History

Updated on November 25, 2010

Those ancient Chinese scholars, they were very poor, and couldn't afford to pay for a costly book or go to school, but they toilded hard of their own accord by various methods.


These stories has inspired generations, and most of us Chinese kids had read it when growing up, but you'd better don't do it at home, or you may hurt yourself!


路溫舒 Lu Wen-shu, a shepherd under the Han dynasty (line 214), who copied out on a sheet of plaited reeds, being too poor to buy the costly books of the period, portions of the Book of History.


公孫弘 Kung-sun Hung, died B.C. 121, a swineherd who at the age of fifty borrowed the Spring and Autumn Annals and copied it out on bamboo tablets, subsequently rising to high office.


孫敬 Sun Ching, a scholar of the 2nd century A.D. He tied his head to the beam above him, and thus prevented himself from nodding over his books.


蘇秦 Su Ch'in, who died B.C. 317 was a famous statesman. In his youth he kept himself awake for study by pricking his thigh with an awl, he then rose up as Prime Ministers of six State.


車胤 Ch'e Yin of the 4th century A.D., who was too poor to pay for a candle or oil lamp, he then caught a lot of fireflies and put them in a bag to serve as a source of light so he can study late into the night.


孫康 Sun K'ang of the 4th century A.D., who used to study in winter by the light reflected from snow.


朱買臣 Chu Mai-ch'en who died B.C. 116. He carried on his studies while engaged in work as a woodcutter. His wife tired of their dire economic situation and divorced Zhu Mai-ch'en. Undaunted by the divorce and later his mother’s death, Zhu Mai-ch'en continued with his studies, eventually became an high official.


李密 Li Mi of the 3rd cent. A.D., who was a cowherd, when riding his buffalo afield, read from one book and hung the others on the buffalo's horns.



Sun Jing tied his head to the beam
Sun Jing tied his head to the beam
Su Qin pricked his thigh with an awl
Su Qin pricked his thigh with an awl
Che Yin caught a lot of fireflies and put them in a bag to serve as a source of light
Che Yin caught a lot of fireflies and put them in a bag to serve as a source of light
Sun K'ang study in winter by the light reflected from snow
Sun K'ang study in winter by the light reflected from snow

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