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Ancient Chinese Proverbs For Calligraphy

Updated on July 18, 2013
Ancient Chinese Proverbs
Ancient Chinese Proverbs

There is so much wisdom in ancient Chinese Proverbs. Some of these Proverbs have been around for more than a thousand years. Besides teaching us life lessons, ancient Chinese Proverbs are used in Chinese Calligraphy. The Chinese communities love to display Calligraphy scrolls as decoration on walls. Sadly, Chinese Calligraphy is slowly becoming a lost art. Professional calligraphers are becoming harder to find. If you know a professional calligrapher, make sure you ask him a favour to write you a few words of Calligraphy. The price of one is getting more and more expensive. Here are some of the ancient Chinese Proverbs used in Calligraphy (In Chinese characters of course, not Roman).

Ancient Chinese Proverbs for Calligraphy

  1. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
  2. A single conversation across a table with a wise man is worth a month's study of books.
  3. Be not afraid of growing slowly but be afraid only of standing still.
  4. Better to light a candle than to whine about the darkness.
  5. He who asks a question is a fool for a minute but he who does not remains a fool forever.
  6. If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.
  7. If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.
  8. The journey is the reward.
  9. There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same.
  10. With time and patience, the mulberry leaf becomes satin. With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.
  11. Behind every able man, there are always other able men.
  12. If your strength is small, don't carry heavy burdens. If your words are worthless, don't give advice.
  13. Men grow old, pearls grow yellow, there is no cure for it.
  14. He who sacrifices his conscience to ambition burns a picture to obtain the ashes. This is my personal favourite among the list of ancient Chinese Proverbs.
  15. He who cannot agree with his enemies is controlled by them.
  16. You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.
  17. A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.
  18. Deep doubts, deep wisdom. Small doubts, little wisdom.
  19. To believe in one's dreams is to spend all of one's life asleep.
  20. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
  21. In a broken nest there are few whole eggs.
  22. Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes.
  23. A diamond with a flaw is better than a common stone that is perfect.
  24. A great fortune depends on luck, a small one on diligence.
  25. Habits are cobwebs at first, cables at last.
  26. A thorn defends the rose, harming only those who would steal the blossom.
  27. Heaven has a road, but no one travels it. Hell has no gate but men will dig to get there.
  28. Look for a thing until you find it and you'll not lose your labor.
  29. He who treads softly goes far.
  30. The one who pursues revenge should dig two graves.
  31. If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.
  32. I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
  33. Do not anxiously hope for that which is not yet come, do not vainly regret what is already past.
  34. One joy scatters a hundred griefs.
  35. Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.
  36. Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very long time.
  37. Medicine can only cure curable diseases, and then not always.
  38. The palest ink is better than the best memory.
  39. With true friends . . . even water drunk together is sweet enough.
  40. Great souls have wills, feeble ones have only wishes.

Thank you for reading these ancient Chinese Proverbs. If you have more to add, please list them in the comment box below.

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    • jasonycc profile image

      jasonycc 5 years ago from South East Asia

      Don, yes yes yes. We will never stop learning as long as we are living.

    • DON BALDERAS profile image

      DON BALDERAS 5 years ago

      Love all of these...learning, learning, learning. Living, living, living.

    • jasonycc profile image

      jasonycc 6 years ago from South East Asia

      Hi Tina V, appreciate you reading my hub again. I have to agree with you that application of these ancient Chinese proverbs to the modern day society in China may have contributed to the tremendous growth of the country. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

    • TINA V profile image

      TINA V 7 years ago

      China plays an important role in the global manufacturing and retail industry nowadays. I guess that these ancient Chinese proverbs may have contributed to the growth of their country. No doubt it is growing better and better. This hub is a useful reference because one can learn something in their sayings. The quote I like best is “A wise man makes his own decisions; an ignorant man follows the public opinion.”

      Have a great week!

    • jasonycc profile image

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      In my opinion, documentation is definitely better.

      Memory has a relative short life span.

      Human life has a relative short life span.

      Distortion may happen when passing on an information.

      Hence, documentation of information is important.

      Ink and paper is a great invention.

    • wizetech profile image

      wizetech 7 years ago from Indonesia

      The palest ink is better than the best memory.

      Does this statement suggest us to better document the information / knowledge than just to put them in our memories ?

    • jasonycc profile image

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      Giselle, thank you for your kind comment. These ancient Chinese proverbs teach us so much about life. Hope that you have picked up a lesson or two from them.

    • giselle2323 profile image

      giselle2323 7 years ago from Peterborough, Ontario

      Wonderful article. A personal favourite is number 17. Thank you for sharing.

    • jasonycc profile image

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      Doctorate in Calligraphy... Wow. This group of people should be making tons of money.

      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In my humble opinion, art is a very subjective matter. Some great artists are self made from their interest and creativity. They do not go to school to get a qualification. I think they are just as good.

    • profile image

      态万方 7 years ago

      “in China or Chinatown around the world, one can make a living out of Chinese calligraphy.”--- oh, it's an industry, there are Bachelor-- Doctorate degrees of calligraphy in CHina. of course sine the art itself is very very talent-demanding, there are many boasters and half-bakers in this field.

    • jasonycc profile image

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      I am glad to see you again. Thank you for your feedback. Now I know that this trade has good money in it. I think in China or Chinatown around the world, one can make a living out of Chinese calligraphy.

    • profile image

      态万方 7 years ago

      No, dont worry, I just stated the fact.

      Zheng Xiao Yu's achievement as an outstanding calligraphist is the fact no one could deny. Plus his works is doing very well in market place. I mean they are good money. I?like the scroll you selected. Thank you Jason.

    • jasonycc profile image

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      Mr Tai, thank you for your visit. I have randomly selected a Chinese Calligraphy scroll for illustration only. No provocation intended.

      Agnes, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. In the interest on Art, we too hope that Chinese Calligraphy continue to be passed down from generation to generation.

    • profile image

      Agnes 7 years ago

      Zheng Xiaoxu is still recognized as an accomplished poet and calligrapher, although he is mostly remembered today for his collaboration with the Japanese.

      Moreover, Zheng kept an extensive diary, which is still valued by historians as important source material.

      In the perspective of Art, everyone is equal.

    • profile image

      态万方 7 years ago

      I know the author of the "dui lian" picture you posted here, Zheng Xiao Xu, he is a Da Han Jian of "Man Zhou Guo", right?

      Good luck anyway.

    • jasonycc profile image

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      Petra, thanks for stopping by. My personal favourite is no.1 and no.40.

      Check out my two other hubs on Wisdom Quotes below.

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      I knew nr. 20 but loved nr. 16 and 30 just as much. Hope you will keep them coming I am sure you know othet words of wisdome. Thank you

    • jasonycc profile image

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      telltale, I agree with you that calligraphers can still be found in China or in Chinatown around the world. I also read that China is promoting calligraphy in order to preserve this trade as many of their younger generation are more accustomed to typing on computers.

    • telltale profile image

      telltale 7 years ago

      Good hub... although I am not in calligraphy, I think you can still find calligraphers elsewhere like China, Hongkong, etc., but in Malaysia, it may be a 'dying' trade, unfortunately. Don't think it will become a 'lost' art in any near future, from what I have read on the subject.


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