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36 Ancient Chinese Quotes

Updated on July 17, 2013
Ancient Chinese Temple
Ancient Chinese Temple

Ancient Chinese Quotes

The Chinese Culture is one of the oldest and most complex in the world. Record keeping of the Chinese Culture began during the Zhou Dynasty which dated back more than 3,000 years ago. Due to the complexity of the ancient Chinese Culture, it takes much time to understand it. We can acquire much wisdom from the ancient Chinese Quotes and Culture and apply them to modern day. Here are some of the ancient Chinese Quotes which have been simplified for easy understanding.

Ancient Chinese Quotes That I Can Comprehend

  1. If you are planning for one year, grow rice. If you are planning for 20 years grow trees. If you are planning for centuries, grow men.
  2. Pleasure for one hour a bottle of wine. Pleasure for one year a marriage. Pleasure for a lifetime a garden.
  3. Fight poison with poison.
  4. Tiger father begets tiger son.
  5. The crafty rabbit has three different entrances to its lair.
  6. You cannot push/force a cow's head down unless it is drinking water by its own will.
  7. Men should worry about fame just as pigs about being fat.
  8. If you have money you can make the ghosts and devils turn your grind stone.
  9. There is no wave without wind.
  10. Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.
  11. A hundred men may make an encampment, but it takes a woman to make a home.
  12. Beauty is the wisdom of women. Wisdom is the beauty of men.
  13. If you are in a hurry you will never get there.
  14. Patience is power, with time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes silk.
  15. Maintain an army for 1000 days, use it for an hour.
  16. Use attack as the tactic of defense.
  17. The greatest conqueror is he who overcomes the enemy without a blow.
  18. Paper cannot wrap up a fire.
  19. Drinking the water of a well, one should never forget who dug it.
  20. Failure is the Mother of Success.
  21. Going beyond is as bad as falling short.
  22. The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.
  23. The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials. This is my personal favourite among the list of ancient Chinese Quotes.
  24. If you don't want anyone to know it, don't do it.
  25. Quarreling is like cutting water with a sword.
  26. If you must play, decide upon three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.
  27. Forethought is easy, repentance hard.
  28. Respect for ones parents is the highest duty of civil life.
  29. Insanity is doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different outcome.
  30. He who is not satisfied with himself will grow; he who is not sure of his own correctness will learn many things.
  31. If a man fools me once, shame on him. If he fools me twice, shame on me.
  32. A truly great man never puts away the simplicity of a child.
  33. Small ills are the fountains of most of our groans. Men trip not on mountains, they stumble on stones.
  34. A clever person turns great troubles into little ones and little ones into none at all.
  35. He who could foresee affairs three days in advance would be rich for thousands of years.
  36. Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger - The meaning is that both the tiger and dragon have amazing talents, but if they are out of view, you may have not discovered them. It can be said of someone with amazing ability that keeps that ability hidden.


Explanation required?

Listed above are ancient Chinese Quotes that I have understood. There are many many more that I am still trying to. If you need an explanation on the quotes above, please leave a note at the comment section. I would be more than happy to reply.

Ancient Chinese Art
Ancient Chinese Art
Ancient Chinese Quotes
Ancient Chinese Quotes

Quotes on Positive Thinking

Life is like the ocean. Sometimes rough sometimes calm. Read quotes by Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela and Michael Jordan.

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    • jasonycc profile image
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      jasonycc 4 years ago from South East Asia

      Audrey, thanks for sharing another useful ancient Chinese quote with my readers. There is always lesson to learn in life. Cheers.

    • aud99 profile image

      Audrey 4 years ago

      If you don't want anyone to know it, don't do it. I like this quote - simple common sense but sometimes, an advice that is hard to follow.

    • jasonycc profile image
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      jasonycc 5 years ago from South East Asia

      Yeah I agree with you, jhosler2. We can acquire much wisdom from the Chinese Culture and apply to modern day. Appreciate your comment. Cheers.

    • jhosler profile image

      jhosler 5 years ago

      Great collection of great quotes. They define the value of life.

    • jasonycc profile image
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      jasonycc 6 years ago from South East Asia

      Wise words, wizetech.

      It's my pleasure char4u. Thanks for reading.

    • jasonycc profile image
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      jasonycc 6 years ago from South East Asia

      cathby, i agree with you. Sometimes it takes 10 failures to make one success. Thomas Edison failed a few thousand times before he invented the practical electric light bulb.

    • Sembj profile image

      Sembj 6 years ago

      Thank you for the quotes to meditate upon. One of two reminded of Zen Buddhism, "If you are in a hurry you will never get there," for example, sounds very much like a Zen riddle. I suppose it's not surprising that wisdom is often couched in the form of riddles since it does push the listener to think more than usual.

      Again, thank you for opening a door to so much wisdom!

    • char4u.com profile image

      char4u.com 6 years ago

      Thank you for listing the quotes. It's just amazing how well they are translated into English.

    • wizetech profile image

      wizetech 6 years ago from Indonesia

      "If you must play, decide upon three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time."

      For those who are involved in online trading, take these words seriously and apply them :)

    • cathby profile image

      cathby 6 years ago from Canada

      how true this quote is: Failure is the Mother of Success.

      I would add that as long as we learn from failure than we are closer to success.

      Thanks for sharing this great collection.

    • jasonycc profile image
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      jasonycc 6 years ago from South East Asia

      cookibuq, TVB dramas use many Chinese quotes especially those set in ancient era with the Chinese Emperors ruling their kingdom. I enjoy watching them too.

      Thanks for your comment.

    • cookibuq profile image

      cookibuq 6 years ago from Ireland / Hong Kong

      There's so much wisdom in these quotes -I love them all. am only familiar with the ones I come across on tvb or other Chinese channels lol shame on my lack of knowledge in my own mother tongue ! This was very inspirational... thank you for posting

    • jasonycc profile image
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      jasonycc 6 years ago from South East Asia

      Elaine, it's my pleasure sharing these Chinese quotes. Many generations of wisdom all put into quotes and they are easy to understand. I love them too.

    • quuenieproac profile image

      quuenieproac 6 years ago from Malaysia

      Love all the quotes. There are great lessons in the words. Thanks for sharing!

    • jasonycc profile image
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      jasonycc 6 years ago from South East Asia

      Abby, I am glad you like these Chinese quotes. PEACE to you.

    • jasonycc profile image
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      jasonycc 6 years ago from South East Asia

      tshigg, you are welcome. Check out this site for both versions - Simplified & Traditional Chinese.

      http://www.chilture.com/crouching-tiger-hidden-dra...

    • Abby2034 profile image

      Abby2034 6 years ago from New York, New York

      Very nice.25 is my favorite.

    • tshigg profile image

      tshigg 6 years ago from California

      36.Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger

      This is my favorite. It definitely resonates with me. Thanks for the quotes. I would love to read or better yet print this one in it's original language. Any suggestions where I could find it.

    • jasonycc profile image
      Author

      jasonycc 6 years ago from South East Asia

      Thank you for your comment, Claudin. These ancient Chinese quotes can teach us a lesson or two. I love them too!

    • Claudin_Dayo profile image

      Claudin_Dayo 6 years ago from Southeast Asia

      I love it ! :))

    • jasonycc profile image
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      jasonycc 6 years ago from South East Asia

      This Chinese quote is from Lao Tze. It means: The most difficult of problems should be resolved starting from its most simplistic form and take it step by step.

    • profile image

      robbi 6 years ago

      please explain...: A truly great man never puts down the somplicity of a child.

      Thanks

    • jasonycc profile image
      Author

      jasonycc 6 years ago from South East Asia

      Mr.Tai, these Chinese quotes are compiled from various dialects. The Chinese Culture is rich and complex.

      For instance, quote no.3 is used in the Cantonese community and can be frequently heard in Cantonese movies and dramas.

      Also to note, earlier I tried to answer you in Chinese characters and my reply turn to ?????. Thus, I understand why your comment has so many ???. Need to check with HubPages on the usage of Chinese characters here.

      Thanks for taking the time to read these quotes.

    • profile image

      态万方 6 years ago

      1. ??????????why 20 years?

      2. which one is this?

      3. ?????

      ???

      ??????????

      God, who's done the translation.

      I guess it's my shame that as a native speaker I dont know the source of many of them.

      Thank u for posting them. they are ?????

    • jasonycc profile image
      Author

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      Yeah, Chinese people still use these sayings in their daily lives. This is really wonderful as it has been passed down from generation to generation over a thousand years.

    • profile image

      Udreamybridal 7 years ago

      Interesting post. These says are really great in China, still used everyday.

    • jasonycc profile image
      Author

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      Rapideo, Thanks for visiting and reading the Chinese quotes.

    • profile image

      Rapideo 7 years ago

      Kepp Posting, Thumbs Up

    • jasonycc profile image
      Author

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      Nihao! Yes observation of life and real life experience is the best teacher. And amazingly after generations and generations... they are still applicable to modern day life.

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Nihao! I believe that there is much wisdom in Chinese proverbs. Not solely because they are Chinese, but because they are based on observations of life. They are teachers that give good advice.

    • jasonycc profile image
      Author

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      Appreciate your vote, Ingenira. To be able to read Chinese is a useful skill. There are so many ancient quotes in Chinese. And many of the quotes above are used in Chinese/Cantonese drama series. Thanks for reading.

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 7 years ago

      Good efforts. Since I read Chinese, I was thinking, it'd be so nice if I can read those above in Chinese. :) Voted up !

    • jasonycc profile image
      Author

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      samuel, appreciate the addition. This quote is easy enough to understand. We should always remember those who have helped or given us favour before. Now I have 38 Ancient Chinese Quotes in this hub. Thank you.

    • profile image

      samuel akowuah 7 years ago

      Drinking the water of a well, one should never forget who dug it

    • jasonycc profile image
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      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      hoang, my pleasure and glad that you stopped by. Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.

    • hoangkimvietnam profile image

      hoangkimvietnam 7 years ago from Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam

      Thanks for sharing!

    • jasonycc profile image
      Author

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      Koffee, though this quote is so ancient yet it is more applicable today than ever. Students are very much spoon fed nowadays.

      vlind, my pleasure and glad that you stopped by.

    • vlind profile image

      vlind 7 years ago

      Very nice! Thanks for sharing! :)

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Teachers open the door but you must enter by yourself, is my favorite. Love your quotes. Thank you.

    • jasonycc profile image
      Author

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      drjb, I really appreciate your addition of Chinese quote above especially this one is from Confucius (the Great Sage). Now I have 37 Ancient Chinese Quotes in this hub. Yay.. cheers!

    • jasonycc profile image
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      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      Thanks nothingprofound. I love your website too. Those quotes are so applicable to life. And to understand some of them is like giving my brain a fitness workout.

    • jasonycc profile image
      Author

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      SilentReed, it's amazing that some of these Chinese quotes date back a thousand years and yet we can still apply them to our daily lives today.

      At times it may be a form of subtle politeness, nevertheless it is very effective to use quotes to make a point. Think of it as if you have a thousand years of wisdom to support your point. ;)

    • jasonycc profile image
      Author

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      Me too, Petra. I didn't realise some of them were Chinese quotes until I wrote this hub. Check out more Chinese wisdom quotes below.

    • jasonycc profile image
      Author

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      suny, glad that you like them. Actually there are many more quotes from the Chinese that I have yet to understand. These 36 quotes will suffice for now.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      My favorite Chinese quote is this one by Confucius: "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." An excellent adage for anyone who tries to teach or train another person.

    • profile image

      nothingprofound 7 years ago

      As I'm sure you know,I'm a sucker for quotes, so I loved these. My two favorites:

      "There is no wave without wind."

      "Paper cannot wrap up a fire."

      Great stuff!

    • SilentReed profile image

      SilentReed 7 years ago from Philippines

      Chinese are very fond of quoting a verse to make a point. A form of subtle politeness of giving face unlike most westerners who tend to be blunt and direct.

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      The one I liked best is "paper can't wrap up a fire"

      I knew some of those great sayings, but never realized they were Chinese. Thank you for posting

    • suny51 profile image

      suny51 7 years ago

      I like almost all the sayings you have selected for this article and the sayings about trees and gardens are my favorite ones.Like them.Thanks for sharing.

    • jasonycc profile image
      Author

      jasonycc 7 years ago from South East Asia

      Appreciate your time here, twhite. Indeed we can learn from the wisdom of these quotes. And you got the "cutting water" quote absolutely right.

      I personally feel that if I read these quotes at different times, I will learn different things.

    • profile image

      twhite94 7 years ago

      I really liked this because I love quotes. This had to be one of my favorites:

      Quarreling is like cutting water with a sword.

      I agree that arguing can be a complete waste of time. Proverbs in the Holy Bible has many amazing quotes and life lessons. Great hub.