Three Character Classic


Three Character Classic

The Three Character Classic, Trimetric Classic or San Zi Jing (zh-ts|t=三字經|s=三字经) is one of the Chinese classic texts. It was probably written in the 13th century and attributed to Wang Yinglin (王應麟, 1223-1296) during the Song Dynasty. It is also attributed to Ou Shizi (區適子, 1234-1324).

The work is not one of the traditional six Confucian classics, but rather the embodiment of Confucian thought suitable for teaching young children. Until the latter part of the 19th century, it served as a child's first formal education at home. The text is written in triplets of characters for easy memorization. With illiteracy common for most people at the time, the oral tradition of reciting the classic ensured its popularity and survival through the centuries. With the short and simple text arranged in three-character verses, children learned many common characters, grammar structures, elements of Chinese history and the basis of Confucian morality.

The text fell into disuse during the Cultural Revolution given the State's opposition to feudal ideologies. The classic, however, continued to circulate in other parts of the Chinese-speaking world with its inclusion in the "Chinese Almanac" (通勝) along with several other classics such as the "Thousand Character Classic".

The first four verses state the core "credo" of Confucianism as developed by Confucius' follower Mencius. The idea was enshrined in the state orthodoxy for the most part of imperial Chinese period: Human nature is good and unique.

::::::人之初 ("rén zhī chū") People at birth,
::::::性本善 ("xìng běn shàn") Are naturally good.
::::::性相近 ("xìng xiāng jìn") Their natures are similar,
::::::習相遠 ("xí xiāng yuǎn") Their habits make them different.

Even nowadays, the above two introductory quotes are very familiar to most youths in mainland China and Taiwan, if not known by heart. Though it is no longer taught at public schools, some parents still use this classic to teach their infants to pronounce words. It is an occasional elementary school game for children to and show off who can recite the most sentences from this classic.

Editions

The most well-known English translation of the text was completed by Herbert Giles in 1900 and revised in 1910. The translation was based on the original Song version. Giles had completed an earlier translation in the late 1800s but he rejected that and other early translations as inaccurate. The early translations into English include: Robert Morrison, 1812; Solomon Caesar Malan & Hung Hsiu-ch'üan, 1856; Stanislas Julien, 1864.

The following stanzas do not appear in the Giles translation and originally appeared in Simplified Chinese. They list the dynasties that followed Song up to and including the founding of republican China. These stanzas were probably added cumulatively sometime between late 13th century and after the founding of the People's Republic of China.

¹ this line replaces the original one in the Song version where it says "The Seventeen Dynastic Histories... 十七史...".

See also

* [http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%B8%89%E5%AD%97%E7%B6%93 The Complete Original Text of the Trimetric Classic on Chinese Wikipedia.]

References

*cite book | author=Rutledge, Jayne (Translator) | title=Three Character Primer | year=2005 | id=ISBN 7807021489 Original Chinese Text plus pinyin, modern Chinese translation, modern Chinese commentary and stories, plus complete translation of all material into English.

External links

* [http://www.yellowbridge.com/onlinelit/sanzijing.html On-line learner's edition at Yellowbridge site]
* [http://classics.hopechinese.com/ Another site with San Zi Jing, Pin-Yin, and Modern Chinese and English translation]
* [http://hua.umf.maine.edu/Chinese/stories/sanzijing/index.html Read and hear the audio at this Chinese/English site]
* [http://www.panming.com/szj/szj.htm Another site with audio of the San Zi Jing - Chinese only]
* [http://afpc.asso.fr/wengu/wg/wengu.php?l=Sanzijing The Three Character Classic in Chinese with the Herbert Giles English Translation.]
* [http://hemaoxian.nease.net/english/szj.htm Another English translation.]
* [http://www.china.org.cn/english/culture/88469.htm Its debated revival in mainland China.]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Classic Game Room — (commonly abbreviated CGR) is a video game review show produced, directed, edited and hosted by Mark L. Bussler of Inecom, LLC. The show reviews both retro and modern video games and broadcasts its reviews via video sharing website YouTube, under …   Wikipedia

  • Character Options — is a British toy company, notable for having both the Disney and Doctor Who toy licenses. It hit the headlines during 2007 as the UK distributor for the Bindeez range of products was recalled due to a dangerous chemical. Contents 1 Doctor Who 1.1 …   Wikipedia

  • Classic Judaism — or classical Judaism represents a theology comprising a unique set of discernible styles, modes, forms, and content prevalent from the year 70 until the 19th century, styles rooted in classical Jewish thought as found in classical rabbinic… …   Wikipedia

  • Character animation — is a specialized area of the animation process concerning the animation of one or more characters featured in an animated work. It is usually as one aspect of a larger production and often made to enhance voice acting. The primary role of a… …   Wikipedia

  • Classic Images — is a monthly American mail subscription newspaper in tabloid format, founded in 1962 by film collector Sam Rubin, dedicated to film and television of the Golden Age. Its offices are located in Muscatine, Iowa and it is published by the Muscatine… …   Wikipedia

  • Character displacement — refers to the phenomenon where differences among similar species whose distributions overlap geographically are accentuated in regions where the species co occur but are minimized or lost where the species’ distributions do not overlap. This… …   Wikipedia

  • Three Little Pigs — is a fairy tale featuring talking animals. Published versions of the story date back to the late 18th century, but the story is thought to be much older. The phrases used in the story, and the various morals which can be drawn from it, have… …   Wikipedia

  • Character Carousel — is a classic carousel ride that is themed towards children. The theme of the ride coordinates with Cedar Fair s kid s areas, Planet Snoopy. It is located at three parks, and the design may be varied by each park. Locations Character Carousel at… …   Wikipedia

  • Character mask — Part of a series on Marxism …   Wikipedia

  • Classic of Poetry — The first song of The Odes, handwritten by Emperor Qianlong, along with a painting. Classic of Poetry Traditional Chinese …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.