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Current Location: Homepage » Basic Chinese » Chinese Words & phrases » Main Body

The Wily Hare 狡兔三窟

Time:2014-11-29Source:Internet
Profile:The Wily Hare 狡兔三窟
(单词翻译:双击或拖选)
The expression 狡兔三窟 (jiao3 tu4 san3 ku1) literally means a wily hare has three burrows.

The origin of the expression dates back about 2,000 years. It comes from a story about a clever protégé, Feng Xuan, to the prime minister of the State of Qi, Meng Chengjun, during the Warring State periods.

One day Meng asked his protégé Feng to collect the debts that Meng was owed by the people of the Xue area. Meng told Feng that instead of bringing back the money he would give him carte blanche to spend the money in a manner that he thought Meng would find useful. After arriving in the Xue area, Feng called all the debtors together and burned all the loan contracts. He told the people that the prime minister had forgiven all their debts due to the poor harvests they had suffered over the last few years. The people of the Xue area were moved to tears by this gesture. When Feng returned to the prime minister and told him what he had done, Meng was not happy but realised that the the horse had already bolted.

about a year later, Meng was dismissed as the prime minister by the King of Qi and needed to go into hiding. His loyal protégé Feng arranged for him to resettle in the Xue area. The people of the Xue area welcomed him with open arms and Meng finally understood the value of what Feng had done for him a year earlier. Nevertheless, Feng said:

A wily hare has three burrows and a crafty man should have more than one hideout. I will build two more burrows for you.

And Feng was true to his word. He managed to persuade the King of Qi to, first, reinstate Meng as prime minister and, second, entrust Meng with the building of an ancestral shrine for the Qi rulers.

To my knowledge, there is no equivalent English idiom or proverb. There are definitely expressions (such as save for a rainy day or don't put all your eggs in one basket) that allude to the need to plan for the future or take precautions against the possibility of trouble, but I feel the meaning of these expressions is slightly different.
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