“The Three Character Classic” – Unit 12

Zheng Jian Editing Group for Chinese Culture Teaching Materials

PureInsight | July 5, 2011


Unit 12


高(gāo) 曾(zēng) 祖(zǔ),父(fù) 而(ér) 身(shēn),
身(shēn) 而(ér) 子(zǐ),子(zǐ) 而(ér) 孫(sūn),
自(zì) 子(zǐ) 孫(sūn),至(zhì) 玄(xuán) 曾(zēng),
乃(nǎi) 九(jiǔ) 族(zú),人(rén) 之(zhī) 倫(lún)。


(1)高(gāo):great-great grandfather
(2)曾(zēng):great grandfather
(7)玄(xuán):great-great grandson, grandson’s grandson
(8)曾(zēng):great-grandson, grandson’s son
(10) 九族(jiǔ zú):Nine generations of directly-related family members, including great-great grandfather, paternal great-grandfather, grandfather, father, son, grandson, great-grandson, great-great grandson.
(11)人之倫(rén zhī lún):principles governing relationships between people, here referring to family relationships

Text Explanation

From great-great grandfather, great grandfather, grandfather, father to me, and from me to my son, grandson, great grandson, and great-great grandson is called Nine Generations, which indicates the principles governing flesh-and-blood relationships.
Note: The generation order should be great grandson first and then great-great grandson (曾玄zēng xuán), but in text it is stated as玄曾(xuán zēng) in order to rhyme with身(shēn), 孫(sūn), and倫(lún).

Discussion Questions

1. Do you know the members in your family? Where is your native land? How do you interact with your family members?
2. Interview an elder member in your family about the process of striving for success in youth.


Remembering the Source of One’s Happiness

Yu Xin was from the Southern Dynasty in the period of the Southern and Northern Dynasties. Emperor Yuan in the Nation Liang sent him on a diplomatic mission to visit the Western Wei Nation in the Northern Dynasty. During his appointment, the Liang Nation was overtaken by the Western Wei Nation. Yu Xin was thus detained in Chang An (the capital city of the Western Wei). He was 42 years old.

Although Yu Xin was dubbed a general by the Northern Dynasty, he wanted to go back to the Southern Dynasty very much. Many times the Southern Dynasty asked the Northern Dynasty to release Yu Xin, but in vain. Staying in the Northern Dynasty for 28 years, Yu Xin missed his native country and hometown frequently. He wrote in "Requisition Tune," “When seeing the fruit falling, one should remember that it comes from the tree. When drinking water, one should remember the water source.” This tells us that one should not forget one's origin.

Writing Reflection

1. Why do we need to remember the source of our happiness?
2. Where is your hometown? How much do you know about China’s geography, history, and culture?

Simplified Chinese: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2007/3/11/42592.html

Add new comment