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Chinese Idioms - 掩耳盗铃

Posted by vann0000 February 11, 2009 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: idiom, , , , , bell, ear, plug, stealing

Plugging One's Ears While Stealing a Bell (掩耳盗铃 yan er dao ling)


掩耳盗铃Plugging One's Ears While Stealing a Bell

During the Spring and Autumn period,Zhi Bo of the Spring and Autumn period, Zhi Bo of the State of Jin destroyed Fan's family.

Taking advantage of this occasion,a man went to Fan's house and tried to steal something.  As soon as the man entered the gate, he saw that there hung a big bell in the courtyard.  The bell was cast in high-quality bronze, and was beautiful in design and shape. 

The theif was very glad, and decided to carry this beautiful bell back home.  But no matter how hard he tried, he could not move the bell, because the bell was both big and heavy. 

He thought and thought again, and believed there was only one way to solve the problem.  He had to break the bell to pieces before he was able to carry them back to his home separately.

The thief found a big iron hammer, with which he struck the bell with all his might.

The striking produced an enormous crashing sound,which made the thief terribly frightened.  The thief got flurried,thinking that it was too bad to have produced the crashiing sound which would himself on the bell, trying to muffle the crashing sound with his arms.  But how could the crashing sound of the bell be muffled?  The crashing sound still kept drifting melodiously to distant places.  The more he listened to the sound,the more frightened hw became.  He xubconsciously shrank back,and covered his ears hard with his hands.

"Hey,the sound becomes fainter,inaudible," the thief became cheerful at once," wonderful!The sound of the bell can not be heard when the ears are covered.

He immediately got some odd bits of cloth,made two rolls with them, and had his ears plugged with the two cloth rolls.He thought that in this way nobody could hear the sound of the bell. 

Feeling relieved,he began striking the bell,one blow after another.  The resounding sound of the bell was heard at distant places, and finally people caught the thief by following the sound.

This story comes from"Knowing Yourself" in The Annals by Buwei, written just before the Qin Dynasty(221-207 B.C.)was founded.Allegedly, when Li Yuan,Emperor Gao Zu of the Tang Dynasty(618-907), read this story, he felt it simply ridiculous and said, "This is what is called plugging one's ears while stealing a bell."

Later,people have used the set phrase "plugging one's ears while stealing a bell" to refer to the ignorance and foolishness of the person who deceives himself as well as others.

yan3     er3     dao4     ling2
掩     耳     盗     铃

春秋时侯,晋国贵族智伯灭掉了范氏.有人趁机跑到范氏家里想偷点东西,看见院子里吊着一口大钟.钟是用上等青铜铸成的,造型和图案都很精美.小偷心里高兴极了,想把这口精美的大钟背回自已家去.可是钟又大又重,怎么也挪不动.他想来想去,只有一个办法,那就是把钟敲碎,然后再分别搬回家.

小偷找来一把大大锤,拼命朝钟砸去,咣的一声巨响,把他吓了一大跳.小偷着慌,心想这下糟了,这种声不就等于是告诉人们我正在这里偷钟吗?他心里一急,身子一下子扑到了钟上,张开双臂想捂住钟声,可钟声又怎么捂得住呢!钟声依然悠悠地传向远方.

他越听越害怕,不同自由地抽回双手,使劲捂住自已的耳朵."咦,钟声变小了,听不见了!"小偷高兴起来,"妙极了!把耳朵捂住不住就听不进钟声了吗!"他立刻找来两个布团,把耳朵塞住,心想,这下谁也听不见钟声了.于是就放手砸起钟来,一下一下,钟声响亮地传到很远的地方.人们听到钟声蜂拥而至把小偷捉住了.

故事出自《吕氏春秋·自知》"掩耳盗钟"被说成"掩耳盗铃",比喻愚蠢自欺的掩饰行为.

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