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精卫填海(jīng wèi tián hǎi)

Do you know the story “精卫填海”? It is a myth from the ancient Chinese book <山海经>.

精卫衔来木石,决心填平大海. (jīng weì xié lái mù shí, jué xīn tián píng dà hǎi)

————The mythical bird Jingwei trying to fill up the sea with pebbles — a symbol of dogged determination



Long long time ago, there lived a little princess named 女娃(nǚ wá)who was the youngest daughter of Emperor Yan, the legendary ruler in ancient Chinese mythology.
The little princess loved watching the sunrise, admiring the spectacle of nature. She once asked her father where the sun rises. Her father said it was in the Eastern Sea and promised to take her there to see the sunrise on a boat, but he had been too busy to do that.
One day, the little princess got a boat behind her father’s back, sailing to the Eastern Sea. When she was away from the shore, unfortunately, a strong wind rose and overthrew her boat. She was buried by the surging waves, being drowned quickly.
After her death, her spirit turned into a beautiful bird with white beak and red claws. Since it often stood on a branch, mourning herself sadly in the sound “jing Wei, jing wei”, people called it “Jing Wei”
Jing Wei hated the sea very much for taking her life. In order to revenge and keep other kids from drowning, the small bird decided to fill up the roaring sea.
From then on, Jing Wei flew to and fro between the mountain and the Eastern sea, carrying a twig or a pebble and dropping it into the sea. Day after day, it never stopped.
This is the famous “The bird Jingwei trying to fill the sea” myth. And it also becomes an idiom in modern Chinese. It means a spirit of persistence. It is called “精卫填海的精神”


2 responses on "精卫填海(jīng wèi tián hǎi)"

  1. Filling up the sea with pebbles sounds Quixotic. Does Jing Wei Tian Hai imply persistence without good sense – shoveling against the tide?
    Or does it have more positive connotations, like the frog in the buttermilk?

    • No the meaning you mean Quixotic,or against the tide, Jing Wei Tian Hai(精卫填海) means we try our best and never fear to difficulties and never give up when we face hardship until we achieve our goal, positive meaning in the Chinese language. There are some similar idioms in Chinese, such like Yu Gong Yi Shan(愚公移山).

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