Three Character Classic

Last updated
ᠮᠠᠨᠵᡠᠨᡳᡴᠠᠨᡥᡝᡵᡤᡝᠨᡴᠠᠮᠴᡳᠮᡝᠰᡠᡥᡝᠰᠠᠨᡤᡳᠩᠪᡳᡨᡥᡝ Wylie: Manchu nikan ghergen i kamtsime sughe San tsz' ging pitghe, Möllendorff: Manju nikan hergen-i kamcime suhe San ze ging ni bithe, Translation: The Three Character Classic, in Manchu and Chinese.

The most well-known English translation of the text was completed by Herbert Giles in 1900 and revised in 1910. [7] The translation was based on the original Song dynasty version.[ citation needed ] Giles had completed an earlier translation in the late 19th century but he rejected that and other early translations as inaccurate. Earlier translations into English include those by Robert Morrison, 1812; Solomon Caesar Malan and Hung Hsiu-chʻüan, 1856, and 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 the Song dynasty 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 in 1949.

Three Character Classic
Traditional Chinese 三字經
Simplified Chinese 三字经
Hanyu Pinyin Sānzì Jīng
Simplified Chinese Traditional Chinese Pinyin Translation
辽与金 皆称帝遼與金 皆稱帝liáoyǔjīn jiēchēngdìThe Liao and Jin (dynasties),
both claimed to be emperors.
太祖兴 国大明 号洪武 都金陵太祖興 國大明 號洪武 都金陵tàizǔxīng guódàmíng hàohóngwǔ dūjīnlíng Taizu rises,
his country is the Great Ming.
His regnal name is Hongwu,
his capital at Jinling.
迨成祖 迁燕京 十六世 至崇祯迨成祖 遷燕京 十六世 至崇禎dàichéngzǔ qiānyànjīng shíliùshì zhìchóngzhēnBy the time Chengzu started ruling,
he moved (his capital) to Yanjing.
(His dynasty) lasted for sixteen successions,
until the Chongzhen Emperor.
阉乱後 寇内讧 闯逆变 神器终閹亂後 寇內訌 闖逆變 神器終yānluànhòu kòunèihòng chuǎngnìbiàn shénqìzhōng Eunuchs stir up trouble in the palace,
rebels cause internal conflict.
The Dashing King starts a rebellion,
the Divine Utensil comes to an end.
清顺治 据神京 至十传 宣统逊清順治 據神京 至十傳 宣統遜qīngshùnzhì jùshénjīng zhìshíchuán xuāntǒngxùnThe Shunzhi Emperor of Qing,
seized the Imperial Capital.
After ten generations,
the Xuantong Emperor abdicated.
举总统 共和成 复汉土 民国兴舉總統 共和成 復漢土 民國興jǔzǒngtǒng gònghéchéng fùhàntǔ mínguóxìngA President is elected,
the Republic is formed.
Chinese soil was recovered,
the Republic of China flourishes.
廿二史 全在兹 载治乱 知兴衰¹廿二史 全在茲 載治亂 知興衰¹niànèrshǐ quánzàizī zàizhìluàn zhīxīngshuāiThe Twenty-two Dynastic Histories,
are all embraced in the above.
They contain examples of good and bad government,
whence may be learnt the principles of prosperity and decay.

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


The first two lines were recited at the Academy Awards 2021 by Chloé Zhao, the award winner for best director. [8] [9]

See also


  1. "San Zi Jing". Library of Congress . Retrieved 2010-08-15.
  2. Minjie Chen (22 January 2016). The Sino-Japanese War and Youth Literature: Friends and Foes on the Battlefield. Routledge. pp. 15–. ISBN   978-1-317-50881-6.
  3. 1 2 Scollon, Ron; Suzanne Wong Scollon; Rodney H. Jones (3 January 2012). Intercultural Communication: A Discourse Approach. Vol. 35. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 166–167. ISBN   9780470656402.
  4. Kutcher, Norman (2006). Mourning in Late Imperial China: Filial Piety and the State . Cambridge University Press. pp.  27. ISBN   9780521030182.
  5. Johnson, David; Andrew James Nathan (1987). Popular Culture in Late Imperial China. University of California Press. p. 29. ISBN   9780520061729.
  6. Rawski (1979), pp. 46–48.
  7. "Elementary Chinese ... San tzu ching". Shanghai, Kelly & Walsh. 1900.
  8. "Chloé Zhao accepts Best Director Academy Award for 'Nomadland'". GMA . April 26, 2021. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved April 27, 2021. It's called the Three Character Classics. And the first phrase goes: 人之初, 性本善 - - People at birth are inherently good
  9. "This year's Oscars could have been a moment of pride for China. Then politics got in the way". April 26, 2021. Retrieved April 27, 2021. Zhao said she used to recite classic Chinese poems and texts with her father, and one particular line from the Three Character Classic -- "People at birth are inherently good" -- had helped her keep going when things got hard.

Related Research Articles

Chinese classic texts or canonical texts or simply dianji (典籍) refers to the Chinese texts which originated before the imperial unification by the Qin dynasty in 221 BC, particularly the "Four Books and Five Classics" of the Neo-Confucian tradition, themselves a customary abridgment of the "Thirteen Classics". All of these pre-Qin texts were written in classical Chinese. All three canons are collectively known as the classics.

<i>Romance of the Three Kingdoms</i> One of Chinas Four Great Classical Novels

Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a 14th-century historical novel attributed to Luo Guanzhong. It is set in the turbulent years towards the end of the Han dynasty and the Three Kingdoms period in Chinese history, starting in 169 AD and ending with the reunification of the land in 280 by Western Jin. The novel is based primarily on the Records of the Three Kingdoms (三國志), written by Chen Shou.

<i>Thousand Character Classic</i> Chinese educational poem that uses exactly 1,000 characters, each appearing once

The Thousand Character Classic, also known as the Thousand Character Text, is a Chinese poem that has been used as a primer for teaching Chinese characters to children from the sixth century onward. It contains exactly one thousand characters, each used only once, arranged into 250 lines of four characters apiece and grouped into four line rhyming stanzas to make it easy to memorize. It is sung in a way similar to children learning the Latin alphabet sing an "alphabet song." Along with the Three Character Classic and the Hundred Family Surnames, it has formed the basis of literacy training in traditional China.

The Three Treasures or Three Jewels are theoretical cornerstones in traditional Chinese medicine and practices such as neidan, qigong, and tai chi. They are also known as jing, qi, and shen.

Śūraṅgama Sūtra Sutra in Mahāyāna Buddhism

The Śūraṅgama Sūtra is a Mahayana Buddhist sutra that has been especially influential in Chan Buddhism. The general doctrinal outlook of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra is that of esoteric Buddhism and Buddha-nature, with some influence from Yogacara. There have been questions regarding the translation of this sutra as it was not sponsored by the Imperial Chinese Court and as such the records regarding its translation in the early eighth century were not carefully preserved ; however, it has never been classified as apocrypha in any Chinese-language Tripitakas including the Taisho Tripitaka where it is placed in the Esoteric Sutra category (密教部). The sutra was translated into Tibetan during the late eighth to early ninth century and a complete translation exists in Tibetan, Mongolian and the Manchu languages. Current consensus is that the text is a compilation of Indic materials with extensive editing in China, rather than a translation of a single text from Sanskrit. A Sanskrit language palm leaf manuscript consisting of 226 leaves with 6 leaves missing which according to the introduction "contains the Śūraṅgama Sūtra" was discovered in a temple in China; it has yet to be verified.

Jingjiao Documents

The Jingjiao Documents are a collection of Chinese language texts connected with the 7th-century mission of Alopen, a Church of the East bishop from Sassanian Mesopotamia, and the 8th-century monk Adam. The manuscripts date from between 635, the year of Alopen's arrival in China, and around 1000, when the cave at Mogao near Dunhuang in which the documents were discovered was sealed.

<i>Huangdi Neijing</i> Han dynasty medical treatise

Huangdi Neijing, literally the Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor or Esoteric Scripture of the Yellow Emperor, is an ancient Chinese medical text or group of texts that has been treated as a fundamental doctrinal source for Chinese medicine for more than two millennia. The work comprises two texts—each of eighty-one chapters or treatises in a question-and-answer format between the mythical Yellow Emperor and six of his equally legendary ministers.

Jiaolong Dragon in Chinese mythology

Jiaolong or jiao is a dragon in Chinese mythology, often defined as a "scaled dragon"; it is hornless according to certain scholars and said to be aquatic or river-dwelling. It may have referred to a species of crocodile.

Yan Jun, courtesy name Mancai, was an official of the state of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period of China.

<i>Hundred Family Surnames</i> Classic composition of common surnames in Chinas Song Dynasty

The Hundred Family Surnames, commonly known as Bai Jia Xing, also translated as Hundreds of Chinese Surnames, is a classic Chinese text composed of common Chinese surnames. An unknown author compiled the book during the Song dynasty (960–1279). The book lists 507 surnames. Of these, 441 are single-character surnames and 66 are double-character surnames. About 800 names have been derived from the original ones.

The Three Hundred Tang Poems is an anthology of poems from the Chinese Tang dynasty (618–907). It was first compiled around 1763 by Sun Zhu (1722–1778), who was a Qing Dynasty scholar and was also known as Hengtang Tuishi. Various later editions also exist. All editions contain slightly more than 300 total poems. The number 300 was a classic number for a poetry collection due to the influence of the Classic of Poetry, which was generally known as The Three Hundred Poems.

The Huangdi Yinfujing, or Yinfujing, is a circa 8th century CE Daoist scripture associated with Chinese astrology and Neidan-style Internal alchemy. In addition, Huangdi Yinfujing is also the name of a Chinese Fengshui text on military strategy.

The Wenzi is a Daoist classic allegedly written by a disciple of Laozi. The text was widely read and highly revered in the centuries following its creation, and even canonized as Tongxuan zhenjing in the year 742 CE. However, soon afterwards scholars started questioning its authenticity and dismissing it as a forgery that was created between the Han dynasty and the Tang dynasty. The text's fate changed in 1973, when archeologists excavated a 55 BCE tomb and discovered remnants of a Wenzi copied on bamboo strips, which offer us a glimpse of what the text looked like prior to its drastic revision into the textus receptus.

The Qingjing Jing is an anonymous Tang Dynasty Taoist classic that combines philosophical themes from the Tao Te Ching with the logical presentation of Buddhist texts and a literary form reminiscent of the Heart Sutra. It instructs students of the Tao to practice the elimination of desire in order to cultivate spiritual purity and stillness.

Nurhaci Jurchen chieftain; founding khan of the Later Jin dynasty (r. 1616–26)

Nurhaci was a Jurchen chieftain who rose to prominence in the late 16th century in Manchuria. He was a member of the House of Aisin-Gioro, and reigned as the founding khan of the Later Jin dynasty of China from 1616 to 1626.

Manchu became a literary language after the creation of the Manchu script in 1599. Romance of the Three Kingdoms was translated by Dahai. Dahai translated Wanbao quanshu 萬寶全書.

<i>Pentaglot Dictionary</i>

The Pentaglot Dictionary, also known as the Manchu Polyglot Dictionary, was a dictionary of major imperial languages compiled in the late Qianlong era of the Qing dynasty. The work contains Manchu lexemes and their translations into various administrative languages such as Tibetan, Mongolian, post-classical or vernacular Chagatai and Chinese.

The New Qing History is a historiographical school that gained prominence in the United States in the mid-1990s by offering a wide-ranging revision of history of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty of China. Orthodox historians tend to emphasize the power of the Han people to "sinicize" their conquerors in their thought and institutions. In the 1980s and early 1990s, American scholars began to learn Manchu and took advantage of newly opened Chinese- and Manchu-language archives. This research found that the Manchu rulers were savvy in manipulating their subjects and from the 1630s through at least the 18th century, emperors developed a sense of Manchu identity and used Central Asian models of rule as much as they did Confucian ones. According to some scholars, at the height of their power, the Qing regarded "China" as only a part, although a very important part, of a much wider empire that extended into the Inner Asian territories of Mongolia, Tibet, Manchuria and Xinjiang.

The Shenglei 聲類, compiled by the Cao Wei dynasty lexicographer Li Deng 李登, was the first Chinese rime dictionary. Earlier dictionaries were organized either by semantic fields or by character radicals. The last copies of the Shenglei were lost around the 13th century, and it is known only from earlier descriptions and quotations, which say it was in 10 volumes and contained 11,520 Chinese character entries, categorized by linguistic tone in terms of the wǔshēng 五聲 "Five Tones " from Chinese musicology and wǔxíng 五行 "Five Phases/Elements" theory.

<i>Yiqiejing Yinyi</i> (Huilin)

The Yiqiejing yinyi 一切經音義 "Pronunciation and Meaning in the Complete Buddhist Canon" was compiled by the Tang dynasty lexicographer monk Huilin 慧琳 as an expanded revision of the original Yiqiejing yinyi compiled by Xuanying 玄應. Collectively, Xuanying's 25-chapter and Huilin's 100-chapter versions constitute the oldest surviving Chinese dictionary of Buddhist technical terminology. A recent history of Chinese lexicography call Huilin's Yiqiejing yinyi "a composite collection of all the glossaries of scripture words and expressions compiled in and before the Tang Dynasty" and "the archetype of the Chinese bilingual dictionary".