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San Zi Jin
Three Character Classic
人 之 初 性 本 善
Ren 2 zhi 1 chu 1 xing 4 ben 3 shan 4
People of beginning nature origin good
In the beginning, people’s original nature is good.
性 相 近 習 相 遠
Xing 4 xiang 1 jing 4 xi 2 xiang 1 yuan 3
Nature similar near learning become far
Their nature was similar, learning made it far.
苟 不 教 性 乃 遷
Gou 3 bu 2 jiao 4 xing 4 nai 3 qian 1
If not teach nature will change
If not taught, their good nature will change.
教 之 道 貴 以 專
Jiao 4 zi 1 dao 4 gui 4 yi 3 zhuan 1
Teaching of principle valued is intensive
The principle of nurturing should be intensive.
昔 孟 母 擇 鄰 處
Xi 2 meng 4 mu 3 ze 2 lin 2 chu 3
Langsyne meng mother select vicinity place
Langsyne Mencius’s mother sought a good location.
子 不 學 斷 機 杼
Zi 3 bu 4 xue 2 duang 4 ji 1 zhu 4
Son not learn broke loom shuttle
Mencius didn’t focus on learning; so his angry mom broke the loom shuttle.
竇 燕 山 有 義 方
Dou 4 yan 4 shan1 yo3 yi4 fang1
Dou Swallow Hill had good method
Mr. Dou from Swallow Hill had a good method.
教 五 子 名 俱 揚
Jiao4 wu2 zi 3 ming 2 ju 4 yang 2
Taught five sons reputation all raised
He taught his five sons well, and they all raised the family’s reputation.
養 不 教 父 之 過
Yang 3 bu 2 jiao 4 fu 4 zhi 1 guo 4
Feeding not teaching father is fault
Feeding children without teaching is the father’s fault.
教 不 嚴 師 之 惰
Jiao 4 bu 4 yan 2 shi 1 zhi 1 duo 4
Teaching not strictly teacher is laziness
Teaching without strictness, is the teacher’s laziness.
子 不 學 非 所 宜
Zi 3 bu 4 xue 2 fei 1 suo 3 yi 2
Child not study not so proper
If a child does not study, this it not proper.
幼 不 學 老 何 為
You 4 bu 4 xue 2 lao3 he 2 wei 2
Young not learn old act how
If not learn when young, how will one act when old?
玉 不 琢 不 成 器
Yu 4 bu 4 zhuo 2 bu 4 cheng 2 qi 4
Jade not carved no become tool
If jade is not carved, it will not become useful.
人 不 學 不 知 義
Ren 2 bu 4 xue 2 bu 4 zi 1 yi 4
People not learn not know justice
People who have not learned, do not have good judgment.
為 人 子 方 少 時
Wei 2 ren 2 zi 1 fang 1 shao 4 shi 2
Being people child when young time
Being the child of another, at an early age,
親 師 友 習 禮 儀
Qing 1 shi 1 you 3 xi 2 li 3 yi 2
Proximitymaster friends learning comity ceremony
Attached yourself to master and friends, learning etiquette from them.
香 九 齡 能 溫 蓆
Xiang 1 jiou 3 ling 2 neng 2 wen 1 xi 2
Xiang nine age could warm mat
Xiang, at nine years of age, could warm the mat for his parents.
孝 於 親 所 當 執
Xiao 4 yu 2 qing 1 shuo 3 dang 1 zhi 2
Filial piety toward parents ought should perform
Filial piety toward parents, is what one should perform.
融 四 歲 能 讓 梨
Rong 2 si 4 sui 4 neng 2 rang 4 li 2
Rong four age could yield pear
Rong at four years of age, could yield big pears.
弟 於 長 宜 先 知
Di 4 yu 2 zhang 3 yi 2 xian 1 zhi 1
Brother younger towards elder should first know
Younger brother towards elder, should first know;
首 孝 弟 次 見 聞
Shou 1 xiao 4 di 4 ci 4 jian 4 wen 2
First filial brother then look listen
First learn obligation to parent and brother, then look and listen.
知 某 數 識 某 文
Zhi1 mou 3 shu 4 shi 4 mou 3 wen 2
Know certain numbers know certain article
One should know some numbers, and know some reading.
一 而 十 十 而 百
Yi 1 er 2 shi 2 shi 2 er 2 bai 3
One and then ten ten and then hundred
From one to ten, and then ten to hundred.
百 而 千 千 而 萬
Bai 3 er 2 qian 1 qian 1 er 2 wan 4
Hundred and then thousand thousand and then ten thousand
From hundred to thousand, and then thousand to ten thousand.
三 才 者 天 地 人
San 1 cai 2 zhe 3 tian 1 di 4 ren 2
Three talent those Heaven Earth human
The three main forces of the world, are Heaven, earth and people. *1
三 光 者 日 月 星
San 1 guang 1 zhe 3 ri 4 yue 4 xing 1
Three light those sun moon star
The three great lights are the sun, the moon and the stars.*1.
三 綱 者 君 臣 義
San 1 gang 1 zhe 3 jun 1 chen 2 yi 4
Three rule those monarch courtier justice
The three rules of conduct are: the duty between monarch and courtier;
父 子 親 夫 婦 順
Fu 4 zi 3 qin 1 fu 1 fu 4 shun 4
Father son intimate husband wife smoothly
Intimacy between father and son; and smooth relations between husband and wife.
曰 春 夏 曰 秋 冬
Yue 1 chun 1 xia 4 yue 1 qiu 1 dong 1
Say spring summer say fall winter
We speak of four periods: spring, summer, fall and winter.
此 四 時 運 不 窮
Ci 3 si 4 shi 2 yun 4 bu 4 qiong 2
These four seasons move not end
These four seasons alternate endlessly.
曰 南 北 曰 西 東
Yue 1 nan 2 bei 3 yue 1 xi 1 dong 1
Say south north say west east
We speak of north, south, east and west.
此 四 方 應 乎 中
Ci 3 si 4 fang 1 ying 4 hu 1 zhong 1
These four directions respond to middle
These four directions define the center.
曰 水 火 木 金 土
Yue 1 shui 3 huo 3 mu 4 jing 1 tu 3
Say water fire wood metal earth
We speak of water, fire, wood, metal and earth.
此 五 行 本 乎 數
Ci 3 wu 3 hang 2 ben 3 hu 1 shu 4
These five elements originate from numbers
These five elements have their origin in numbers.
十 干 者 甲 至 癸
Shi 2 gan 1 zhe 3 jia 3 zhi 4 gui 3
Ten Heavenly Stems those jia to gui
The Ten Heavenly Stems are from “jia” to “gui”.
十 二 支 子 至 亥
Shi 2 er 4 zhi 1 zi 3 zhi 4 hai 4
Ten two Earthly Branches zi to hai
The Twelve Earthly Branches are from “zi” to “hai”.
曰 黃 道 日 所 躔
Yue 1 huang 2 dao 4 ri 4 suo 3 chan 2
Say yellow way sun therefore tread
We say the zodiac is where the sun treads.
曰 赤 道 當 中 權
Yue 1 ci 4 dao 4 dang 1 zhong 1 quan 2
Say red way as middle position
We say the equator is the central positon.
赤 道 下 溫 暖 極
Ci 4 dao 4 xia 4 wen 1 nuan 3 ji 2
Red way under warm warm extreme
Under the equator, it is extremely warm.
我 中 華 在 東 北
Wo 3 zhong 1 hua 2 zai 4 dong 1 bei 2
Our middle China is at east north
Our China is located in the northeast.
曰 江 河 曰 淮 濟
Yue 1 jiang 1 he 2 yue 1 huai 2 ji 4
Say Yangtse River Yellow River Say Huai River Ji River
We speak of the Yangtse River and Yellow River; say Huai River and Ji River.
此 四 瀆 水 之 紀
Ci 3 si 4 du 2 shui 3 zhi 1 ji 4
These four ditch water of record
These four ditches are the record of water.
曰 岱 華 嵩 恆 衡
Yue 1 dai 4 hua 2 song 1 heng 2 heng 2
Say Mt. Dai Mt. Hua Mt. Song Mt. Heng Mt. Heng
Say Mount Dai and Mount Hua; say Mount Song, Mount Heng and Mount Heng.
此 五 岳 山 之 名
Ci 3 wu 3 yue 4 shan 1 zhi 1 ming 2
These five high mountain mountain of name
These five mountains are the names of mountains.
曰 士 農 曰 工 商
Yue 1 shi 4 nong 2 yue 1 gong 1 shang 1
Say scholar farmer say artisan merchant
We speak of scholars, farmers, artisans and merchants.
此 四 民 國 之 良
Ci 3 si 4 min 2 guo 2 zhi 1 liang 2
These four people country of good people
These four kinds of people are the good people of a country.
曰 仁 義 禮 智 信
Yue 1 ren 2 yi 4 li 3 zhi 4 xin 4
Say benevolence duty propriety wisdom truth
We speak of benevolence, duty, propriety, wisdom and truth.
此 五 常 不 容 紊
Ci 3 wu 3 chang 2 bu 4 rong 2 wen 4
These five virtues not tolerate confusion
These five virtues must not be compromised.
地 所 生 有 草 木
Di 4 suo 3 sheng 1 you 3 cao 3 mu 4
Earth therefore grow has grass wood
The grass and the wood grow out of the earth.
此 植 物 徧 水 陸
Ci 3 zhi 2 wu 4 bian 4 shui 3 lu 4
These plant plant permeate water land
These plants are seen everywhere on the land and in the river.
有 蟲 魚 有 鳥 獸
You 3 chong 1 yu 2 you 3 niao 3 shou 4
There are insects fish there are birds beasts
There are insects, fish; there are birds and beasts.
此 動 物 能 飛 走
Ci 3 dong 4 wu 4 neng 2 fei 1 zou 3
These animal animal can fly walk
These animals can fly and walk.
稻 梁 菽 麥 黍 稷
Dao 4 liang 2 shu 2 mai 4 shu 3 ji 4
Rice fine millet beans wheat broomcorn millet
Rice, fine millet, beans, wheat, broomcorn and millet.
此 六 穀 人 所 食
Ci 3 liu 4 gu 3 ren 2 suo 3 shi 2
These six grains people therefore eat
These six grains are the ones people eat.
馬 牛 羊 雞 犬 豕
Ma 3 niu 2 yang 2 ji 1 quan 3 shi 3
Horse ox sheep chicken dog pig
Horses, ox, sheep, chickens, dogs and pigs.
此 六 畜 人 所 飼
Ci 3 liu 4 chu 4 ren 2 suo 3 si 4
These six livestock people therefore raise
These six animals are the ones people raise.
曰 喜 怒 曰 哀 懼
Yue 1 xi 3 nu 4 yue 1 ai 1 ju 4
Say happiness anger say grief fear
We speak of happiness, anger, grief and fear;
愛 惡 欲 七 情 具
Ai 4 wu 4 yu 4 qi 1 qing 2 ju 4
Love hatred desire seven emotions have
Love, hatred, and desire; these are the seven emotions people have.
青 赤 黃 及 黑 白
Qing 1 ci 4 huang 2 ji 2 hei 1 bai 2
Green red yellow and black white
Green, red, yellow and black and white.
此 五 色 目 所 識
Ci 3 wu 3 se 4 mu 4 suo 3 shi 4
These five colors eyes therefore recognize
These five colors our eyes recognize.
酸 苦 甘 及 辛 鹹
Suan 1 ku 3 gan 1 ji 2 xin 1 xian 2
Sour bitter sweet and spicy salty
Sour, bitter, sweet, spicy and salty.
此 五 味 口 所 含
Ci 3 wu 3 wei 4 kou 3 suo 3 han 2
These five tastes mouth therefore savor
These five tastes our mouths savor.
羶 焦 香 及 腥 朽
Shan 1 jiao 1 xiang 1 ji 2 xing 1 xiu 3
Gross burnt fragrant and nasty rotten
The gross, burnt, fragrant, nasty and rotten scents.
此 五 臭 鼻 所 嗅
Ci 3 wu 3 xiu 4 bi 2 suo 3 xiu 4
These five odor nose therefore smell
These five odors our noses smell.
匏 土 革 木 石 金
Pao 2 tu 3 ge 2 mu 4 shi 2 jin 1
Gourds earth leather wood stone metal
Gourds, pottery, leather, wood, stone, metal;
與 絲 竹 乃 八 音
Yu 3 si 1 zhu 2 nai 3 ba 1 yin 1
And silk bamboo are eight sounds
And silk and bamboo create the eight sounds *2.
曰 平 上 曰 去 入
Yue 1 ping 2 shang 3 yue 1 qu 4 ru 4
Say second tone third tone say fourth tone neutral tone
We speak of the second tone, third tone; speak of fourth tone and the neutral tone.
此 四 聲 宜 調 協
Ci 3 si 4 sheng 1 yi 2 tiao 2 xie 2
These four tones should correspond coordinate
These four tones should harmonize.
高 曾 祖 父 而 身
Gao 1 zeng 1 zu 3 fu 4 er 2 shen 1
higher great grandpa grandfather father then body
From your great-great grandfather, your great grandfather, your father, then to yourself,
身 而 子 子 而 孫
Shen 1 er 2 zi 3 zi 3 er 2 suen 1
Body then son son then grandson
From yourself then to your son, from your son then to your grandson;
自 子 孫 至 玄 曾
Zi 4 zi 3 suen 1 zhi 4 xuan 2 zeng 1
From son grandson until great-great grandson
From son and grandson, on to great grandson and great-great grandson.
乃 九 族 人 之 倫
Nai 3 jiu 3 zu 2 ren 2 zhi 1 lun 2
Are nine generations man of kinships
These are the nice agnates, constituting the kinships of man.
父 子 恩 夫 婦 從
Fu 4 zi 3 en 1 fu 1 fu 4 cong 2
Father son kindness husband wife harmony
Kindness between father and son; harmony between husband and wife;
兄 則 友 弟 則 恭
Xiong 1 ze 2 you 3 di 4 ze 2 gong 1
Elder brother therefore friend younger brother therefore respect
Friendliness from elder brother to younger; respect from younger brother to elder;
長 幼 序 友 與 朋
Zhang 3 you 4 xu 4 you 3 yu 3 peng 2
Old young order friend support friend
Proper relations between generations; mutual support between friend and friend;
君 則 敬 臣 則 忠
Jun 1 ze 2 jing 4 chen 2 ze 2 zhong 1
Sovereign therefore respect subject therefore loyalty
Respect from sovereigns; loyalty from subjects.
此 十 義 人 所 同
Ci 3 shi 2 yi 4 ren 2 suo 3 tong 2
These ten behaviors people therefore the same
These ten obligations are common to all men.
孝 經 通 四 書 熟
xiao 4 jing 1 tong 1 si 4 shu 1 shou 2
filial/piety classic understood four books processed
When the classic of Filial Piety is mastered and the Four books are memorized.
如 六 經 始 可 讀
ru 2 liu 4 jing 1 shi 2 ke 2 du 2
go to six classic begin can read
as if, like, if
You can go to and begin to read the six classics
詩 書 易 禮 春 秋
shi 1 shu 1 yi 4 li 3 chun 1 qiu 1
poetry book change/easy rites spring autumn
The Book of Poetry, the Book of History, the Book of Changes, the Rites of the Zhou Dynasty, the Book of Rites, and the Spring and Autumn Annals.
號 六 經 當 講 求
hao 4 liu 4 jing 1 dang 1 jiang 3 qiu 2
call six classics should explain/talk ask/beg
There are called the Six Classics which should be strived for, studied and understood.
有 連 山 有 歸 藏
you 3 lian 2 shan 1 you 3 gui 1 cang 4
have link mountain have return storage
There is the Lian Shan Book of Changes, that of Gui Cang.
有 周 易 三 易 詳
you 3 zhou 1 yi 4 san 1 yi 4 xiang 2
have cautions/circuit change/easy three change/easy detail
And that of the Duke of Zhou; these are the three versions of the Book of Changes.
有 典 謨 有 訓 誥
you 3 dian 3 mo 2 you 3 xun 4 gao 4
have standards plans have instruction mandates
Standards, advice, instructions, mandates,
有 誓 命 書 之 奧
you 3 shi 4 ming 4 shu 1 zhi 1 ao 4
have pledges orders/life book this mystery
Oaths and regulations are the mysteries to be explained in the book of history.
我 周 公 作 周 禮
wo 3 zhou 1 gong 1 zuo 4 zhou 1 li 3
I cautions/circuit duke made cautions/circuit rites
Our Duke of Zhou wrote the Zhou Book of Rites.
著 六 官 存 治 體
zhu 4 liu 4 guan 1 cun 2 zhi 4 ti 3
write six government officials maintain govern, rule body
In it he established the duties of Six Classics of government officials thereby insuring that the system would go on.
大 小 戴 注 禮 記
da 4 xiao 3 dai 4 zhu 4 li 3 ji 4
big small wear explained rites notes
The two Dais, elder and younger, annotated the Book of Rites.
述 聖 言 禮 樂 備
shu 4 sheng 4 yan 1 li 3 yueh 4 bei 4
related sage words rites music/happy prepared
They wrote down the sages’ words and set in order ceremonies and music.
曰 國 風 曰 雅 頌
yue 1 guo 2 feng 1 yue 1 ya 3 song 4
say state wind say proper eulogy
The GuoFeng, the Ya and the Song.
號 四 詩 當 諷 詠
hao 4 si 4 shi 1 dang 1 feng 4 yong 3
call four poetry should chant/satirize chant/recite
Are the four parts of the Book of Poetry which should be recited over and over.
詩 既 亡 春 秋 作
shi 1 ji 4 wang 2 chun 1 qiu 1 zuo 4
poetry already dead spring autumn made
When the age of the Book of Poems ended, the Spring and Autumn Annals were written.
寓 褒 貶 別 善 惡
yu 4 bao 1 bian 3 bie 3 shan 4 e 4
contain praise blame differentiate good evil
The Annals are frank in assigning praise blame and clearly state what is good and what is evil.
三 傳 者 有 公 羊
san 1 zhuan 4 zhe 3 you 3 gong 1 yang 2
three commentaries people/thing have male/fair/public sheep, lamb
These three commentaries are by Gong-Yang.
有 左 氏 有 穀 梁
you 3 zuo 3 shi 4 you 3 gou 3 liang 2
have left family-name have grains beam/surname
Zuo and Gou-Liang.
經 既 明 方 讀 子
jing 1 ji 4 ming 2 fang 1 du 2 zi 3
classic already clear then read philosophers/child
When the classics have been learned, it is time to read the philosophers.
撮 其 要 記 其 事
tsuo 4 qi 2 yao 4 ji 4 qi 2 shi 4
gather/take their/that essentials/want remember their facts/things
Find out the essence of their writings and memorize the facts.
五 子 者 有 荀 揚
wu 3 zi3 zhe 3 you 3 xun 2 yang 2
five philosophers/child people/thing have surname raise/acclaim
The five philosophers are Xun, Yang…..
文 中 子 及 老 莊
wen 2 zhong 1 zi 3 ji 2 lao 3 zhuang 1
surname middle/inside son/child reach/and surname/old surname/village
Wen Zhong Zi and Lao Zi, Zhuang Zi.
經 子 通 讀 諸 史
jing 1 zi 3 tong 1 du 2 zhu 1 shi 3
classic philosophers understand/though rean all historian
When the philosophers have been mastered, read the works of historian.
考 世 系 知 終 始
kao 3 shi 4 xi 4 zhi 1 zhong 1 shi 3
examine generation relations know end beginning
Learn how the states evolved and their sequence in history.
自 羲 農 至 黃 帝
zi 4 xi 1 nong 2 zhi 4 huang 2 di 4
from xi farm/agriculture to yellow emperor
The Emperors Xi and Nong and Yellow Emperor Huang Di.
號 三 皇 居 上 世
hao 4 san 1 huang 2 ju 1 shang 4 shi 4
call three emperors lived top generation
Are called the Three Sovereigns of ancient times.
唐 有 虞 號 二 帝
tang 2 you 3 yu 2 hao 4 er 4 di 4
surname have surname called two emperors
Emperors Tang and Yu are called the Two Emperors.
相 揖 遜 稱 盛 世
xiang 1 yi 1 xun 4 cheng 1 sheng 4 shi 4
mutually bowed abdicated called prosperous age/world
They had great respect for each other, and each other abdicated his throne to a more qualified man. Theirs was called the Golden Age.
夏 有 禹 商 有 湯
xia 4 you 3 yu 3 shang 1 you 3 tang 1
summer have yu business have surname/soup
The Xia dynasty had Emperor Yu, the Shang dynasty had Emperor Tang.
周 文 武 稱 三 王
zhou 1 wen 2 wu 3 cheng 1 san 1 wang 2
surname culture military/martial called three kings
And the Zhou dynasty had kings Wen and Wu, they are called the kings.
夏 傳 子 家 天 下
xia 4 chuan 2 zi 3 jia 1 tian 1 xia 4
summer handed son family sky under
Xia was succeeded by his son and made the whole country his family.
四 百 載 遷 夏 社
si 4 bai 3 zai 3 qian 1 xia 4 she 4
four hundred years/carry changed summer society
After four hundred years, the Xia dynasty ended.
湯 伐 夏 國 號 商
tang 1 fa 2 xia 4 guo 2 hao 4 shang 1
name brought down name state number name
Tang brought down the Xia dynasty and instituted the Shang dynasty.
六 百 載 至 紂 亡
liu 4 bai 3 zai 3 zhi 4 zhou 4 wang 2
six hundred years until name lost
Which lasted 600 years until it ended during the reign of Zhou.
周 武 王 始 誅 紂
zhou 1 wu 3 wang 2 shi 3 zhu 1 zhou 4
name name/valiant king start kill name
King Wu, first of the Zhou dynasty, killed emperor Zhou.
八 百 載 最 長 久
ba 1 bai 3 zai 3 zui 4 chang 2 jiu 3
eight hundred years most duration long
His dynasty lasted the longest of all, 800 years.
周 轍 東 王 綱 墜
zhou 1 che 4 dong 1 wang 2 gang 1 zhui 4
name track of a wheel east king link sank
When the Zhou dynasty moved its capital to the east, they lost their ascendancy.
逞 干 弋 尚 游 說
cheng 3 gan 1 ge 1 shang 4 you 2 shui 4
flaunt shield spear esteem roving persuade
Feudal states adventured militarily and fell prey to the advice of wandering politicians.
始 春 秋 終 戰 國
shi 3 chun 1 qiu 1 zhong 1 zhan 4 guo 2
start spring autumn end war state
The early part of the era after the Zhou capital moved to the east is called the Spring and Autumn period and the later part is called the Warring States period.
五 霸 強 七 雄 出
wu 3 ba 4 qiang 2 qi 1 xiong 2 chu 1
five chiefs strong seven influential states/hero arose/out
Five strong feudal lords emerged early in the eastern Zhou; later seven feudal states contended for power.
嬴 秦 氏 始 兼 并
ying 2 qin 2 shi 4 shi 3 jian 1 bing 4
surname surname family name start annex combine
The Qin dynasty, formed by the Ying family, united all the states.
傳 二 世 楚 漢 爭
chuan 2 er 2 shi 4 chu 3 han 4 zheng 1
pass on two generations surname surname contend
Two more generations were Qin, then the Chu and Han states fought for supremacy.
高 祖 興 漢 業 建
gao 1 zu 3 xing 1 han 4 ye 4 jian 4
tall ancestor rose surname line establish
Gao Zu ascended the throne and the Han dynasty was established, and flourished…
至 孝 平 王 莽 篡
zhi 4 xiao 4 ping 1 wang 2 mang 3 cuan 4
until filial peace/flat king rude,impolite usurped
Until Wang Mang usurped the emperor Xiao and Ping.
光 武 興 為 東 漢
guang 1 wu 3 xing 1 wei 2 dong 1 han 4
light name/valiant rose made east surname
Guang Wu rose, made east Han.
四 百 年 終 于 獻
si 4 bai 3 nian 3 zhong 1 yu 2 xian 4
four hundren years end at give
lasted four hundren years, ending with the emperor Xian.
魏 蜀 吳 爭 漢 鼎
wei 4 shu 3 wu 2 zheng 1 han 4 ding 3
surname surname surname contend Han tripod
The Wei, Shu, Wu dynasties fought to succeed the Han.
號 三 國 迄 兩 晉
hao 4 san 1 guo 2 qi 4 liang 3 jin 4
call three state up to two surname
They are called the Three kingdoms, and lasted until the two Jin dynasties.
宋 齊 繼 梁 陳 承
song 4 qi 2 ji 4 liang 2 chen 2 cheng 2
surname surname follow surname surname undertake
Then follow the Song, Qi , Liang and Chen dynasties, which are.
為 南 朝 都 金 陵
wei 2 nan 2 chao 2 du 1 jin 1 ling 2
be south dynasty capital /gold /hill
Called the South dynasties, whose capital city was Jinling(Nanjing).
北 元 魏 分 東 西
bei 3 yuan 2 wei 4 fen 1 dong 1 xi 1
north surname/dollar surname divide east west
The North dynasties were the Wei (Eastern and Western), of the Yuan family.
宇 文 周 與 高 齊
yu 3 wen 2 zhou 1 yu 3 gao 1 qi 2
surname surname surname and tall the same
The Zhou of the Yu-wen family, and the Qi of the Gao family.
迨 至 隋 一 土 宇
dai 4 zhi 4 sui 2 yi 1 tu 3 yu 3
reach until surname one earth sky
Finally, under the Sui dynasty, the empire was united.
不 再 傳 失 統 緒
bu 4 zai 4 chuan 2 shi 1 tong 3 xu 4
not again passed on lost control sequence
but it did not last long as it lost control of the country.
唐 高 祖 起 義 師
tang 2 gao 1 zu 3 qi 3 yi 4 shi 1
surname surname/tall ancestor raised righteous army
The founder of the Tang dynasty raised an army to.
除 隋 亂 創 國 基
chu 2 sui 2 luan 4 chuang 4 guo 2 ji 1
ended surname disorder started nation foundation
End the disorders of the Sui dynasty and to establish his line.
二 十 傳 三 百 載
er 4 shi 2 chuan 2 san 1 bai 3 zai 3
two ten passed on three hundren years
The Tang lasted for 300 years and twenty successions.
梁 滅 之 國 乃 改
liang 2 mie 4 zhi 1 guo 2 nai 3 gai 3
surname extingished it country thus changed
But the Liang dynasty overthrew it and started their own.
梁 唐 晉 及 漢 周
liang 2 tang 2 jin 4 ji 2 han 4 zhou 1
surname surname surname and surname surname
The successors to the Tang were the Later Liang, Later Tang, Later Jin, Later Han, and Later Zhou dynasties.
稱 五 代 皆 有 由
cheng 1 wu 3 dai 4 jie 1 you 3 you 2
called five dynasties each exist reason
These are called the Five Dynasties and each exists for a reason.
炎 宋 興 受 周 禪
yan 2 song 4 xing 1 shou 4 zhou 1 shan 2
fiery surname rise receive Zhou abdication
Then the fiery Song dynasty arose to take over from the Zhou.
十 八 傳 南 北 混
shi 2 ba 1 chuan 2 nan 2 bei 3 hun 4
ten eight transmissions south north mix
The dynasty lasted 18 generations and the northern and southern empires were reunited.
遼 與 金 皆 稱 帝
liao 2 yu 3 jin 1 jie 1 cheng 1 di 4
surname/far and surname/gold all call emperor
There were the two Tartar dynasties, the Liao and the Jin.
元 滅 金 絕 宋 世
yuan 2 mie 4 jin 1 jue 2 song 4 shi 4
surname/first extinguished surname/gold finished surname generation
Then the Yuen (Mongols) wiped out the Jin and thus finished the Song era.
輿 圖 廣 超 前 代
yu 2 twu 2 goang 3 chau 1 chyan 2 dai 4
geography/car picture wide over last generation
The domain is bigger than last dynasty’s.
九 十 年 國 祚 廢
jiu 3 shi 2 nian 2 guo 2 zu 4 fei 4
nine ten years country prosperity used up
But after 90 years, their rule ended.
太 祖 興 國 大 明
tai 4 zu 3 xing 1 guo 2 da 4 ming 2
/too ancestor rose state great/big surname/bright
A new founder arose and set up the dynasty known as the Da Ming.
號 洪 武 都 金 陵
hao 4 hong 2 wu 3 dou 1 jin 1 ling 2
called surname/big name/valiant capital /gold /hill
He took the name Hong Wu and made Jinling(Nanjing)his capital.
迨 成 祖 遷 燕 京
dai 4 cheng 2 zu 3 qian 1 yan 1 jing 1
until /success ancestor move to /swallow /capital
Where it remained until Cheng Zu moved it to Yanjing(Beijing).
十 六 世 至 崇 禎
shi 2 liu 4 shi 4 zhi 4 chong 2 zhen 1
ten six generations until /respect /luck
The dynasty lasted in through sixteen generations; the last was Chong Zhen.
權 閹 肆 寇 如 林
quan 2 yan 1 si 4 kou 4 ru 2 lin 2
power eunuchs unbridled bandits like forest
By his time, the power of the eunuchs was unchecked and bandits were as common as trees in a forest.
李 闖 出 神 器 焚
li 3 chuang 3 chu 1 shen 2 qi 4 fern 2
surname surname/intrude out god stuff burn
Then the rebel Li Chuang arose and the palace was ed and burned.
三字經 San Zi Jin
*1: Before the creation of world, there was 無極 wu2 ji2 (formless). 無極 gave birth to 太極 tai4 ji2 (English), then the world differentiated between the moon 陰 yin1: (negative, passive, feminine ) and the sun 陽 yang2, (positive, active, masculine). The flowing vital 陽 of the sun, and the static passive 陰 of the moon, was the genesis of the universe. The pure and light氣qi4 rose to become heaven. Then the sun, the moon and the stars were formed with the quintessence of heaven. The heavy and turbid氣 formed the earth. Humans are formed by a combination of turbid and pure氣. >
*2: The eight materials from which musical instruments are made.
Translated, edited, annotated and designed by S. Che and A. Owen
4–8, 2002, Taipei, Taiwan