display | more...
In Chinese, 画蛇添足 (hua4 she2 tian1 zu2). A proverb which means to do something utterly useless in the nth degree, to perform a task of no meaning that detracts from the whole.

The story (most Chinese proverbs have origins in stories) goes that there was once a rich man who treated his subordinates to a great feast and lots of rich wine. However, one of the subordinates was greedy and decided that he wanted all the wine to himself. So he proposed that the person who drew the best snake would win and get all the wine (he was a great artist himself).

Naturally, all of them took up the challenge, and attempted to draw the best snake. (Having all the wine to oneself was no small prize to be overlooked.)

The great artist drew his snake quickly, and was smug. "Who can contest my drawing?" he thought.
  
      
                                                   
    ..o.          ............          
  **...  \......./ ........... \.........
       \........../           \..........\


                                                
As he looked around, the artist realised that he had finished far earlier than any of his other competitors, so he continued to draw.
        

                                                   
    ..o.          ............          
  **...  \......./ gg..gg..gg. \.........
       \gg..gg..gg/           \gg..gg.gg.\
                                                


However, when the time for the judging came, all agreed that the great artist had lost the game, because what he had drawn was no snake.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.