display | more...
Chinese ji1-ming2 gou3-dao4. Useless, petty skills.

The story comes from the Shiji. It concerns Lord Mengchang, the famed advisor to the state of Qi, who was taken captive while serving as emissary to Qin. Lord Mengchang was famed for the large retinue of shike (retainers) loyal to him because of his skill in handling people.

He found himself without resources to bribe his way out of prison. But one of the Qin royal concubines agreed to argue on his behalf with King Zhao of Qin, in exchange for a precious white fox pelt that Qi had just presented to Qin. A retainer of Lord Mengchang's dressed up as a dog and sneaked into the Qin palace at night where he stole the pelt. And so Lord Mengchang was able to give the concubine what she asked in exchange for speaking to King Zhao, who agreed to release him from prison.

Lord Mengchang immediately fled, and King Zhao issued an order for him to be captured. Lord Mengchang had gotten as far as Hangu Pass, late at night, but he could not get through the closed gates of the pass. However, another of his retainers crowed like a rooster, which soon got all the nearby roosters crowing and made the guards think that dawn was about to break. They opened the gates, and Lord Mengchang escaped and made his way back to Qi.

Chicken and dog are often named together in Chinese sayings as the most lowly of domestic animals.

This expression remains in current use.


Other Chinese literary allusions

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