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Three treasures at home














* From Youxi zhuren 遊戲主人 (fl. 19th century)[1] ed., Xiaolin guangji 笑林廣記 2.8b-9a:

A habitual liar told his relative: “I’ve got three treasures at home: an ox capable of travelling a thousand miles a day, a cock crowing once at the end of each night-hour,[2] and a dog well versed in literature.”

The relative said in astonishment: “How extraordinary! [I] shall visit you and view [them] someday.”

The man returned home and told his wife about it: “It was just a random fib, how to cover it up?”

His wife said: “Don’t worry. I’ve got this.”

The next day, the relative came over. The wife said: “[My husband] left for Beijing this morning.”

[The relative] asked: “When will [he] return?”

[She] replied: “In about seven or eight days.”

[He] asked: “So soon? How’s that possible?”[3]

[She] said: “[He’s] travelling on our own ox.”

[He] asked: “But you’ve also got a cock that reports on night-hours?”

It was at noon, and a cock happened to crow. [The wife] pointed at [it], saying: “That’s the one. Not just night-hours, it also reports on new visitors during daytime.”

[He] asked: “May [I] also have the honour of seeing the learned dog?”

[She] answered: “To tell you the truth, since our family is not well-off, [the dog] is out tutoring.”

[1] The name reads “Master of Fun”, and some identify the compiler as Cheng Shijue 程世爵, about whom little is known except that he was a native of Pingjiang 平江, Jiangsu. [2] Geng 更 (night-hour, or night-watch) is a two-hour unit that divides the period from 7pm to 5am into five parts. [3] The text of the Xiaolin guangji is written in literary Chinese mixed with occasional colloquial expressions from the Wu region (around present-day Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, some 1200 km from Beijing).

“Taiping qiniu” 太平騎牛; album leaf by Dai Jin 戴進 (1388-1462)

Image credit: National Palace Museum, Taipei

A dog figurine from the Tang dynasty (618-907)

Image credit: Shaanxi History Museum (


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