Home Chinese Idioms/Fables The Frog in A Shallow Well
The Frog in A Shallow Well is a Chinese idiom that describes those who are shallow or narrow-minded. Its pinyin is Jing Di Zhi Wa. Jing means "well"; Di mean "bottom"; Zhi means "of" and Wa "frog".
Short Version of the Chinese Frog Story:
Once upon a time there lived a frog at the bottom of a well. He was content and proud of his little world.
One day a turtle from the East Sea was passing by and looked into the well. The frog boasted to the turtle about the wideness and fineness of the well. When the turtle told him about the sea, the frog was humbled.
Longer Version of the Chinese Frog Fable:
Once there was a frog that lived in a shallow well. He was content and proud of his little world. One day a sea turtle from the East Sea was passing by and looked into the well.
"Have you not heard of the frog that lives in a well?" The frog said to a turtle. "I am so happy to live here! When I go out, I jump about on the railing beside the mouth of the well. When I come home, I rest in the holes of the wall.
The water comes up to my armpits and holds up my cheeks when I jump in. If I walk in the mud, it covers up my feet. Look around, the wriggly worms, crabs or tadpoles, none can compare with me here. I'm the Lord of the well. Coming in and rest for a while."
Before the turtle from the East Sea could get its left foot in the well, its right knee got stuck. It hesitated and retreated. The turtle told the frog about the East Sea.
"Even a thousand li (a Chinese measure word for distance, about 1/3 mile) cannot give you an idea of the sea's width; even a thousand ren (an ancient Chinese measure word, about 10 feet) cannot give you an idea of its depth.
In the time of King Yu of the Xia Dynasty, there were floods nine years out of ten, but the waters in the sea did not increase. In the time of King Tang of the Shang Dynasty there were droughts seven years out of eight, but the waters in the sea did not decrease.
The sea does not change along with time and its level does not rise or fall according to the amount of rain that fall. This is the greatest happiness for me to live in the East Sea."
After listening to these words, the frog of the shallow well was shocked by his realization that how insignificance he and his world were and he was humbled.
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