A jester’s witty ditty

Like many of his counterparts elsewhere, Jing Xinmo 鏡新磨 (Newly Polished Mirror) was skilled in versifying.  When an allegedly six-eyed turtle was sent to the court of Tang Zhuangzong 唐莊宗 (r. 923-26) as tribute, Xinmo made up a little rhyme about it – joking that if it had six eyes it must get three times the sleep when taking a nap:

Quotation - Youhuan jiwen 遊宦紀文 - Zhang Shinan 張世南

Roll up, roll up, still your noise, hear this six-eyed turtle ditty!

With my peepers half a dozen I’m worth three sleepers when a-dozin’.





Source: Youhuan jiwen 遊宦紀文, by Zhang Shinan 張世南 (fl. 1225), fol. 2, Congshu jisheng 叢書集成, Wang Yunwu 王雲五 ed. (Taibei: Yiwen Yinshuguan, 1967-), book 2871, p. 13. 

Image credit: Inkstone and cover in the shape of a turtle, China, 6th–7th century; turtles and tortoises, symbols of longevity and endurance, have long been associated with divination in ancient China. Here, the shell is engraved with the eight trigrams (bagua) used in Daoist cosmology, which became increasingly important during the Sui and Tang dynasties.  Photo and text courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art, public domain.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This