Verse in Three Characters and Genre Pictures (English-Chinese)

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Text in English, Chinese, and Pinyin. In Ancient China with a history of several thousand years, hundreds and thousands of different books had been compiled for childrenslearning. Traditionally, these books had been called as "ChildrensEnlightenment Books". Those used for Children in elementary schools and private schools were also called as "enlightenment books". These books were not only numerous in quantity but also different in functions, elucidating the moral principles, explaining all kinds of knowledge, narrating the history, introducing poems and songs of past ages. All these books had, however, basic functions of helping children learn Chinese characters and guiding them to approach knowledge. Out of the enlightenment books in the past ages, the most popular and influential were only San Zi Jin (hereinafter called as Verse in Three Characters), Bai Jia Xing (Hundred Families Surnames), Qian Zi Wen (Thousand-Character Text) and Qian Jia Shi (Poems of the Masters), which are commonly known as "San, Bai, Qian, Qian" (Three, Hundred, Thousand, Thousand). Nevertheless, Verse in Three Characters was the head of all.
There has been no definite record about the composition date and author of Verse in Three Characters. Generally it has been thought to be the work of the famous scholar Wang Yinglin (1223-1296) in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). Wang Yinglin was born in Yinxian County, Zhejiang Province. He attached great importance to childrensenlightenment education and composed various influential works, of which the Verse in Three Characters was the most popular. The current version of Verse in Three Characters has taken an account of the history up to the Qing Dynasty because it had been enlarged for many times in the past after the Southern Song Dynasty.
The current version of Verse in Three Characters contains 380 lines and 1,140 Chinese characters. Though being short, it has rather abundant and extensive contents, covering all moral principles, study methodology, common knowledge of heaven and earth, institutions and rules, historical evolution, stories of famous persons, etc. In view of its subject, however, it has focused on the moral education. All the meanings of the text would conclude on teaching how to conduct oneself and how to become a useful person and on great hopes placed on the educated.
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Verse in Three Characters and Genre Pictures (English-Chinese)