Sāi Wēng lived on the border and he raised horses for a living. One day he lost a horse
and his neighbor felt sorry for him, but Sāi Wēng didn’t care about the horse, because
he thought it wasn’t a bad thing to lose a horse. After a while the horse returned with
another beautiful horse, and the neighbor congratulated him on his good luck. But Sāi
Wēng thought that maybe it wasn’t a good thing to have this new horse.

His son liked the new horse a lot and often took it riding. One day his son fell off the
horse and broke his leg. Because of his broken leg, he couldn’t go off to the war, as
was expected of all the young men in the area. Most of them died.

This proverb is said when bad luck turns to good, or when good luck turns to bad.
During the Warring States Period (475 BC - 221 BC), a prince of the country of Wèi
was required to go to the country of Zhào as a peace hostage. King Wèi ordered his
councilor Páng Cōng to accompany the Prince.

Páng Cōng knew he would be away for a long time, and he was afraid that his enemies
would spread rumors about him.

So Páng Cōng went to the king and asked him, "If someone came to you and said that
there was a tiger in the street, would you believe him?"

The king replied, "I would find that very hard to believe."

Páng Cōng continued, "What if two men told you the same thing?"

The king said that he would still find it hard to believe.

"What about three men?" Páng Cōng asked.

"With three men," said the king, "I would have to believe it."

Then Páng Cōng said these words: "It is impossible for a tiger to be in a busy street,
this fact is obvious. Yet when three men say it is so, we become convinced of the
impossible. This is how terrible rumors are spread. I am about to go to the country of
Zhào, much further than the street. While I am away, if you hear bad things about me,
remember that I am your faithful servant to you. Do not believe rumors."

The king assured Páng Cōng that he had nothing to fear, but sure enough, as soon as
he was gone, the rumors began to spread. At first, the king paid them no attention, but
as he kept on hearing bad things about Páng Cōng, his opinion was gradually swayed.

After the hostage period was over, Páng Cōng and the prince returned to the country of
Wèi. But by then, the king did not trust Páng Cōng, and would not see him.

From this story we can see that the more people talk about something, even if it is not
true, the more likely we are to believe it.

Sān Rén Chéng Hǔ. Three people create a tiger. This expression is said to express
doubt about a widely-held idea.

King Midas <==> Goldfinger
Who would have thought?

Submitted by Judy Pfaff
Quiz #455 Results
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Answers to Quiz #455 - November 16, 2014
1. What does this phrase mean literally?
2. What is the story behind it?
3. What fictional person in western folklore does it describe?
A couple of websites you may find useful:
Comments from Our Readers
I e-mailed the image to a friend and asked if she knew what any of the characters
said.  She thought one of them was the word golden and she cautioned me that any
two characters might mean something else besides a combination of the two
individual words.  That meant I was on my own for everything else.  Using one of
the sites you had listed, I painstakingly drew each one, picked the characters that
were closest to what I was trying to draw and then copied and pasted them into
Google Translate.  The translation was Midas Touch.  That told me that my friend
Lillian had the gold(en) part right.  Now, I know I can draw a fairly straight line
with a pencil, but using a mouse is a whole different thing.  It was nothing short of
a miracle that I could find the characters I was trying to draw.
Carol Farrant
Trying to translate the phrase looks like "point of the stone turned into/became
gold." This sounds like a story involving the arrowhead - thunderstone folklore. I've
had extra challenges coming up with answers from my very stubborn computer
today about the fictional person in western folklore. It said something about the
Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter. This doesn't seem like a correct answer at all.
Grace Hertz and Mary Turner
The Fabulous Flecthers
I used the sources you gave to draw the pictures. Then I copied them onto Google
translate. The first translation I got did not make sense ("Point right into gold"),
then I tried alternative translations and came up with Golden Touch.

This was a fun quiz.
Rebecca Bare
There is another Chinese story relating to same that involves fire, alchemy and
changing metals to gold or another more valuable substance.

I knew one of the characters was a rock or stone and I went from there.  At one
time a few years back I was searching like mad the different Chinese characters
trying to decipher a code in a book and that one stood out to me I guess. Probably
because of its simplicity when compared to some of the other characters.  Then, I
went Googling Chinese proverbs. Sometimes I get lucky.  

I can't say enough how much I enjoy your quizzes.
Cynthia Costigan
Pecos Bill(cowboy), Paul Bunyon(lumberjack) and Bigfoot Wallace(Texas Ranger).

I used , drew the characters and google translated. Interesting the
characters were not recognized unless the lines were drawn as done originally-wide
end to narrow end. The large end is the starting dot made by the brush. Pecos, Bill
and Bigfoot, Wallace are larger than life cowboy and Texas Ranger. They never fail
and accomplish fantastic stuff. True Midas Men like Paul Bunyon. Never heard Paul
did anything but have Babe create the 10,000 lakes in Minnesota. I googled fictional
heroes to get their names. I first heard of Pecos, Bill Saturday while reading a book
of best cowboy stories.
Arthur Hartwell
Well, I guess it depends on which translator you use. I found your Point Stone
Become Gold first, but kept looking, and eventually found another site (your second
one, mobilefish) that gave my version. Your first site was down when I tried it.
Back up now

I guess I just couldn't find the correct search terms for Google to find the Chinese
version of the Midas legend. I tried several. Instead, it kept finding beer, heart
attacks and movies.
Collier Smith
You could also copy and paste the characters in Google and it would have found
a site in English explaining it. Note the name of the image is tagged with the
words Chinese Proverb.

- Q. Gen.
This quiz was a funny one. I took the "easy" route and asked a Chinese friend to do
the quiz for me, which she did, but she answered in all Chinese characters. Since
she's getting married today, I knew I wouldn't have time to get the English
translation from her, so I copied her answer and pasted it into Google translate. The
Google translation was a little odd, but good enough for me to figure out who Xu
Xun was and I got myself to a webpage that actually had an animated cartoon of
the Xu Xun story.

She had answered Armand Hammer for the Western example (the only word with
English characters) but perhaps the word "fictional" got lost in translation, so I
guess you meant the Greek myth guy. I did a lot of Greek mythology studies in my
elementary school's ELP class. Amazing what sticks with you from such an early
age. I remember one of our assignments was to find examples of Greek gods in
contemporary usage: Midas auto repair, Mercury boat engines, FTP florist, all use
Greek or Roman mythological references. My dad made me a helmet for my Athena
costume out of an old Cool Whip container.

What I love is that I don't have to have all the answers, I just have to know who to
ask. And sometimes a little here and a little there gets me to the solution. A team
effort to be sure.
Tynan Peterson
Always a fun puzzle!

I started working on this one with a Chinese Character Dictionary.  I found words
but meaning.  Then I tried the Online English-Chinese Dictionary site,, no and got a hint as to the meaning.  Next I tried Yabla Chinese
an online immersion language website.  Bingo!  I took the pinyin characters and put
them into Google search and found the story of Xuxun from Nanchang
Margaret Paxton
I had a wonderful opportunity to study Chinese in the past. Didn't use mobilefish;
I'll have to check that out further.
I dated a Chinese American fellow for a time. He found my efforts at Mandarin
rather amusing.

This was a great quiz. You're on a roll!
Dianne Abbott
This one was pretty fun! Not sure if I am to late with this one. I loved that website
that recognizes handwriting. It was very helpful.
Daniel Dean

Congratulations to Our Winners

Carol Gene Farrant                Rebecca Bare
Collier Smith                Judy Pfaff
Tynan Peterson                Arthur Hartwell
Ida Sanchez                Marcelle Comeau
Dianne Abbott                Margaret Paxton
Daniel Dean                Gar Watson

Grace Hertz and Mary Turner
The Fabulous Fletchers!
If you have a picture you'd like us to feature a picture in a future quiz, please
email it to us at If we use it, you will receive a free analysis of
your picture. You will also receive a free
Forensic Genealogy CD or a 10%
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Forensic Genealogy book.
If you enjoy our quizzes, don't forget to order our books!
!-- Start Quantcast tag -->
This task proved to be a challenge.

I first started by googling "chinese symbols" and going to the images, hoping to see if I
could identify one of them by being a very common one. I succeeded with the last
symbol, which, attached to another one, meant "money".

So started looking for "chinese symbols money" and then I found it again, but this time
it meant "metal" (also attached). So I searched for "chinese symbols metal" and that
allowed me to find the second symbol in "gem". By searching for that, I could find that
it meant "stone" by itself.

Then, in another site that I could translate things, I translated "metal" and that lead me
to the symbol by itself that I translated back. It meant "gold". So having "stone" and
"gold", I thought of King Midas, but no search gave me anything.

Given that no trace of the other 2 symbols ever appeared, I tried googling "chinese
character reader" hoping to find an app that would allow me to draw them and identify
them. Bingo!  That way I could find the whole phrase and copy and paste it together.

But I googled it and still had no luck. The missing piece in my puzzle was the word
"proverb".  Found it in the image's name (cheater!!!!). So I googled "chinese proverb"
and that led me to a site that provided the proverb and the story of King Midas in all
possible chinese representations


It also explained what the whole phrase meant (because point stone army gold didn'
exactly ring any bells). Googling "chinese proverb Dian Shi Cheng Jin" gave me the
answer to the second question

Funny thing, I still can't find the image.

Ida Sanchez


N.B. It is AMAZING what you did to solve the puzzle.  Excellent job!

There's no such thing as cheating!  Any way you get to the answer is just fine.  I
created the image for the quiz by taking a screenshot of the Chinese characters I had
on my screen, and the posting them as a jpg so that readers would have to wor for the
answer, and not just copy and paste into Google. Don't feel bad about not finding the
image.  There is no image to find.

- Q. Gen.

How Ida Solved the Puzzle

Stroke order for the proverb characters
Contributed by Marcelle Comeau
He's the man, the man with the Midas touch
A spider's touch

Such a cold finger
Beckons you to enter his web of sin
But don't go in

Golden words he will pour in your ear
But his lies can't disguise what you fear
For a golden girl knows when he's kissed her
It's the kiss of death from Mr.

Pretty girl, beware of this heart of gold
This heart is cold

Golden words he will pour in your ear
For his lies can't disguise what you fear
For a golden girl knows when he's kissed her
It's the kiss of death from Mr.

Pretty girl, beware of this heart of gold
This heart is cold

He loves only gold
Only gold
He loves gold
He loves only gold
He loves gold


I have my doubts about my answers for this one.

Oh, Colleen, I confess I somewhat cheated.  My daughter lived in Japan for
about 4 years and speaks and writes Japanese very well.  She runs the
language lab at Gettysburg College.  I emailed her the link and asked her
what the characters meant.  She gave me the literal meaning and I took it
from there.  I didn't think I did very well, but submitted the best I had.  I
love the Goldfinger song and movie.  I am going to try something with those
characters.  If it works, I will send it to you.

Judy Pfaff


I did it!!!


I used this website in reverse:

Got the symbols by entering point, stone, become and gold and translate
from English to Chinese.

Of course, this wouldn't work if I didn't know the meaning of the symbols

Great Google images for this set of characters.

Judy Pfaff
1.  Point Stone Become Gold
2.  A king is granted the wish that everything he touches turns to gold.
He asks that the wish be undone when he kisses his daughter one morning
and she turns to gold.
3. King Midas
Chinese Proverbs
Chinese proverbs are short sayings (usually 4 characters) that summarize a story that
teaches a moral. They have been passed down for hundreds of years, and their
continued relevance speak of their ability to reflect on the human condition. Here are a
few you will enjoy.

East Eat West Sleep
A long time ago there was a beautiful girl, whom her parents adored. As she was of an
age to get married, there came two suitors. From the east came a very wealthy man,
but he was very ugly. From the west came a handsome studious man, but he was very

The girl was asked which of the two men she preferred. She was very shy and did not
want to say anything.

So her parents told her, "Raise your right hand if you prefer the man from the west, or
raise your left hand if you prefer the man from the east."

The girl raised both hands.

The parents asked her why, and the girl replied, "I can go to the east for food and
clothing, and I can go to the west for sleeping."

Dōng shí xī sù is said when commenting on greedy people.

Spilled Water is Hard to Retrieve
Zhu Mai Chen was a very diligent scholar. He spent all his time studying, and never
earned money, so his family was very poor. They were so poor that they could not buy
lamp oil, so Zhu Mai Chen used pine oil when he studied at night.

His wife could not stand this hard life, and asked for a divorce. Zhu Mai Chen tried to
comfort her by saying, “One day I will achieve a high status, and we will be rich, and
we will have everything we desire. Our lives are long, so be patient and things will get

However, his wife would not be swayed, and Zhu Mai Chen had no choice but to give
her a divorce.

After several years, Zhu Mai Chen achieved the rank of Prefecture. He returned to his
home town, and all the people came to greet him. His ex-wife was also there, and when
she saw Zhu Mai Chen in his splendid clothing, she approached him and said, “Sire, I
am your wife, do you remember me? I know I have done wrong, can you forgive me?”

Zhu Mai Chen replied, “Our marriage is like water poured on the floor, it cannot be
retrieved. What is done is done.”

覆水難收 is said to show that things cannot go back as they were.

Sāi Wēng Lost his Horse
点     Point
石     Stone
成     Become
金     Gold
A long time ago there was a king who had a room for all his gold. But he was not
satisfied. One day he was in the room and he touched the gold and sighed. He said "I
wish this house was made from gold."

After he said that, a long-haired old man appeared in front of him. The king was
shocked, but the old man said, "I am a spirit who has come to help."

Then the king said, "Can you make everything I touch turn to gold?"

The old man said, "Tomorrow morning, after you see the first light of day, your finger
will have the power to turn everything it touches turn to gold." Then the old man

The next morning, the king woke up, and saw the first light of day, and thought of this
power he was to have. So he got out of bed, and touched his blanket, which turned to
gold. He was very happy, and touched everything in his room - the chairs, the walls,
the tables and the windows, and everything turned to gold.

When his servant came to his room with his bath towels and washing dish, the king
touched them and they all turned to gold.

But when his breakfast arrived, and the king tried to eat it, it also turned to gold. The
king began to grow frustrated.

He walked through the garden and saw beautiful roses, but when he touched them they
turned to gold.

The king's young daughter was nearby and saw the gold roses. She began crying,
saying "Where are my beautiful red roses?"

The king tried to comfort his daughter by giving her a hug, but she turned into a gold

The king was very sad, and regretted his new power. He called the spirit and said
"Where are you? I don't want this magic power."

The old man appeared, and asked the king, "Does this power make you happy?"

The king shook his head and said, "No, please help me get rid of it."

The old man told the king to bathe in the spring behind the garden, and to use the water
to wash everything he had touched, and everything would return to normal.

The king followed these instructions, and everything returned to normal, including his
daughter. The king was so happy he shared all his gold with his people.
For more Chinese proverbs, please see:

Three People Create a Tiger
Thanks for the tip from Gar Watson - You can draw the
characters for translation on Goggle too.  See