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Notice: No 300 ounces of silver buried here

Jan 23, 2009



Storyteller: In such a severe global financial crisis, preserve your hard earned money is critical for everyone.  Lots of people think paper notes as numbers on your bank statement is too vulnerable to inflation, and gold or silver might be a better alternative.  But where is the safest place to store your shiny precious heavy metal? In your bank? In a bullet-proof steel-made password-protected storage case? Somewhere underground in your backyard? An ancient Chinese had also thought about this question, and found a quite surprising solution.

“No 300 taels of silver buried here”

Once upon a time, there was a guy named Zhang. He saved 300 taels (Chinese ounce) of silver with lots of hard work and efforts.  It’s a decent amount of wealth, he was very happy about it. But he was worrying that someone might steal it from him. He must find a safe place. Carry along with him? too heavy; In the drawer at home? thief might break in; … finally he had a “brilliant” idea.

In the midnight, Zhang dug a hole in the corner of his backyard, and buried all his money in it. But he was still worrying, fearing that people might notice the dig site and discover his money. Then he had a “more brilliant” idea. He went back in and wrote a big sign saying: “No 300 taels of Silver Buried Here.” He put it on the wall by the hole and felt assured. Now he could sleep better with money secured.

The story did not end here.

“Your neighbor Wang did not steal it”



Zhang’s neighbor – Wang noticed Zhang’s anxiety and heard his digging.  After Zhang went sleeping, Wang came out. By the moonlight, he saw the big sign – “No 300 taels of Silver Buried Here”. He knew what it meant. He dug money out quietly and recovered the hole well. Back to his house, Wang was not only excited with the shiny silver but also worried about his crime.  What if Zhang wake up tomorrow and find his money gone? What if he suspects me? Then he had the “most brilliant” idea. He wrote a big sign, too, and put it next to Zhang’s. It said: “Your neighbor Wang did not steal it”.

This idiom is commonly used to describe that a guilty person gives himself away by conspicuously protesting his innocence.

Storyteller: So, next time, when you keep wine/candy away from your husband/kid, leave a note saying: “No wine/candy is hidden here“. see if they will respond.

[Recommended Reading on Amazon]
1. Chinese Folktales

2. Traditional Chinese Folktales: Zhongguo Min Jian Gu Shi (North Castle Books)

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