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ROHYX Chapter 14 : Copybook

Since Yuxi knew that Teacher Song was coming, she spent half an hour every morning and afternoon doing embroidery work. At other times, she would be reading with Mama Shen.

It was a fine day today. So, Yuxi went to the yard to embroider on a handkerchief.

Moju came in happily from outside and cried to Yuxi, "Miss, Second Young Master is here!"

When the Second Young Master, Han Jianye, fondly remembered Ning Shi's kindness in saving him, he became very concerned about Yuxi. But since he studied martial arts with his master last year, he seldom returned home.

When Yuxi saw Han Jianye, her mind filled with inexplicable thoughts. The other person who treated her very nicely in her past life besides Qiu Shi was Er Ge[1]. However, he suffered a severe setback in his marriage back then, hindered by Wu Shi's niece, Qiu Yanfu. Without any marriage prospects, he finally had to marry Qiu Yanfu. Later, to avoid Qiu Yanfu, her Er Ge[1] went to Liaodong and never returned.

Han Jianye looked at Yuxi, standing foolishly at the door. He came over and touched her little buns and asked with a smile, "Why? Are you so glad to see Er Ge[1] that you suddenly turned foolish?"

Han Jianye looked a lot like a person from the Qiu family, with his square face, thick eyebrows, and big eyes. As a result of his training in martial arts since childhood, he was ahead taller than his peers.

Yuxi held Han Jianye in her arms and wiped her tears. "Er Ge[1]." She vowed that she would never allow Qiu Yanfu to mess up Er Ge[1]'s marriage in this lifetime. Then, he would not go to Liaodong and die young.

Han Jianye was dumbfounded. What with this situation?

Moju also didn't know what was going on with Miss that she asked with a smile, "Miss, what is wrong with you? Second Young Master is finally back. Why are you crying?"

When Yuxi returned to her senses, she blushed and quickly took her handkerchief to wipe her tears. When she saw Er Ge[1], who died in her previous life, standing alive in front of her, it overwhelmed her with excitement.

Han Jianye was a rough man. Seeing Yuxi's reaction, he smiled happily and said, "To really cry when seeing Er Ge[1]. Come, Er Ge[1] bought this for you to see. See if you like it." He was flattered that his sister missed him so much until she shed tears.

Yuxi speechlessly looked at a small box filled with rouge. She was only four years old. Why did she let him buy her rouge? "Er Ge[1], don't buy me anything anymore. It's a waste of your money." Who would let a four-year-old child use rogue? Well, she could just use this to reward someone in the future.

Han Jianye mumbled sadly, "It's all right. It didn't cost much."

Yuxi was speechless and quickly changed the subject. She said, "Er Ge[1], if you could buy me a copybook, I would be happier."

Han Jianye picked Yuxi up and went into the house. After putting her down, he smiled and asked, "Has Xi-er[2] started to read? What copybook do you want?"

Yuxi thought for a moment and said, "Yan Zhenqing's copybook." She heard that it was the best.

Credit: City University of Hong Kong
Yan Zhenqing(709-789) was a well-known Chinese calligrapher during the Tang Dynasty. His early book Duobao Pagoda has been used as a copybook by beginner calligraphers from then until today.

Han Jianye promised, "It is rare for Xi-er[2] to make such great efforts. Er Ge[1] will buy it for you within the next two days." Yuxi was close to him before, but not as natural as they were now. However, Yuxi's changes still satisfied him.

While talking about a painting, Moju brought in Yuxi's embroidered basket. "Miss, I'll put this in the room."

Hearing this, Han Jianye was surprised and asked, "Xi-er[2], have you started learning embroidery?" Seeing Yuxi nodding her head, he smiled. "When will you embroider a purse for your Er Ge[1]?"

Yuxi estimated her timing and said, "Er Ge[1], this purse is for Cousin Yashi. Once I'm done with this, I'll make one for you. "

Han Jianye cheerfully said, "OK, I'll wait."

Yuxi deliberately said, "Er Ge[1], you are not afraid that people will laugh at you if my purse looks ugly?" With Han Jianye, Yuxi felt exceptionally comfortable saying anything.

Han Jianye said without hesitation, "Don't worry; they will only envy me." He had several other brothers learning martial arts with him, but they had not received any purses from their families. So when the time came for him to receive a bag from his sister, those few people would definitely envy him.

Yuxi cracked a smile at him and said, "Er Ge[1], please rest assured. I will surely embroider you a beautiful purse." Han Jianye's words always warmed her heart.

The two chatted for a while before Han Jianye left.

The following day, Han Jianye went out early to buy a copybook for Yuxi, but he couldn't find the one she wanted. He finally remembered that his Dage[3], Han Jianming, had copies.

The Han's shizi[4], Han Jianming, heard that his didi[5] wanted Yan Zhenqing's copybook, which was currently a trend in the market. Obviously, he asked for it not for himself but for Yuxi. "Even our Si Meimei[6] knows how to practice calligraphy. What about you? When will you also start practising your writing?" Han Jianming grew up with Old Lady Han, who was very demanding. He learned Chinese characters at the age of three and went to school at the age of five. However, his status did not require him to pass the imperial examinations. He diligently read to increase his knowledge and broaden his vision. While Han Jianye hated studying since he was younger. He saw a book like he saw an enemy. Even his Ge[7], Han Jiaming, thought his written words were horrible.

Han Jianye blushed and said, "Let's talk about that later. Ge[7], Si Meimei[6] said she wanted a copy of Yan Zhenqing's copybook. I remember that you seem to have quite a lot here!"

Han Jianming was really going to be subdued by this second brother. What did he mean by he had a lot? It seemed that Yan Zhenqing's copybooks were essential commodities. "I'll send them to her tomorrow."

How would Han Jianye be willing? He said, "Dage[3], I'll choose it myself. I'll send it to her after I've done choosing it." It's not like he didn't know his brother. His Gege[8] was really stingy. If you let him choose, he surely would not give you the best one.

Since Han Jianming was the heir of the Duke of the State, he had many good things on his hand. There were more than ten copybooks collected alone. Although they were not authentic, they were not common goods either.

Han Jianye was not satisfied with the basic Yan Zhenqing copybook collected by his brother, which he had just found. While searching, he finally saw a copybook on the room desk. When he opened it, it turned out to be Yan Zhenqing's 'Controversy on Seating Protocol. "Dage[3], this is it! This is good."


Controversy on Seating Protocol (Zhēng zuòwèi tiē)
Image Credit: World Digital Library
Zheng zuo wei tie, also referred to as Lun zuo tie and Yu Guo pu ye shu, was composed and handwritten by Yan Zhenqing in the running script style. It is a manuscript of Yan Zhenqing's letter to Guo Yingyi, Prince of Dingxiang. The letter addresses the issue of seating protocol for various civilian and military officials at court banquets. As it happens, to curry favour with the eunuch official Yu Chao'en, Guo Yingyi had twice placed him at the head table. This letter is representative of Yan Zhenqing's calligraphy in running script, but the original no longer exists. During the Song dynasty, An Shiwen created a stele reproducing the letter on the stone in Xi'an, Shaanxi, which is now in the Forest of Stone Steles Museum in Xi'an. Presented here is a Song dynasty rubbing, originally in the collection of Liang Qichao (1873‒1929), the late-Qing scholar and reformer. After it was bound in an accordion format, he wrote the title. - World Digital Library


Han Jianming was stunned when he saw it. "This is written in cursive script. Si Meimei[6] just began to read, and you want her to write with this script?" What Han Jianming meant was for him to change the book to one that was much easier and simpler.

However, Han Jianye did not care so much about that. He felt this copybook was written like a flying dragon and dancing phoenix[9]. Moreover, the copybook his Dage[3] could copy must have also been good. "Dage[3], this is it." Afraid that Han Jianming would not be willing to give the book up, he took it and ran away.

Han Jianming looked at his didi[5]'s back view and shook his head helplessly. "Really…" He often felt helpless with his didi[5], who was almost ten years old but still acted like a child.

Yuxi saw that the copybook Han Jianming sent her was Yan Zhenqing's «Controversy on Seating Protocol». She didn't know if she should cry or laugh. She was only four years old and had just started her education. It must be no problem for him to send her this copy of the cursive copybook.

Han Jianye looked at Yuxi and tried to see whether she liked it. He simply asked, "Xi-er[2], what do you think? I'll change it if you don't feel good about it!"

Yuxi smiled and said, "I like it very much. So, no need to change it." Although it was not genuine, Yuxi knew this copybook was precious.

Han Jianye's teacher, Master Yang, was very skilled in martial arts but had a strange temperament. He had been living in the mountain and was reluctant to come down. Hence, Han Jianye could only live in the mountain when he practised martial arts with him. After staying home for three days, he returned to the mountain.

After writing twenty words, Yuxi put down her brush and saw that Hongshan was going to say something, but then she hesitated. Yuxi curiously asked, "What's the matter? Why are you hesitating if you have something to say?"

Hongshan whispered only then, "Miss, the copybook that Second Young Master gave you was Shizi[4]'s favourite book."

Yuxi didn't think so much about it. She only smiled and went to the copper basin. After washing her hands, she smilingly asked, "How do you know that the copybook was Dage[3]'s favourite? Who told you that?"

Hongshan looked at Yuxi and saw no change in her look. She responded, "Ziyi Jiejie[10] told me."

Yuxi stopped smiling. Ziyi was one of Da Biaoge[12]'s personal maids. Clearly, she had purposely told Hongshan about the copybook. Yuxi deliberately pretended not to know anything. "What did she mean by saying this?"

Hongshan told Yuxi her guess, "Miss, I think Ziyi Jiejie[10] wants us to return the copybook."

Yuxi's look turned a bit ugly. What did that maid mean? Did she imply that Er Ge[1] took the copybook and sent it to her without Dage[3]'s consent? Otherwise, it indicated that Er Ge[1] was no longer aware of doing things properly. But it was impossible that he would do such a thing. Ziyi was completely slandering Er Ge[1]. Yuxi's eyes gleamed with cold light, and she did not know who gave Ziyi the courage. "I understand."

Yuxi didn't say anything to Ziyi's face but immediately told Qiu Shi instead. Of course, she did not directly complain but said in a teasing tone, "Er Ge[1] is really...although Dage[3] will not blame him, I still feel quite embarrassed because of this. I will ignore Er Ge[1] next time he comes back."

After hearing what Yuxi said, Qiu Shi said with a smile, "Your Er Ge[1] is such a careless person. But you can rest assured that your Dage[3] is not so stingy. The copybook, you can keep it. No need for you to return it."

Yuxi smilingly said, "Does Dage[3] really not going to blame him?"

Qiu Shi stroke Yuxi's head and smiled kindly, "It is just a copybook. Your Dage[3] will not be stingy."

Yuxi naturally wouldn't nag about this matter furthermore. She smiled and said, "Eldest Aunt, when I look at the calligraphy inside the copybook, they look beautiful, like flying dragon and dancing phoenix[9]. If I could embroider them on a piece of cloth, they would look very nice. That's why I hope I don't need to return it." This meant that she would be able to copy them later.

Qiu Shi laughed, "You, ah, you, don't always think about embroidery. Teacher Song will come in the early week of the tenth month. So, you must prepare yourself." It was good for girls to embroider, but the girls in their families did not make a living by embroidering. So, they did not need to put all their energy into it.

Yuxi was not nervous and said, "Eldest Aunt, I have finished learning both «Three Character Classic» and the «Hundred Family Surnames» books! Soon, I'm going to learn the «Thousand Characters Classic» book."

Qiushi was somewhat surprised, "How long have you been studying with Mama Shen for you to finish those two books?"

Yuxi felt she already did it very slowly, "I have studied those two books for ten days. I've also heard that San Jie[11] learns things faster too. I will be able to do the same thing as soon as Teacher Song starts teaching."



Extra Notes On What Yuxi Was Reading
In the dynasties following the Song, the «Three Character Classic», the «Hundred Family Surnames», and «Thousand Character Classic» came to be known as San Bai Qian (Three, Hundred, Thousand), from the first character in their titles. They were the almost universal introductory literary texts for students, almost exclusively boys, from elite backgrounds, and even for many ordinary villagers. Each was available in many versions, printed cheaply, and unrestricted to all since they did not become superseded. When a student had memorized all three, he had a knowledge of roughly 2,000 characters. Since the Chinese did not use an alphabet, this was effective, though a bit time-consuming, way of giving a "crash course" in character recognition before understanding texts and writing characters.- Wiki

Three Character Classic
← «Three Character Classic» by Wang Lingyin
Image Credit: 仁義中國的博客
Until the latter part of the 1800s, it served as a child's first formal education at home. The text is written in triplets of characters for easy memorization.

Thousand Character Classic
«Thousand Character Classic» →
By UncertainNote: The National Palace Museum states that the Qing imperial catalogue Shiqu Baoji (石渠寶笈) attributed this work to Emperor Gaozong of the Song dynasty. Still, they also remarked that the work appears to actually have been done by a member of said emperor's Calligraphy Academy. - Selections. The «Thousand Character Classic» in Chinese Calligraphy (exhibit). Taipei: National Palace Museum., Public Domain, Link

Hundred Family Surnames
← «The Hundred Family Surnames» is a classic Chinese text composed of common Chinese surnames. The book was written in the early Song Dynasty.[1] It originally contained 411 surnames and was later expanded to 504. Of these, 444 are single-character surnames, and 60 are double-character surnames. About 800 names have been derived from the original ones.- Wiki



Footnotes Full List
  1. er=second, ge=older brother, short form for Gege
  2. used as endearment
  3. eldest brother
  4. an heir of a noble family
  5. younger brother
  6. si=fourth, meimei=younger sister
  7. older brother, short form for Gege
  8. older brother
  9. Chinese idiom : lively and vigorous flourish in calligraphy
  10. older sister
  11. san=third, jie=elder sister, short form for Jiejie
  12. da=eldest, biaoge=older male cousin


Noob Translator's Musing

So busy changing the theme of this blog. Not satisfied yet, since there is a lot that I need to change but don't have time to do. I'll let the blog look like this, for now, so just ignore any links that won't get you anywhere. 😏


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