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USING IDIOMS 活用成語

Neolithic cong, Liangzhu Culture.
玉琮,新石器時代良渚文化。

Photo courtesy of National Palace Museum,Taipei
照片:台北國立故宮博物院提供

Chinese Practice

瑕不掩瑜

(xia2 bu4 yan3 yu2)

a blemish does not obscure jade’s luster

玉在中華文化中的價值,如同黃金和寶石在其他國家文化中的地位;這種對玉的使用和重視,可以追溯到新石器時代。有些玉石白色如凝脂、質感光滑、完美無瑕──被稱為「羊脂玉」;而其他玉石色彩變化微妙,給人無比的視覺享受,玉石中分布的雜質和深淺不一的化學成份「缺陷」,反倒增添其美感及興味。

在今中國東北遼寧省附近的新石器時代紅山文化中,閃玉被用來製成禮器和珠寶,這些物品只有上層社會才能使用;閃玉很硬,極難加工。新石器時代的良渚文化位於今上海附近,玉被製成禮器,如圓盤狀的「璧」──代表「天」,以及「琮」(音「從」)──外方內圓的中空柱體,代表「地」。璧與琮皆用於墓葬儀式,其形式至今未變。在東周時期,孔子及儒者便很尊崇玉──由於玉的特質,且玉代表了君子令人敬佩的品格。

《禮記》記載了周代的社會規範、施政及禮儀,其中的〈聘義〉一章,有一段子貢和孔子的對話,討論玉如此受重視的原因。孔子說,玉並不是因為稀有才珍貴,玉的價值在於其品質,及其在古人心目中的象徵意義:「溫潤而澤,仁也;縝密以栗,知也;廉而不劌,義也;垂之如隊,禮也;叩之其聲清越以長,其終詘然,樂也;瑕不掩瑜、瑜不掩瑕,忠也;孚尹旁達,信也;氣如白虹,天也;精神見於山川,地也;圭璋特達,德也。天下莫不貴者,道也。」(玉石溫和、潤澤有光彩,正如君子的仁德一般;它紋理細密而又堅實,就好像君子的智慧,心思細膩、縝密,處事周全;當玉石摔碎後,雖然也有棱角,卻不尖銳,不會傷人,如同君子之義,正直剛毅,卻以仁愛存心;垂掛著的時候,看似要跌落下來,象徵著君子的謙下恭謹;敲擊它的時候,會發出清澈激昂的聲音,最後則嘎然而止,與音樂的性德相似;雖然有斑點,但不會因此而遮掩它的優點,縱然它很美,斑點也如此顯而易見,如君子之忠,毫不掩飾;另外,玉的色彩從各個方面都可以看到,好比君子之信,表裡如一,也誠信不欺;它晶瑩透亮猶如白虹,與天道相應。而玉的精神可見於山川之中,與地相應。朝覲時,手執玉石所製之圭璋,自然合乎禮。天下無不以美玉為貴,這是道的顯現。)

「玉」這個中文字,是來自早期象形文字──三條橫線代表三片玉──用一條垂直的線串在一起。成語「瑕不掩瑜」中的「瑕」和「瑜」兩字,部首都是左邊的玉部,右邊的部分則是用來標示其發音。「瑕」字的意思是「玉石中的缺陷」;「瑜」字則指「精美的玉」。現今的成語「瑕不掩瑜」,其義同出處的原始意義,字面意思是「瑕疵不會掩蓋玉的光澤」,比喻「優點多過缺點」。

(台北時報林俐凱譯)

這部片無論是劇情、服裝、道具都十分考究,雖然有幾個穿幫鏡頭,但瑕不掩瑜,仍大受歡迎。

(Much research went into this movie’s script, costumes and props. Despite a number of minor anachronisms, the movie was generally well received.)

你的成績單可說是瑕不掩瑜,雖然數學因為計算錯誤被扣分,但其他科目的表現可圈可點。

(Your exam results are not perfect, but they’re good enough. You lost marks with mistakes in the math section, but you did really well in the other subjects.)

英文練習

the pros outweigh the cons

Jade has been used and prized in Chinese culture going all the way back to Neolithic times, and has been accorded the same kind of admiration and value given to gold and precious stones elsewhere. Sometimes, the stone has an unctuous, glossy quality, white and flawless — referred to as “mutton fat” jade; at others, it can be a visual feast of subtle transitions in color, interspersed with solid inclusions and chemical “flaws” at varying depths below the surface that only enhance its beauty and interest.

In the Neolithic Hongshan culture of NE China, around present day Liaoning Province, nephritic jade was used to make ritual objects and jewelry reserved for only the higher echelons of society, the hardness of the material making it extremely difficult to work; in the Neolithic Liangzhu culture, around present day Shanghai, it was used for ritual objects such as the bi disc — thought to represent the sky — and the cong tube, a cylinder with a round interior and square exterior, thought to represent the earth. Both bi and cong were used in ritual burials, and their form has persisted in Chinese crafts and arts ever since. In the Eastern Zhou, Confucius and his followers respected the stone for its qualities, and how these represented the admirable characteristics of the idealized Confucian gentleman.

In the pin yi chapter of the liji (Book of Rites), a collection of texts describing the social norms, administration, and ceremonial rites of the Zhou dynasty, we find a discussion between Zi Gong and Confucius himself on why jade is valued so much. Confucius says that rarity does not come into it; its value derives from its qualities, and what the stone symbolized to the ancients: “Soft, smooth, and glossy, it appeared to them like benevolence; fine, compact, and strong: like intelligence; angular, though neither sharp nor cutting: like righteousness; hanging down (in beads) as if it would fall to the ground: like (the humility of) propriety; when it was struck, it would yield a note clear and prolonged, yet terminating abruptly: like music; its flaws did not conceal its beauty; nor its beauty its flaws (瑕不掩瑜,瑜不掩瑕): as with loyalty; its internal radiance emanating on every side like good faith; yet it is bright as a rainbow, like heaven; exquisite and mysterious, appearing in the hills and streams, it is like the earth; standing out conspicuous in the symbols of rank, it is like virtue; jade is esteemed by all under the sky, like the path of truth and duty.”

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