7. Returning Home Late
8. Talented Farter, The
9. Money Works

1. Aizi Canes his Grandson
From Later Words of Aizi by Lu Zhuo, Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)


      Aizi’s young grandson, obstreperous and mischievous by nature, found studying tedious. Aizi was disgusted with the boy and frequently disciplined him with a wooden cane.  Aizi’s son had only this one child and he constantly worried that the boy would be beaten to death, but he was afraid to stand up to his father. Whenever the boy was being beaten he would stand aside with tears in his eyes, pleading for mercy. When Aizi saw his son like that he would get even angrier. He would try to edify his son by saying: “I’m doing all I can to teach your son a lesson. Is there something wrong with that?” He would keep hitting the boy while he talked, not caring a bit about his son’s feelings.
      One frigid day, when it was snowing heavily outside with flakes as fluffy as goose down, Aizi caught a glimpse of his grandson out in the courtyard making snowballs. Right then and there he commanded the boy to take off his jacket and kneel down in the snow. The grandson was so cold his face turned blue and his whole body started to shake. When Aizi’s son saw this he didn’t dare ask for mercy for the boy, but he immediately tore off his own jacket and knelt down beside his son. Aizi was startled: “Why are you kneeling down to be punished,” he asked. “It was your son who was being bad.” “You don’t care about my feelings,” his son replied, crying. “You want to make my son freeze, so I’ll make your son freeze.” Aizi laughed when he heard that, and forgave both of them.


中国古代笑话 Reprinted in Jokes from Ancient China, p. 8
上海普及科学出版社 Shanghai Popular Science Press, 2012
统筹:刘湘雯 Liu Xiangwen Principal Editor
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2. Buying Gold
First Published in Qian Long period (1735-1796) as reprint of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) texts


      A county official decided to buy two gold bars. The goldsmith’s clerk delivered the bars and stayed to collect payment. The official asked him what the price was and the clerk replied, “I should change full price, but since it’s you, sir, I’ll take half price and we’ll call it even.”
      “In that case,” the official said to a servant beside him, “return one of the gold bars to him.”
      The clerk took back the gold bar and continued to wait for payment, but the official said, “I’ve already paid you your money.”
      “Please, sir, no,” said the clerk, “you haven’t paid yet!”
      The official was extremely angry. “You’ve got a lot of nerve, you cunning little creature,” he said. “You said you’d accept half price, so when I returned one of the two bars to you, it was the same as paying you half the price. I didn’t underpay you, but you’re still here bothering me. Get him out of here!”


笑林广记, p. 21, A Compilation of Jokes
云南人民出版社 2010 Ed., People’s Publishing House of Yunnan
主编:张恒 Principal Editor Zhang Heng
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
3. The Ghost's Clothes
Compiled by Liu Yiqing (403-444) et al., from Earlier Works


      A court official, Xuan Zi, was discussing the question of whether ghosts and spirits really exist. The others thought that people become ghosts when they die, and only Xuan Zi thought otherwise.
      “Now, some of you claim to have seen ghosts,” he said, “and the ghosts were wearing the same clothes they wore in life. If someone becomes a ghost when he dies, does his clothing become a ghost, too?”


世说新语, p. 98, A New Account of Tales of the World
云南人民出版社 2010 Ed., People's Publishing House of Yunnan
主编:张恒 Principal Editor Zhang Heng
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4. Hiding the Years
First Published in Qian Long period (1735-1796) as reprint of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) texts


      A man took an older woman for a wife. When they were sitting on the bed he noticed that her face was very wrinkled. “How old are you,” he asked.
      “Forty-five or so.”
      “It says thirty-eight on your papers,” said the husband. “It looks to me like you’re older than forty-five or so. Tell me the truth.”
      “The truth is, I’m fifty-four,” the wife replied.
      The husband still didn’t believe her, so he questioned her again and again, but she stuck with what she had said.
      He was still dissatisfied when they got into bed. Then he had an idea.
      “I’ve got to go cover the salt jar,” he said, “so the mice don’t eat it all.”
      The wife said, “What a joke. I’ve never heard of mice stealing the salt, not in all my sixty-eight years!”


笑林广记, p. 113, A Compilation of Jokes
云南人民出版社 2010 Ed., People's Publishing House of Yunnan
主编:张恒 Principal Editor Zhang Heng
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
5. Reasons
First Published in Qian Long period (1735-1796) as reprint of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) texts


      One day two people were brought before a particularly greedy official to litigate a dispute. The plaintiff had given the official fifty ounces of silver and, when the defendant heard about it, he immediately doubled the bribe. When it came time to issue a judgment, the official said nothing about the rights and wrongs of the case, but simply ordered his bailiff to beat the plaintiff.
      The plaintiff held up five fingers and said: “Your honor, I have reason on my side!”
      The official held out his hand, palm down, and said: “Loser! You do have your reasons,” and he turned his hand so his palm was facing up, “but he has more.”


笑林广记, p. 20, A Compilation of Jokes
云南人民出版社 2010 Ed., People's Publishing House of Yunnan
主编:张恒 Principal Editor Zhang Heng
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
6. I Returned the Principal
From Witticisms, by Wu Jianren, Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)


      A borrowed money from B. They agreed on twenty percent interest and also specified the term of the loan. To B’s surprise, after borrowing the money A made himself scarce and didn’t show his face in public. B beat on his door several times to demand payment, all to no avail. With no other choice, B could only write letters dunning him. Then A paid a small sum, and several months later paid some more, and after more than a year he had paid back the entire principal bit by bit. He hadn’t paid one penny of the interest, however. “I returned every bit of the principal I borrowed from you,” he said self-righteously. “I only stiffed you for a trivial amount of interest, that’s all.” B was as angry as could be.
      After a time B borrowed a very expensive Nankin silk robe from A and, just as A had done, he made himself scarce. After several months he returned one foot of the Nankin silk to A, along with a letter which said, “Here’s one foot of the robe.” After several more months he sent another three feet of the fabric and a letter saying, “This time I’m returning the frontpiece.” He eventually returned the cloth from the entire robe, spreading it out over two years. With the last bit he said to A, “I’ve returned all of the robe I borrowed from you, not an inch less. I’ve only stiffed you for the labor costs of tailoring, that’s all.”


中国古代笑话 2012 Edition, p. 13, Jokes from Ancient China
上海科学普及出版社 Shanghai Popular Science Press
统筹:刘湘雯 Liu Xiangwen, Principal Editor
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
7. Returning Home Late
From More Jokes by Natural He, Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)


      Zhou Ming was out late one night when the rain began coming down in buckets, so he borrowed an umbrella from a friend and started home. He got about half way when he saw someone standing in the dark under the eaves of a building. As he passed by, the stranger jumped out and started walking under the umbrella with him.
      The two walked quite a ways together but the stranger didn’t say a word. Zhou Ming began to suspect that he’d chanced upon a ghost, so he tried a couple of times to lift up the hem of the stranger’s robe with his foot, but after several tries he’d failed to feel any legs. He was more and more convinced that his suspicions were true and got very frightened.
      They walked up onto a bridge and, suddenly, Zhou Ming used all his strength to push the stranger off, then ran for his life. He hadn’t run very far when he came upon an old fellow selling rice cakes. “Help me, old man,” he shouted, “I just saw a ghost!” The old man didn’t believe it, so Zhou Ming told him everything that had happened.
      A minute later a soaking wet man came running up. “There’s a ghost,” he shouted, “help me!” When he told his story of meeting a ghost to the old man, the old fellow laughed out loud. “You two need to take a close look at each other, and stop believing in ghosts!”


中国古代笑话 Reprinted in Jokes from Ancient China, p. 11
上海普及科学出版社 Shanghai Popular Science Press, 2012
统筹:刘湘雯 Liu Xiangwen Principal Editor
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
8. The Talented Farter
By Feng Menglong, Palace of Broad Smiles, Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)


      There once was a man who was very proficient at farting. One day he went to a metalworker’s shop to have a rake cast in iron. While he was negotiating the price he cut loose several loud ones, one after the other. The shop owner thought it was funny and said jokingly: “How can you fart so much? Let’s make a bet. If you can fart one hundred times, one right after the other, I’ll give you a cast-iron rake for free.”
      The man took him seriously and, without saying another word, promptly farted one hundred times. Since the shop owner had brought up the bet, he couldn’t renege on it and grudgingly handed the rake over.
      As he was about to leave, the man let loose several more farts. “Since I gave you some extra little farts,” he said to the shop owner, “you ought to give me some iron nails!”


中国古代笑话 Reprinted in Jokes from Ancient China, p. 44
上海普及科学出版社 Shanghai Popular Science Press, 2012
统筹:刘湘雯 Liu Xiangwen Principal Editor
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

9. Money Works
Based on a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) Text, Compiled in 1700s


      A farmer planted eggplant sprouts but they didn’t live, so he went to an older vegetable farmer for advice.    
      The older farmer said: “It’s really simple. All you have to do is bury some copper coins under each sprout you plant, and it’ll be OK.”
      The farmer had his doubts, so he asked what the reason was.
      The older farmer said: “Those with money live, those without it die.”


笑林广记, p. 18, A Compilation of Jokes
云南人民出版社 2010 Ed., People's Publishing House of Yunnan
主编:张恒 Principal Editor Zhang Heng
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
10. Don't Fawn on Him
清·游戏主人《笑林广记》From A Compilation of Jokes
by Traveling Showman, Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)


      A rich merchant enjoyed showing off his wealth. He was strutting around in front of a poor man, saying, "I've got a thousand ounces of gold at home, and two thousand of silver. How can you not kiss the ground I walk on?"
      "Riches, smiches," the poor man said, "your wealth has nothing to do with me. For what should I fawn all over you?"
      "Well," the rich man said grudgingly, "suppose I gave you half my riches. Wouldn't you fawn on me then?"
      "If you and me split fifty-fifty, we'd be equally rich. So what would I fawn on you for?"
      "Well, if I gave all my possessions to you," the rich man tried again, "would you fawn on me then?"
      The poor man laughed. "If you didn't have a penny left, and I was the rich guy, then you'd be the one who should fawn on me!"


中国古代笑话 Reprinted in Jokes from Ancient China, p. 16
上海普及科学出版社 Shanghai Popular Science Press, 2012
统筹:刘湘雯 Liu Xiangwen Principal Editor
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
11. Making Good on an Old Debt
清·游戏主人《笑林广记》From A Compilation of Jokes
by Traveling Showman, Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)


       A small monkey was unlucky enough to be captured by a starving tiger.
      "I'm too tiny," he cajoled. "Eating me wouldn't fill you up. But I know of a big animal on the mountain in front of us who would certainly make you full. Let me take you there." The gluttonous tiger agreed and followed the monkey off toward the mountain.
      A deer saw them and suspected that the tiger was coming to eat her. She had a sudden inspiration and shouted, "You insolent little monkey! You agreed to bring me a dozen tiger pelts, but you've only brought one. When are you going to bring me the other eleven?"
      When the tiger heard that, he was so scared that he ran off as fast as his legs would carry him. "That insolent little monkey is really disgusting," he cursed as he ran, "abducting me to pay off an old debt!"


中国古代笑话 Reprinted in Jokes from Ancient China, p. 38
上海普及科学出版社 Shanghai Popular Science Press, 2012
统筹:刘湘雯 Liu Xiangwen Principal Editor
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
12. A Promise to Swear Off Drinking
清·小石道人《嘻谈录》
From Tee-Hee Talks by Little Stone Daoist, Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)


      There was a man who liked to drink. He was always besotted due to his fondness for alcohol. His friends urged him as best they could to go on the wagon, but the man said, "I decided a long time ago to go off the sauce, but my little boy left home and hasn't yet returned, and because I'm sick with worry for him, I drown my sorrows in drink."
      Everyone said, "You've got to swear an oath or we won't believe you," so the man promised: "After my son comes home, if I still haven't given up drinking, may a vat of wine fall on me and crush me to death, or may I choke to death on a shot glass, or may I plunge into a pool of alcohol and sink to my death, or may I fall into a sea of spirits and drown. Condemn me to be a beggar in life and a wretched ghost in death, and let me find no rest in paradise!"
      They only half believed him. "Tell us," they asked, "where exactly has your son gone?"
      "Oh, he has a distillery in Apricot Village and makes me some really good stuff."


中国古代笑话 Reprinted in Jokes from Ancient China, p. 43
上海普及科学出版社 Shanghai Popular Science Press, 2012
统筹:刘湘雯 Liu Xiangwen Principal Editor



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4. Hiding the Years
5. Reasons
6. Returned Principal

1. Aizi's Grandson
2. Buying Gold
3. Ghosts Clothes, The

10. Respect
11. Repaying a Debt
12. Promise Quit Drinking

We translated these jokes into English from modern Chinese translations of texts written in the classical language.

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