Thursday, January 5, 2012

画龙点睛 Draw a dragon then paint the pupils of its eyes

南北朝的时候, 佛教兴盛。 那时有个皇帝叫梁武帝, 是个非常信佛的皇帝。 他在全国各地建造了许多寺庙, 给大家烧香拜佛。

有一年, 南京新造了一座大庙, 庙墙上要画一些画。 梁武帝请那时最有名的画家张先生来, 在墙上画四条龙。张先生接受了这个任务后, 只花了三天时间就画好了。那些龙画得栩栩如生, 好像真的一样。

大家都来看,称赞他画的真好。 但是, 大家仔细一看, 发现所有的龙都没有眼珠。于是问张先生他为什么不画龙的眼珠。 张先生说: “龙的眼珠很容易画, 但是, 如果我画了眼珠, 这些龙就会变成活的, 从墙上下来飞走。”  当然, 没有人相信他的话, 画上的龙怎么会飞走呢?这不是骗人吗?张先生看大家都不相信, 只好同意把龙眼珠画上去。

那天, 庙里来了很多人。 张先生站在画着龙的那面墙前, 举起画笔, 熟练地给龙画上眼珠。 第二条龙的眼珠刚画好, 奇怪的事情发生了。 天空一下子黑了下来, 狂风四起, 电闪雷鸣, 那两条画了眼珠的龙从墙上冲出来, 朝天上飞去。所有的人都吓得目瞪口呆, 说不出话来。过了好一会儿,天才慢慢又亮起来。可是 ,那面墙上只剩下两条没画眼珠的龙了。

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During the Northern and Southern Dynasties, Bhuddism prospered. There was an emperor named Liang Wuding at that time, who was a very pious Buddhist emperor. He built many temples in all parts of the country for people to worship.
One year, a big temple was newly built in Nanjing. Some frescos ought to be painted on the walls of the temple. Emperor Liang Wudi invited Mr. Zhang, the most famous painter at the time, to draw four dragons on the walls. Mr. Zhang accepted the task. It took him only three days to finish the painting. Those dragons looked so vivid and true to life that they were just like real dragons.
All the people came to admire the painting, making compliments on it. However, when looking more closely, they found that all the dragons were missing pupils in the eyes. So they asked Mr. Zhang why he didn't paint the eye pupils for the dragons. Mr. Zhang said: "it is very easy to add the pupils for the dragons' eyes, but, if I added the pupils, these dragons would come alive, and went down the wall and flew away." Of course, nobody believed his words. How could the dragons in the painting fly away. Wasn't he lying or what? Mr. Zhang saw that nobody believed him, and had to agree to add the pupils to the dragons' eyes.

On the day, many people showed up. Mr. Zhang stood in front of the wall with the dragons, and picking up the paint brush, he deftly painted the pupils in the dragons' eyes. Just as he finished painting the second dragon, the strange thing happened. The sky suddenly darkened, and a violent wind kicked up from all directions, thunder roared, and lightning flashed. The two dragons whose eyes were just completed with pupils rushed out of the wall, and flew to the sky. All the people were scared and dumbfounded. After quite some time, the sky slowly cleared up again. However, on the wall stayed only two dragons without pupils painted in their eyes.

This idiom is used as a metaphor for the use of a key phrase or special feature in speech, writing or work of art, which gives the content such striking power as if the picture of dragon was brought to life.

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