Break Fresh Ground
Whenever you break a new path in any field you are interested in it will be a great joy. Here is a phrase to depict the wonderful job you have done.
In today's program, we learn the phrase "bie kai sheng mian" and the story behind it. It means to start something new, to break a new path, or to do a thing in an unusual way. It originates from a verse written by the famous poet Du Fu of the Tang Dynasty, about one thousand and three hundred years ago. Here is the story.
There was a celebrated painter in the Tang Dynasty named Cao Ba. The emperor often called him into the palace to paint for the royal family. In return, Cao Ba was handsomely rewarded. Not only that, the court nobles were all eager to mimic the good taste of the emperor, and paid very high prices for Cao Ba's paintings.
One of the most famous places in the Tang capital was the Lingyan Pavilion. Full-length portraits of 24 outstanding officials who helped found the Tang Dynasty were painted on the walls of the pavilion. But many years had gone by, and those once colorful paintings had faded and peeled. Some of them were almost unrecognizable. When the emperor learned of this, he asked Cao Ba to repaint them. It was not an easy task. Never having set eyes on these long-dead officials, Cao Ba had to bury himself in historical records, trying to get an idea of their personalities and physical characteristics. After careful study, he picked up his brush, and got to work. The result was magnificent, so lifelike, that when the emperor went to see them the 24 officials looked as if they were about to step off the wall to join him! The emperor was overjoyed.
Another of Cao Ba's paintings that won the emperor's heart was a painting of the emperor's favorite horse. When the emperor requested him to draw this horse, Cao Ba made a thorough study of it, and soon a mighty steed appeared on a piece of while silk. This time the emperor was so happy that he even granted Cao Ba an official post .
But Cao Ba's good fortune was not to last. The emperor lost interest in paintings, and so, therefore, did the nobles. Then Cao Ba lost his post, over a trifling matter. He had to leave the capital, and later lived in Chengdu, in the southwest of China, where he made a living by selling his paintings on the street.
Then Du Fu, a famous poet, came to Chengdu and saw one of Cao Ba's paintings in his friend's home. Discovering that Cao Ba was in the same city, he went to look for him, and found him in the street. Seeing an old friend landed in such a poor situation, Du Fu's heart sank. Remembering Cao Ba's honorable past, Du Fu wrote a poem and dedicated it to him. In it, there were two lines in praise of Cao Ba's brilliant re-painting of the 24 portraits in the Lingyan Pavilion. And there was the phrase “kai sheng mian,” which developed into today's idiom “bie kai sheng mian.”
Today, the idiom is still used to describe the ability to give something a completely new look.