A Treasury of Literary Classics -
Chinese Fables and Tales Series (2)


    Read the Chinese story and answer the following questions.

Going Three-tenths of an Inch into the Wood

Click here to read the text.

1. Wang Xizhi was a famous _________________ in ancient China.

A. king
B. calligrapher
C. Kung Fu master
D. engraver

Your answer:

Read paragraph 1.

"Wang Xizhi was one of the greatest calligraphers in the Eastern Jin Dynasty."

2. Which of the following descriptions best describes Wang Xizhi’s running script?
His running script was _____________________.

A. lifeless
B. like flowing water
C. static
D. energetic

Your answer:

Read paragraph 1.

"His running script brought life and energy into words."

3. Why was Wang Xizhi honoured as "the Saint of Calligraphy"?

A. He had developed his unique style of calligraphy since he was young.
B. He kept practising calligraphy on his clothes with his fingers day and night.
C. His calligraphy works influenced calligraphers of different generations.
D. He produced the calligraphy works by observing the neck movements of geese.

Your answer:

Read paragraph 1.

"After many years of practice, he produced a lot of masterpieces which influenced calligraphers from generation to generation. Because of his achievements in calligraphy, he was honoured as 'the Saint of Calligraphy'."

4. How did Wang Xizhi practise calligraphy skills when he was walking in the street?
He wrote the words ________.

A. on his clothes with his fingers
B. on the floor with his fingers
C. in the air with his fingers
D. in the river with his fingers

Your answer:

Read paragraph 2.

"No matter whether he was taking a rest or walking in the street, he kept practising on his clothes with his fingers."

5. Which of the following descriptions are correct?
(i) Wang Xizhi taught Lady Wei the art of calligraphy.
(ii) Wang Xizhi was not only a calligrapher but also a general in the army.
(iii) The neck movements of the geese helped Wang Xizhi improve his calligraphy skills.
(iv) Wang Xizhi seldom practised calligraphy.

A. (i) & (iii)
B. (ii), (iii) & (iv)
C. (ii) & (iii)
D. (ii) & (iv)

Your answer:

Did Wang Xizhi teach Lady Wei the art of calligraphy?
What was Wang Xizhi’s job?
What did Wang Xizhi learn from the neck movements of the geese?
How often did Wang Xizhi practise calligraphy?

6. What did the King of Jin ask Wang Xizhi to do to prepare for the worshipping ceremony?
The king asked Wang Xizhi to ___________________________.

A. carve words on the woodblock
B. write words on the woodblock
C. colour words on the woodblock
D. pour ink onto the woodblock

Your answer:

Read paragraph 3.

"To prepare for the ceremony, the king asked Wang Xizhi to write words of blessing on a woodblock for an engraver to carve it."

7. A connective joins words or sentences together. For example, "He learnt how to turn his wrist while writing so that he could further improve his calligraphy skills." "So that" is used to talk about the purpose. The purpose of "learning how to turn his wrist while writing" is to "improve his calligraphy skills".

Read the following descriptions. Fill in each blank with a connective from the list given. Each option can be used once only.

A. because B. but C. so that D. unless
Description Connective
7a. The engraver had carved woodblocks for a long time, _____________ he had never seen words going into the wood so deeply before.
7b. Wang Xizhi thought, "My calligraphy skills will not improve _____________ I spend more time practising them."
7c. Wang Xizhi followed Lady Wei's advice and practised consistently _____________ he could master all forms of Chinese calligraphy.
7d. People were impressed by Wang Xizhi's calligraphy _____________ his handwriting was so strong and powerful.

“But” is used to link two contrasting ideas.
“Unless” is used to tell the exception of a condition.
“So that” is used to tell the purpose of an action.
“Because” is used to tell the reason for doing something.

8. How did the engraver feel when carving the woodblock? He was __________________.

A. amazed
B. worried
C. upset
D. disappointed

Your answer:

Read paragraph 3.

"When the engraver saw the woodblock, he exclaimed, 'General's handwriting is so powerful and all the characters have gone three-tenths of an inch into the wood. I have never seen words that could go so deeply into the wood before! It is so impressive!' "

9. What does "Going three-tenths of an inch into the wood" mean?

A. Ink must always go three-tenths of an inch into the wood while people write words on it.
B. People are blessed if they could produce words that could go into the wood deeply.
C. People have a thorough understanding of something.
D. People need to work harder if they want to write powerful words.

Your answer:

Read paragraph 4.

" 'Going three-tenths of an inch into the wood' became a well-known Chinese saying. It refers to powerful calligraphy works as well as a profound knowledge of something."

Going Three-tenths of an Inch into the Wood

Score Sheet

Questions Results
Question 1
Question 2
Question 3
Question 4
Question 5
Question 6
Question 7a
Question 7b
Question 7c
Question 7d
Question 8
Question 9

10. What is the moral lesson of the story? Based on the story, which Chinese saying can you think of?

Extension Activity

Watch the video clip "Part 2: Art of Chinese Calligraphy", which is about the ancient art of Chinese calligraphy and details of the brush stroke.

Acknowledgements: The China Current


Do you like Chinese calligraphy? Do you like other forms of artwork? If yes, what are they? What makes a masterpiece of Chinese calligraphy/creative artwork? Think and share your ideas or experiences with your parents or classmates.