See also: 画蛇添足
draw; picture; painting snake; serpent to add; to increase; to replenish foot; to be sufficient trad. (畫蛇添足) 畫 蛇 添 足 simp. (画蛇添足) 画 蛇 添 足 Literally: “to add feet when drawing a snake”.
- 楚有祠者，賜其舍人卮酒，舍人相謂曰：「數人飲之不足，一人飲之有餘，請畫地為蛇，先成者飲酒。」一人蛇先成，引酒且飲之，乃左手持卮，右手畫蛇曰：「吾能為之足。」未成，一人之蛇成，奪其卮曰：「蛇固無足，子安能為之足？」遂飲其酒。為蛇足者，終亡其酒。 [Classical Chinese, trad.][▼ expand/hide]
- 楚有祠者，赐其舍人卮酒，舍人相谓曰：“数人饮之不足，一人饮之有余，请画地为蛇，先成者饮酒。”一人蛇先成，引酒且饮之，乃左手持卮，右手画蛇曰：“吾能为之足。”未成，一人之蛇成，夺其卮曰：“蛇固无足，子安能为之足？”遂饮其酒。为蛇足者，终亡其酒。 [Classical Chinese, simp.]
- From: Zhan Guo Ce, circa 5th – 3rd centuries BCE
- Chǔ yǒu cí zhě, cì qí shè rén zhījiǔ, shè rén xiāngwèi yuē: “Shù rén yǐn zhī bùzú, yī rén yǐn zhī yǒuyú, qǐng huà dì wéi shé, xiān chéng zhě yǐnjiǔ.” Yī rén shé xiān chéng, yǐn jiǔ qiě yǐn zhī, nǎi zuǒshǒu chí zhī, yòu shǒu huà shé yuē: “Wú néng wéi zhī zú.” Wèi chéng, yī rén zhī shé chéng, duó qí zhī yuē: “Shé gù wú zú, zǐ ān néng wéi zhī zú?” Suì yǐn qí jiǔ. Wéi shé zú zhě, zhōng wáng qí jiǔ. [Pinyin]
- Once, there was a host of a sacrificial ceremony in Chu. After the sacrificial ceremony, he carried a jug of wine to the people as a reward.
The people there discussed with each other, saying: “This jug of wine is not enough for all of us to drink, but if one drinks the wine, then he will leave some wine in the jug. We'll all draw a snake on the ground, with the one who draws the fastest getting the wine.”
One man finished first and grabbed the wine jug. Holding the jug of wine in his left hand, he said: “I can draw feet for the snake.” and started drawing the feet with his right hand.
Before he had finished drawing the feet, another man finished drawing his snake, snatched the wine and said: "A snake (actually) has no feet, how can you draw feet on a snake?" Then, he drank the wine. The one who added feet to the snake never got the wine.