Duì niú tán qín
对 牛 弹 琴
Play a harp before a cow
This is the Chinese equivalent to our expression ‘cast pearls before swine’ – that is to say, don’t offer something of value to someone who does not understand that it is valuable as it will be wasted.
Before writing this blog post I had never wondered where the proverb came from even though I understand it and have used it many times. However, many of the expressions we use in English either come from the Bible or from Shakespeare. In this case it is the former, the saying comes from The New Testament, Matthew 7: 6.
‘Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.’ [King James Bible]
Don’t you think the bull in the picture looks quite fed up with life ? – a little melody played on a harp might well be just what is needed to perk him up.