Chinese Idiom Stories
Eight Decalitres of Talent
Tsau Pi and Tsau Jr were sons of Tsau Tsau. Both were very gifted writers, and Tsau Jr was especially quick-witted.
After Tsau Tsau's death, Tsau Pi took over the throne of the kingdom of wei. Jealous of Tsau Jr's literary ability, and afraid the he might cause problems, Tsau Pi was always looking for a way to kill his brother. One day, Tsau Pi called Tsau Jr into see him. He ordered his brother to make up a poem with in the time it took to walk seven steps, adding that if he could not, his life would be in danger.
Greatly saddened, Tsau Jr began to walk and to think. Before he had taken the seven steps, he had already finished his poem, the meaning of which was: "Brothers are of the same family, so why should the oppress each other?"
Tsau Jr was very intelligent and loved to study. He wrote many outstanding articles which showed his artistic talent and earned him the admiration of many people. One scholar said of him: "Heaven gave the world ten decalitres of talent, and Tsau Jr alone has eight of them."
Today, to say that a person "has eight decalitres of talent" is to say that he has a great aptitude for writing.