Idiom: "An Old Horse Knows the Way"
Pinyin: lǎo mǎ shí tú
Translation: "An old horse knows the way"
Meaning: "An experienced person knows what to do"
Origin: In the Spring and Autumn Period (chūn qiū 春秋时期,770-476 BC), Duke Huan of Qi (qí huán gōng 齐桓公) led an army to attack the northern Mountain Rong tribes. They set out in the spring, but by the time they returned, it was already winter. The land was covered in snow, and the winds were fierce and nights stormy. The army lost its way, causing great anxiety.
At this moment, Guan Zhong, the duke's chief minister, said: "An old horse knows the way." Duke Huan of Qi then had Guan Zhong select several of these old horses and had them lead the way at the front of the army. Eventually, they emerged from a valley and found the path back to the state of Qi.
Use: The meaning of this common expression (idiom) in Chinese is that experienced individuals, like the old horses in the story, have knowledge and wisdom that allows them to provide valuable guidance to others. It emphasizes the value of having someone with experience who can lead and make informed decisions in challenging circumstances. So, when people use this expression, they are praising someone's ability to provide direction and leadership based on their knowledge and experience.
Chinese idioms, or chengyu (成语), are a fascinating aspect of the Chinese language and culture. They often convey deep philosophical insights or historical anecdotes in just a few characters.