Zì Xiāng Máo Dùn
Meaning: To be a hypocrite
During the Warring States Period (453-221BC), there lived a man who sold spears and shields in the markets of Chu kingdom. To attract the attention of passersby, he would raise a shield and shout, “Attention, gentlemen! Behold the shield in my hand. It’s made of the best iron, and is extremely durable and solid. It can protect against any sharp spear.”
His shouting attracted the attention of several bystanders. He then grabbed a spear and bragged,“Look at this mighty spear! It is the most wonderful spear made with the latest technology. It is sharp enough to break any shield.”
A man stood up and shouted, “What will happen if I try to pierce your strongest shield with your sharpest spear?” The man could not answer this question. His face was flushed with embarrassment. He collected his things and disappeared into the crowd.
Chinese people use this idiom to describe those whose behavior or words are contradictory. It is similar to the phrase “pot calling the kettle black” in English. The next time you’re around a hypocrite, you can just say “你自相矛盾” Nǐ zì xiāng máo dùn.