Chinese Idiom Stories

Paper is Expensive in Loyang

During the Western Chin dynasty, there lived a writer named Tzuo Si,, who was neither very handsome nor very eloquent. He once decided to write a book on the local customs and a landscape of the capticals of WEi, Shu and Wu of the Three Kingdoms Period, which he would call San Du Fu, or The Story of the Three Capitals.

Other writers of the time mocked him, but Tzuo Si was undaunted by their critism. Painstakingly he gathered information. After ten years of hard work, researching and writing, San Du Fu was finished. It was highly praised by many great writers, some of whom wrote a preface for it, and some of whome wrote annotations. With the contributions of these well-known wirtersm San Du Fu's value increased greatly and people of the time all rushed to read it. At that time, when one wanted to read a book, one had to buy paper and copy it oneself. Because everyone wanted to buy paper on which to copy Tzuo Si's book, paper in Loyang became very expensive.

Today, this idiom can be used to describe a situation in which many people all want to read a particular book, or to praise a book or paper which is very well-written.




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