Chinese Idiom Stories

When The Map Was Unrolled, The Dagger Was Revealed

During the Warring States Period, the Ch'in army was drawing very close to the border of Yan. So the crown prince of Yan took a map of the Yan city of Du-kang, and rolled a dagger up inside. He then gave it to a man named Jing Ke, ordering him to take it into Ch'in and kill their king.

Meanwhile, the Ch'in general Fan Wu-chi insulted the king of Ch'in. The king offered a very large reward for his head, and so Fan fled to Yan to escape. When he heard about Jing Ke's plan, however, he decided to sacrifice himself for the cause, and slit his throat, committing suicide.

And so Jing Ke took Fan's head, along with the map of Du-kang, and presented them to the king of Ch'in, surrounded on all sides by armed guards. When the king saw the map, he thought that Yan was ceding territory to him, along with offering him Fan Wu-chi's head, and he was very pleased. He immediately unrolled the map, revealing the shiny bright dagger. Jing Ke grabbed the dagger and stabbed at the king. Unfortunately, he missed the king and hit only his sleeve. And so two heroes had sacrificed themselves for their countries.

Today, this idiom is used to mean that a person's plan is completely exposed, and there is no way to cover it up.







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