But before you read, I recommend reading the other origin of the “Mount Tai” idiom first:
First of all, “Spirit World” (World Spiritists’ mind) changed to “Spiritual World” and “Asura/Ghost Spiritual World” (where World Spirits come from) changed to “Asura/Ghost Spirit World”. It was put in the index yesterday, but I put it here as well.
Secondly, the story! So, the idiom “Have eyes but don’t recognize Mount Tai” was derived from “有眼不识泰山”, which quite literally translates to that. But in Chinese, “泰山” can either mean “Mount Tai“, or it can mean “Tai Shan”, aka a person’s name. It doesn’t really matter which one is referred to as both of them are the same characters, but the problem comes when translating it.
Because of that, when deciding between “don’t recognize Mount Tai” or “don’t recognize Tai Shan”, I chose the more well-known one, aka Mount Tai, because a mountain does seem to be more well-known than a person’s name in a story, causing it to be more likely that it originated from there.
However, it’s possible/likely that it did not originate from the mountain, but rather the story. Now, all the information I got was from the magical internet, but it should be fairly accurate. Of course, I’m just assuming that it’s accurate, so take all this as a grain of salt.
The novel that the story was said to come from, “Water Margin“, is extremely famous in China, being one of the “Four Great Classical Novels“. Without further rambling by me, here’s the translated story:
The ancestor of carpenters is Lu Ban. His workmanship were of extreme high skill and they were extremely exceptional. According to legends, he used a block of wood to craft a flying bird, and for three days and three nights, it could not fall down. But such a competent person would still have his times of errors.
Lu Ban enrolled many disciples, and to protect his school’s reputation, he would occasionally examine and kick some people out. Within those people, there was a person called Tai Shan (泰山, aka, “Mount Tai”). He seemed quite slow-witted when one looked at him, and after being there for a period of time, his craftsmanship did not have much improvement. So, Lu Ban threw him out of the school.
A few years later, Lu Ban was wandering around in the streets. Suddenly, he discovered that there were many furnitures that were of superb quality and they were created very realistically, so they were very well received by people. Lu Ban thought, who is this person? He’s so outstanding! On the side, someone told him, “He’s your disciple, Tai Shan!” Lu Dan then couldn’t help but regretfully sigh, “I truly have eyes but don’t recognize Tai Shan!”
And so that’s the story. the last sentence could be interpreted both as not recognizing Tai Shan himself, and/or the talent that Tai Shan had. Naturally, as a translator, I aim to make the translation of the idiom as easy to understand as possible. So, for the above, the “Mount Tai” idiom could be googled and results would show up (such as from wikipedia), but for the “Tai Shan” one, you would need to read the story above in order to get the actual meaning. Therefore, I went with “Mount Tai”.
Anyways, that’s the story. Hope you learned something, and enjoy the chapters~