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州官放火 (Zhōu guān fànghuǒ)


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州官放火 (Zhōu guān fànghuǒ) - Do whatever one pleases.

Literal meaning - State Magistrate sets fire.

During the Sung Dynasty there once was a State Magistrate that forbade the use of the word "light" because his name had the word "light" in it. For example, when his secretary ordered to "light" up the candles, he was sentenced 300 strokes of the staff. During the Mid Autumn Festival, the State Magistrate was puzzled as why nobody lighted any lantern so he decided to release a statement that said, "In conjunction with the Mid Autumn Festival, I (the magistrate) will set fire to the city for three days." What he actually meant was to set lights to the state for three days but because he forbade the use of "light," he replaced it with "fire" instead. This caused everyone to fled city in fear because they thought that the magistrate was going to literally set the city on fire.

州官放火 (Zhōu guān fànghuǒ) is used to describe someone that abuses his/her power and do whatever he/her pleases.


"只許州官放火,不許百姓點燈. 自己做就可以,別人想做就不行!"

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