The Story of the “Six-foot Alley”

The Story of the “Six-foot Alley”

“Liu Chi Alley” (六尺巷 in chinese) is located between Xihou Street and Wumu Garden in Tongcheng District, Tongcheng city, Anhui Province. The allusion of “Six-foot Alley” has become a historical story stems from the land dispute between Zhang’s family and his neighbors.

In the Qing Dynasty, there was a famous family in Tongcheng, Anhui Province. Father and son were the prime ministers of the two generations and had great power. Their names were Zhang Ying and Zhang Tingyu.
During the reign of Emperor Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty, Zhang Ying was a Bachelor of Arts at Wenhua Palace and a minister of rites. At that time, the Zhang family’s old house in Tongcheng was adjacent the house of the Wu family. There was only about 3 feet of space between the land owned by each family.

The Wu family wanted to expand their property to occupy this space. The Zhang family vehemently disagreed. The two sides brought the case to the county courthouse of Yamen. County officials knew that both families involved in the dispute were well-known families with prominent officials. They dared not easily break the dispute.
During this period, the Zhang family wrote a letter to Zhang Ying, now a senior official in Beijing, asking Zhang Ying to come out and interfere in this matter. After receiving the letter, Zhang Ying thought that he should humble the neighbors, and wrote a poem to his home in reply:


Thousands of miles of a mail is only for a wall.

Why not give up him three feet?

The Great Wall still stands today.

But where is the Empire Qishihuang now?


The Zhang family read it and eventually realized they understood its meaning. They took the initiative to give up three feet of space for the Wu family’s property. The Wu family, deeply touched by this gesture, decided to concede three feet of their own adjacent land, thus forming a six-foot lane between the properties. The two courtesy concessions and the Zhang family’s non-oppressive approach were passed on to be good folk stories.

From this story, we learn to be modest and tolerant in life. Mutual humility can avoid many contradictions and reduce disputes between people. Mutual understanding and tolerance can help people get along harmoniously, and can greatly improve people’s happiness index. As the saying goes, “A bit of forbearance will calm the wind and silence the wave. Take a step back and have the vastness of sea and sky.”

The virtues of tolerance and equality have been passed down since ancient times. In the process of building a harmonious society for people who are open-minded and respectful, this tradition of humility needs to be carried forward even more. The allusions to a “Six-Foot Lane” have gone far beyond its original meaning and has become a testimony to the virtues of harmony and humility of the Chinese nation.

The Story of the “Six-foot Alley”

Link: https://peacelilysite.com/2022/10/19/the-story-of-the-six-foot-alley/

#ChineseCulture#Six-footAlley#Toleranceandequality#Humility#Virtues#Harmony

Source: http://mandarinedu.org/English/news/12390.html

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