Given that the names of the dynasties can be sung to the tune of Frère Jacques, I wonder whether there are other songs or poems helping to remember, say, the heavenly stems, the earthly branches, the (long and short) names and the capitals of the provinces.

Added as an afterthought: How are these lists taught in Chinese schools?

2 Answers 2


Everything can be put into rhymes to help people memorize. Maybe not poems or songs, just 顺口溜 (doggerel or jingle).

There is a meme phrase "满嘴顺口溜,你想考研啊". People preparing for postgraduate entrance exams need to memorize a lot of stuff so they make a lot of 顺口溜.

There could also be several variations for the same knowledge. When I was in middle school, we learned the dynasties with this:






For the heavenly stems and the earthly branches, I don't know any 顺口溜. Maybe it's too easy. I mean, there are only 10 characters for the heavenly stems and 12 characters for the earthly branches. For the earthly branches, it's also common to combine them with the 12 animal symbols, which may be easier to remember, e.g. 子鼠丑牛,寅虎卯兔,辰龙巳蛇,午马未羊,申猴酉鸡,戌狗亥猪.

For provinces:






A very famous example for knowledge that is not a list: 奇变偶不变,符号看象限. It's about something in maths. It's funny that many people have forgotten about the knowledge but still remember this sentence.

  • Even though I'm a mathematician, without context I couldn't figure out what 奇变偶不变,符号看象限 is supposed to mean. (Never had seen it before.) Now that I've looked it up, I can confidently state: You can safely bet on never ever needing it outside school. – And thanks a lot for the many 顺口溜!
    – user22495
    Commented Oct 16, 2021 at 21:31
  • @user22495 No problem. :) BTW: If you think this answers your question, you can mark it as accepted.
    – Betty
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 2:32

Here is a long list of 歌 for the dynasties: https://baike.baidu.com/item/%E4%B8%AD%E5%9B%BD%E5%8E%86%E5%8F%B2%E6%9C%9D%E4%BB%A3%E6%AD%8C/3763554 (Found thanks to the first one pointed out by @Betty in her answer.)

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