In an old residence of a general, there is a stone tablet high above the door on which there is written "聊以拟伏腊".What does that mean?

The following is given by the AI ChatGPT that goes viral recently around the world, but I am not sure if it is reliable. In my opinion, 伏might mean the hot summer whereas 腊 the cold winter. I also want to know why the general put such a sign over his door. If it is made in English what words could be used to carry the same implication?

The characters "聊以拟伏腊" are in classical Chinese, and their meaning may not be immediately obvious to those who are not familiar with this language. One possible interpretation of this inscription is that it is a poetic phrase that describes the scene of winter. In this interpretation, "拟" means "to imitate" or "to resemble," "伏" means "to hide" or "to conceal," and "腊" refers to the twelfth month of the lunar calendar, which corresponds to December or January in the Gregorian calendar. The phrase "聊以拟伏腊" can then be translated as "Let us imitate the hiddenness of winter." Another possible interpretation is that the phrase is a play on words, where the characters are homophones for another set of characters with different meanings. In this interpretation, "聊以拟伏腊" sounds similar to "了一匹马, 富贵在" which can be translated as "owned a horse and became rich and prosperous". Without more context, it's difficult to determine the intended meaning of the inscription with certainty.

3 Answers 3



as r13 mentioned, the verse is from 小園賦, by 庾信

we need to comprehend the pair of verses together, which would be:

[my old and shabby hut (敝廬) is]

merely (聊以) prepared for (擬) summer and winter (伏 —> 三伏, 臘 -> 臘月)

merely (聊以) kept away from (避) wind and frost (風霜)

in his text, mr 庾 shown that he’s satisfied a simple, frugal life style.

In an old residence of a general, there is a stone tablet high above the door

so, when a general need a house, he might ask for as big, luxury as possible (depends on his merits). if he inscribed such verse on a stone tablet in front of the door, he declared what his preference is; and only well educated people would understand it immediately.

that, his colleagues would be inferior (from the stereotype that military personnel are less educated)

have fun :)

  • Thanks. so my guess is to the point. Feb 27, 2023 at 9:23

小园赋, 朝代:南北朝 作者:庾信





The general could be 文武雙全,愛好風雅及秉性淡薄. It is rather difficult to translate into English. You may try an online translator and modify it from there, if necessary.


  • The guy turns out to be General Yang Hucheng, who works with another general to capture the then top leader of China Feb 27, 2023 at 9:24

This sentence is from (南北朝)庾信's 《小园赋》
The whole sentence should be: 聊以拟伏腊,聊以避风霜 and this article was written in his later years, staying in the North Zhou Dynasty and missing his homeland. According to Baidu, 拟伏腊 means 可以用来举行伏祭、腊祭, and it is similar to 避风霜 in the following, at these times, people gathering and resting.

It can be translated into My dilapidated house is in a remote place, and it can hold 伏祭 and 腊祭(a kind of tradition)

Before this sentence, he describes 樊重 and 王根's life and house, then he showed that he did not want big houses but a house that enables him to live. This shows that the author's simple life style.

However, in the lower part of this article is to taking the thoughts of the township, sending it as a complaint, because he did not achieve his goal and he missed his hometown(Yu Xin was detained in Chang'an and was forced to stay in the Western Wei and Northern Zhou Dynasties. After that, he has never returned to the South).

  • I am not aware that there is service like 伏祭 or 腊祭. What do people do in it? Feb 27, 2023 at 9:26
  • You can found 伏腊 and 伏祭
    – Han Han
    Feb 27, 2023 at 15:38

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