A modest selection of proverbs from Africa, China, Japan, Kurdistan and Portugal
It is not work that kills, but worry.
Much silence makes a mighty noise.
Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.
The problem of the thief is not how to steal the chief’s bugle, but where to blow it.
When an elephant steps on a trap; no more trap.
When an old man dies, a library burns down.
A bird does not sing because it has an answer… it sings because it has a song.
All the seeds of tomorrow are in the flowers of today.
Habits are cobwebs at first; cables at last.
He who cannot agree with his enemies is controlled by them.
If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.
If you believe everything you read, don’t read.
In the midst of great joy, do not promise anyone anything. In the midst of great anger, do not answer anyone ‘s letter.
Quarreling is like cutting water with a sword.
The longer the explanation, the bigger the lie.
The one who pursues revenge should dig two graves.
The palest ink is better than the strongest memory.
To be uncertain is to be uncomfortable, but to be certain is to be ridiculous.
To believe in one’s dreams is to spend all of one’s life asleep.
To walk only on sunny days is to never reach ones destination.
A tongue three inches long, can kill a man six feet high.
Fortune will call at the smiling gate.
It is the same life whether we spend it crying or laughing.
One dog yelping at nothing will set ten thousand straining at their collars.
The pebble in the brook secretly thinks itself a precious stone.
The reverse side also has a reverse side.
When the cat mourns for the mouse do not take her seriously.
Wisdom and virtue are like the two wheels of a cart.
You may be cleverer than any one of us, but you are not cleverer than all of us.
When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.
A hungry stomach has no ears.
A kind word warms a man through three winters.
A visitor comes with ten blessings, eats one, and leaves nine.
A wise man does his own work.
Ability has no school.
Activity breeds prosperity.
God has created us brothers but has given us separate purses.
If you are an anvil, be patient; if you are a hammer, be strong.
If you wish to do a good deed, consult no one.
In a flat country a hillock thinks itself a mountain.
It is easy to catch a serpent with someone else’s hand.
It is more difficult to contend with oneself than with the world.
Listen a hundred times; ponder a thousand times; speak once.
No matter where you go, your destiny follows you.
One is equally indebted to one’s teacher and to God.
Part with your head, but not with your secret.
Patience is bitter, but it bears sweet fruit.
See with your mind; hear with your heart.
The devil tempts all, but the idle man tempts the devil.
The neighbor’s hen looks as big as a goose, and his wife as young as a girl.
Thorns and roses grow on the same tree.
What you give away you keep.
When a cat wants to eat her kittens, she says they look like mice.
With fortune on your side you can sow salt and harvest grass.
With patience, mulberry leaves become satin.
A hungry wolf does not stand still.
A miser’s money goes twice to market.
Eat the wind and swallow bitterness.
God heals, and the doctor gets the money.
Good and quickly seldom meet.
Hard upon hard does not make a good wall.
Right or wrong, our house goes up to the roof.
Tell your friend a lie; if he keeps it secret tell him the truth.
The blunders of physicians are covered by the earth.
The fish dies by its mouth.
The thief proceeds from a needle to gold, and from gold to the gallows.
The wine-skin has its reasons for smelling of pitch.
What belongs to another’s always sighs for its master.
Will he nil he, the ass must go to the fair.