The Story of Biáng

This can be seen as the hardest Chinese characters so far!

There are 52 strokes in total in this simplified Chinese character, and 62 in the traditional one. It contains 5 simple characters (「马」horse, 「月」moon, 「长」long, 「心」heart and 「言」word), and also 4 radicals such as 「刂」 knife, 「穴」 cave…In fact, biang cannot be found in any modern Chinese dictionaries.


Simplified Chinese Character of Biang


Traditional Chinese Character of biang



So how it comes?


Actually, the origins of this character is still unclear. This story has several versions. In the most common one, the character ’biang‘ was invented by an unknown Xiùcái (one who passed the imperial examination at the county level in the Ming and Qing dynasties) in a noodle shop.

The time cannot be told. It was only said that there was a poor young Xiùcái going to Xianyang(a city found in Shaanxi). When he passed by a noodle shop at lunchtime, he heard some sounds like ‘biang’ ‘biang’ ‘biang’ made by the noodle chef. He suddenly felt hungry and went into the shop.

In the shop, the young man saw the noodle dish served with yellow, green and white ingredients, smelt very tasted. He was excited, quickly asked for one. After devouring the noodle, he just realized he had no money to pay the bill. He thought fast then asked to the chef :  What do you call your noodles? ‘

‘Biang Biang mian ‘ replied the chef.

‘Biang biang mian? How do you write biang?’

The chef cannot answer this question as he never thought about it.

The young man continue to say: let me write for you this character today then my noodles are free! ‘

He didn’t give the chef any chance to say no, the young man grabbed some paper and quickly wrote a character. This was such a complicated character that everyone in the restaurant was speechless and amazed at its complex combinations.

The chef was grinning widely, tearing up the bill.

Ever since then, biangbiang mian became particularly famous in the central Shaanxi plain.


One type of Biangbiang mian. Info from Wikipedia: biangbiang noodles, also known as you po che mian in Chinese, are a type of noodles popular in the cuisine of China’s Shaanxi Province.


Typical Biangbiang noodle shop

Would you like to try biangbiang mian one day? 😛

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LingJanuary SoliminiQuinton Recent comment authors
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Wow this is pretty cool. I wonder if that story is true?? Either way, its still cool.

January Solimini
January Solimini

Thanks for sharing..