Náng yíng yìng xuě
Translation: Read by the light of fireflies entrapped in a pouch of thin silk and the reflections given off by the snow on the ground.
Meaning: Study hard despite poor conditions.
This proverb comes from two stories. The story about the fireflies is found in the Jin shu 晋书 (The Book of Jin), one of the Twenty-Four Histories (Ershi-si shi 二十四史), a historical collection of books covering a period from 3000 bce to the 17th century. Jin shu, a history of the Jin 晋dynasty (317–420 ce) was compiled by 21 authors in the Tang 唐dynasty (618–907). The snow reflection story was told in a genealogical record of the Sun Family known as the Sunshi shilu (Generational Record of the Sun Family), whose citation was already seen in the Tang dynasty.