Art Seen

23 Literal Illustrations Of Wise Proverbs From Around The World

In Iceland, "the spoonmaker's children often have the worst spoons."

In the past, we've shared James Chapman's witty illustrations that show how people from different cultures react to certain things. Now, the Manchester, U.K.-based illustrator is taking us on another trip around the globe with his series that focuses on wise proverbs. 

Each illustration shows a popular proverb from a different country and depicts it literally. Underneath each image is an explanation of what each one means.

Some of these sayings have equivalents in our own culture we'll recognize, which should serve as a reminder that we're not as different as we may think. Other proverbs Chapman illustrated will introduce us to a whole new piece of advice. 

Check out some of his illustrations below, and you might just learn a little bit about each country in the process. 


1. In Mexico: "With money, dogs will dance."

2. In Italy: "The beard does not make the philosopher."

3. In China: "Fruits from the same tree have different tastes."

4. In Iceland: "The spoonmaker's children often have the worst spoons."

5. In Egypt: "The son of a goose is a swimmer."

6. In Greece: "Too many opinions sink the boat."

7. In Thailand: "No skunk ever smells its own stink."

8. In Sweden: "The pillow is the best advisor."

9. In Russia: "Every vegetable has its time."

10. In Turkey: "Those who want yogurt in winter must carry a cow in their pocket."

11. In Romania: "He who digs a pit for others will fall in it himself."

12. In France: "Don't marry foxes to hens."

13. In Iraq: "Accusation always follows the cat."

14. In Finland: "A poke in the eye for those who live in the past."

15. In Kenya: "When elephants fight, it is the grass that gets hurt."

16. In Ethiopia: "When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion."

17. In Lithuania: "A good ploughman can plough even with a goose."

18. In Ukraine: "The devil always takes back his gifts."

19. In Colombia: "Shrimp that fall asleep are carried away by the current."

20. In Japan: "A frog in a well does not know the great sea."

21. In Norway: "The bear and the bear hunter have different opinions."

22. In Venezuela: "If you see your neighbors beards burning, put yours in water."

23. In Scotland: "One beetle recognizes another."

(H/T: Bored Panda


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.