Nov. 22nd, 2016

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From Baidu:

三百千 编辑

《三字经》、《百家姓》、《千字文》,俗称“三百千”,是三部影响大而流行广的启蒙读物。明代思想家吕坤曾说:“初入社学,八岁以下者,先读《三字经》以习见闻,读《百家姓》以便日用,读《千字文》以明义理。”“三百千”将早期的识字教育与中国的历史文化,以及人格修养的教育巧妙地融合在了一起。言辞简练,含义丰富,朗朗上口,便于诵读。

(Sorry too tired to translate, but Wikipedia covers similar territory)

In the dynasties following the Song, the Three Character Classic, the Hundred Family Surnames, and 1,000 Character Classic, came to be known as San Bai Qian (Three, Hundred, Thousand), from the first character in their titles. They were the almost universal introductory literacy texts for students, almost exclusively boys, from elite backgrounds and even for a number of ordinary villagers. Each was available in many versions, printed cheaply, and available to all since they did not become superseded. When a student had memorized all three, he could recognize and pronounce, though not necessarily write or understand the meaning of, roughly 2,000 characters (there was some duplication among the texts). Since Chinese did not use an alphabet, this was an effective, though time consuming, way of giving a "crash course" in character recognition before going on to understanding texts and writing characters.

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