Skip to main content

The Tyrant king of Xia Dynasty: Jie Gui

Xia Jie riding on men
(Xia Jie playing in the Wine Lake)

The last King of Xia Dynasty was Jie Gui, who was a tyrant. His greatest extravagance was to build a lake filled with wine on which he and his court floated about. The retaining dikes made of dregs were so high that they could be seen ten li away. Three thousand men could drink from the lake, lapping up the wine like so many cattle. His ministers, one after another, cautioned him against such display, but he refused to listen. Worthy ministers who remonstrated with him were put to death or driven from the court. Jie would heed only evil men who brought confusion to the court.

Warned by his minister Yi Yin that the Mandate of Heaven was about to be withdrawn, Jie clapped his hands and laughed uproariously, exclaming:"So you too warn of evil omens! My possession of the empire is like the sun being in the sky. Can the sun be destroyed? When the sun perishes, then I too shall be destroyed!" Yi Yin was driven out of court.

The people of Xia expressed their despair with the rule of Jie with a song:

Oh sun, when will you perish?
You and we shall all perish together.

People wanted to die with their hated king, who believed himself immortal like the sun.

Yi Yin's name was Aheng. After leaving the court of Jie, Yi Yin retired to the fields, where he cultivated the way of of the ancient king Yao and Shun. He wanted to meet Tang, but no opportunity of doing so; He therefore became cook to the prince of Xin, and while bringing Tang dishes to taste urged him to perfect himself in the way of the ancient kings. Some say that when Yi Yin was living in retirement Tang sent five times (or three times in Mencius) to invite him to a meeting before he would obey him, and talk about matters connected with the guileless king and the nine rulers.

Every tyrant has a bad woman behind him. Jie was infatuated with his concubine Mo Xi, on whom he lavished vast sums in an effort to keep her amused. Mo Xi had been given him to stop an invasion he was contemplating. Some contended that she instigated his enormities to avenge her people and that she collaborated with Yi Yin to ruin the Xia dynasty. In any case, it was Mo Xi who reported a dream in which the king Jie had seen two suns fighting in the sky, which dream was believed to be a sign of the end of Xia dynasty.

Shortly afterwards, Tang, having heard of the song of the people and having been awakened by Yi Yin, raised a revolt, and conquered the Xia empire, founded the shang dynasty, and sent Jie Gui into exile.


Popular posts from this blog

The wonderful pear-tree

Once upon a time a countryman came into the town on market-day, and brought a load of very special pears with him to sell. He set up his barrow in a good corner, and soon had a great crowd round him ; for everyone knew he always sold extra fine pears, though he did also ask an extra high price. Now, while he was crying up his fruit, a poor, old, ragged, hungry-looking priest stopped just in front of the barrow, and very humbly begged him to give him one of the pears. But the countryman, who was very mean and very nasty-tempered, wouldn't hear of giving him any, and as the priest didn't seem inclined to move on, he began calling him all the bad names he could think of. " Good sir," said the priest, " you have got hundreds of pears on your barrow. I only ask you for one. You would never even know you had lost one. Really, you needn't get angry." "Give him a pear that is going bad ; that will make him happy," said one of the crowd. "The o

The Legend of The Three-Life Stone

The Buddhist believe metempsychosis, or the migration of the souls of animated beings, people's relationships are predestined through three states of life: the past, present, and future life. Legend has it that there's a road called Yellow Spring Road, which leads to Fogotten River. Over the river there's a bridge called Helpless Bridge (Naihe Bridge), at one end of the bridge sits a crimson stone called Three-life Stone. When two people die, they take this route to reincarnation. if they carve their name on the Three-life Stone together while they pass the stone, they are to be predestined to be together in their future life. Although before their rebirth they will be given a MengPo Soup to drink and thereby their memory of past life are obliterated. In reality, San-Sheng Shi (三生石), or Three-Life Stone is located beside Flying Mountain near the West Lake, Hangzhou. On the stone, there is seal with three Chinese characters that say "The Three-life Stone," and a de

The Fox and The Tiger

ONE day a fox encountered a tiger. The tiger showed his fangs and waved his claws and wanted to eat him up. But the fox said: 'Good sir, you must not think that you alone are the king of beasts. Your courage is no match for mine. Let us go together and you keep behind me. If the humans are not afraid of me when they see me, then you may eat me up.' The tiger agreed and so the fox led him to a big high-way. As soon as the travellers saw the tiger in the distance they were seized with fear and ran away. Then the said: 'You see? I was walking in front; they saw me before they could See you.' Then the tiger put his tail between his legs and ran away. The tiger had seen that the humans were afraid of the fox but he had not realized that the fox had merely borrowed his own terrible appearance. [This story was translated by Ewald Osers from German, published by George Bell & Sons, in the book 'Chinese Folktales'.  Osers noted that this story was