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Showing posts from October, 2013

The Legend of Chang'e and Houyi

The Sun King The worship of the sun was part of the State religion, and the officials make their offerings to the sun-tablet. The moon also is worshipped. At the harvest moon, the full moon of the eighth month, the Chinese bow before the heavenly luminary, and each family burns incense as an offering. Thus “100,000 classes all receive the blessings of the icy-wheel in the Milky Way along the heavenly street, a mirror always bright.” In Chinese illustrations we see the moon-palace of Ch’ang O, who stole the pill of immortality and flew to the moon, the fragrant tree which one of the genii tried to cut down, and a hare pestling medicine in a mortar. This refers to the following legend. The sun and the moon are both included by the Chinese among the stars, the spirit of the former being called ‘the Sun-king,’ that of the latter ‘the Moon-queen,’ or ‘Ch’ang O of the Lunar Palace.’ Shên I lived in the reign of Yellow Emperor, who appointed him Director of Construction and Furnishing.

Chang Tâo-ling, the Heavenly Teacher

One day when Chang Tâo-ling, the Heavenly Teacher was engaged in experimenting with the ‘Dragon-tiger elixir’, Lao Tzŭ appeared to him and conferred him the mystic treatise Tâo Tê Ching. Then he took up his abode in the deep mountains, where he devoted himself wholly to the study of this book and meditation, he persevered in the study of alchemy, and in cultivating the virtues of purity, declining all offers to enter the service of the State. By following the instructions in which he was successful in his search for the elixir of life. After going through a thousand days of discipline, and receiving instruction from a goddess, who taught him to walk about among the stars, he proceeded to fight with the king of the demons, to divide mountains and seas, and to command the wind and thunder. All the demons fled before him. Chang Tâo-ling had at least two selves, one of which used to disport itself in a boat on a small lake in front of his house. The other self would receive his visitor

The Door Gods: Shên Tu and Yü Lü

In the Classic of Mountains and Seas, an old legend relates that in the earliest times there grew on Mount Tu Shuo, in the Eastern Sea, a peach-tree of fabulous size whose branches covered an area of three thousand square li. On the top of the tree, there was a Golden Rooster, who crows to herald the break of the day. The lowest arched branches, which inclined toward the north-east and the point of them touches the ground, formed the Door of the Devils, through which millions of them passed in and out. Two spirits, named Shên Tu and Yü Lü, had been instructed to guard this passage. Shên Tu on the left, holding a Peach Wood Word; and Yü  Lü on the right, holding a rope. Every night millions of Devils passed through this door to the human world, and before the Golden Rooster crows they had to come back to their Ghost Town. Those Devils who had done wrong to mankind were immediately bound by Shên Tu and Yü Lü and given over to be devoured by tigers. So devils and ghosts were dread of th

The Four Diamond Kings of Heaven

On the right and left sides of the entrance hall of Buddhist temples, two on each side, are the gigantic figures of the four great Diamond Kings of Heaven. They are four brothers named respectively Mo-li Ch’ing (Pure), Mo-li Hung (Vast), Mo-li Hai (Sea), and Mo-li Shou (Age). Mo-li Ch’ing, the eldest, is twenty-four feet in height, with a beard the hairs of which are like copper wire. He carries a magnificent jade ring and a spear, and always fights on foot. He has also a magic sword, ‘Blue Cloud,’ on the blade of which are engraved the four characters: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind. When brandished, it causes a black wind, which produces tens of thousands of spears, which pierce the bodies of men and turn them to dust. The wind is followed by a fire, which fills the air with tens of thousands of golden fiery serpents. A thick smoke also rises out of the ground, which blinds and burns men, none being able to escape. Mo-li Hung carries in his hand an umbrella, called the Umbrella of Chao

Ching K'o trying to assassinate the King of Ch'in

Prince Tan of the State of Yen, for some cause or other had been living in Ts'in as a hostage. There he had been treated most cruelly by King Chung, so that when he returned to his home his heart was burning with a desire to revenge his wrongs. He was determined that Chung should die, for nothing short of his death would satisfy him. In order to accomplish his purpose he consulted with a man named King-k'o as to the means by which it could be carried out. The latter volunteered to do the bloody deed, but the question was, How was he to penetrate through the guards that surrounded the king, so that he could get near his person ? At that time there was living in Yen a traitorous general Fan-yu Chi from Ts'in, for whose head Chung had offered a thousand pieces of gold and high official employment. King-k'o proposed that this man should be executed, and that he should take his head to Chung and seize the opportunity of murdering him. The prince, who by this time had bec

Lü pû-wei

Lü Buwei was a native of the state of Wei who became a successful travelling merchant and earned "thousands of measures of gold." The Strategies of the Warring States has a story about Lü deciding to change careers from commerce to government. On returning home, he said to his father, "What is the profit on investment that one can expect from plowing fields?" "Ten times the investment," replied his father. "And the return on investment in pearls and jades is how much?" "A hundredfold." "And the return on investment from establishing a ruler and securing the state would be how much?" "It would be incalculable." "Now if I devoted my energies to laboring in the fields, I would hardly get enough to clothe and feed myself; yet if I secure a state and establish its lord, the benefits can be passed on to future generations. I propose to go serve Prince Yiren of Ts'in who is now a political hostage i

The three Brothers of the Peach-orchard

The Meat-seller’s Challenge One day Guan Yü arrived at Chu-chou, a dependent sub-prefecture of Peking, in Chihli. There Chang Fei, a butcher, who had been selling his meat all the morning, at noon lowered what remained into a well, placed over the mouth of the well a stone weighing two hundred and twenty-five pounds, and said with a sneer: “If anyone can lift that stone and take my meat, I will make him a present of it!” Guan Yü, going up to the edge of the well, lifted the stone with the same ease as he would a tile, took the meat, and made off. Chang Fei pursued him, and eventually the two came to blows, but no one dared to separate them. Just then Liu Pei, a hawker of straw shoes, arrived, interposed, and put a stop to the fight. By 张天扬 The Oath in the Peach-orchard Liu Pei, surnamed Hsüan Tê, first looked at Guan Yü, nine feet in height, with a beard two feet long. His face was the colour of the fruit of the jujube-tree, and his lips carmine. Eyebrows like sleeping sil

What's the real name of Guan Yü?

Guan Yü, whose name was originally Fêng Xian,  and style name Chang-shêng (live long), afterward changed to Yün-chang, who was born near Chieh Liang, in Ho Tung (now the town of Chieh Chou in Shansi). His father was a blacksmith of Fêmg Family. Guan Yü was of an intractable nature, having exasperated his parents, was shut up in a room from which he escaped by breaking through the window. He ran away to the county town, and there stayed in a tavern. As he has nothing to do there, he took a walk one day, in one of the neighbouring houses he heard a young lady and an old man weeping and lamenting. Running to the foot of the wall of the compound, he inquired the reason of their grief. The old man replied that though his daughter was already engaged, the uncle of the local official, smitten by her beauty, wished to make her his concubine. His petitions to the official had only been rejected with curses. Beside himself with rage, the youth seized a sword and went and killed both the of