Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2016

The Great Revenge of the Orphan of Zhao

Duke Ling was the ruler of the Jin state. In his court, Minister Zhao Dun and General Tu'an Gu were two of his most influential subordinates. However, Tu'an Gu had a deep hatred for Zhao Dun. He wanted to destroy his rival, Zhao Dun, and exterminate the Zhao family. General Tu'an Gu succeeded in framing Zhao Dun, and slaughtered 300 members of the Zhao family. Soon thereafter, a decree was forged in the duke's name to order the death of General Zhao Shuo, the son of Zhao Dun. Zhao Shuo had namely been spared during the massacre as he was married to the daughter of Duke Ling, Lady Zhuang. When General Zhao Shuo received the forged decree, he commits suicide. Zhao Shuo and his wife were expecting a child, but the infant was born after the tragic circumstances involving his father's death. Tu'an Gu, intending to get rid of the newborn infant, orders General Han Jue to surround the palace. Lady Zhuang entrusts her newborn child to the physician Cheng Ying, a re

How Three Heroes Died for The Sake of Two Peaches

AT the beginning of his reign Duke Ching of Tsi (齐景公)liked to surround himself with heroes. Three of these were particularly brave. The first was called Kung Sun-chieh (公孙捷), the second was called Tien Kai-chiang (田开疆) and the third Was called Ku Yie-tse (古冶子). All three were greatly honoured by the Duke. These honours, however, turned their heads; they were noisy at court and did not behave towards the prince as a prince's servants should. At that time Yän Tse was chancellor in Tsi. The Duke consulted him about what should be done. The chancellor requested that a banquet be given and all officials invited to attend. On the table, as the greatest delicacy, stood a dish with four magnificent peaches. In accordance with his chancellor's advice the duke rose and announced: 'Here some exquisite fruit, but there is not enough for all of you. Only those most worthy shall eat of it. I myself am the ruler of the country and the head of the princes of the empire. I have succee

Ogre Child

ONCE there lived in Annam a man whose name was Siu and who sailed the seas as a merchant. One day he was driven off course by a great storm and came to a distant coast. ragged mountains rose on it, covered with luxuriant vegetation. Then he caught sight of what looked like human habitations on land. He took With him some food and disembarked. No sooner had he got among the mountains than he saw the openings of caves on both sides, one next to the other, like beehives. The merchant stopped and looked into one of these holes. There were two ogres inside, with teeth like spears. Their eyes were like fiery lamps. With their claws they were tearing a stag apart and devouring it raw. The merchant was terrified and wanted to escape. But the ogres had already spotted him. They caught him and drew him into their cave. The two creatures talked together in animal sounds. They tore the clothes off his body and wanted to devour him. Then he hurriedly produced bread and dried meat from his satchel

Ma-tsu: The Queen of Heaven

THE queen of heaven, also called the Holy Mother, in her earthly life was a maiden from Fukien by name of Lin. She was pure, reverent and pious of nature. When she Was seventeen she died without having been married. She shows her power at sea, and for that reason she is deeply revered by sailors. Whenever they are unexpectedly assailed by wind and waves they call upon her and she is always ready to answer their prayers. There are many sailors in Fukien and each year some of them lose their lives. No doubt the queen of heaven, while still on earth, showed pity for the sufferings of her fellow countrymen. And because her mind was ceaselessly concerned with saving the drowning her vision now frequently appears over the sea. All ships sailing the seas carry a picture of the queen of heaven below deck, as well as three paper talismans. One of these shows her painted with crown and sceptre, another shows her as a maiden in a simple garment, and the third shows her with flowing hair, bare

How Mu Lien Got His Mother Out of Hell

MU LIEN was a famous Buddhist in the Tang dynasty. He entered a monastery as a young man, awakened to the understanding of the mind and became a Buddha. But his mother was rude and envious of nature. She despised the gifts of god, trampled bread under foot and allowed remnants of food to lie about her floor. And whenever a beggar came and asked for some food she ignored him. In later years she developed difficulties in swallowing and had to suffer hunger for many days. Then she died. Two devils dragged her away. The way to the beyond led over the mountain of deeds and the river of the underworld, and the devils tormented her in every possible manner. When she arrived in the underworld the god of the dead was very angry ordered her to be locked up in the hell of hunger. Hunger made her insides grumble like thunder but she was not given a single grain to eat. When ever she cried out with hunger all the hungry spirits joined in. Therefore the wardens pinned her tongue down with an iron aw

King Mu of Chou

IN the days of King Mu of Chou a magician came from the far west who knew to pass through fire and water, penetrate metal hard Stone, move mountains and rivers, shift cities and castles, step into the void without falling and encounter solid obstacles without being held up by them. He knew an inexhaustible number of transformations. He could change not only the shape of things but also men's thoughts. The king revered him like god and served him as a servant does his master. He gave up his own apartments to accommodate the magician, he had sacrificial animals brought to him, and he chose girl singers far his delight. But the magician found the apartments in the king's castle too poor to live in, the food from the king's kitchen too evil-smelling to feast on and the girls of the royal harem too ugly to touch. King Mu therefore had a new palace built for the magician. The work of masons and carpenters, of painters and decorators left nothing to be desired in its skill. The tr

The God of War: Guan Ti

KUAN Tl, the God of War, was really called Kuan Yü. When the rebellion of the Yellow Turbans swept through the empire he concluded an alliance of friendship with two other men whom he encountered on the road and who, like himself, were fired by patriotism. One of them was the later emperor Liu Bei, the other was called Chang Fei. The three met in a peach orchard and pledged themselves to be brothers to each other even though they came from different families. They slaughtered a white horse and swore loyalty unto death. Kuan Yü was honest, loyal, just and courageous beyond all measure. He was fond of reading Confucius's book On the Rise and Fall of Empires (Ch’un Ch’iu). He helped his friend Liu Bei to suppress the Yellow Turbans and conquer the Four-River Land. The horse he rode was called Red Hare and could cover a thousand miles a day. He had a crescent-shaped knife Which was called the Green Dragon. His eyebrows were beautiful like those of silken butterflies and his eyes were


WHEN Confucius was born a unicorn appeared and spat out a piece of jade on which was written: 'Son of the water crystal, one day you shall be uncrowned king! ' He grew up and was nine feet tall. He had black hair and an ugly face. His eyes protrude and his nose was turned up. His lips did not cover his teeth and his ears had large holes. He studied with great application and was well versed in all things. Thus he became a saint. One day, with his favourite disciple Yen Hui, he climbed to the highest summit of the Great Mountain (Tai Shan). He could see as far as the Yangtse River in the south. 'Can you see,' he asked Yen Hui, 'What it is that is glistening outside the city gate of Wu?' Yin Hui looked closely, strained his eyes, and said: is a piece of white cloth.' 'No,' said Confucius. 'It is a white horse.' And when they sent someone to find out it really was so. The Great Mountain is a good thousand miles distant from the capital

No Cha the Third Lotus Prince

THE eldest daughter of the lord of heaven had married the general Li Ching. Her sons were called Chin Chia, Mu Chia and No Cha. But before No Cha was born his mother had been carrying him for three years and six months. One night she dreamed that a Taoist priest entered het chamber. Angrily she bade him leave. But he said: 'Make haste to receive the divine son!' And with these words he placed a brilliant pear in her body. The woman had such a fright that she woke up. And there she gave birth to a ball of flesh which spun like a wheel, filing the chamber with strange perfumes and red light. Li Ching was much startled and thought it was an evil spirit. With his sword he cleft the sphere in two and from it leapt a small boy whose whole body glowed with a rosy radiance. His face was delicate and as white as snow. On his right arm he wore a golden armlet, and tied round his hips was a piece of red silk so brilliant it blinded the eye. When Li Ching saw the child he took pit

The Fox and The Raven

THE fox is a past master of flattery and cunning. One day he saw a raven settling on a tree, with a piece of meat in its beak. The fox sat down under the tree, looked up to the raven and began to praise him. 'Your colour,' he began, 'is pure black; that shows that you have the wisdom of Lao-tse who knows how to preserve his obscurity. The manner in which you feed your mother proves that your filial piety equals Master Chung's solicitude for his parents. Your voice is harsh and Strong; that shows that you possess the courage of king Hsiang who turned his enemies to flight by the mere sound of his voice. You are indeed the king of birds.' The raven was delighted to hear this and said: 'You're too kind! ' And before he knew it he had dropped the piece of meat from his opened beak. The fox caught it, ate it up, laughed and said: 'Remember this, my friend: Whenever anyone sings your praises without cause you may be sure he is after something.'

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

The Nine-Headed Bird

A LONG time ago there lived a king and queen who had a daughter. One day the daughter was walking in the garden, when suddenly a tremendous storm arose and carried her away. But the storm had come from the nine-headed bird. The bird carried off the princess and took her to its cave. The king did not know where his daughter had vanished to. So he ordered proclamation to be read throughout the land: ‘Whoever brings me back my daughter, shall have her for his wife.' A young man had seen the bird carrying the king's daughter to its cave. But the cave was halfway up a steep rock face. No one could climb up to it from the bottom or descend to it from the top. As the young man was pacing around the rock another man came along and asked him what he was doing. He told him that the nine-headed bird had carried off the king's daughter and taken her to the cave in the mountain. The other man knew what to do. He called his friends and together they let the young man down to the cav

The Beggar and the Princess

ONCE upon a time there was a proud ruler who had a daughter. But the daughter was a child of ill fortune. When the time came for her to marry she ordered all her suitors to assemble before her father's castle. She was to throw a red silken ball among them and whoever caught it would become her husband. Many princes and counts assembled before the castle. Yet among them there was also a beggar. And the princess saw that small dragons were crawling into his ears and emerging through his nose; for he was a child of good fortune. So she threw the ball to the beggar and he caught it. Angrily her father demanded: 'Why did you throw the ball into the beggar's hands?' 'He is a child of good fortune,' said the princess. 'I want to marry him, and then perhaps I shall share in his good fortune.' But the father would not hear of it, and when she stood firm he drove her from the castle in anger. So the princess had to go off with the beggar. She lived

The Roc and Millet

Once there were two brothers who shared the same house. The tall one always listened to his wife and this led to a quarrel with his brother. Summer had come and it was time to sow the tall millet. But the short one had no grain and he therefore asked the tall one if he would lend him some. The tall one commanded his wife to do so. But the wife took the grain, put it in a large pot and boiled it. Then she gave it to the short one. The short one unknowingly went out and sowed the grain on his field. But as the grain had been boiled no shoots sprouted forth. Only one single seed had escaped being cooked entirely; and so a single shoot sprouted up. The short one was hard-working and conscientious by nature and he therefore watered and hoed the shoot all day long. And so it grew up into a mighty tree and it bore a spike as large as a canopy, shading half an acre of land. In autumn it ripened. Then the short one took an axe and chopped down the spike. But no sooner had the spike dropped to t