Spotted bamboos of the Hsiang River

Long ago, Emperor Yâo had two beautiful daughters, called Ê Hwang and Nü Ying. After the emperor had been on the throne seventy years, he abdicted the throne to Emperor Shun, and gave his two daughters in marriage to Shun.

Emperor Shun died on a tour of inspection to the south, and buried in the plain of Ts’ang-wû.

When Ê Hwang and Nü Ying heard the news of Shun’s death,  they stood on the shores of the Hsiao-hsiang, to the south of Lake Tung-t’ing. Their sorrow was deep as the waters of the Lake that go straight down a thousand miles. Dark clouds blackened the sun. The demon-monkey howled in the mist and ghosts whistled in the rain.

The queens said, ” Though we speak of it we cannot mend it. High Heaven is secretly afraid to shine on our loyalty. But the thunder crashes and bellows its anger, that while Yao and Shun are here they should also be crowning Yü. When a prince loses his servants, the dragon turns into a minnow. When power goes to slaves, mice change to tigers. But the Nine Hills of Deceit stand there in a row, each like each ; and which of them covers the lonely bones of the Double-eyed One, our Master ?”

So the royal ladies wept, standing amid yellow clouds. Their tears followed the winds and waves, that never return. And while they wept, they looked out into the distance and saw the deep mountain of Ts’ang-wû.

“The mountain of Tsang-wu shall fall and the waters of the Hsiang shall cease, sooner than the marks of our tears shall fade from these bamboo-leaves.”

After that the two queens dived into the deep water of Hsing river.  The spots on the bamboo-leaves which grow on the Hsiang River were caused by the tears of these two queens.

Fu Xi

Fu Xi was the first of the Three Sovereigns of ancient China, who reigned B.C. 2953 — 2838.

Fu Xi was born on the lower-middle reaches of the Yellow River in a place called Chengji.

The land was swept by a great flood and only Fu Xi and his sister Nüwa survived. They retired to Kunlun Mountain where they prayed for a sign from the Emperor of Heaven. The divine being approved their union.

Then Fu Xi and Nüwa found a way by using clay to create human figures, and made the clay figures to come alive.

Fu Xi taught his opffsprings to cook, to fish with nets, and to hunt with weapons made of iron. He instituted marriage and offered the first open air sacrifices to heaven.

Fu Xi developed the Eight Diagrams from the marks on the back of a tortoise.

The Emperor Shun of Yu


Shun of Yu was named Chonghua (double splendour); Chonghua’s father was Gusou; Gusou’s father was Qiaoniu (bridge cow); Qiaoniu’s father was Juwang; Juwang’s father was Jingkang; Jingkang’s father was Qiongchan; Qiongchan’s father was Emperor Zhuanxu; Zhuanxu’s father was Changyi. From him to Shun we have seven generations. From Qiongchan to Emperor Shun they were all insignificant common people.

Shun’s father, Gusou, was blind, and his mother having died, Gusou married again and had a son, Xiang, who was arrogant.

Gusou loved his second wife, and frequently tried to kill Shun, who avoided him; when he made slight mistakes he was punished, yet he obediently served his father, stepmother, and brother, and was day by day generous, careful, and never negligent.

Shun was a native of Jizhou, ploughed on Li mountain, fished in Thunder lake, made pots on the bank of the river, fashioned various articles at Shouqiu, and went now and then to Fuxia.

Shun’s father, Gusou, was unprincipled, his mother insincere, and his brother, Xiang arrogant. They all tried to kill Shun, who was obedient, and never by chance failed in his duty as a son, or his fraternal love. Though they tried to kill him they did not succeed, and when they sought him he got out of the way.

When Shun was twenty years old he was noted for his filial piety, and when he was thirty the Emperor Yao asked if he was fit to reign. The presidents united in bringing Shun of Yu forward as an able man, so Yao gave him his two daughters in marriage in order to observe his conduct at home, and bade his nine sons put him in charge of a post so as to note his behaviour abroad.

Shun lived within the bend of Kuei River, and was especially careful. Yao’s two daughters did not dare, on account of their rank, to be proud, but waited on Shun’s relations, and were constant in their wifely duties, while Yao’s nine sons became more and more generous.

When Shun ploughed on Li mountain, the inhabitants yielded the boundaries; when he fished in Thunder lake, the men on the lake yielded to him the best place; and when he made pots on the bank of the river, his vessells had no holes or flaws in them. If he dwelt in a place for a year he formed a metropolis.

Yao gave Shun clothes made of fine grasscloth, and a lute, and built him a granary and shed for his oxen and sheep.

Gusou again tried to kill Shun by making him go up and plaster the roof of the granary, while he set fire to it from below, but Shun, protecting himself from the fire wit a couple bamboo hats, came down and escaped with his life.

Gusou after this told Shun to dig a well, which he did, making a secret tunnel at the side to get out at. When Shun had gone right in, Gusou and Xiang filled up the well with earth, but Shun came out by the secret passage. Gusou and Xiang rejoiced, thinking that Shun was dead, and Xiang said, ‘The plot was mine, but I will go shares with my father and mother; I will take Shun’s wives, Yao’s two daughters, and the lute as my share, while the oxen, sheep, granary and shed shall belong to my parents.’ He remained, however, in Shun’s house playing on the lute, and when Shun went thither Xiang, startled and not well-pleased to see him, said, ‘I was just thinking of you, and getting very anxious.’ ‘quite so,’ said Shun, ‘and so you possessed yourself of all these things.’ Shun again served Gusou, loved his brother, and was still more careful in his conduct.

Yao thereupon tested Shun as to the five cardinal rules, and the various officers were under control.

In former days the emperor Kaoyang had eight talented sons; the world benefited by them, and they were called the eight benevolent ones. The Emperor Kaoxin had also eight talented sons, and men called them eight virtuous ones. Of these sixteen men after ages have acknowledged the excellence, and not let their names fall to the ground. In the time of Yao he was not able to raise them to office, but Shun raised the eight benevolent ones to office, and made them superintend the land department and direct all matters,arranging them according to their seasons. He also raised the right virtuous ones to office, employing them to spread throughout the country a knowledge of the duties pertaining to the five social relationships, for fathers became just, mothers loving, elder brothers sociable, younger ones respectful, and children dutiful; within the empire there was peace, and beyond it submission.

In ancient days the Emperor Hong (Huangdi) had a son devoid of ability, who shut himself off from duty, and was a vallain in secret, delighting in the practice of the worst vices, and all men called him Chaos. (The Emperor) Shaohao had a descendant devoid of ability, who overthrew good faith, hated loyalty, extolled specious and evil talk, and all the people called him Monter. Zhuanxu had a son devoid of ability, who would receive no instruction and acknowledge no good words, and all people called him Block. There three men everyone was distressed about until the time of Yao, but yao could not send them away. Jinyun had a son devoid of ability, who was greedy in eating and driking, and pursued wealth blindly. All the people called him Glutton, hated and compared him to the three other wicked men. Shun received visitors at the four gates, but banished these four wicked ones to the four borders of the empire to manage hobgolins; and those at the four gates rightly said “there were no wicked men among them.”

Shun went to the great plains at the foot of the mountains, and amid violent wind, thunder, and rain, did not go astray. Yao then knew that Shun was fit to accept the empire, and being old, caused Shun to be associated with him in the government, and when he went on a tour of inspection Shun was promoted and employed in the administration of affairs for twenty years; and Yao having drected that he should be associated in the government, he was so associated for eight years.

Yao died, and when the three years mourning was over, Shun yielded to Danzhu, but the people of the empire turned to Shun. Now Yu, Gaoyao, Xie, Houji, Poyi, Kuei, Long, Qiu, Yi, and Pengzu were all from the time of Yao promoted to office, but had not separate appointments.

Shun having then proceeded to the tmeple of the accomplished ancestor, deliberated with the president of the four mountains, threw open the four gates, and was in direct communication with officers in all four quarters of the empire, who were eyes and ears to him.

He ordered the twelve governors to talk of the Emperor’s virture, to be kind to the virtuous, and keep the artful at a distance, so that the barbarians of the south might lead on one another to be submissive.

He said to the president of the four mountains, Is there anyone who can vigorously display his merits, and beautify Yao’s undertakings, and whom I can make prime minister? They all said, ‘There is a Baron Yu, the superintendent of works,’ He can beautify the Emperor’s labours.

Shun said, ‘Ah, yes, Yu, you have put in order the water and the land, but in this matter you must exert yourself.’

Yu did obeisance with his head to the ground, while declining in favour of Millet, Xie, or Gaoyao.

Shun said, ‘Yes; but do you go and set about it.’

Shun said, ‘Qi, the black-haired people begin to be famished. Do you, Prince of Millet, sow in their seasons the various kinds of grain.’

He also said, ‘Xie, the people do not love on another, and the five orders of relationship are not observed. You, as minister of instruction, must carefully diffuse abroad those five lessons of duty, but do so with gentleness.’

He also said, ‘Gaoao, the southern babarians are disturbing the Xia region, while robbers, murderers, villains, and traitors abound. Do you, as minister of crime, exercise repression by use of the five kins of punishment – for the infliction of which there are three appointed places – and the five banishments with their several places of detention, and three degrees of distance. Be intelligent and you will inspire confidence.’

Shun said, ‘Who can direct the workmen?’ They all said ‘Chui can do it;’ so he made Chui minister of works.

Shun said, ‘Who can superintend my uplands and lowlands, pastures and woods, birds and beasts?’ They all said, ‘Yi is the man’; so Yi was made imperial forester. Yi did obeisance with his head to the ground, and declined in favour of the officials Fir, Tiger, Black Bear, and Grizzly Bear. Shun said, ‘Go and act harmoniously.’ Fir, Tiger, Black Bear, and Grizzly Bear were accordingly his assistants.

Shun said, ‘Ah! president of the four mountains, is there anyone who can superintend the three ceremonies?’ They all said, ‘Baron Yi is the man.’ Shun said, ‘Ah! Baron Yi, I will make you arranger of the ancestral Temple. Day and night be careful, be upright, be pure.’ Baron Yi declined in favour of Kuei or Long, but Shun said, ‘Let it be so,’ and made Kuei director of music and teacher of youth. ‘Be straigtforward’ (he added) ‘and yet mild; lenient and yet stern; firm, yet not tyrannical; impetuous, yet not arrogant. Poetry gives expression to the thought, and singing is the prolonged utterance of that expression. Notes accompany that utterance, and are harmonized themselves by the pitch-pipes. The eight kinds of instruments can be adjusted, so that one shall not take from or interfere with another, and spirits and men are thereby brought into harmony.’ Kuei said, ‘Oh! smite the stone; I tap the stone, and the various animals lead on one another to dance.’

Shun said, ‘Long, I dread slanderous speakers and injurious deceivers, who agitate and alarm my people. I appoint you minister of communication. Day and night you will issue and receive my orders, but be truthful.’

Shun said, ‘Ah! you twenty and two men, be reverent, and you will aid in their proper seasons the undertakings of heaven.’

Every three years there was an examination of merits, and after three examinations there were degradations and promotions both far and near.

The people’s labours generally prospered, while the people of the three Miao tribes were divided and defeated. These twenty-two all completed their labours.

Gaoyao was chief minister of crime, and the people were all subservient and obtained his genuine services. Boyi was director of ceremonies, and both upper and lower classes were retiring. Chui was head workman, and the various kinds of work were successfully accomplished. Yi was head forester, and hills and swamps were brought under cultivation. Ji was director of agriculture, and the various crops ripened in their seasons. Xie was minister of instruction, and the people were friendly together. Long superintended the foreign department, and men from afar arrived. The twelve governors did their duty, and the people of the nine provinces did not dare to rebel. But Yu’s labours consisted in making great cuttings through the nine hills, making thoroughfares through nine swamps, deepening the nine rivers, and regulating the nine provinces, each of which by their officials sent tribute, and did not lose their rightful dues. In a square of 5000li he reached the wild domain. to the south he governed Annam, Beifa; On the western the Rong tribes, Xizhi, Qushou, Di, qiang, On the north Hill Rong, Fa, Xishen, On the east the tall island barbarians(Chang, Niaoyi). All within the four seas were grateful for Emperor Shun’s labours; and Yu then performed the nine tunes, and the result was that strange creatures and pheonixes flew to and fro. Men of illustrious virtue in the empire began from the days of Empoeror Shun of Yu.

When Shun was twenty years of age he was noted for his filial piety, at thirty Yao raised him to office, at fifty he assisted in the administration of Imperial affairs, when he was fifty-eight Yao died, and when he was sixty-one he sat on the Imperial throne in Yao’s stead. After he had occupied the Imperial throne thirty-nine years, he went on hunting expedition to the south, died in the desert of Cangwu, and was buried at a place called Lingling (Broken hillocks) in the Jiuyi range in Jiangnan Province.

After Shun had come to the throne, and was flying the Imperial flag, he went to pay a visit to his father, Gusou, and addressed him in a grave and respectful manner, as a son should do. He raised his brother Xiang to the rank of prince.
shun’s son Shangjun was also degenerate, so that Shun, being prepared, recommended Yu to the notice of Heaven, and seventeen years later he died. When the three years’ mourning was over, Yu also yielded to Shun’s son just as Shun had yielded to Yao’s son, but the princes gave their allegiance to Yu, and he thereupon came to the Imperial throne. Yao’s son Danzhu, and Shun’s son Shangjun, both held territory so that they might be enabled to perform sacrifices to their ancestors; they paid the due observances, such as religious ceremonies and music, and they went to the audiences as the Emperor’s guests. The emperor did not dare, without due notification from his ministers, to act on his own responsibility.

The highly meritorious: Emperor Yao


Emperor Ku married a daughter of Chen Feng, who bore a son named ‘the Highly Meritorious’. He also married a daughter of Zhouzi, who bore a son Zhi. Emperor Ku died, and Zhi reigned in his stead. Zhi reigned badly and died, and his brothter ‘the Highly Meritorious one’ reigned under the title of Emperor Yao.

Emperor Yao was highly meritorious. His benevolence was like that of heaven, and his wisdom that of a god; when approached he was genial as the sun, and was looked out for as clouds in dry weather. He was rich without being proud, and esteemed yet not lax. He wore a yellow hat and plain silk dress, and drove a red car drawn by white horses. He was able to display his supereminent virtue, by bringing into close alliance the nine degrees of kindred, and they being rendered harmonious, he forthwith regulated the people, and his people having become enlightened, the various states were at peace.

He then commanded Xi and He in reverent accordance with their observations of the wide heavens to record in a calendar the laws affecting the sun, moon, stars, ad zodiacal spaces, and respectfully to communicate to the people the seasons (adapted for labour).

He also commanded Xi’s younger brother to reside at Yuyi, called the Bright Valley, so as to hail with respect the rising sun, and arrange the labours of the spring; and the day being of medium lenghth, and the culminating star (the central one of the) ‘Bird’ quarter of the heavens, he was to determine midspring, when the people begin to dsperse, and birds and beasts to breed and copulate.

He further commanded Xi’s third brother to reside at the southern frontier to arrange the transformations of summer, and respectfully observe the extreme limit (of shadow), and the day being at its longest, and the star in the zenith that called ‘Fire’, he was to fix the exact period of midsummer, when the people are most widely dispersed, birds moult, and beasts change their coats.

He further commanded Ho’s younger brother to reside in the west at a place called Dark Valley to respectfully convoy the setting sun, and arrange the completing labours of the autumn, and the night being of medium length, and the culminating star Xu (β in aquarius) to determine mid-autumn, when people begin to feel comfortable, and birds and beasts look smooth and glossy.

He further commanded He’s third brother to reside in the northern region in what was called the Sombre Capital (You Du), to examine the hidden things, and the day being at its shortest, and the culminating star Mao (ε in Pleiades) to determine midwinter, when people get into cosy corners, and the coats of birds and beasts are downy and thick.

The year consisted of 366 days, and intercalary month being added to adjust the four seasons.

Authentic directions were given to the various officers, and their several labours commenced.

Yao said, ‘Who can obediently manage these matters?’

Fangqi said, ‘There is your adopted son Danzhu, who is developing his intelligence’.

Yao said, ‘Oh! he is unscrupulous and wicked; I cannot employ him.’

He said again, ‘Who will do it?’

Huandou said, ‘Gonggong, the Minister of Works, who is generally popular, and has displayed merit, could be employed.’

Yao said, ‘The minister of works, is talkative; If he is employed, his depravities, although he is apparently respectful, whould overspread the heavens, he will not do.’

He said further, ‘Alas! O president of the Fur Mountains (Si Yue), the waters of the flood rise up to the heaven, and in their vast expanse encompass the mountains, and overtop the hills; the common people are troubled about it. Is there a capable man whom I could set to deal with the matter?’

They all said, ‘Gun might do it.’

Yao said, ‘Gun disobeys orders, and ruins his companions. He wil not do.’

The president said, ‘Ah! well! Try him, and if he is found useless, have done with him.’

Whereupon Yao adopting their suggestion, employed Gun for nine years, but his work was not completed.

Yao said, ‘Alas! O president of the four mountains, I have been on the throne seventy years; you are able to carry out the decrees, do you occupy my throne.’

The president replied, ‘My moral qualities are of such a low order that I should disgrace the Imperial throne.’

Yao said, ‘You must all recommend one of your esteemed relations, or even an obscure stranger.’

All the courtiers said to Yao, ‘There is an unmarried man of the lower orders called Shun of Yu.’

Yao said, ‘Yes, I have heard of him, what is he like?’
The president said, ‘He is the son of a blind man; his father was unprincipled, his mother insincere, and his brother arrogant, but he managed by his dutiful conduct to be reconciled to them, so they have gradually improved, and not been extremely wicked.’

‘Shall I try him?’ said Yao.

He then married his two daughters to Shun, and watched his behaviour towards them. Shun sent the two women down to the north of the Kuei River, and treated them with the ceremony due to them as his wives.

Yao praised Shun, and told him carefully to show the harmony of the five hunman relationships, and when they could be obeyed, they became universal among the various officials, who at the proper times arranged the visitors at the four gates in the right order, and when the visitors at the four gates were submissive, the princes and strangers from distant regions became one and all respectful.

Yao sent Shun into the hills and forests among rivers and swamps, but although fierce winds and thunderstorms prevailed, Shun did not miss his way.

Yao then taking Shun to be a holy man, called him and said, ‘For three years your words can be carried into practice. You shall ascend the Imperial throne.’

Shun yielded in favour of some one more virtuous than himself, and was unhappy, but on the first day of the first month Shun accepted Yao’s resignation in the temple of the accomplished ancestor, who was Yao’s great ancestor.

So the Emperor Yao being old ordered that Shun should be associated with him in the government of the Empire. In order to observe Heaven’s decrees, Shun thereupon examined the gem-adorned armillary sphere, and the jade transverse, so as to adjust the position of the ‘Seven Directors.’

He then offered a special sacrifice to the Supreme Ruler, sacrificed purely to the six honoured ones, looked with devotion to the hills and rivers, and worshiped with distinctive rites and hosts of spirits.

He called in the five tokens, chose a lucky month and day, gave audience to the president of the four mountains, and all the governors, returning the tokens in due course.

In the second month of every year he went eastward on a tour of inspection, and on reaching Taizong Mountain he presented a burnt offering, and sacrificed in order to the hills and rivers. He then gave audience to the chieftains of the East, putting in accord their seasons and months, and rectifying the days. He rendered uniform the standard tubes, the measures of length and capacity, and the scales; and regulated the five kinds of ceremonies. The five gems, the three kinds of silks, the two living animals, and one dead one were brought as presents to the audience, but the five implements were returned at the conclusion.

In the fifth month he went to the south, in the eighth month to the west, and in the eleventh month northward on his tours of inspection; in each case observing the same ceremonies as before, and on his return he went to the temple of the ancestral tablets,and offered up a single ox.

Every five years there was one tour of inspection, and four audiences of the princes at court when they presented a full verbal report which was intelligently tested by their works, and chariots and robes given according to their deserts.

Shun instituted the division of the Empire into twelve provinces, and deepened the rivers.

He gave delineations of the statuory punishiments, enacting banishment as a mitigation of the five chief punishments, the whip being employed for public officers, the stick in schools, and a money penalty being inflicted for redeemable crimes. Inadvertent offences, and those caused by misfortune were to be pardoned, and those who offended presumptuously or repeatedly were to be punished with death.

‘Be reverent, be reverent’ (said he), ‘and in the administration of the law be tranquil.’

Huandou approached, and spoke about Gonggong, the minister of works. ‘I cannot even give him a trial as a workman,’ said Yao, ‘for he is really profligate.’ The president of the four mountains recommended Gun as the proper person to look after the deluge. Yao regarded it as impracticable, but the president vehemently requested that he might be tried, so the trial was made, but without good results.

Of old the people had felt that it was undersirable that the three Miao tribes in the districts of Jiang huai, and Jing should so often rise in rebellion; so Shun on his return spoke to the emperor requesting that the minister of works might be banished to the Ridge of You to reform the Northern Di tribes, that Huandou might be detained on mount Cong, to reform the Southern barbarians, that the chief of the three Miao tribes might be removed to Sanwei(three cliffs) to reform the Western Rong people, and that Gun might be imprisoned for life on Mount Yu to reform the Eastern barbarians. The four criminals being thus dealt with, universal submission prevailed throughout the empire.
Yao had sat on the throne seventy years, when he secured Shun’s services for twenty years; then being old, he directed that Shun should be associated with him in the government of the empire, and presented him to Heaven.

Yao had abdicted the throne twenty-eight years when he died, and the people mouned for him as for a parent, no music being played for three years throughout the empire, for which reason he was remembered.

Yao knew that his son Danzhu was a worthless fellow, who was not fit to reign, and so the authority was conferred on Shun. As it was conferred on Shun, the empire got the advantage and Danzhu was injured. If it had been conferred on Danzhu, the empire would have injured, and Danzhu gained the advantage.

Yao said, ‘We certainly cannot cause the empire to suffer loss, and the advantage go to an individual.’

In the end the empire was given over to Shun. After the death of Yao, when the three years’ mourning was over, Shun gave way to Danzhu, and retired to the south of the southern river. When the princes went to an audience at court, they did not present themselves before Danzhu, but before Shun; litigants did not go before Danzhu, but Shun; and the singers did not sing in praise of Danzhu, but of Shun. Shun said, ‘it is from Heaven.’

Afterwards he went to the capital, sat on the Imprerial throne, and was styled Emperor Shun.

Huangdi , the Yellow Emperor


Huangdi (Yellow Emperor) was the son of Shaodian. His surname was Gongsun, and his prename Xuanyuan. Born a genius he could speak when a baby, as a boy he was quick and smart, as a youth simple and earnest, and when grown up intelligent.

In the time of Xuanyuan, Shennong became enfeebled. The princes made raids on each other and harassed the people, but Shennong could not chastise them, so Xuanyuan exercised himself in the use of weapons of war, so as to be able to punish irregularities.

The princes all came and did homage, but Chiyou (stupid criminal), the fiercest of all, could not be subdued. ‘Blazing God'(i.e. Shennong) would oppress the princes, so they turned to Xuanyuan, who practised virtue, marshalled his men, controlled the five elements, cultivated the five kinds of grain, pacified the nations, and went over all parts of his country.

Training black bears, grizzly bears, foxes, panthers, lynxes, and tigers,he with their aid, fought with ‘Blazing god’ in the desert of Banquan, and, after three battles, realised his wishes.

Chiyou was a rebel, who did not obey the Emperor’s command, so Huangdi, levying an army of the princes, fought against Chiyou, captured, and slew him in the desert of Zhulu.

The princes all agreed that Xuanyuan should be the Emperor in place of Shennong, under the title of Huangdi. Those in the empire who would not submit, Huangdi pursude and chastised, and when they were subdued he left them.

He made cuttings in hills, opened roads, and was never at rest. Eastward his empire extended to the sea, Ball hill, and the ancestral Tai Mountain; westward to ‘Hollow cave’ and Cock’s-head hills; southward to the Yangtze river and Xiongxiang hills; while in the north he drove out the Xiongyu. He made a treaty on Kettle hill, and built a city on the slopes of Zhulu.

He was constantly changing his residence, while his troop formed an encampment about him. He ordered his officers to be named after cloud omens. He appointed a chief and deputy superintendent over international affairs, and the various states being at peace, he worshipped the demons and spirits of the hills and streams with the Feng and Chan ceremonies in numbers.

He obtained a valuable tripod, and made calculations of future events, appointing ‘Chief of winds’, ‘Strength-governor’,and ‘Great Swan’, to direct the people to act in accordance with the celestial and terrestrial arrangements, the dark and bright prognostications, the disputations on life and death, the planting of the crops, plants, and trees in their seasons, and the transformations of birds, beasts, insects, and moths.

He also prepared a record of the movements of the sun, moon, and stars; the flow of the tides; and the properties of clay, stones, metals, and gems.

He devoted much careful attention to these things, and his observation was applied to ascertaining how fire, water, wood, and other elements could be used economically.

There was an auspicious omen of earth’s energy, and he was therefore called ‘Yellow god’. Huangdi had twenty-five sons, of whom fourteen received surnames. He lived at Xuanyuan hill, and married a woman of ‘Western range’ land called Leizu, who was his principal wife, and bore him two sons, both of whose descendants held Imperial sway.

Great Brilliant God, Fuxi


Taihao (Great Brilliant), or Paoxi, of the surname Feng(wind), superseding Suiren(fire producer), succeeded heaven as King.

His mother, named Huaxu, trod in the footprint of giant at Thunder lake, and bore Paoxi at Chengji.

He had a serpent’s body, a man’s head, and the virtue of sage.

‘Looking up he contemplated the forms exhibited in the heavens, and looking down he observed the patterns shown on the earth: he observed also around him the ornamental markings of the birds and beasts, and the different suitabilities of the soil.

As to what was near he found things for consideration in his own person, and as to the remote in things in general. He first delineated the Eight Trigrams in order to show fully the virtues of the gods, and to classify the qualities of the myriads of things.

He worked out a system of recording by tablets in lieu of ‘knotted cords’, and marriage rites were then first instituted, a pair of skins being given as wedding presents.

‘He made nets to teach men how to snare animals and to fish’, and so he was called Fuxi (hidden victim). He kept beasts for sacrificial purposes in his kitchen, and so he was called ‘Paoxi'(kitchen victims).

There being a dragon omen, he enrolled dragons among his officers, and they were styled dragon leaders.

He made the thirty-five-stringed lute.

His capital was in Chen. In the East he built a Feng monument on Mount Tai. Having reigned eleven years he died.

The blazing god, Shen Nong


The blazing god, Shen Nong, named Nu Deng, was of the Qiang family. His mother was influenced by a sacred dragon, she brought forth the blazing god with a man’s body and an ox’s head.

He grew up on the banks of the Qiang River, whence he derived his surname.

As he ruled by the influence of the element fire, he was called ‘blazing god’, and named his officers by the help of fire.

“he cut down trees to make agricultural implements, bending timber into the shape of plough handles and spades, and taught the people the art of husbandry. As he was the first to give lessons in agriculture he was style ‘divine husbandman’. Then sacrifices were offered at the close of the year, and red thongs used for garlanding plants and trees. He was the first to taste the different herbs, and first to make use of them for medical purposes.

He also made the five-stringed lute.” He taught people how to hold mid-day markets, when they bartered their wares and retired, everyone having got what he wanted. He reduplicated the eight Trigrams, and thus obtained sixty-four symbols. He first of all had his capital at Chen, and then dwelt at Qufu. After reigning 120 years he died, and was buried at Changsha.

Shen Nong originally came from Lie Shan (burning mountain), so Zuo Qiu Ming speaks of the son of the burning mountain.