Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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 King Tang of Shang Dynasty --A Rule Breaker and Founder of Longest Empire

Tang (1670 B.C. — 1587 B.C.), the lord of Shang, inherited the clan from his father. Their current King Jie of the Xia Dynasty was quite a luxurious tyrant and had initiated large numbers of wars, which caused people’s lives miserable.

 

Consequently, Tang started to try to make a change by encouraging his people to cultivate more farmlands and produce more weapons; soon he annexed many nearby clans and largely extended his territory.

 

Moreover, Tang bribed many of King Jie’s ministers, even Jie’s favorite queen Mo Xi, trying to get useful information about Xia. 

 

However, Xia was still a powerful kingdom with many loyal generals and seigneurs, so Tang’s army was still under severe surveillance and restriction by some nearby vassal states.

 

Once Tang was summoned to visit Jie, the king of Xia; he had to follow the command, but was ended up in Jie’s prison. Tang was finally released after his officers had paid King Jie and Xia’s officials lots of briberies. 

 

The humiliation of this captive experience made Tang even firmer about the idea of perishing the reign of Jie and his Dynasty.

 

In the following years, Tang allied all the vassal states that were unsatisfied with Jie’s ruling and defeated those that were loyal to Jie. After Jie sentenced a very integrity and loyal minister to death, more distrust and resentment toward Jie appeared.

 

Tang found this was a good opportunity to attack Jie. Finally, Tang and his army successfully occupied Xia’s capital city, and banished Jie to a nearby mountain.   

Tang then named his new dynasty as Shang and claimed himself as the new king.

 

As the King Tang of the Shang Dynasty, he was quite diligent and thoughtful; he elected many intelligent and qualified ministers, lowered taxes and extended the territory, which all brought his people happier and stable lives. 

He was literally the first person who overthrew a huge kingdom through war in the history of China, who rebelled the king and country that his ancestors pledged loyalty to, and replaced it with his own stronger empire.

 

His excellent diplomatic strategy and military skill not only brought a brand new dynasty, but also indicated that nothing is permanent, which ia an important ideology in Chinese culture.

 

A king could be overthrown if he could not do a good job, a dynasty could be ended and a new empire could be established by all means.

 

Yi Yin and Tai Jia -- All-might Slave Born Minister and His King Student

Yi Yin (1649 B.C. — 1549 B.C.) was found in an open field when he was a baby, by his adoptive mother, a slave who was collecting mulberry leaves. Yi Yin grew up as a slave too, who cooked dinner for noble families.

 

However, Yi Yin was quite smart and intelligent, many noblemen started to ask for advices or opinions from him. 

 

When a highborn lady that Yi was serving married to the Lord Tang, Yi followed his master and came to Tang’s state as a cook. Soon Yi impressed Tang by his inspiring idea of comparing cooking to the management of a country.

 

Then Tang nominated Yi as one of his most powerful ministers. At that time, Tang was a lord who still answered to king of the Xia Dynasty. 

 

Yi then assisted Tang to enlarge his territory and build connection with Xia’s queen Mo Xi. In addition, he realized the alliance of other vassal states that made contributions on defeating of Xia's armies in battlefields.

 

Yi played an important and irreplaceable role in assisting Tang to establish and flourish the new dynasty as well. 

 

After Tang passed away, Yi continued to assist the following kings, as the most contributing and powerful minister.

 

However, the fourth king of the Shang Dynasty, Tai Jia, didn’t want to listen to Yi. This king pursued a luxury lifestyle and applied many cruel policies, just for fun.

As a respectable teacher of previous kings and many noblemen, Yi grounded Tai Jia in Tang’s cemetery for 3 years.

 

During these 3 years, Yi was in charge of everything in politic; he also sent an intelligent man to tell Tai Jia with stories of the King Tang, trying to let him know how his brave ancestors conquered countless obstacles and built this prosperous empire. 

 

Tai Jia was moved and had changed a lot in those 3 years. Finally, he decided to inherit his ancestors’ kingdom in a right way.

 

So Yi welcomed him and gave all the power back.

 

Afterwards, Tai Jia became a brilliant monarch who brought his people better lives and peace. Yi stayed as an important and excellent minister until he passed away and was buried using a king’s ceremony. 

 

Besides Yi’s remarkable political and military achievements, he was also an excellent cook, a knowledgeable doctor, and a well respected wizard.

 

His contribution in Chinese food and medication were influential and exceptional; his herbal medication prescriptions were frequently mentioned and used in books in the following thousands years history of China.

 

Nowadays, he is still respected as the father of Chinese food by many professional cooks.