Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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King Yao -- Incarnation of Red Dragon and Inventor of Abdication System in History of China

A beautiful young lady, also the third queen of the current king, was visiting her parents on a boat, when a red tornado appeared and flew around her, twice. That night, she dreamt that a red dragon came inside her body. Next morning, she saw a handsome portrait drawn using red water, and soon found she was pregnant. A baby boy, who looked exactly the same with that red water painted portrait, was born 14 months later and was named as Yao (About 2377 B.C. — 2259 B.C.). Soon he became a talented genius and was subinfeudated a huge land in the history of China. 


When Yao was young, he fell in love with a fairy of deer, who saved him from an evil black tiger. They got married in a beautiful cave and had a baby boy. However, that black tiger tried to seek revenge years later and kept harassing them; the fairy then had to ask help from the king of the heaven to perish the black tiger permanently. The most powerful celestial helped her to defeat the black tiger and suppressed it under a mountain, but also forbidden the fairy to date human anymore. Afterwards, this fairy disappeared and lived in seclusion in a mountain. Yao and his baby boy searched his beloved fairy for years, but with no luck, so he had to come back to his civilian’s world. He ascended the throne from his older brother and married to another woman years later. 


Yao, the legal heir of his father’s kingdom, an excellent offspring of the great king Yellow Emperor (Huang Di), led his people to come into a period of prosperity and national fusion. Under his ruling, there was few wars and conflicts among different clans; instead, more communication and exchanges were realized in peace. 


As a well respected king with extraordinary achievements, Yao has been always a role model for the following monarchs in the history of China. Two exceptional officers, Da Yu and his father, was sent to manage a huge flood and achieved final success. Basic Chinese Calendar that was used to distinguish four seasons and guide agricultural works were formulated and widely applied, which made great contribution to the huge progress in Chinese agriculture. 


In addition, Yao brought society the conception of “nation” and a complete political system which assigned officers based on their specialties and achievements. Since then, his territory has become a literally powerful kingdom, instead of the previous loose alliance of clans. All of his civilians could talk to him in person if they had suggestions or injustice encounters, by hitting a drum in front of his palace. For people who lived far away, he set many wooden beams, each of which was guarded by an officer; civilians could tell those officers their words or get guidance on how to reach to Yao.


However, Yao’s first son was an aggressive and lazy person, who was nothing like a qualified heir of a big kingdom. So Yao invented the Game of Go, which was designed to imitate military activities, to teach his son to be calm and deliberate. Yao and other people could see many mature and sophisticated administration strategies and philosophies from this game, his son, however, could not. 


Then Yao sent his first son far away from home to avoid him being a threaten to the next king; moreover, his other sons were ordinary and not talented enough to be a monarch of his kingdom. So he chose an intelligent young man with good reputation named Shun. After careful examination, Yao made sure that Shun was qualified to be the heir; so he married his two daughters to Shun and then abdicated the throne. 


During Yao’s 28 years of retirement, he paid visits to lots of intelligent people and wonderful places in China. From him, the dragon was accepted as a holy totem of Chinese culture, for Yao's mysterious dragon related birth and outstanding contribution. 


Chinese people built hundreds of mausoleums in different places to memorize Yao; according to some historical books, the one where Yao was actually buried inside was in a town named Gulin. As an imperial mausoleum, it was quite simple and plain; without a clear instruction, people wouldn’t know that one of the greatest kings of China was ended up there. 


King Shun

-- Moral Model of Confucianism

King Shun (About 2287 B.C. — 2067 B.C.) had two pupils in each of his eyes, which made him look very special. He was born into a peasant family; his mother passed away when he was very young and his father soon married another woman. Unfortunately, Shun’s stepmother and step-siblings treated him very badly; he needed to do lots of heavy work and was given very few foods, while he was beaten frequently.


Surprisingly, Shun still loved all of his family members and was always kind to them. During that period, he did almost all kinds of works, included planting, fishing, handcrafting, etc.; he was excellent in all of that and his good reputation was then widely spread. 


Because of Shun’s intelligent, hardworking and kind personality, more and more people moved near him and nominated him as their new leader. Gradually, his new clan kept growing and expanding because of his excellent leadership. 


Decades later, the current King Yao heard about him and considered him as the potential heir of the throne. So Yao married his two beautiful daughters to Shun, and sent nine officers to assist and observe Shun. In order to occupy Shun’s two beautiful wives and properties, Shun’s stepmother and stepbrother tried several times to murder him. Luckily, smart Shun and his wives found out those conspiracies and escaped successfully. Even though, they never complained or punished those family-murderers. 


Later Shun passed Yao’s final test after crossing a big forest alone, where was full of mist and dangerous animals. His excellent leadership, courage, integrity and benevolence had influenced and impressed everyone around him, including King Yao. Consequently, Shun inherited the throne from Yao and started his own ruling. 


Shun further classified division of labor and set up a strict political assessment system to examine officers every three years. He also expelled many people who committed crimes to very remote places, which made sure the justice was guaranteed and everyone was well protected. Under his ruling, all the people were living in peace and prosperity, and the whole political system was running efficiently and organized. 


After Yao passed away, Shun gave back the throne to Yao’s first son and moved out of the capital city. However, people all moved with Shun and still respected him as the real king. Consequently, Shun accepted the honor and continued to serve the country as a monarch. 


He abdicated the throne to Yu the Great, who were much more respected and contributive than Shun’s own sons, after having successfully defended the huge flood. Years later, Shun passed away on an inspection visit. 


As a son and a brother, Shun has been always nice and polite, loved his family from heart and soul, no matter how bad he had been treated. As a king, he was kind and intelligent and brought his kingdom peace and wealth. He had been considered as one of the kindest kings in history of China, a moral model in Confucianism of Chinese culture, both as a person and a monarch. 


When his two wives heard about his death, they were very sad; their tears fell on many bamboos, which formed the mottled bamboo. One day, they dreamt that Shun had been welcomed to the heaven in a fancy cart surrounded by mythical animals; soon they dressed up and disappeared into Dongting Lake. Since then, they have become the celestial of that lake, blessing good people surrounding.