Friday, September 5, 2008

NuWa Makes Men

It is said that there were no men when the sky and the earth were separated. It was NuWa who made men by moulding yellow clay. The work was so taxing that her strength was not equal to it. So she dipped a rope into the mud and then lifted it. The mud that dripped from the rope also became men. Those made by moulding yellow clay were rich and noble, while those made by lifting the rope were poor and low.

NuWa Mends the Sky

In ancient times, the four corners of the sky collapsed and the world with its nine regions split open. The sky could not cover all the things under it, nor could the earth carry all the things on it. A great fire raged and would not die out; a fierce flood raced about and could not be checked. Savage beasts devoured innocent people; vicious birds preyed on the weak and old.

Then N?Wa melted rocks of five colours and used them to mend the cracks in the sky. She supported the four corners of the sky with the legs she had cut off from a giant turtle. She killed the black dragon to save the people of Jizhou, and blocked the flood with the ashes of reeds. Thus the sky was mended, its four corners lifted, the flood tamed, Jizhou pacified, and harmful birds and beasts killed, and the innocent people were able to live on the square earth under the dome of the sky. It was a time when birds, beasts, insects and snakes no longer used their claws or teeth or poisonous stings, for they did not want to catch or eat weaker things.

N?Wa's deeds benefited the heavens above and the earthbelow. Her name was remembered by later generations and her light shone on every creation. Now she was travelling on a thunder-chariot drawn by a two-winged dragon and two green hornless dragons, with auspicious objects in her hands and a special mattress underneath, surrounded by golden clouds, a white dragon leading the way and a flying snake following behind. Floating freely over the clouds, she took ghosts and gods to the ninth heaven and had an audience with the Heavenly Emperor at Lin Men, where she rested in peace and dignity under the emperor. She never boasted of her achievements, nor did she try to win any renown; she wanted to conceal her virtues, in line with the ways of the universe.

Jiang Taigong Meets King Wen

When King Wen decided to go hunting, Bian, his official historian, burnt a tortoise shell to forecast the result. After reading the cracks he said, "Hunting on the north side of the Wei River is bound to bring a great gain. It will not be a dragon or a Chi, nor will it be a tiger or a bear. It will be a wise man sent by Heaven to be your minister and mentor." King Wen got on his carriage, started the horses, and set out for the place. There he saw Jiang taigong sitting on the grass and fishing.

Zhou Xibo went hunting and on the north bank of the wei River he met Jiang Taigong. After talking with him, Xibo was very pleased, saying, "Before he died, my father had anticipated that Zhou would become prosperous when a sage came to us. Are you the sage? My father had long expected your arrival!" So he called him Taigong Wang . He returned with Taigong, sharing his carriage with him, and was to treat him as his mentor.

King wen made Taigong the magistrate of Guantan. During the year Taigong was there, there was never a wind that was strong enough to disturb the leaves of the trees. Once in his dream, King Wen saw a beautiful woman weeping before his carriage. When asked the reason, she replied, "I am the daughter of the god of Mount Taishan and married to the god of the East sea. Now I want to go home, but the virtuous magistrate of Guantan makes the trip difficult. For my movements are always accompanied by a violent storm, which damage his good name." After waking up, the king summoned Taigong to ask what had happened. He was told that a violent storm with pouring rain had swept areas outside Guantan that day. King Wen then promoted Taigong to the position of Chief General.

The Foolish Old Man Removes the Mountains

The Taihang and Wangwu Mountains, which had a periphery of seven hundred li and were a hundred thousand feet high, originally lay south of Jizhou and north of Heyang.

The Foolish Old Man of the North Mountain, nearly ninety years of age, lived behind these mountains. He was unhappy about the fact that the mountains blocked his way to the south and he had to walk round them whenever he went our or came back, so he called the whole family together to talk about the matter. " What would you say," he said to them,"if I suggest that all of us work hard to level the two mountains, so as to open a way to places south of Yu Prefecture and the Han River?" Many voices said they agreed to the idea.

But his wife had her doubts. "With your strength," she said, "you could hardly remove a small hill like Kuifu. What could you do with the Taihang and Wangwu Mountains? Besides, where could you deposit the earth and rocks.?"

"Carry them to the shores of the Bohai Sea and north of Yintu," said several people.

The old man, helped by his son and grandson who could carry things, began to break rocks and dig earth, which they carried in baskets and dustbins to the shores of the Bohai Sea. The seven-year-old son of a widow named Jingcheng, one of the old man's neighbours, came running up to offer his help. One trip to the sea took them a long time: they left in winter and came back in summer.

The Wise Old Man at the River Bend stopped the old man. He laughed and said, "How unwise you are! At your age, old and feeble as you are, you cannot even remove one hair on the mountain, let alone so much earth and so many rocks!"

The Foolish Old Man of the North Mountain heaved a long sign and said, "You are so conceited that you are blind to reason. Even a widow and a child know better than you. When I die, there will be my sons, who will have their sons and grandsons. Those grandsons will have their sons and grandsons, and so on to infinity. But the mountains will not grow. Why is it impossible to level them?" The Wise Old Man at the River Bend could not answer him.

The Old Man's words were heard by a god with snakes in his hands. He was afraid that the old man would really level the two mountains, and reported the whole thing to the Heavenly God. Moved by the old man's determination, the Heavenly God ordered the two sons of Kua'ershi to carry the two mountains on their backs and put one east of Shuo and the other south of Yong. After this, there were no more mountains between Jizhou and the Han River.

The Cowherd and the Girl Weaver

On the east bank of the Heavenly River lived a girl weaver, daughter of the Emperor of Heaven. She worked hard year in and year out, weaving colourful clothes for gods and goddesses.

Since she lived all alone, the emperor took pity on her and allowed her to marry the cowherd on the west bank of the river. However, she stopped weaving after she was married. Greatly outraged, the emperor forced the girl back across the river and allowed her to join her husband only once a year.

On the seventh day of each autumn, magpies would suddenly become bald-headed for no obvious reasons at all. According to legend, that day the cowherd and the weaver met on the east bank of the river, and magpies were made to form a bridge for them. And for this reason the down on their heads was worn out.

Chang'er Flies to the Moon

Yi got some elixir from the Queen of the West, but his wife Chang'er stole it and flew away with it to the moon. Thereafter she lived on the moon in the form of a toad, and was called the Moon Spirit.

People of ancient times said that there was a bay tree and a toad on the moon. Some strange books even said that the bay tree was five thousand feet tall, and that under it there was a man chopping at it all the time. However, the tree healed itself immediately after each cut. This man, who cam from Xihe, bore the name of Wu Gang. He had done something wrong while learning to become an immortal, and as a punishment was made a life-long tree chopped on the moon.

Zong Dingbo Catches a Ghost

Zong Dingbo, a young man in Nanyang, met a ghost one night while walking along the road. "Who is it?" he asked. "A ghost," answered the ghost. "Who are you?" "I am a ghost, too," Zong lied. "Where are you going?" the ghost asked. "I am going to Wanshi," Zong answered. "I am also going there," the ghost said. So they went a few li together. "It is very tiresome to walk like this," said the ghost. "Why do we not carry each other on our backs by turns?" "That is an excellent idea," Zong agreed. First the ghost carried Zong for & few li. "You are so heavy!" it said. "Are you really a ghost?" Zong said, "I died quite recently, so I am heavy." Then it was his turn to carry the ghost, which was almost weightless. They went on like this, each carrying the other several times. Zong said, "Since I have just died, I do not know what a ghost fears." "A ghost fears nothing but to be spat at," the ghost told him.

They came to a river. Zong asked the ghost to cross it first. He listened and found that the ghost made no noise at all. When he waded the river, he splashed and made a lot of noise. "Why did you make so much noise?" the ghost asked. "I have not yet learned to cross a river quietly, since I am a new ghost," Zong answered, adding, "Please bear with me about that."

They were approaching Wanshi when Zong put the ghost on his shoulder and held it fast with his hands. The ghost demanded in a loud voice to be let off, but Zong turned a deaf ear to it. He walked straight to the centre of the town. When he put the ghost down on the ground, it had turned itself into a goat. He sold it and spat at it for fear that it might change people said at the time, "Zong Dingbo earned fifteen hundred coins by selling a ghost."