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PART. I. The Reigns of Hwang-te; Che; Chuen-heuh; and Kuh.

I. Hwang-te; dynastic title Hëen-yuen.1

Note. His mother was called Foo-paou. She witnessed a great flash of lightning, which surrounded the star ch`oo (α Dubhe) of the Great Bear with a brightness that lightened all the country about her, and thereupon became pregnant. After 25 months, she gave birth to the emperor in Show-k`ew. When born, he could speak. His countenance was dragon-like; his virtue that of a sage. He could oblige the host of spirits to come to his court, and receive his orders. He employed Ying-lung to attack Ch`e-yew, the fight with whom was maintained by the help of tigers, panthers, bears, and grisly bears. By means of the Heavenly lady Pă, he stopped the extraordinary rains caused by the enemy. When the empire was settled, his sage virtue was brightly extended, and all sorts of auspicious indications appeared. The grass K`euh-yih grew in the court-yard of the palace. When a glib-tongued person was entering the court, this grass pointed to him, so that such men did not dare to present themselves. 2

In his 1st year, when he came to the throue, he dwelt in Yew-hëung. 3 He invented the cap with pendents, and the robes to match. In his 20th year, brilliant clouds appeared; and he arranged his officers by names taken from the colours of the clouds. 4

Note. The auspicious omen of brilliant clouds was in this way:—The vapours of the red quarter [the south] extended so as to join those of the green [the east]. In the red quarter were two stars, and in the green, one;—all of a yellow colour, which appeared, when the heavens were clear and bright, in Shĕ-t`e, and were named the brilliant stars. The emperor in yellow robes fasted in the Middle palace. When he was sitting in a boat on the Yuen-hoo, above its junction with the Lŏ, there came together phoenixes, male and female. They would not eat any living insect, nor tread on living grass. Some of them abode in the emperor's eastern garden; some built their nests about the corniced galleries of the palace; and some sang in the courtyard, the females gambolling to the notes of the males. K`e-lins also appeared in the parks; and other spirit-like birds came with their measured movements. Four-horned low were produced as large as a goat, and the yin worms like rainbows. The emperor, considering that the influence of earth was thus predominant, reigned by the virtue of earth.

In his 50th year, 5 in the autumn, in the 7th month, on the day Kang-shin [57th of cycle], phoenixes, male and female, arrived. The emperor sacrificed at the river Loh.

Note. Beginning with Kăng-shin, the heavens were wrapt in mist for three days and three nights. The emperor asked T`ëen-laou, Leih-muh, and Yung-shing, what they thought of it. T`ëen-laou said, `I have heard this:—When a kingdom is tranquil, and its ruler is fond of peace, then phoenixes come and dwell in it; when a kingdom is disordered, and its ruler is fond of war, then the phoenixes leave it. Now the phoenixes fly about in your eastern borders rejoicing, the notes of their singing all exactly harmonious, in mutual accord with Heaven. Looking at the thing in this way, Heaven is giving your majesty grave instructions, which you must not disobey.' The emperor then called the recorder to divine about the thing, when the tortoise-shell was only scorched. The recorder said, `I cannot divine it; you must ask your sage men.' The emperor replied, `I have asked T`ëen-laou, Leih-muh, and Yung-shing.' The recorder then did obeisance, twice, with his face to the earth, and said, `The tortoise will not go against their sage wisdom, and therefore its shell is only scorched.'

When the mists were removed, he made an excursion on the Lŏ, and saw a great fish; and sacrificed to it with five victims, whereupon torrents of rain came down for seven days and seven nights, when the fish floated off the sea, and the emperor obtained the map-writings. The dragon-writing came forth from the Ho, and the tortoise-writing from the Lŏ.

In red lines, and the seal character, they were given to Hëen-yuen. He entertained the myriad spirits in Ming-t`ing, the present valley of Han-mun.

In his 59th year, the chief of `The Perforated Breasts' came to make his submission. So also did the chief of `The Long Legs.' 6 In his 77th year, Ch`ang-e 7 left the court, and dwelt by the Jŏ-water; he begat the emperor K`ëen-hwang. 8 In his 100th year, the earth was rent. The emperor went on high. 9

Note. The death of emperors and kings is thus spoken of as a going on high. In the Shoo we have `the recently ascended king,' for the recently deceased [Pt. V. BK. XXIII. 3]. Hwang-te reigned by the virtue of earth;—it was right that his death should be preceded by the rending of the earth. After he was buried, one of his ministers, named Tso-ch`ĕ, affected by the thought of the emperor's virtue, took his clothes, cap, bench, and stick, and offered sacrifice to them in a temple. The princes and great officers every year paid their court before them.

II. The Emperor Che; dynastic title Shaou-haou.10

Note. His mother was called Neu-tsëĕ. She witnessed a star like a rainbow come floating down the stream to the islet of Hwá. Thereafter she dreamed she had received it, and was moved in her mind, and bore Shaou-haou. When he ascended the throne, there was the auspicious omen of phoenixes. Some say that his name was Ts`ing, and that he did not occupy the throne. He led an army of birds, and dwelt in the west, where he arranged his officers by names taken from birds.

III. The emperor Chuen-heuh; dynastic title Kaou-yang.11

Note. His mother was called Neu-ch`oo. She witnessed the Yaou-kwang star (n Benetnasch) go through the moon like a rainbow, when it moved herself in the palace of Yew-fang, after which she brought forth Chuen-heuh near the Jŏ-water. On his head he bore a shield and spear; and he had the virtue of a sage. When 10 years old, he assisted Shaou-haou; and when 20, he ascended the imperial throne.

In his 1st year, when he came to the throne, he dwelt in Puh. 12 In his 13th 13year, he invented calendaric calculations and delineations of the heavenly bodies.In his 21st year, he made the piece of music called `The Answer to the Clouds.' In his 30th year, 14 he begat Pih-k`wăn 15 who dwelt in the south of T`ëen-muh. In his 78th year, he died. Shuh-k`e made disorder, and was made an end of by the prince of Sin.

IV. The emperor Kuh; dynastic title Kaou-sin. 16

Note. He was born with double rows of teeth; and had the virtue of a sage. He was at first made prince of Sin, and afterwards succeeded to Kaou-yang as monarch of the empire. He made blind men beat drums, and strike bells and sounding stones, at which phoenixes flapped their wings, and gambolled.

In his 1st year, when he came to the throne, he dwelt in Poh. 17 In his 16th year, he made Ch`ung lead an army, and extinguish the State of Yew-kwae. 18 In his 45th year, he conferred on the prince of T`ang 19 the appointment to be his successor. In his 63d year, he died.

Note. The emperor's son Che was deposed, after having been appointed nine years.


1. Sze-ma Ts'ëen says that Hwang-te's name was Hëen-yuen; and many others take 1. 氏 here as=名. It seems to me preferable to take it as in the case of Yaou, who was 陶唐氏; and of Shun's 有虞氏. See the Introductory notes to the Canons of Yaou and Shun, Hëen-yuen may have reference to the invention of carriages, which is commonly ascribed to Hwang-te, though these Annals do not mention it; or it may have been the name of a place. There are many methods of accounting for it.

2. This and other notes which follow are supposed by some to be a portion of the text of the Annals. The more likely opinion is, that they are additions to the text by difft. hands;— several of them, but not all, by Shin Yŏ. As they are not many, I have translated them; but they abound so much in extravagant, monstrous, statements, and besides are so full of errors, that I will rarely occupy space with comments on them.

3. Yew-hëung must be the name of a State. It is referred to what was called `new Ch`ing' (新鄭), in the pres. Ho-nan.

4. The chiefs of the difft. departments were called—`He of the green cloud; he of the white cloud (白雲氏), &c.

5. Some editions read here—`the 57th year,' instead of the 50th.

6. `The Perforated Breasts' and `The Long Legs' are of course fabulous. We read of them, and other equally monstrous barbarian tribes, in the `Classic of Mountains and Seas' (山海經).

7. Ch`ang-e was a son (1st or 2d is debated) of Hwang-te, and, not being able for the empire, was sent away to a State near the Jŏ-water, in the pres. Sze-ch`nen. Others have it that he went away himself, in virtuous humility;—all is fabulous.

8. 陟. See the last par. of the Canon of Shun.—Many accounts say that Hwang-te did not die, but went up to Heaven on a dragon. Hăng Ch`in-fung gives the following passage, quoted by some writers as from the Bamboo Books:—黃帝旣仙去,其臣有左徹者,削木為黃帝之像,帥諸侯朝奉之, `Hwang-te having gone away as one of the Immortals, Tso-ch`ĕ, one of his ministers, cut an image of him in wood, and led the princes to pay court and reverence to it.' Here was idolatry at a very early time.—This statement was no doubt in one of the Bamboo Books, but not in the Annals. The same may be said of another,—that this `Tso-ch`ĕ raised Chuen-heuh to the throne, 7 years after Hwang-te's death.'

9. When this son of Ch`ang-e was emperor, we do not know; some identify him with Chuen-heuh; others make that emperor his son.

10. Some editions of the Annals give this notice as an addition of Shin Yŏ's. Others separate the name and title from the note, and put them in the text.—Sze-ma Ts`ëen does not give this emperor Che at all. There are many discussions about him, whether he was a son of Hwang-te, or a grandson; or whether he was not rather descended from Fuh-he. His title of Shaou-haou would seem to be in relation with Fuh-he's of T`ae-haou.

11. Chuen-heuh was a son, or a grandson of Ch`ang-e mentioned above. The title of >Kaou-yang must be derived from some place where he ruled; but two places of this name are >assigned to him at different periods of his life:— the 1st in the pres. dis. of Ke, dep. of K`aefung, Ho-nan; the 2d in the dep. of Paou-ting, Chih-le.

12. This Puh was probably in the pres. dep. of Tung-ch`ang, Shan-tung.

13. Comp. 歷象, in Can. of Yaou, p. 2. Some editions read 12th instead of 13th.

14. Hăng Ch`in-fung would remove this notice to the 20th year of Hwang-te.

15. This Pih K`wăn, or baron K`wăn, is commonly supposed to be the father of Yu the Great; but in that case K`wăn would be well on to 200 years old, when Yaou calls him to regulate the waters. T`ëen-muh was a mountain, `20,000 feet high,' acc. to the Classic of Mountains and Seas; and on the north of the Jŏ-water, acc. to one of the sporadic passages of the Bamboo Books, found elsewhere (是惟若陽). 術器,云云, generally appears as a note, but it belongs to the text. Shuh-k`e is said to have been a descendant of Shin-nung, and son of the emp. Kuh.

16. Kuh was the grandson of Yuen-heaou (元囂), one of Hwang-te's sons. Where the principality of Sin, from which he has his dynastic name, was, seems not to be known. See the diet. in voc.

17. This was probably what was afterwards the southern Pŏ. See introd. note to `The Speech of T`ang.'

18. Yew-kwae was in the pres. dis. of Yung-yang, dep. of K`ae-fung. On who Ch`ung was, see the notes of Hăng Ch`in-fung.

19. The prince of T`ang is Yaou. See on the title of `The Book of T`ang.' I must translate 錫唐候命 as I have done. Comp. 錫虞舜命, under the 70th year of Yaou below. The difficulty in the way of the construction is the concluding note about the emperor's son Che; but this may be got over, by transferring it, as an appendix to this par. His appointment was to the succession, and his unworthiness being proved, his father himself deposed him from his place as heir, and gave the succession to his younger brother Yaou. Ch`in-fung argues for this construction, and re-arrangement of the text. I had adopted the construction, however, before reading his remarks.

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IATHPublished by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia