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PART. II. The Reigns of Yaou and Shun.

I. Emperor Yaou; Dynastic Title, T`aou and T`ang.1

Note. His mother was called K`ing-too. She was born in the wild of Tow-wei, and was always overshadowed by a yellow cloud. After she was grown up, whenever she looked into any of the three Ho, there was a dragon following her. One morning the dragon came with a picture and writing. The substance of the writing was:—`The red one has received the favour of Heaven.' The eyebrows of the figure were like the character 八, and of vareigated colours. The whiskers were more then a cubit long; and the height was 7 cub. 2 in. The face was sharp above, and broad below. The feet trode on the constellation Yih. After this came darkness and winds on every side; and the red dragon made K`ing-too pregnant. Her time lasted 14 months, when she brought forth Yaou in Tan-ling. His appearance was like that in the picture. When he was grown up, his height was ten cubits. He had the virtue of a sage, and was invested with the principality of T`ang. He dreamed that he clinbed up to heaven. When Kaou-shin was decaying, the empire turned to him.

In his 1st year, which was ping-tsze2 (13th of cycle; = B.C. 2,145), when he came to the throne, he dwelt in K`e; 3 and commanded He and Ho to make calendaric calculations and delineations of the heavenly bodies.4 In his 5th year, he made the first tour of inspection to the four mountains. 5 In his 7th year, there was a k`e-lin. In his 12th year, he formed the first standing army. 6 In his 15th year, the chief of K`eu-sow came to make his submission. 7 In his 19th year, he ordered the minister of Works 8 to undertake the regulation of the Ho. In his 29th year, the chief of the Pigmies 9 came to court in token of homage, and offered as tribute their feathers which sank in water. In his 42d year, a brilliant star appeared in Yih [? Crater]. In his 59th year, he travelled for pleasure about mount Show, 10 in a plain carriage drawn by dark-coloured horses. In his 53d year, he sacrificed near the Loh. In his 58th year, he caused his son Choo to be sent in banishment by prince Tseih to Tan-shwuy. 11 In his 61st year, he ordered the baron K`wan of Ts`ung to regulate the Ho. In his 69th year, he degraded K`wan. In his 70th year, in the spring, in the 1st month, he caused the chief of the four mountains to convey to Shun of Yu his charge to succeed to the throne.

Note. When the emperor had been on the throne 70 years, a brilliant star issued from the constellation Yih, and phoenixes appeared in the courtyards of the palace; the pearl grass grew, and the admirable grain flourished; sweet dews moistened the ground, and crystal springs issued from the hills; the sun and moon appeared like a pair of gems, and the five planets looked like threaded pearls. In the imperial kitchen there appeared of itself a piece of flesh, as thin as a fan, which, when shaken, raised such a wind that all eatables were kept cool and did not spoil. It was called the fan flitch. A kind of grass, moreover, grew on each side of the palace stairs. On the 1st day of the month, it produced one pod, and so on, every day a pod, to the 15th; while on the 16th one pod fell off, and so on, every day a pod, to the last day of the month; and if the month was a short one (of 29 days), one pod shrivelled up, without falling. It was called the felicitous bean, and the calendar bean. When the flooded waters were assuaged, the emperor, attributing the merit of that to Shun, wished to resign in his favour. He thereon purified himself and fasted, built altars near the Ho and the Lŏ, chose a good day, and conducted Shun and others up mount Show. Among the islets of the Ho, there were five old men, walking about, who were the spirits of the five planets. They said to one another, `The river scheme will come and tell the emperor of the time. He who knows us is the double-pupilled yellow Yaou.' The five old men on this flew away like flowing stars, and ascended into the constellation Maou. On the 2d month, on the sin-ch`ow day, between the dark and light, the ceremonies were all prepared; and when the day began to decline, a glorious light came forth from the Ho, and beautiful vapours filled all the horizon; white clouds rose up, and returning winds blew all about. Then a dragon-horse appeared, bearing in his mouth a scaly cuirass, with red lines on a green ground, ascended the altar, laid down the scheme, and went away. The cuirass was like a tortoise shell, nine cubits broad. The scheme contained a tally of white gem, in a casket of red gem, covered with yellow gold, and bound with a green string. On the tally were the words, `With pleased countenance given to the emperor Shun'. It said also that Yu and Hëa should receive the >appointment of Heaven. The emperor wrote these words, and deposited them in the Eastern college. Two years afterwards, in the 2d month, he led out all his ministers, and dropped a peih in the Lŏ. The ceremony over, he retired, and waited for the decline of the day. Then a red light appeared; a tortoise rose from the waters, with a writing in red lines on its back, and rested on the altar. The writing said that he should resign the throne to Shun, which accordingly the emperor did.

In his 71st year, he commanded his two daughters to become wives to Shun. In his 73d year, in the spring, in the 1st month, Shun received the resignation of the emperor in the temple of the accomplished ancestor. In his 74th year, Shun of Yu made his first tour of inspection to the four mountains. In his 75th year, Yu, the superintendent of Works, regulated the Ho. In his 76th year, the super- intendent of Works smote the hordes of Ts`aou and Wei, 12 and subdued them. In his 86th year, the superintendent of Works had an audience, using for his article of introduction a dark-coloured mace. In his 87th year, he instituted the division of the empire into 12 provinces. In his 89th year, he made a pleasure palace in T`aou. In his 90th year, he took up his residence for relaxation in T`aou. In his 97th year, the superintendent of Works made a tour of survey through the 12 provinces. In his 100th year, he died in T`aou.

Note. The emperor's son Choo of Tan kept away from Shun in Fang-ling. Shun tried to yield the throne to him, but in vain. Choo was then invested with T`ang, and became the guest of Yu. After three years, Shun ascended the throne of the son of Heaven.

II. The Emperor Shun; Dynastic Title Yew-yu.13

Note. His mother was named Uh-tăng. She saw a large rainbow, and her thoughts were so affected by it, that she bore Shun in Yaou-heu. His eyes had double pupils, whence he was named `Double Brightness.' He had a dragon countenance, a large mouth, and a black body, 6 cubits, 1 inch long. Shun's parents hated him. They made him plaster a granary, and set fire to it beneath:—he had on birds'-work clothes, and flew away. They also made him deepen a well, and filled it with stones from above:—he had on dragons'-work clothes, and got out by the side. He ploughed in Leih. He dreamed that his eyebrows were as long as his hair. Accordingly, he was raised and employed.

In his 1st year, which was ke-wei (56th of cycle, = B.C. 2,042), when he came to the throne, he dwelt in K'e; and made the music called Ta-shaou.

Note. On his accession, the felicitous bean grew about the stairs, and phoenixes nested in the courts. When they beat and tapped the musical stones, to accompany the nine performances of the Shaou, all the beasts came after one another gambolling. A brilliant star came out in Fang. The earth produced the horse Shing-hwang.

In his 3d year, he commanded Kaou-yaou to make the code of punishments. In his 9th year, messengers from the western Wang-moo 14 came to do homage.

Note. The coming to court from the western Wang-moo was to present white stone rings and archers' thimbles of gem.

In his 14th year, auspicious clouds appeared; and he ordered Yu 15 to consult about affairs for him.

Note. In the 14th year of Shun's reign, at a grand performance with bells, musical stones, organs, and flutes, before the service was concluded, there came a great storm of thunder and rain. A violent wind overthrew houses, and tore up trees. The drumsticks and drums were scattered on the ground, and the bells and stones dashed about confusedly. The dancers fell prostrate, and the director of the music ran madly away; but Shun, keeping hold of the frames from which the bells and stones were suspended, laughed and said, `How clear it is that the empire is not one man's empire! It is signified by these bells, stones, organs, and flutes.' On this he presented Yu to Heaven, and made him perform actions proper to the emperor; whereupon harmonious vapours responded on all sides, and felicitous clouds were seen. They were like smoke, and yet not smoke; like clouds, and yet not clouds; brilliantly confused; twisting and whirling. The officers in mutual harmony sang of those felicitous clouds, the emperor thus leading them on:— `How bright are ye, felicitous clouds! In what order are ye gathered together! The brightness of the sun and moon Is repeated from morn to morn. All the ministers then advanced, and bowing low, said:—`Brilliant are the heavens above, Where the shining stars are arranged. The brightness of the sun and moon Enlarge our one man.' The emperor sang again, `The sun and moon are constant; The stars and other heavenly bodies have their motions. The four seasons observe their rule. The people are sincere in all their services. When I think of music, The intelligences that respond to Heaven Seem to be transferred to the sages and the worthies. All things listen to it. How do its rolling sounds thrill! How does it inspire the dance!' When the essential brightness was exhausted, the clouds shrivelled up and disappeared. Thereupon the eight winds all blew genially, and other felicitous clouds collected in masses. The crouching dragons came hurriedly out of their dens; iguanadons and fishes leaped up from their deeps; tortoises and turtles came out from their holes,—removing from Yu to serve Hea. Shun then raised an altar at the Ho, as Yaou had done before. When the day declined, there came a fine and glorious light; and a yellow dragon issued and came to the altar, bearing a scheme on his back, 32 cubits long and 9 cubits broad, in lines of red and green intermingled, the words of which were that he should resign in favour of Yu.

In his 15th year, he commanded the prince of Hea to conduct the sacrificialduties in the Grand apartment. 16 In his 17th year, in the spring, in the 2d month, when he entered the college, he used for the first time the myriad dance.17In his 25th year, the prince of Seih-shin came to do homage, and paid tribute of bows and arrows. In his 29th year, the emperor invested his son E-keun with the principality of Shang. 18 In his 30th year, he buried queen Yuh near the Wei.

Note. Queen Yuh was Ngo-hwang.

In his 32d year, he commanded the prince of Hea to take the superintendence of the people, who thereupon visited the mountains of the four quarters. 19 In his 33d year, in the spring, in the first month, the prince of Hea received the appointment to be successor, in the temple of the spiritual ancestor; and restored the division of the empire into nine provinces. In his 35th year, he commanded the prince of Hea to lead a punitive expedition against the Yew-mëaou. The prince of Yew-mëaou came to court and did homage. In his 42d year, the chief of Heuen-too came to court, and paid as tribute precious articles and gems. In his 47th year, the hoar-frosts of winter did not kill the grass or trees. In his 49th year, he dwelt in Ming-t`ëaou. 20 In his 50th year, he died.

Note. E-keun had been invested with Shang, and is called Keun of Shang. Queen Yuh was Ngo-hwang. In Ming-t`ëaou was the hill of Ts`ang-woo. There Shun died and was buried. It is now Hae-chow.


1. See on `The Songs of the Five Sons,' p. 7.

2. This is the 1st determination of a year by cycle names in the Annals. We fix the year to be B.C. 2,145, by calenlating back on the cycle from the 6th year of king Yew of Chow, which (as we have seen) is certainly known. I'shall call attention below to the fact that all these cycle names of the years in the Annals were introduced into them after their recovery or discovery.

3. K`e is of course K`e-chow. It is a wide word.

4. See on Can. of Yaou, p. 2.

5. The `four mountains' are those mentioned in the Can. of Shun, p. 8.

6. 兵 is to be taken here in the sense of soldiers, and not merely as weapons of war.

7. See on `The Tribute of Yu,' Pt. i., p. 83.

8. I should take 共工 as a proper name, but for the Can. of Shun, p. 21.

9. The nation of Pigmies, like the `Perforated Breasts' and `Long Legs,' is mentioned in the classic of the Hills and Seas. The 括地志 places it on the north of the Roman empire (在大秦國北).

10. Mount Show is the Luyshow of `The Tribute of Yu,' Pt. ii. 1.

11. Tan-shwuy is referred to the pres. dis. of Nan-yang, dep. Nan-yang, Ho-nan. There was there, no doubt, a stream called Tan.

12. Ts`aou and Wei are two well known States in the time of the Chow;—the former lay in the pres. Shan-tung, the latter in Shen-se. I am not sure that those in the text were the same. They would seem too far apart.

13. See note on the name of Part II. of the Shoo.

14. 西王母,—lit., `the mother of the king of the west,' or `the queen-mother of the west.' But the characters are merely the name of a State or kingdom in the distant west. See Hăng's Comm. in loc.

15. The prince of Hea is Yu. See the introd. note on the name of the third Part of the Shoo.

16. The classic of Hills and Seas makes 太室 the name of a mountain. The meaning in the transl. is much preferable;—the principal apartment in the ancestral temple.

17. 萬 is here the name of a dance (萬,舞名也).

18. Seih-shin;—elsewhere Suh-shin.

19. Comp. `The Counsels of Yu,' p. 9.夏后 is to be understood as the subject of 陟, lit. `to ascend,' but here=`to visit.'

20. See on the last par. of the Can. of Shun.— Some strange passages are gathered from other portions of the Bamboo Books, and supposed to have belonged to `The Annals,' which give quite a different account of the relations between Yaou and Shun. They make Shun dethrone Yaou, and keep him a prisoner, raise Choo for a time to the throne, and then displace him; and thereafter allow no intercourse between father and son. See Hǎng Ch`in-fung's Supplement to the Annals, in the last chapter of his Work.

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