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100 Famous Women in China

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发表于 5/7/2017 07:38:41 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
1,嫘祖  Leizu (discoverer of silk)

Leizu (?--?) was the wife of Xuanyuan Huangdi (Huangdi literally meaning Yellow Emperor, living round 2550 BC. Chinese people, i.e., Han tribe, deem themselves the posterity of Huangdi.) A legend had it that Huangdi had a war with another tribe, whose leader was Chiyou, who, it was said, had the ability to raise heavy fog so that the army of Huangdi could not find the way where to go. And it was also said that Huangdi invented a guide cart, on which there was a flat plate with a magnet in the shape of a big spoon. The spoon could turn round and the handle of the spoon always pointed south. It was the earliest type of compass.
        When Huangdi defeated Chiyou, he returned in triumph and had a feast of celebration. All of a sudden the goddess of silkworm came to offer the silk to Huangdi for congratulations. Huangdi gave it to his wife, who loved the glistening thin thread very much. She began to breed silkworm and wove the thread into silk cloth and made a gown for her husband. She also taught people to breed silkworm. She was thus called Lady Silkworm, and in later history was deemed the Goddess of Silkworm. She died on the way in company of Huangdi when he traveled over the country.
        But there was another legend about the original goddess of silkworm. A girl and her father lived together. The father went to fight for Huangdi. There was a horse in the house. One day the girl thought of her father badly, and she said to the horse, “Oh, horse, if you can bring back my father, I will marry you.” the horse ran away immediately and after some time the father came home on the horseback. The girl was glad, but she forgot her promise to marry the horse entirely. However, the horse remembered it and got sick. The father asked his daughter about the sick horse. The girl was reminded of her promise and told it to her father, who, of course, would not let her daughter marry a horse. Therefore he killed the horse and flayed the hide of the horse. Then he lay the hide on the ground in the sun to make it dry. The daughter came close to the hide and said, “You, horse, how can I, a human, marry you, a horse?” Then she stamped her foot on the hide. Suddenly the hide flew up and wrapped around the girl. The girl was frightened out of her senses and ran off from home to the nearby woods with mulberry trees.  Then she began to eat mulberry leaves and spewed out silk threads.
 楼主| 发表于 5/14/2017 07:48:18 | 显示全部楼层
2,薑嫄 Jiangyuan (mother of planting)
Jiangyuan (?--?) was born in the present Wugong town of Shaanxi province and was the wife of Gao, the great grandson of Huangdi. One winter day, she was walking in the countryside and saw a giant footprint by the Wei river. She trod in it and when she was back home, gradually she felt that she was pregnant. She conceived the baby for twelve months and then gave birth. The baby looked ugly with a very big head. The mother thought that it was a monster and so deserted it for three times. But every time the baby was saved. At last the mother took it back and brought it up. So the baby was named Qi (meaning to desert). Later he was called Huoji. The mother gave him good education. He was the earliest ancestor of Zhou dynasty (1121—476 BC). From early boyhood he was interested in plants and when he grew up, he taught people how to grow grains, etc. that was the beginning of agriculture in China. People remembered his mother and historians gave her the title of mother saintess.
 楼主| 发表于 前天 07:48 | 显示全部楼层
3.  蘇妲己 Su Daji (cruel beauty)
Su Daji (?--?) was the wife of King Zhou (?--1046 BC), who was the last king of Shang dynasty (1765—1122 BC), and proud of his great strength. She came from Su clan. Her father was Su Hu, the chieftain of the clan. She was a pretty girl and could dance. In 1147 BC, King Zhou conquered Su clan. Su Hu had to give his daughter to King Zhou as his trophy. It was the tradition in ancient China that the conqueror always demanded valuables and pretty girls from the defeater. Since Daji was very beautiful, the king made her his queen after he got some pretense to kill his original queen.  This queen had two sons, who were exiled. The king did these to please his new queen, if not secretly required by her. As the new queen could dance, the king ordered the palace musician Shijuan to compose some decadent music.  Daji danced to the obscene music to please the king. The king was so doting on her that he would grant all her wishes, no matter how absurd and cruel her desire was. There were some facts recorded in the history books.
        The king had a garden built having a pond filled with wine and a forest with dried meat fillets hanging from the boughs of the trees. He often held a banquet there, with as many as three thousand officials gathering there. They played and chased each other naked among the trees. The king and the queen liked to row on the wine. Anyone could drink the wine from the pond.
        Daji ordered a huge deep pit dug and put in hundreds of snakes. She would have her offenders thrown into it to feed the snakes. She also invented some torture equipment. The most cruel one was a bronze pillar with inside vacant. Then firewood and coal filled it and burned. When the pillar was hot, a criminal was brought and made to embrace it till he was burned to death with shrill bitter cries.
        Once in winter when she saw an old man walking on ice with bare feet. He seemed not to feel cold. She thought that he might have something special in the bone of his shin. Therefore she ordered to have the man brought to her presence and to have his foreleg cut down to see if anything special inside his bone.
        Another time, when she and the king sat on the terrace to look at the street. At the time, a women with child walked by. She said that the woman would have a girl while the king said that she would have a boy. So they bet who would guess right. Then the woman was brought in and her belly was cut open to see it was a boy or a girl. Two lives lost for their absurd bet. Besides these, all the courtiers who criticized their misbehavior were executed.  Finally they lost the support of courtiers and people and was at last subdued by Zhou dynasty. The king burned himself and Daji hanged herself.
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