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Show the Cloven Hooves S}

According to the legend, during the reign of the mythical first ruler of China, the Yellow Emperor, all animals on earth, even the ferocious tiger and the hissing poisonous snake were tamed. When the emperor made his royal inspection tours of all his land he would be accompanied by the phoenix and his chariot would be pulled by six dragons. The lion acted as the vanguard. Even the hawk flew overhead, flapping its wings to keep the emperor cool during hot weather. But the only exception was the animal that symbolized good fortune - the unicorn - who would not take part as it would not submit tot he authority of the emperor. The emperor was unhappy about it and determined to have the unicorn become a part of his retinue. The horse learned of the matter and thought of a way to use it to his advantage. The horse then cunningly disguised itself with the hide of the unicorn and went to see the Yellow Emperor. The emperor was so elated that he gave the "unicorn" a beautiful side hall in the palace. He ordered that the animal should be fed with delicious and plentiful food. Thus the horse obtained fine straw for his meal and drank water from the sweet fountain. The horse no longer had to roam in the wild in search of fodder, neither did it have to pull the cart, nor till the land. The horse was living an indulged and privileged life. However, its good time did not last long.

The emperor was preparing to make an inspection tour.He ordered the six dragons to pull the chariot for him but an official remarked that the had heard that the unicorn galloped as fast as the clouds and the wind and could make the journey in a much shorter time. The official, as fate would have it, suggested that the emperor should ride on the unicorn. The emperor summoned the "unicorn," and just as the emperor was about to mount it, the wind blew up a corner of the unicorn hide and the cloven hooves and the tail of the horse were revealed. The emperor was infuriated and ordered the horse to be punished. The horse was shipped many times and a mouth brace attached to reins were inflicted upon the horse to restrict its freedom. Since then, this method has been used to tame horses. No matter how wild a horse may be if you pull on the reins and whip it under the brace, the horse will become obedient.

Subsequently, people use the phrase "show the cloven hooves" as an expression to describe betraying one's own identity or to describe the exposure of an intrigue.


(Compiled by Shen Jun and Ma Hanmin)

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