Highlights of Chinese Culture and History

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The Scions of Huang Di and Yan Di

The ancestors of today's Chinese began to settle in the Huang He (Yellow River) valley more than five thousand years ago. They were at that time divided into several different tribes. Legend says that there were then two tribal chieftains who were half brothers (born to different fathers) named Huang Di (the Yellow Emperor) and Yan Di respectively. Meanwhile, there was another tribe that had settled in the Yangtze valley and the chieftain went by the name of Qi You. According to legend, the members of this tribe all looked most fearsome, actually more like wild beasts than men. It was said that their heads and brow were hard as bronze or iron and that they had stomachs that could digest stone and sand. Not only did they have all kinds of weaponry but they were also able to practice black magic. There were constant encroachments by Qi You's tribe on other tribes, including that of Yan Di who was however unable to put up an effective resistance and so had lost all his territory. So he fled to where Huang Di and his men lived and pleaded for help.

Huang Di ordered all the friendly tribes to do what they cold to manufacture new weapons. At the same time he sent a brave general of his, Ying Long by name, to go and catch all kinds of fierce animals and give them training. Before long, the animal became so trained that they were able to carry out the commands given by Ying Long. At this, Huang Di told Ying Long to set the animals in ambush and himself led warriors from different tribes to make an attack on Qi You.

The battle was joined and before long Huang Di feigned retreat. In the course of his flight, he purposely led Qi You and his men to where the trained beasts were lying in ambush. At the sight of Qi You, Ying Long set the beasts on the enemy. The brutes made a frenzied attack on Qi You and his warriors, using their fangs and claws This attack was followed up by an assault by Huang Di and his men. When he saw that many of his men were killed or wounded, Qi You resorted to black magic to save the situation by calling down a heavy storm which quickly covered everything up in an impenetrable darkness. Qi You was still congratulating himself on this success thinking that the enemy would now be unable to find their way about when all on a sudden he saw Huang Di coming at him in his newly-invented compass-guided war chariot. With his broad sword, Ying Long hacked Qi You to death. At this moment of victory, a sudden shaft of golden light appeared in the sky and shone on Huang Di, who was suffused with a brilliant golden glow. At the sight of this, the tribesmen were overwhelmed with wonder and delight and they said to one another that Huang Di must be the son of heaven. They proposed that he be made of the chief of a tribal confederation.

From then on, Huang Di was called the Son of Heaven. He led the people in offering sacrifices to heaven and earth and to gods and spirits. He got them organized in agricultural production and the development of culture. He devised the first calendar in China which was called "Huang Di's Calendar" or  the "Huang Calendar." He also engaged in the study of medicine  with a famous medical man of that time named Qi Bo. The medical theories they developed were later written into a medical classic by posterity which was given the title of "The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine." Huang Di also had his wife teach the people how to raise silkworms and make clothes of different colors. He ordered Cang Jie, his chronicler, to set about devising a writing system and had his music officer make all kinds of musical instruments. Under his leadership, the people had created and invented many new things. They built houses, vehicles and boats. They made weapons of bronze. The end result of all this was that the Yellow River valley became the cradle of Chinese civilization and a center of ancient civilization of mankind.

The tribes that had settle in the Yellow River valley called themselves the Hua tribes or Huaxia tribes whose civilization gradually spread to other parts of the country. This is the origin of the Chinese nation (Zhong Hua Min Zu) who all respect and revere Huang Di, looking on him as the common ancestor of the whole nation. That is why they called themselves the scions of Huang Di. And since Huang Di and Yan Di were believed to be born of the same mother and since their two tribes were later merged, the Chinese have another name for themselves and that is "the scions of Huang Di and Yan Di." According to legend, Huang Di lived to be a hundred years old when on his 100th birthday a divine dragon came for him from heaven. On this dragon he rode, to where he had come from. In memory of Huang Di, later generations built at the ancient capital of Xi'an a huge mausoleum which they called Huang Di's Mausoleum.         


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