QU YUAN (c. 340–278 BC) was a Chinese poet and minister who
lived during the
Warring States period of ancient China. He is known
for his patriotism and contributions to classical poetry and verses ,
especially through the poems of the
Chu Ci anthology (also known as
The Songs of the South or Songs of Chu): a volume of poems attributed
to or considered to be inspired by his verse writing. Together with
Shi Jing , the
Chu Ci is one of the two greatest collections of
ancient Chinese verse . He is also remembered as the supposed origin
Dragon Boat Festival .
Historical details about Qu Yuan's life are few, and his authorship
Chu Ci poems have been questioned at length. However, he is
widely accepted to have written
Li Sao , the most well-known of the
Chu Ci poems. The first known reference to
Qu Yuan appears in a poem
written in 174 BC by
Jia Yi , an official from
Luoyang who was
slandered by jealous officials and banished to
Changsha by Emperor Wen
of Han . While traveling, he wrote a poem describing the similar fate
of a previous "Qu Yuan." Eighty years later, the first known
biography of Qu Yuan's life appeared in
Han Dynasty historian Sima
Records of the Grand Historian , though it contains a number
of contradictory details.
* 1 Life
* 2 Legacy
* 2.2 Religion
* 2.3 Patriotism
Dragon Boat Festival
* 3 See also
* 4 References
* 4.1 Inline citations
* 4.2 General references
* 5 Further reading
* 6 External links
Sima Qian 's biography of
Qu Yuan in the Records of the Grand
Historian (Shiji) , though circumstantial and probably influenced
greatly by Sima's own identification with Qu, is the only source of
information on Qu's life. Sima wrote that Qu was a member of the Chu
royal clan and served as an official under
King Huai of Chu
King Huai of Chu (reigned
During the early days of King Huai's reign,
Qu Yuan was serving the
State of Chu as its Left Minister. However, King Huai exiled Qu Yuan
to the region north of the Han River , because corrupt ministers
slandered him and influenced the king. Eventually,
Qu Yuan was
reinstated and sent on a diplomatic mission to the State of Qi. He
tried to resume relations between Chu and Qi, which King Huai had
broken under the false pretense of
King Hui of Qin to cede territory
QU YUAN\'S NAMES
Clan name (姓, xìng):
Lineage name (氏, shì):
Given name (名, míng):
Courtesy name (字, zì):
Alias Given name (自名):
Traditional Chinese :
Simplified Chinese :
Traditional Chinese :
Simplified Chinese :
During King Qingxiang 's reign, Prime Minister Zilan slandered Qu
Yuan. This caused Qu Yuan's exile to the regions south of the Yangtze
River . It is said that
Qu Yuan returned first to his home town. In
his exile , he spent much of this time collecting legends and
rearranging folk odes while traveling the countryside. Furthermore, he
wrote some of the greatest poetry in
Chinese literature and expressed
deep concerns about his state. According to legend, his anxiety
brought him to an increasingly troubled state of health. During his
depression, he would often take walks near a certain well to look upon
his thin and gaunt reflection in the water. This well became known as
the "Face Reflection Well." On a hillside in Xiangluping (at
Zigui County ,
Hubei Province), there is a well that is
considered to be the original well from the time of Qu Yuan.
In 278 BC, learning of the capture of his country's capital, Ying ,
Bai Qi of the state of Qin ,
Qu Yuan is said to have
collected folktales and written the lengthy poem of lamentation called
Lament for Ying ". Eventually, he committed suicide by wading into
Miluo River in today's
Hunan Province while holding a rock. The
reason why he took his life remained controversial and was argued by
Chinese scholars for centuries.Typical explanations including
martyrdom for his deeply beloved but falling motherland,which was
suggested by the philosopher
Zhu Xi of Song Dynasty;or feeling extreme
despair to the situation of the politics in Chu while his lifelong
political dream would never be realized.But according to
Yu Fu ,widely
considered to be written by Qu himself or at least,a person who was
very familiar with Qu,his suicide was an ultimate way to protect his
innocence and life principles.
Qu Yuan is regarded as the first author of verse in
China to have his
name associated to his work, since prior to that time, poetic works
were not attributed to any specific authors. He is considered to have
initiated the so-called sao style of verse, which is named after his
Li Sao , in which he abandoned the classic four-character verses
used in poems of
Shi Jing and adopted verses with varying lengths.
This resulted in poems with more rhythm and latitude in expression. Qu
Yuan is also regarded as one of the most prominent figures of
Romanticism in Chinese classical literature, and his masterpieces
influenced some of the greatest Romanticist poets in Tang Dynasty such
Li Bai . During the
Han Dynasty ,
Qu Yuan became established as a
heroic example of how a scholar and official who was denied public
recognition suitable to their worth should behave.
Chu Ci Chu Lacquer Coffin
Chu was located in what is now the
Yangzi River area of central China
. At this time, Chu represented the southern fringe of the Chinese
cultural area, having for a time been part of both the Shang Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty empires; however, the Chu culture also retained
certain characteristics of local traditions such as shamanism , the
influence of which can be seen in the Chu Ci.
Chu Ci was compiled and annotated by Wang Yi (died AD 158), which
is the source of transmission of these poems and any reliable
information about them to subsequent times; thus, the role which Qu
Yuan had in the authoring, editing, or retouching of these works
remains unclear. The
Chu Ci poems are important as being direct
precursors of the fu style of
Han Dynasty literature. The Chu Ci, as
a preservation of early literature, has provided invaluable data for
linguistic research into the history of the Chinese language, from
Chen Di on.
Following his suicide,
Qu Yuan was sometimes revered as a water god ,
including by Taiwanese
Taoists , who number him among the Kings of the
Water Immortals .
In the People\'s Republic of
Qu Yuan came to be regarded as a
prime example of patriotism. His social idealism and unbending
patriotism have served as the model for Chinese intellectuals to this
day, particularly following the establishment of new
China in 1949.
For example, in the 1950s
China issued a postage stamp bearing an
image of Qu Yuan.
DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL
The enduring popularity of
Qu Yuan can be seen in this depiction
of a him in a dragon boat , on one of the central streets of Singapore
. A display for the
Dragon Boat Festival (also known as the Duanwu or
Double Fifth festival). Main article:
Dragon Boat Festival
Popular legend has it that villagers carried their dumplings and
boats to the middle of the river and desperately tried to save Qu Yuan
after he immersed himself in the Miluo but were too late to do so.
However, in order to keep fish and evil spirits away from his body,
they beat drums and splashed the water with their paddles, and they
also threw rice into the water both as a food offering to Qu Yuan's
spirit and also to distract the fish away from his body. However, the
legend continues, that late one night, the spirit of
Qu Yuan appeared
before his friends and told them that he died because he had taken
himself under the river. Then, he asked his friends to wrap their rice
into three-cornered silk packages to ward off the dragon.
These packages became a traditional food known as zongzi , although
the lumps of rice are now wrapped in leaves instead of silk. The act
of racing to search for his body in boats gradually became the
cultural tradition of dragon boat racing, held on the anniversary of
his death every year. Today, people still eat zongzi and participate
in dragon boat races to commemorate Qu Yuan's sacrifice on the fifth
day of the fifth month of the traditional lunisolar
Chinese calendar .
The countries around China, such as Vietnam and Korea, also celebrate
variations of this
Dragon Boat Festival as part of their shared
cultural heritage .
* Literature portal
* Poetry portal
Classical Chinese poetry
Classical Chinese poetry
* ^ A B C CUHK (2007) , p. 205.
* ^ Knechtges (2010) , p. 745.
* ^ Kern (2010) , p. 76.
* ^ Zhao Kuifu 趙逵夫, "Riben xin de
Qu Yuan fouding lun
Chansheng de Lishi Beijing yu Sixiang Genyuan Chutan" 日本新的
“屈原否定論” 產生的歷史背景與思想根源初探, in
Fuyin Baokan Ziliao, Zhongguo Gudai Jindai Wenxue Yanjiu
複印報刊資料，中國古代近代文學研究, (1995: 10):
* ^ Quoted in
Ban Gu 's Book of Han biography of Jia Yi
《漢書·賈誼傳》, also appears in Wenxuan , "Diào Qū Yuán
* ^ Hawkes, David. Ch'u tz'u: The Songs of the South, an Ancient
Chinese Anthology. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959), 52.
* ^ Hawkes (1959), 53-54.
* ^ Hartman (1986) , p. 352.
* ^ A B C D CUHK (2007) , p. 206
* ^ CUHK (2007) , p. 205–6
* ^ A B Davis, xlvii
* ^ Hinton, 80
* ^ Yip, 54
* ^ Davis, xlviii
* ^ "Shuexian Deities", Official site, Tainan:
Grand Matsu Temple
Grand Matsu Temple ,
* "Qu Yuan", China: Five Thousand Years of History and Civilization,
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Qu Yuan 屈原". Ancient and Early
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* Yip, Wai-lim (1997). Chinese Poetry: An Anthology of Major Modes
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* Schneider, Laurence A. (1980). A Madman of Ch'u: The Chinese Myth
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* Waley, Arthur (1973). The Nine Songs; a Study of