What I lost in translation at both ends of the Great Divide.

And what I found for making that attempt to bridge the chasm.




Fish

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Cruelty of the Nine-Tailed Fox Daji - 妲己

.

In an earlier post (千字文 – Line 13), it was mentioned that it was the beautiful concubine Daji 妲己 who caused the downfall of the Shang dynasty. King Zhou conquered the state of Yousu 有蘇 yǒusū and took Daji as his prize (be careful of what you win). He became extremely besotted with her beauty and lost all interest in state affairs but instead caters to her every whims and extreme cruelty to amuse her.
.
.
She is said to derive great joy at hearing people cry in physical torment. She ordered a farmer’s feet to be cut off so she can study why he can withstand crossing icy water. And a pregnant women’s belly to be cut open to see if her guess of the sex of the baby is correct. To verify an ancient saying that "a good man's heart has seven apertures", she even had the heart of the minister Bi Gan (King Zhou's uncle) dug out.
.
.
She is claimed to have invented many instruments of torture, the most famous of which is the bronze toaster or Paoluo 炮烙 páoluò. The poor victim is tied to this twenty feed tall charcoal heated cylinder and fried alive. Another of her invention is the snake pit where victims are thrown into a pit of venomous snakes and spiders. His own people disgusted with these acts of cruelty, revolted against King Zhou’s tyranny and supported King Wu of Zhou when he attacked. Daji was executed on the order of King Wu on the advice of Jiang Ziya (see last post).
.
.
In the novel Fengshen Yanyi 封神演义 fēngshényǎnyì translated as “The Investiture of the Gods” or “The Creation of the Gods”, Daji was a nine-tailed fox spirit Huli jing 狐狸精 . In it, King Zhou visited an ancient temple of the Goddess Nuwa 女娲; nǚwā, he insulted the Goddess when he expressed his lust for her. Nuwa sent Daji, the ten thousand year vixen, a nine-headed pheasant spirit and jade pipa spirit to bewitch the king and hasten his downfall. There were many other interesting tales in this novel. In the end, Daji was condemned by Nuwa herself because of her extreme cruelty. This is the most famous Chinese classic tale of how a beauty caused the downfall of an empire and you can have either the historical or fairy tale version.
.

2 comments:

  1. 哎! 红颜祸水或是红颜知己,就看大王慧眼是肉眼或心眼啦!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Choo said "whether a beauty is a femme fatale or a bosom friend depends on whether we are looking at her with naked or intelligent eyes." True. But beauty sure is deceiving for we always associates beauty with virtue. How wrong that can be sometime like the case of Daji or Moxi, beauty deceives.

    ReplyDelete