(By Wang Wuning)
In the history of Chinese culture, there are countless interesting allusions, among which, quite a few originated from our Xianning City.
1、To Borrow Arrows with Thatched Boats.
This illusion originated from Jiayu County. It is an interesting story happened in the period of Three Kingdoms (AD220-280) in ancient China, when the Shu and Wu kingdoms joined together to fight against the Wei Kingdom. Zhou Yu, the chief military commander of the Wu Kingdom, envied Kong Ming for his talents. Kong Ming (also named Zhu Geliang) was the chief minister of the Shu Kingdom and generally regarded as the kingdom's top master-mind. As was known, Kong Ming was knowledgeable and brainy. He was not only familiar with astronomy and geography, but also proficient in the tactical art of war. Thus, Zhou Yu always attempted to kill him. However, Zhou Yu dared not to kill him in public. Therefore, he took advantage of signing militia order to try to get Zhu Geliang defeat, thus hiding his crime.
One day, Zhou Yu found arrows were not enough in the army, and it was necessary to produce some immediately. Therefore, he played a trick and ordered Kong Ming to produce 100,000 arrows within ten days. There was no doubt that it was impossible to complete this duty in normal ways. But Kong Ming accepted the duty with pleasure and said, “Three days is enough.”
Zhou didn’t believe Kong can accomplish this task. But this was a good opportunity to remove Kong. So Zhou said, “No joke in the army. You’d better sign a military order.”
Kong agreed. Calmly and leisurely, he left after signed the military order.
For one and two days, Kong Ming seemed to do nothing. Until the third day, he secretly called in Lu Su, demanding Lu to lend him 20 warships. Kong arranged 30 soldiers and thousands of scarecrows on each warship, standing on two sides of the warship. Meanwhile, Kong invited Lu for a warship ride, and went with him to take arrows during one o’clock to three o’clock in the morning.
In the early morning, thick mist had spread over the surface of the river. People could hardly see each other on the river. Kong and Lu boarded on the warship. The 20 warships were tied together with strong ropes. Kong's fleet sailed toward the camp of Cao Cao (who was the king of the Wei Kingdom). When Kong's fleet got close to the Cao Camp before dawn, Kong ordered his soldiers to shout and beat drums to fake an attack. Kong and Lu simply sat inside one of the warships and drank wine to enjoy themselves.
As soon as the Cao Camp heard the shouting and drum beating, they mistook it for a surprise attack by the Zhou Camp. Since they could see nobody on the river, they gathered ten thousands of bowmen and ordered them to shoot arrows. The scarecrows on the north front of the warship were quickly shot full of arrows. So the ship's center of gravity dumped north. Having seen this kind of situation, Kong immediately ordered warriors to stop drumming and shouting. Meanwhile, he had his fleets turned around, facing Cao Camp with another side of the fleets. Once again, warriors started to drum and shout. Having heard this, Cao’s army shot arrows towards Kong’s fleets more actively. After a while, Kong’s fleets reached a balance. Scarecrows of the other side of the fleets were also shot full of arrows.
At this time, the day broke. Kong ordered his soldiers to return to their base port. The soldiers shouted, "Thank you, Cao, for your arrows." After they got back to their camp, they collected more than 100,000 arrows from the scarecrows.
When Cao realized he was tricked, Kong and Lu had marched away.
Back to the Zhou Camp, Kong said to Lu, “Each boat has been exposed five to six thousands arrows. General Zhou asks 100,000 arrows. And now arrows are more then enough. We will soon attack Cao. Weapons are enough!”
Where was the Zhou Camp? According to the research, it was at the foot of the Yuyue Mountain in Jiayu County of Xianning City. As wrote in the book of The history of Jiayu County, Yuyue Mountain is the place where To Borrow Arrows with Thatched Boats happened. Before, on the west side of the Yuyue Mountain, the three words of “Get Arrows’ Place” were inscribed on the rock of the steep mountain, facing the river.
2、Both Parts are Willing.
This illusion originated from Chibi City. According to the 46th Chapter of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Cao Cao and Lu Su sent two generals, Cai Zhong and Cai He, to Zhou Yu’s camp, pretending to surrender. In fact, Cao cao wanted to gather intelligence. However, Zhou Yu was so intelligent that he realized it was a trick. Therefore he planned to turn Cao’s trick against him.
In the deep of night, Zhou was pondering measures to beat Cao when suddenly the general Huang Gai came to his tent. Huang offered the ruse of inflicting an injury on himself to win the confidence of the enemy, thus to defeat Cao.
The next day, Zhou said, “Cao Cao leads millions of soldiers and his troops have occupied a range of more than 150killometers. A day is not enough to defeat him. Now I give each general of you enough food and forage for soldiers and horses to eat three months. You shall be ready to resist the enemy.”
Huang said, “Even if you provide enough food and forage for soldiers and horses to eat 30 months, you can not defeat Cao cao, let alone 3 months. If we are lucky, we might beat the enemy in this month. Otherwise, we will have to surrender.”
Having heard this, Zhou pretended to be angry and ordered executioners to cut off Huang’s head to convince the public. Some people including Gan Ning plead with Zhou to have mercy on Huang, so Zhou changed the commanding and ordered to flog Huang 100 strokes for his offense.
Until the 50th stroke, the generals again interceded with Zhou for Huang. Zhou pretended to be furious, standing up and pointing at Huang, then said, "How dare you underestimate me! The remaining fifty sticks are recorded for the time being. If you be offensive again, then the two crimes will be punished together. "
Huang was beaten severely, and several times he lost consciousness. Cai Zhong and Cai He who came to feign surrender saw clearly all of those, and then they submitted the intelligence to Cao.
Huang’s ruse of inflicting an injury on himself to win the confidence of the enemy made a great contribution to the later event of Cao Cao Gets Burned at Chibi. In order to commemorate Huang’s contribution to this war, later generations named a lake in the place where he stationed "Huang Gai Lake", named the land nearby “Huang Gai Mouth”, and built “Huang Gai House” and “Huang Gai Temple”, etc. Although over a thousand years have gone, Huang Gai Lake still quietly locates in the west of Chibi City, facing the Ruins of Battles of Red Cliff in the distance.
3、All is Ready Except the East Wind.
The idiom “All is Ready except the East Wind” is also from Chibi City. On the eve of the Battle of Red Cliff, facing the arriving of Cao Cao’s large numbers of troops, Zhou Yu worried into illness. While he was in a quandary and couldn’t do anything, Kong Ming came to him and asked for a pen and a piece of paper, then secretly wrote down sixteen words on the paper, “To defeat Cao, you would better use fire attack. All is ready except the east wind.” Then handed the paper to Zhou Yu, and said, “This is your source of illness.”
Zhou Yu took the paper, and shocked by the words, so he told Kong Ming the truth, and asked, “You have known my sources of illness. What medicine can be used?”
So, Kong Ming recommended that you should build a Seven Stars Stage for sacrificial activities in Nanping Hill. Besides, the stage needed to be three meters high, have three floors, and be able to accommodate 120 people, thus you can successfully defeat Cao Cao. Having heard these, Zhou Yu was very joyful. Immediately he picked 500 strong soldiers to go with Kong Ming to measure the terrain and took red earth to build the altar.
After building the Seven Stars Stage, on November 20 of that year Kong Ming chose an auspicious time and stepped on the altar to worship God. Sure enough, in the midnight, southeast wind was whistling. Zhou Yu ordered Huang Gai to set Cao Cao’s troops on fire, totally 880,000 troops of Cao were burned. Huang gai was the person who had offered the ruse of inflicting an injury on him to win the confidence of Cao Cao.
In the territory of Chibi, these two places, namely the Nanping Hill and the Station of Worshiping the Wind, where Kong Ming ever worshiped the God of Southeast Wind are still standing there today, which seems to be showing the hero's wisdom in those days.
4、As Long as you Work Hard Enough, Perseverance Will Prevail.
This allusion originated from Tongcheng County. The story happened in Jin Dynasty (AD265-420), at that time a famous Taoist priest Ge Hong (AD284-364) was cultivating himself with Taoism in Huanglong Mountain of Tongcheng County of Xianning. He had practiced an ascetic life for several years, but achieved nothing. So he lost heart, and intended to resume secular life. One day, he left the temple and went downhill. When he walked to the north foot of the mountain, he saw numerous huge stones in the gorge and each of them was bright, clean and smooth, as if they had been ground. Beside the stream, a gray-haired old woman was holding an iron bar and dripping it in the stream, grinding it on the stone repeatedly.
Having seen this, Ge Hong was so surprised that he walked to the old woman, and asked, “Madam. Can you tell me what you are doing?”
The old woman answered, “I am grinding it down to a needle.”
Ge Hong became more surprised, and asked, “Madam. This iron bar is so wide. When will it be ground down to a needle?”
The old woman answered calmly, “Where is a way, there is a will. As long as you work hard enough, perseverance will prevail.”
Having heard this, Ge Hong was extremely ashamed, because he realized that he shouldn’t give up Taoism halfway. However, when he was trying to thanks to the old woman, and then returned to the mountain, the elderly had already disappeared in a twinkling. Ge Hong immediately realized that this was a fairy and she was revealing him, so he decided to return to the mountain. Day and night, he practiced, and eventually became immortal.
Although Ge Hong has passed away, the Grinding Pit still exists today, which seems to still tell that story.
5、Constant Dripping Wears Away a Stone.
This illusion originated from Tongcheng County. In Song Dynasty, there was a famous scholar called Luo Dajing, he wrote a book named He Ling Yu Lu, in which he recorded a real folk story. In the story, there was a man named Zhang Guaiya who was Chongyang County Magistrate. At that time, the social atmosphere of Chongyang County was very poor, and theft was rampant, even the government’s money was often stolen. Zhang Guaiya was determined to punish this unhealthy trend. One day he suspected a lower rank official had stolen the money of government when the official walked out of the bank. Sure enough, Zhang Guaiya found a coin hidden in his cap. Therefore, Zhang Guaiya ordered others to flog him with sticks. But, the official defended, “It is no big deal to have stolen a coin, how could you torture me like this?” However, Zhang Guaiya responded, “You steal a coin every day, then you will have stolen 1000 coins until the 1000th day. Constant dripping wears away a stone. Zhang Guaiya meant that days and months multiplying, a little thing could change into an event. However, nowadays, this allusion usually means perseverance will prevail.
The person Zhang Guaiya who was recorded in the book was actually the Chongyang County Magistrate Zhang Guaiya of Song Dynasty. He later became a Prime Minister (in feudal China) of Song Dynasty. At that time, Chongyang County included today’s Tongcheng County. The story recorded in the book actually happened in the territory of Tongcheng County, because today’s Chongyang County is under the Baimian Mountain that locates in the Territory of Tongcheng County. In the book of The History of Tongcheng County, this story is also recorded.