Myths and Legends of China

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Shortly after this Po committed an unpardonable fault which changed the goodwill of the King into mortal enmity. He allowed himself to go so far as to suggest to the King that he should break off his relations with this infamous woman, the source of all the woes which were desolating the kingdom, and when Ta Chi on this account grossly insulted him he struck her with his lute.

For this offence Ta Chi caused him to be crucified in the palace. Large nails were driven through his hands and feet, and his flesh was cut off in pieces. Not content with ruining Po I-k’ao, this wretched woman wished also to ruin Wen Wang. She therefore advised the King to have the flesh of the murdered man made up into rissoles and sent as a present to his father. If he refused to eat the flesh of his own son he was to be accused of contempt for the King, and there would thus be a pretext for having him executed. Wen Wang, being versed in divination and the science of the pa kua, Eight Trigrams, knew that these rissoles contained the flesh of his son, and to avoid the snare spread for him he ate three of the rissoles in the presence of the royal envoys. On their return the latter reported this to the King, who found himself helpless on learning of Wen Wang’s conduct. Page 194

Po I-k’ao was canonized by Chiang Tzu-ya, and appointed ruler of the constellation Tzu-wei of the North Polar heavens.

Myths of Time

T’ai Sui is the celestial spirit who presides over the year. He is the President of the Ministry of Time. This god is much to be feared. Whoever offends against him is sure to be destroyed. He strikes when least expected to. T’ai Sui is also the Ministry itself, whose members, numbering a hundred and twenty, are set over time, years, months, and days. The conception is held by some writers to be of Chaldeo-Assyrian origin.

The god T’ai Sui is not mentioned in the T’ang and Sung rituals, but in the Yüan dynasty (A.D. 1280–1368) sacrifices were offered to him in the College of the Grand Historiographer whenever any work of importance was about to be undertaken. Under this dynasty the sacrifices were offered to T’ai Sui and to the ruling gods of the months and of the days. But these sacrifices were not offered at regular times: it was only at the beginning of the Ch’ing (Manchu) dynasty (1644–1912) that it was decided to offer the sacrifices at fixed periods.

The Planet Jupiter

T’ai Sui corresponds to the planet Jupiter. He travels across the sky, passing through the twelve sidereal mansions. He is a stellar god. Therefore an altar is raised to him and sacrifices are offered on it under the open sky. This practice dates from the beginning of the Ming dynasty, when the Emperor T’ai Tsu ordered sacrifices to this god to be made throughout the Empire. According to some authors, he corresponds to the god Page 195of the twelve sidereal mansions. He is also variously represented as the moon, which turns to the left in the sky, and the sun, which turns to the right. The diviners gave to T’ai Sui the title of Grand Marshal, following the example of the usurper Wang Mang (A.D. 9–23) of the Western Han dynasty, who gave that title to the year-star.