Myths and Legends of China

Page: 58

Chiang Tzŭ-ya

In the wars which resulted in the overthrow of the tyrant Chou Wang and his dynasty and the establishment of the great Chou dynasty, the most influential generalissimo was Chiang Tzŭ-ya. His family name was Chiang, and his own name Shang, but owing to his descent from one of the ministers of the ancient King Yao, whose heirs owned the fief of Lü, the family came to be called by that name, and he himself was known as Lü Shang. His honorific title was T’ai Kung Wang, ‘Hope of T’ai Kung,’ given him by Wên Wang, who recognized in the person of Chiang Tzŭ-ya the wise minister whom his father T’ai Kung had caused him to expect before his death.

The Battle of Mu Yeh

Chiang Tzŭ-ya was originally in the service of the tyrant Chou Wang, but transferred his services to the Chou cause, and by his wonderful skill enabled that house finally to gain the victory. The decisive battle Page 153took place at Mu Yeh, situated to the south of Wei-hui Fu, in 1122 B.C. The soldiers of Yin, 700,000 in number, were defeated, and Chou, the tyrant, shut himself up in his magnificent palace, set it alight, and was burned alive with all his possessions. For this achievement Chiang Tzŭ-ya was granted by Wu Wang the title of Father and Counsellor, and was appointed Prince of Ch’i, with perpetual succession to his descendants.

A Legend of Chiang Tzŭ-ya

The Feng shên yen i contains many chapters describing in detail the various battles which resulted in the overthrow of the last tyrant of the Shang dynasty and the establishment of the illustrious Chou dynasty on the throne of China. This legend and the following one are epitomized from that work.

No-cha defeats Chang Kuei-fang

The redoubtable No-cha having, by means of his Heaven-and-earth Bracelet, vanquished Fêng Lin, a star-god and subordinate officer of Chang Kuei-fang, in spite of the black smoke-clouds which he blew out of his nostrils, the defeated warrior fled and sought the aid of his chief, who fought No-cha in some thirty to forty encounters without succeeding in dislodging him from his Wind-fire Wheel, which enabled him to move about rapidly and to perform prodigious feats, such as causing hosts of silver flying dragons like clouds of snow to descend upon his enemy. During one of these fights No-cha heard his name called three times, but paid no heed. Finally, with his Heaven-and-earth Bracelet he broke Chang Kuei-fang’s left arm, following this up by shooting out some dazzling rays of light which knocked him off his horse. Page 154

When he returned to the city to report his victory to Tzŭ-ya, the latter asked him if during the battle Kuei-fang had called his name. “Yes,” replied No-cha, “he called, but I took no heed of him.” “When Kuei-fang calls,” said Tzŭ-ya, “the hun and the p’o [anima and umbra] become separated, and so the body falls apart.” “But,” replied No-cha, “I had changed myself into a lotus-flower, which has neither hun nor p’o, so he could not succeed in getting me off my magic wheel.”

Tzŭ-ya goes to K’un-lun

Tzŭ-ya, however, still uncertain in mind about the finality of No-cha’s victories, went to consult Wu Wang (whose death had not yet taken place at this time). After the interview Tzŭ-ya informed Wu Wang of his wish to visit K’un-lun Mountain. Wu Wang warned him of the danger of leaving the kingdom with the enemy so near the capital; but Tzŭ-ya obtained his consent by saying he would be absent only three days at most. So he gave instructions regarding the defence to No-cha, and went off in his spirit chariot to K’un-lun. On his arrival at the Unicorn Precipice he was much enraptured with the beautiful scenery, the colours, flowers, trees, bridges, birds, deer, apes, blue lions, white elephants, etc., all of which seemed to make earth surpass Heaven in loveliness.