Volume 2, Chapter 8: The Magnificent Feast at the Start of Spring

Volume 2, Chapter 8: The Magnificent Feast at the Start of Spring

In the twenty-fourth year of Great Yong’s Wuwei era, the eleventh year of the sixty-year cycle, the Emperor promulgated an edict, commanding Crown Prince Li An to offer sacrifice on behalf of the emperor at the Imperial Ancestral Shrine, receivinig the customary deference from all of officialdom at the Hall of Magnificent Culture. The Prince of Yong was frightened and in the second month of the same year, he petitioned the Emperor, requesting that he proceed to his fief in Youzhou. The Emperor did not permit it, commanding that the heir act on his behalf. Afterwards, the Prince of Yong reported that he was ill, requesting that he be excused from attending court. The Emperor permitted it.…

Yong Dynastic Records, Biography of Emperor Taizong

In the first year of Tongtai,1 the eleventh year of the sixty-year cycle, Lu Xin, the Marquis Who Suppresses Distant Lands, led all of officialdom in supporting the third prince, Zhao Long, as King. The regnal era was changed to Tongtai. The distant King Yang was honored as the retired emperor. Consort Shang was honored as the queen mother and ruled in place of the emperor.2 The affairs of state were entrusted to Marquis Lu. After the new King ascended the throne, he issued a decree enfeoffing Lu Xin as the Duke Who Suppresses Distant Lands and dispatched an envoy to Great Yong, paying tribute and declaring vassalage.
Southern Chu Dynastic Records, Biography of King Min of Chu3

Amidst the songs of praise and scenes of prosperity,4 New Year’s Day arrived at last. This day was truly bustling. First was a full court assembly where all of officialdom came to bow and pay their deference to Yong Emperor Li Yuan at the Hall of the Supreme Ultimate.5 Then the ministers traveled to the Hall of Magnificent Culture in the Eastern Palace6 to bow and pay their deference to the crown prince. Although the crown prince had his own residence in the Imperial City, he had never been able to move into and reside in the symbol of the authority of the heir apparent, the Eastern Palace. Eventually this year, due to various reasons, Li An was finally permitted to formally enter and become the master of the Eastern Palace, ultimately ensuring the stability of his position as the heir apparent. When the Prince of Yong, at the head of all the ministers, arrived at the Eastern Palace to pay their deference to the crown prince, when they performed the great ceremony of kneeling twice and kowtowing six times, Li An had become the heir apparent in the eyes of the people of the world in both name and reality. Upon seeing the Prince of Yong, towards whom he had always felt inferior, debasing himself before him, an overflowing joy filled Li An.

Afterwards, Li An substituted for the emperor in the major ceremony of offering sacrifices at the Imperial Ancestral Shrine. At this moment, Li An had become completely intoxicated by the joy of being the center of world, acknowledging their allegiance.

In comparison, the Prince of Yong, Li Zhi had an expression that was inevitably somewhat aloof and detached With the status between a sovereign and his ministers already fixed, one couldn’t blame him for feeling this way. No one could think that at this moment, Li Zhi could only exclaim in admiration at Jiang Zhe’s stratagem. He could tell that Li An was already smug and conceited. The crown prince’s joy at completely overwhelming the Prince of Yong caused the crown prince to practically make several mistakes. In that case, as long as the plan was appropriate, he could consign the crown prince to eternal damnation without any hope of reprieve. It was easy to talk about making concessions for future gains. However, for someone to be capable of planning such a daring strategy, he must surely be someone with outstanding courage. Up until now, Li Zhi did not know what Jiang Zhe was planning, so much so that he couldn’t understand Jiang Zhe’s intentions. He only felt that Jiang Zhe’s plan appeared to be an interlocking and interrelated net. And Li An was the butterfly that was slowly fluttering into the net.

After the sacrifices at the Imperial Ancestral Shrine were completed, Li Yuan issued a decree and arranged a banquet at the Honeydew Hall,7 inviting all of the officials. I accompanied the Prince of Yong to the banquet. While I took a seat towards the side with Shi Yu, the Prince of Yong naturally was occupied with drinking toasts with the other ministers. In a low voice, he introduced all of the important personages of the court.

In a low voice, Shi Yu spoke, “In the first seat amongst the civil officials is the Prime Minister and Director of the Imperial Secretariat,8 Wei Guan. He is the chief assistant to the Emperor. During the period when both the Emperor and the Prince of Yong were away campaigning, the court was nominally supervised by the Crown Prince. However, in reality, the affairs of state were all managed by that person alone. His personal character is one that is deep and profound, and full of schemes. He has completed grasped the meaning of how to serve a ruler. As a result, he has been at the center of government for many years, his glory and favor never weakening. However, as his age has risen these last few years and the disorder in the court stemming from the struggle to become the heir apparent, as a result, he has put his own safety above all else, very rarely expressing his opinions. However, from what we know, he is leaning towards the Crown Prince, because he has worked alongside the Crown Prince for years. But, this person will not really involve himself in the dispute. If one day we are successful, he will not have any objections. His Imperial Highness is of mind that it is sufficient to steady him. However, we cannot use him to help.

“Below him, the official in the fifth seat is Palace Attendant9 Zheng Xia. This man is loyal and honest, and dares to admonish the Emperor. That year when the Prince of Qing attempted to assassinate Noble Consort Ji, many petitioned the Emperor to have the Prince of Qing executed, arguing that he was guilty of unfilial conduct by attempting to assassinate his mother. This man, in everyone’s presence, directly criticized them, stating that although His Imperial Highness, the Prince of Qing, attempting to assassinate the noble consort was inappropriate, however, he was attempting to avenge his birth mother. Regardless of whether this enmity should be avenged, there was no reason to have the Prince of Qing punished. Even if he was guilty, he was not guilty of unfilial conduct, as Noble Consort Ji wasn’t his first mother.10 As the Emperor had regrets toward the Prince of Qing, he sent away the Prince of Qing to his fief. I’m afraid that this man will likely oppose us. However, His Imperial Highness has stated that if we are able to use righteousness to persuade him, then this person is a seldom-seen important minister.”

I looked at Wei Guan. His appearance was average, graying at both temples. What was rare was his naturally poised bearing. He truly had the presence to command all of officialdom. As for Zheng Xia, he had a square face and large ears. His eyes were like the distant stars. Although he was only thirty-something years old, his each and every movement was filled with a faint awe-inspiring grandeur. Just there two were enough to completely overpower all of Southern Chu’s officials. Great Yong becoming the hegemon of the Central Plains was thus inevitable and expected.

Shi Yu continued, “The person beside the Crown Prince is the Junior Mentor of the Crown Prince, Lu Jingzhong. Although this man has an average appearance, he is extremely proficient at essays and the legal system. As a result, he was appointed as the junior mentor. However, although this man’s appearance seems to be honest and considerate, his mind is actually treacherous and devious. He is the most important adviser under the Crown Prince. We have suffered many losses because of him.”

I looked towards Lu Jingzhong. At present, he was my biggest enemy. Looking, I could see that his appearance was indeed ordinary. However, his skin color was somewhat excessively pale. His pair of eyes were half open and half closed, seemingly as if he had not slept enough. As I was sizing him up, Lu Jingzhong seemed to have sensed something and his eyes opened wide. They were filled with cold electricity as he looked towards me. I hurriedly lowered my head and felt the cold and severe gaze sweep past me.

Shi Yu actually smiled back at him. Seeing that it was Shi Yu, Lu Jingzhong seemed to be at ease. From a distance, he raised his cup and toasted. Shi Yu smiled slightly and also raised his cup. The two drank the contents of their cups in one gulp.

Only after Lu Jingzhong’s gaze moved away did I speak softly, “That man is indeed not ordinary. Much thanks to Brother Shi for helping me out of trouble.”

“He and I are old opponents. As such, he won’t take note of you,” replied Shi Yu lightly. “Look, that person toasting the Emperor is the Duke of Wei, Cheng Shu. The man once saved the Emperor’s life. Although his military ability is fairly ordinary, he is a lucky general. If he wins, the victory is decisive. If he loses, he is somehow able to withdraw with his entire army. In addition, he cares little about wealth and emphasizes justice and righteousness, and loves to make friends. The individual most respected by Great Yong’s proud soldiers and heroic generals is perhaps the Prince of Yong. However, the most intimate individual is Cheng Shu. If he wishes to do something, he does not require official approval documentation from the Ministry of War, just needing a simple letter. No one would dare to not acknowledge it. He actually deeply regards His Imperial Highness and has previously defended His Imperial Highness on numerous occasions. Although he does not acknowledge the Crown Prince, the Crown Prince can’t do anything about him due to his popularity and the favor and trust of the Emperor. This man is also completely loyal to the Emperor. It will be unlikely to have him help His Imperial Highness. However, if His Imperial Highness ascends to the throne, he will certainly look favorably upon it.”

I looked at that person’s languid and indolent bearing. Although his bearing was somewhat coarse, his body language presented approachability and warmth. Although he had already reached the age of fifty, his hair and beard were still jet-black and there wasn’t a hint of exhaustion in his eyes. Seeing him toast, Li Yuan smiled and raised his cup, the relationship between a sovereign and his subject joyous and harmonious. Sure enough, he was an unusual man.

“At present, our Great Yong military is divided into four factions,” added Shi Yu. “The four hundred fifty thousand troops under the command of His Imperial Highness, the Prince of Yong, is the strongest force. Many of the current, famed generals in the army all serve under His Imperial Highness. Now, for the most part, they are stationed in strategic positions outside of the capital. Therefore, you haven’t met them.

“Apart from this, the Prince of Qi has a force of two hundred thousand troops and the Prince of Qing has one hundred thousand troops. Although these troops aren’t as good as the Prince of Yong’s, they are still elite.

“The remaining large faction is the Qin-Cheng clique. Qin Yi, the General Who Pacifies Distant Lands, and Cheng Shu, the Duke of Wei, jointly control one hundred fifty thousand imperial guardsmen and two hundred thousand border troops. In other words, they are the generals most trusted by the Emperor, and are used by the Emperor as a protective talisman to suppress and inhibit all of the princes.

“Currently, of the three princes, the Prince of Qing has no power to contest for the position of heir apparent, while the Prince of Qi and His Imperial Highness are incompatible like oil and water. With Qin and Cheng commanding an army of three hundred fifty thousand, the emperor’s position is as steady as Mount Tai.”

I looked at the head of the military officials, Qin Yi. His appearance was cultured and handsome, his hair and beard the color of ash. He almost seemed like a cultured scholar. However, upon seeing his hale and hearty vigor, as well as his ability to talk cheerfully and wittily, one could tell that he was an awe-inspiring aged tiger. No wonder he was the general that the emperor relied most heavily upon.

“Suiyun, look over there,” said Shi Yu at this time. “Although that person is not famous, you will do well to remember him. He is Attendant Gentleman of the Imperial Secretariat Qin Wuqi. Usually, this man only loyally carries out his duties. However, he has stayed in the Imperial Secretariat for nine years. Of the Emperor’s edicts, sixty to seventy percent are composed by him. Moreover, you must remember that the Prince of Qi’s wife, Qin Zheng, is his eldest daughter.”

I trembled. Looking towards this refined scholar, I lightly asked, “Could it be that this man is related to the Fengyi Sect?”

Shi Yu smiled and responded, “Suiyun is indeed astute. Reportedly, this man received great kindness from the Fengyi Sect Master in his youth. Therefore, he has always been grateful and sought to repay the kindness.”

I memorized this man's appearance. Afterwards, I lightly said, “Since I’ve seen all the people that I needed to see, it’s been a worthwhile trip. Brother Shi, in a moment, when the banquet ends, I will depart first. Tomorrow and the day after, I intend to rest well. What about you?”

“I’m afraid that you won’t be able to rest,” confessed Shi Yu with a surreptitious expression. “Beginning from the second day of the New Year, there will be good fun.”

I stared at him somewhat blankly. He smiled and explained, “This year, the Emperor’s spirits good. For after the lunch banquet, he had issued a decree of holding a military skills competition outside the Vermillion Bird Gate. Each and every Great Yong official at or above the fourth rank, or the children of aristocratic families, as long as they are youths under the age of thirty, are permitted to register and participate in the competition. For the one who prevails, the Emperor intends to bestow hefty rewards. I’ve heard that the competition is divided into three parts—horse racing, archery, and fighting. If you are able to come first in one of the contests, you may be able to bring honor to your ancestors. With this kind of grand occasion, how can you not take a look?”

“So it’s that kind of good occasion,” I replied with a laugh. “I should definitely go take a look. Unfortunately, I am not adept at horse archery or other martial skills. It is impossible for me to take part in the competition.”

“The news of this matter has been spread long ago. It seems like you pay no attention to outside matters,” said Shi Yu, also laughing. “This time, all the ministers in the court, high and low, and the common people of Chang’an have begun betting. The list of those who have registered is already known to the entire world. General Cheng, the Duke of Wei, is personally overseeing the betting. That old person is extremely fair. Of course, several of the large casinos in Chang’an have also all opened betting.”

I smiled wryly and responded, “Although I can make a bet, I am not proficient at either horse archery or martial skills. Moreover, I am also unfamiliar with the competitors.”

“What are you afraid of, me?” asked Shi Yu with a grin, as he continued, “If we consider the ones who best understand these competitors, if the Prince of Yong considers himself second, then there is no one who would dare consider themselves first. We will ensure that you don’t suffer a loss. This time, there are three individuals who are popular candidates. One is the fourth son of Prime Minister Wei, Wei Ying. At present, he holds the position of Gentleman of the Ministry of Personnel. Reportedly, this year, he may be promoted to the position of Attendant Gentleman of the Ministry of Personnel. Although he is a civil official, he is also an expert horseman. Prime Minister Wei has a blood-sweating horse from Ferghana11 in his possession. Therefore, he is the likeliest candidate to win the horseracing contest.

“Another is the second son of the Grand General Who Pacifies Distant Lands, Qin Qing. He is Great Yong’s General of Tiger’s Might and carried on his family’s horse archery skills. Amongst Great Yong’s young high-ranking officers, he is the most outstanding.

“Last is the son of Chief Minister of the Ministry of Rites Xiahou Lan, Xiahou Yuanfeng. The man is considered to be the most handsome man in Chang’an, and is comparable to Pan An and Song Yu.12 His martial arts are very powerful. At present, he is a second-rank imperial bodyguard and is the Vice Supervisor of the Palace Guard, and is the imperial bodyguard most favored by the emperor. Reportedly, this man’s martial arts are profound and mysterious, and he is the most powerful expert amongst the young imperial bodyguards in the palace guards. However, it is unclear who his master is.”

I lightly remarked, “As expected, Great Yong has many outstanding talents.”

Seeing that I was somewhat displeased, Shi Yu could not make heads or tails of it and stopped talking. After thinking it over, he realized that I must have recalled the indolence of the civil officials and the frivolity of the military officials of Southern Chu. But he also knew that he could not point this out and could only change the topic. He began to introduce some of the other officials to me.

As we were whispering privately, a low voice admonishing us could be heard from the side. I raised my head and looked over, seeing the Prince of Qi walking over with a young official. Shi Yu and I hurriedly rose to our feet. Walking before us, Li Xian inquired, “All the officials are feasting. Right now, they’re mutually exchanging toasts. Why are the two of you having a private conversation?”

“Your Imperial Highness, Major Jiang has only just recently arrived in Great Yong,” explained Shi Yu calmly. “He is unfamiliar with the matters of the court. Therefore, this subject was making some simple introductions. In addition, our ranks are lowly and inferior. How do we dare be impudent? Wei daren, this person is Jiang Zhe, Jiang Suiyun, the new major in the service of the household of the Marshal of Heavenly Strategies … Suiyun, this is Wei Ying, Wei daren. He was the zhuangyuan of the Great Yong’s imperial examinations in the twenty-first year of Wuwei, the eighth-year of the sixty-cycle. At present, he is the Gentleman of the Ministry of Personnel.”

I slowly bowed and paid my respects. I could see that Wei Ying was about twenty-five or twenty-six years of age, of similar age to me. This man’s looks were delicate and pretty, his countenance elegant and leisurely. Within his mannerisms, a refined bearing could be detected. Although he was the child of a wealthy and exalted family, and was a young nobleman, there was not a single trace of arrogance or haughtiness, causing people to have a favorable impression when meeting him for the first time.

Wei Ying had originally heard from the Prince of Qi that Jiang Zhe, Jiang Suiyun, had already pledged allegiance to Great Yong, and was presently also in the Honeydew Hall. Therefore, he was curious and asked the Prince of Qi to introduce him. When he had passed the imperial examinations as the zhuangyuan three years ago, he was naturally wild with joy. But he had frequently heard people say that if one considered literary ability, the best were those people from Jiangnan. And amongst these, the best was the zhuangyuan of the sixteenth year of Southern Chu’s Xiande era, the seventeenth year of Great Yong’s Wuwei era, the zhuangyuan of the fourth-year of the sixty-year cycle, Jiang Zhe. This man’s literary ability was outstanding and was at the absolute apex of Southern Chu. His poem, Recollections Under the Moon, was famous throughout the world. A single song, Dance of the Cavalry, was sufficient to force the King of Shu to commit suicide. He had long been considered as the most gifted scholar of Southern Chu. It was only that he had fallen ill and was confined to bed after the invasion of Sichuan that his poems and essays gradually became rare. Wei Ying had once copied down all of the poems and essays that he was able to collect. Often he would read them with admiration. Today, seeing Jiang Zhe, Wei Ying realized abruptly that this man’s reputation was fully justified and well deserved. Although this man, only a year or two older than him, was somewhat skinny and his appearance wasn’t as elegant, but from his calm and composed manner, his gentle and yet indifferent temperament, caused Wei Ying to feel appreciation.

Wei Ying stepped forward and bowed in greeting. He said, “I have long heard that Brother Jiang’s talent is peerless in the present age. Meeting you today, this is indeed the case. Underclassman, Wei Ying, greets Sir.”

I was slightly touched. Surprisingly, this son of the prime minister was as modest and humble as his appearance. I returned his courtesy and replied, “I am only someone negligently living out the rest of my days, I dare not accept Wei daren’s courtesy. Since daren is Great Yong’s zhuangyuan, your scholarship is naturally not ordinary. If there is the opportunity, I would like to ask daren for guidance.”

Wei Ying happily returned, “Wei Ying cannot thank Brother Jiang enough if you are willing to bestow your beneficial teachings. If there is leisure time in the future, Wei Ying will personally come to pay a visit.”

As we mutually exchanged modest words, Li Xian became impatient. He originally believed that scholars tended to disparage one another, thinking that Wei Ying had come over with the intention of mocking Jiang Zhe. To his surprise, the two actually acted so familiar with one another. This wasn’t good. His mind was keen and he immediately ordered, “Qin Qing, come over here for a moment!”

A young general answered and walked over. I carefully looked over. This young general’s appearance somewhat resembled Qin Yi. The only differences were that he had wider shoulders and longer legs, his stature larger. He did not share his father’s demeanor of a scholarly general. He seemed to be quite familiar with the Prince of Qi, as he smiled and asked, “Your Imperial Highness, for what reason have you sought me out?”

The Prince of Qi pointed at me and said, “This person is the one who hounded the King of Shu to death, Jiang Zhe, Jiang Suiyun. Didn’t you say you wished to meet him?”

Qin Qing glanced at me, a trace of ridicule flashing across his eyes. Suddenly, he spoke in a loud voice, “In the past, Jiang daren’s song, Dance of the Cavalry, forced the King of Shu to commit suicide. You probably didn’t think that today you yourself would bend your knee and surrender, right?”

His voice was loud and clear, causing the entire Honeydew Hall to fall silent. Everyone concentrated on us.

Shi Yu and Wei Ying’s complexions both changed. However, under the gaze of thousands of staring eyes, they had no way to speak up to help me. My expression remained unchanged, completely calm. In a clear voice, I replied, “The King of Shu had lost and mourned his state. It is only natural that he died alongside it. Although Jiang Zhe composed a song to send him off, it required that the King of Shu have a sense of shame. Only then did this become a tale that captured the imagination. The King of Southern Chu is His Imperial Majesty’s beloved son-in-law. Their amicable relationship is as close as that of father and son. I have never heard of a father punishing his son with suicide. Moreover, as a subject, I repeatedly submitted loyal and sincere advice, and instead suffered dismissal from office. In addition, since antiquity till now, the only one who killed himself for the sake of his sovereign and his state is Qu Yuan.13 However, the King of Southern Chu is currently still alive. If the King were to perish and if Jiang Zhe were to die for him, then it is likely that my name would go down in the annals of history, but my King would be considered as inept and incompetent as King Huai of Chu.14 As a result, my King being disgraced and humiliated to raise this subject’s prestige is not something that I would do. Moreover, if my King were to be King Huai of Chu, then wouldn’t it mean that the general considers His Imperial Majesty to be King Hui of Qin?15 The Qin Dynasty fell after only two generations.16 I wonder how many generations the general wishes for Great Yong to be passed on?”

Hearing my words, Qin Qing’s complexion become ashen, while Wei Ying’s admiration was clearly expressed on his face. Shi Yu lowered his head, snickering. Li Xian’s eyes were filled with jealousy and envy. While we were motionless, there was someone clapping his hands in applause.

When we all turned to look, they saw that it was Li Yuan who was clapping his hands in applause. Immediately, everyone was at ease. At this moment, the Prince of Yong was by the emperor’s side. With a laugh, he stated, “Qin Qing, you’ve got the worst of it. Imperial Father, this is Southern Chu’s most gifted scholar, Jiang Zhe. Jiang Zhe, why aren’t you paying your respects to His Imperial Majesty?”

I calmly stepped forward and paid the proper respects, neither servile nor overbearing. Li Yuan smiled and said, “Good, We have long heard of your talented name. We are extremely pleased that you were able to renounce the dark and seek the light. I have heard the Prince of Yong say that your health is poor, constantly confined to bed. Were it not for this, we would want you to serve as a secretary in the Imperial Secretariat, helping us draft decrees.”

I lightly stated, “From youth, this subject’s constitution has been extremely frail and weak. Formerly, during my service in the army, this subject contracted an illness. Although this subject has recovered, the root cause still remains. His Imperial Highness, the Prince of Yong, considers this subject’s debility and keeps me by his side to look after me. This is His Imperial Highness’s benevolence, and is also this subject’s great honor.”

Li Yuan became even happier, as he declared, “Good, this is also a tale that captures the imagination. You should not be discouraged by General Qin’s words. Carefully and properly perform your duties. My Great Yong will not unfairly treat virtuous talents from throughout the world in the least.”

I once again bowed in thanks. Li Yuan waved his hand, gesturing for me to withdraw. The Prince of Yong also took the opportunity to follow me and bid his goodbyes. Pulling me along, the Prince of Yong walked to Qin Qing’s side. He spoke, “General Qin, Major Jiang, both of you are young elites. You must not hold any mutual animosity. Allow this Prince to take responsibility and have the two of you conciliate.”

Qin Qing was originally flushed with anger, but hearing Li Zhi’s exhortations, he seized the opportunity to disentangle himself, apologizing to me. I returned his politeness with the proper rites.

At this moment, someone behind me laughed and stated, “All right, I finally was able to see Brother Qin apologize.”

We turned and looked. The speaker was a brocade-clad handsome youth. This youth was no more than twenty-two or twenty-three years of age. His appearance was incomparably delicate and handsome, akin to Song Yu and Pan An. Furthermore, he had a lanky stature, making it seem like he was as elegant as a jade tree. The entire person seemed to be as exquisite as a jade statue. This person first laughed before continuing, “What a good Southern Chu gifted scholar, really gaining the admiration of me, Xiahou Yuanfeng.” Finished speaking, he stepped forward and performed a deep bow. Neither servile nor overbearing, I returned his courtesy, smiling, while saying nothing.

At this time, almost all of the attention was gathered upon us. The Prince of Yong, the Prince of Qi, Wei Ying, Qin Qing, and Xiahou Yuanfeng were all individuals capable of attracting everyone’s gaze. Now that they were all standing together, it seemed, in an instant, like all of the brilliance and radiance in the Honeydew Hall were gathered here. What had caused all of these ministers to focus their attentions here was the one standing beside all of these outstanding talents of Great Yong, Jiang Zhe. I did not have status, nor did I have a dazzling appearance, nor did I have a threatening and grand demeanor. Nevertheless, I miraculously left a profound impression within hearts. This impression existed like a pleasant country scene. Regardless of the intensity of the others’ brilliance and radiance, they could not conceal the calm and simple elegance of a clear spring in the middle of a forest.


  1. 同泰, tongtai – lit. together with exultation
  2. 垂帘听政, chuiliantingzheng – idiom, lit. to govern from behind the curtain; to rule in place of the emperor
  3. 楚愍王, chu minwang – lit. the Pitiful King of Chu
  4. 莺歌燕舞, yinggeyanwu – idiom, lit. the warbler sings and the swallow dances; scenes of prosperity, the coming of spring
  5. 太极殿, taiji dian – lit. the Hall of the Supreme Ultimate; this was the name of the main palace hall during the Sui and Tang Dynasties where the emperor held court, as well as a minor palace during the Ming and Qing Dynasties; in Chinese cosmology, the term Taiji (tai chi/t’ai chi) refers to the undifferentiated absolute and infinite potential, the singular from which the yin and the yang originate
  6. 东宫, donggong – lit. the Eastern Palace; was used to refer to the crown prince’s palace that was separated from the main imperial palace and was positioned in the Imperial City, not in the Palace City
  7. 甘露殿, ganlu dian – lit. the Honeydew Hall; a palace hall that served as the main residence of the emperor during the early part of the Tang Dynasty
  8. 中书, zhongshu – the Imperial Secretariat pens and issues decrees on the emperor’s behalf
  9. 侍中, shizhong – the position of palace attendant is a supplementary title awarded to officials chosen by the emperor as their confidential advisers
  10. 嫡母, dimu – children of concubines treated the principal wife of their father also as their first mother
  11. 汗血宝马, hanxuebaoma – according to tradition, the horses of Ferghana, Central Asia sweated blood when they ran and were much prized by Chinese rulers and ministers; Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty launched several campaigns to acquire these horses
  12. 潘安, Pan An and 宋玉, Song Yu are two of the four men considered the most handsome in Chinese history, and are often used as bywords for handsome men. Pan An was a prominent poet during the Eastern Jin Dynasty, while Song Yu was a writer and poet from the late Warring States period.
  13. 屈原, Qu Yuan was a minister of the state of Chu. He was slandered and dismissed from office by King Huai of Chu. Learning that King Huai of Chu had been captured and that the Chu capital of Ying had fallen, Qu Yuan wrote a lengthy poem entitled “Lament for Ying” before wading into the Miluo River holding a rock to commit ritual suicide.
  14. 楚怀王, King Huai of Chu was a King of the state of Chu during the Warring States Period. In 299 BC, while attending negotiations with the state of Qin, King Huai was captured and held hostage. In the subsequent campaign, Qin took advantage of the political turmoil in Chu and captured the Chu capital of Ying. While he later managed to escape, he was recaptured, ultimately dying three years later while in captivity.
  15. 秦惠王, King Hui of Qin, was the first king of the state of Qin (all previous rulers had been dukes). While he executed Shang Yang, he maintained the reformations that helped make Qin one of the most powerful states in China. During his reign, the Qin army took King Huai of Chu hostage and conquered the Chu capital of Ying.
  16. The Qin Dynasty only had two emperors before it was defeated by rebel forces led by Liu Bang and Xiang Yu.
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