Twenty-Four Examples of Filial Piety (2): Emperor Wen of Han Dynasty Tasted His Mother's Soups and Medicine

PureInsight | March 28, 2005

[] Stories about exemplary filial conduct abound in Chinese history. The Twenty-Four Examples of Filial Piety were chosen and compiled by Guo Jujing from the Fujian Province during the Yuan Dynasty (1280-1368 CE) while he was mourning the death of his father. He recounted the feats of filial children towards their parents from the age of the primordial Emperor Shun down to his own era. Even today, these stories form an important part of orthodox Chinese virtue.

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Emperor Wen of Han Dynasty Tasted His Mother's Medicine

Emperor Wen of the Western Han Dynasty was named Heng. He was the third son of Liu Bang, the founder of the Western Han Dynasty. Before he became emperor, he was appointed Prince of Dai in Shanxī province. His mother took sick for three years. He personally took care of her day and night. During those three years, he never slept on a bed or even unfastened the belt of his robe. He always tasted his mother's medicine to make sure it was the correct temperature before feeding it to her. His benevolence and piety were rumored throughout the kingdom. Verses praise him saying:

Benevolence and piety are rumored through the kingdom;
Lofty and eminent he excels a hundred kings;
The Queen-Mother has been sick for three years,
And he always tastes the medicine first

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