Chinese Historical Stories: Ancient Chinese People's Sincerity

Yi Dou

PureInsight | February 6, 2006

[] During the Song Dynasty, there were two brothers surnamed Zhang in the Changhua area. Neither of them was able to have children. Later, the older brother and his wife adopted a child from their relatives. Shortly afterwards, the wife gave birth to their own child.

The younger bother asked his older brother: "Now that you have your own child, could you give me the adopted child?"

The older brother talked to his wife about it. The wife did not agree and said, "It is not right to do so. We adopted the child because at that time we did not have one. Now we want to desert the adopted child because now we have one of our own? What would other people think about us?"

The younger brother asked again and again for the adopted child. The wife said: "All right, I'll give you my own child."

The younger brother dared not to accept it until the wife sincerely insisted on giving him her own child.

The two children grew up. Both children passed the provincial civil service examination with flying colors, which brought honor to their parents.

People commented that it was a reward for their kind hearts and good deeds.

Another man from the Song Dynasty named Zhou Mi told us about his family's experience:

"My ancestor came from Licheng of Ji Nan City. My great grandfather once experienced in his life the calamity when the Jurchen (女真) of the Jin Kingdom invaded the Song Dynasty. There were 16 members in the family, fleeing in all directions to escape from military killings.

My great grandfather fled to a wide and spacious valley by himself alone. He hid himself during daytime and rushed to escape at night. One night some cavalrymen from a Jin troop were chasing him. At that moment, he did not think he could escape from the chase. He ran and ran, and ran into an old ancient temple. There was no cover or shelter that he could hide himself in the temple, except a big sculpture. It was a sculpture of a deity named Divine Emperor Zhen Wu. He desperately crawled into the bottom of the sculpture, waiting for death. Soon afterwards, the Jin men came in and searched for him. They carefully searched through the dried well next the temple, woods, every beam of the temples and any places they could find. Unbelievably, they did not search the bottom of the sculpture.

Afterwards, my great grandfather escaped to Hangzhou City, where all of his family members met by chance. To their amazement, all 16 family members separately arrived in Hangzhou city by coincidence without even one member missing. Therefore, the family deeply believed that it was the super deities who had protected them. Since then, our family sincerely enshrined and worshipped the Divine Emperor of Zhen Wu from generation to generation. When the birthday of the Divine Emperor of Zhen Wu came, the whole family would abstain from meat, wine and so on, in order to worship and celebrate.

We didn't set up the shrine and worship the deity to ask for more blessings, we did it to express our gratitude.

Translated from:

Historical Note:
Jurchen Invasion in the Jingkang Era

While a talented artist, Emperor Huizong (宋徽宗) of the Northern Song Dynasty neglected the army, and the Northern Song China became increasingly weak and at the mercy of foreign enemies. When the Jurchen (女真) of Manchuria founded the Jin (金) Dynasty and attacked the Liao kingdom to the north of the Song Empire, the Song court allied with the Jin and attacked the Liao from the south. This succeeded in destroying the Liao kingdom, a longtime enemy of the Song. However, an enemy even more formidable, the Jin, was now on the northern border. Not content with the annexation of the Liao kingdom, and measuring rightly the weakness of the Song Empire, the Jin soon declared war on their former ally, and by the beginning of 1126 A.D. they crossed the Yellow River and came in sight of Kaifeng, the capital of the Song Empire. Panic-stricken, Emperor Huizong abdicated on January 18, 1126 A.D. in favor of his son who became Emperor Qinzong (宋欽宗).

Overcoming the walls of Kaifeng was a difficult undertaking for the Jin cavalry, and this, combined with fierce resistance from some Chinese officials who had not totally lost their courage like Emperor Huizong, resulted in the Jin abandoning the siege of Kaifeng and returning north. The Song Empire, however, had to sign a humiliating treaty with the Jin, agreeing to pay a colossal war indemnity and to pay tribute to the Jin every year.

But even such humiliating terms could not save the hopeless Song Empire. Within a matter of months, the Jin were back south again, and this time they were determined to penetrate the walls of Kaifeng. After a bitter siege, the Jin eventually entered Kaifeng on January 9, 1127 A.D., and many days of looting, rape, and massacre followed. The Grand-Emperor Huizong, his son Emperor Qinzong, as well as the entire imperial court and harem were captured by the Jin.

Grand-Emperor Huizong and Emperor Qinzong were demoted to the rank of commoners by the Jin on March 20, 1127. Both were exiled and lived out the remainder of their lives in miserable conditions.

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