Emperor Shun
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Emperor Shun
- Qin Shi #2
帝舜 1
琴史 #2 2
Shrine honoring Shun in Jiuyi Shan 3                  
Shun, traditional dates 2317-2208, here called Di Shun (Emperor Shun), is also called Yu Shun. The main source of information about him is his biography in Sima Qian's Shi Ji (Records of the Grand Historian).4 The account there relates his filial nature as a child, his marriage to two daughters of Emperor Yao, Yao's appointing Shun as emperor, and Shun's death in Cangwu (Jiuyi mountains).

Shun has a number of associations with the qin (as well as at least one with the se5). As his entry below indicates, he is said to have created two qin songs. Since Shun is said to have played a five-string qin these melodies all use only five strings.6

  1. Nan Feng Ge
  2. Nan Xun Ge
  3. Nan Feng Chang
  4. Si Qin Cao

In addition, the commentary on at least four other melodies connects them with Shun. These use the standard seven strings:

  1. Si Shun
    Wen Wang thinks of the sage king
  2. Xiang Fei Yuan
    A song in which Shun's two concubines, E Huang and Nü Ying, lament his death.
  3. Cangwu Yuan
    An instrumental melody on the same theme.
  4. Jiuyi Yin (alternate title for Fan Canglang, prelude to Xiao Xiang Shui Yun)
    Shun is not directly mentioned, but Guo Chuwang seems to have him in mind.
  5. Xiaoshao Jiucheng, Fenghuang Lai Yi7
    Shi Ji says that Music Master Kui8 played this for Shun.

Passages in Qinshu Daquan connected to Shun include the following.

Folio 11, #25 quotes a Qin Shu saying Shun created a melody called Jiu Zou.

Folio 16, #4 has the account in the Book of Rites of him playing the five-string qin

Folio 16, #8 has an account of this story from The Records of the Grand Historian;
this passage is quoted in full in a footnote to Nanxun Ge, and in part with Nanfeng Ge

Folio 16, #14 has two stories from Mencius of Shun playing the qin, including the one,
referred to here, of him playing the qin on a couch after his parents had tried to kill him.

Qin illustration 4 in Taiyin Daquanji claims to be a depiction of his 虞舜 Yu Shun qin, quoting Qin Qing Ying (by Yang Xiong). It adds the stories that he played the five string qin and the world was well ordered, and that Wen Wang added two strings.9 Illustration 5 is his Music Official's (伶官 Ling Guan) qin.

The Qin Shi entry is as follows, 10

Emperor Shun continued in Yao's position. Laws and governing daily became more clear, rites and music daily became more complete. Confucius stated and wrote that only during the period from 唐(堯) Tang (Yao) to 虞(舜) Yu (Shun) was the world properly in order. Before this things were not ready; afterwards nothing was improved. As emperor he was humble, using the qin to amuse himself.

Mencius said, Shun had a qin by his bed even through the difficulties with (his father) Gusou and (his brother) Xiang; in this way he could continue to play and sing, and not be troubled in his mind, and his filial nature would continue to improve. An old tradition says that the melody Si Qin Cao concerns this.

When the time came for him to be emperor he played the five-string qin and accompanied himself by singing Nanfeng Ge, and as a result the world was well-regulated. The words of this song are as follows,

Southern winds' vapors            can be used to resolve my people's irritations.
Southern winds' timeliness       can be used to make abundant my people's wealth.

At that time a harmonious spirit filled heaven and earth, and covered its plants and animals. Thus (Shang) Shu (The Venerated Documents) said, Panpipes Play Shao Nine Times, and Phoenixes Attend.) This is the greatest extreme of harmony.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Shun or Yu Shun 舜、虞舜 (Wikipedia)
31025/5 舜 Shun says to see 33531.126 虞舜 Yu Shun, which has an illustration. He is often called simply "Yu", so don't confuse this 虞 Yu with 禹 Yu. Another name is the praise name 重華 Chonghua. Anne Birrell, Chinese Mythology, discusses him in detail, translating his name as Hibiscus.

2. 8 lines

3. Shrine to Emperor Shun in Jiuyi/Cangwu Shun plays the qin        
There are actually two 舜帝陵 shrines dedicated to Emperor Shun, one in 山西 Shanxi Province and the one on the Guangdong/Hunan border. The Shanxi one is located near what was reputedly his old capital city, 蒲阪 Puban; according to the associated story Shun at the age of 100 relinquished his throne to 禹 Yu and then retired. The name 陵 ling suggests a belief that Shun was actually buried there; there is of course no evidence he was buried at either place.

The Hunan memorial is featured here because it connects Shun to the stories of him playing the qin as well as to the story of his two concubines. As for the image above, it was downloaded in 2010 from a website called Changing Trip; the image at right is from the same area; see further at Nanfeng Ge. They are both part of the Emperor Shun Memorial Scenic Area (舜帝陵景區 Shundiling Jingqu) in the 九嶷山 Jiuyi Mountains of 湖南 Hunan province; the Jiuyi region is also called 蒼梧 Cangwu (see Cangwu Yuan). As of 2017 it could be located on Google maps by searching for "九嶷山舜帝陵景區" or "Jiuyishan Shun Dynasty Tomb", which showed it a few miles southwest of the intersection of highways G55 and G76, giving as its address "281 Country Rd, Ningyuan Xian, Yongzhou Shi, Hunan Sheng, China". Google maps shows the trip from Guangzhou as being just under five hours either by the G107 expressway to the G55 then west on the G76 and south on County Road 58, or on the G55 all the way to the G76. Another way might be via the train from 廣州 Guangzhou to 郴州市 Chenzhou then perhaps a bus towards 寧遠縣 Ningyuan. This seems to make it the closest place to Hong Kong having a direct thematic relationship with an existing guqin melody.

Labels near the tomb on Google maps include "九嶷山瑤族鄉 Jiuyishanyaozuxiang", apparently marking this as the center of a Jiuyi Mountain Ethnic Yao Region, and 九嶷山國家森林公園 Jiuyishan National Forest Park. Northeast of here, on the other side of Chenzhou, is a 炎帝陵景区 Emperor Yan Memorial Scenic Area with a shrine dedicated toYan Di (Emperor Yan, a.k.a. Shen Nong). A five hour drive east from Jiuyishan takes one to the 梅關古道景區 Meiguan Ancient Post Road Scenic Area (Wikipedia: Mei Pass) on the Guangdong/Jiangxi border.

In Shaoxing, near Hangzhou, there is also a Shun Memorial Temple (Emperor Shun Temple).

4. See Nienhauser, The Grand Scribe's Records, I, p. 8ff.

5. A story from Lüshi Chunqiu, translated in Knoblock and Riegel, is related in a footnote to Origins of the Qin.

6. A footnote under the earliest Nan Feng Ge traces various melodies with a similar theme.

7. Xiaoshao Jiucheng, Fenghuang Laiyi: Panpipes Play Shao Nine Times, and Phoenixes Attend
This phrase is first mentioned in Shang Shu, where it might also be translated, "When all nine parts of Xiaoshao have been completed, the male and female phoenix arrive appropriately." As a qin melody it survives first from Qinpu Zhengchuan (1547), which has the first of five qin pu with this title. See Zha Guide 18/177/-- . Alternate titles used for it are:

鳳凰來儀 Fenghuang Laiyi: Phoenixes Attend (used in later qin handbooks)
神鳳引 Shenfeng Yin: Holy Phoenix Prelude (? see Zha 18/177/-- )
神鳳操 Shenfeng Cao: Holy Phoenix Lament (see YFSJ, Folio 57, #19: "also called Fenghuang Laiyi")
儀鳳歌 Yi Feng Ge: Attending Phoenix Song (Hejian Zage #7 in Qin Cao)

中文大辭典 references for 簫韶九成 Xiaoshao Jiucheng mostly quote the full title:

44241/1 Shao: music of Shun; (說文 Shuo Wen) 簫韶九成,鳳凰來儀
27100.12 Xiaoshao: music of Shun; (書,益稷)簫韶九成,鳳凰來儀 with the explanation that Shao was the music of Shun, and here it is played on small instruments [the xiao being a small instrument, panpipes in the early illustration, only later an end-blown flute])
27100.13 Xiaoshao Yingfen: Xiaoshao played nine times to form a melody
25211.391 Shenfeng Cao: qin lyrics in Yuefu Shiji, also called Fenghuang Laiyi
1181.92 is only 儀鳳 Yifeng, another name for 鳳凰 fenghuang

Shi Ji says that when Music Master 夔 Kui played music for Shun to honor Yu, (GSR I, p.35) "the deceased ancestors all arrived (to enjoy the sacrifices), the lords all yielded to each other, the birds and beasts all began to soar and dance." And when he played Xiaoshao Jiucheng, Fenghuang Laiyi, the beasts danced and the officials were all in harmony. Because of this Shun wrote a song. Shi Ji adds lyrics he and others wrote and sang for this.

However, neither the surviving qin melody nor the YFSJ entry mention Shun or these lyrics. They all refer to a later event, in which Cheng Wang celebrates his success with this melody and some new lyrics. The YFSJ entry also does not mention the Qin Cao reference to Yi Feng, although it also says it is by Cheng Wang and it includes the same lyrics, plus an extra line.

The YFSJ entry for "Shenfeng Cao, also called Fenghuang Laiyi" is as follows.

Gujin Yuelu says, "At the time of Cheng Wang of Zhou "鳳皇" (sic) imperial phoenixes danced, so he wrote this song."

Xie Xiyi's Qin Lun says, "Cheng Wang wrote Shenfeng Cao 言德化之感也 to speak of the feelings of its making things virtuous."

Qin Ji says, "Fenghuang Laiyi" was written by Cheng Wang."

Cheng Wang:
(琴操,儀鳳歌 Qin Cao, Yifeng Ge adds: 鳳凰來兮,百獸晨。)

8. Kui 夔
Kui was the music master of Shun. James Legge, The Chinese Classics, Vol.III. The Shoo King (bi-lingual; SMC Taipei reprint, pp. 47-8) first translates a passage mentioning Kui as follows:

The Emperor (Shun) said, "Kui, I appoint you to be Director of Music, and to teach our sons, so that the straightforward may yet be mild, the gentle may yet be dignified, the strong not tyrannical, and the impetuous not arrogant. Poetry is the expression of earnest thought, singing is the prolonged utterance of that expression. The notes accompany that utterance, and they are harmonized themselves by the pitch pipes. In this way the eight different kinds of instruments can all be adjusted so that one shall not take from or interfere with another, and spirits and men will thereby be brought into harmony."

Legge then adds the following comment:

Appointment of Kui to be minister of Music. It is singular how great an importance is here attributed to training in music, and that this should have been a special department regulated by imperial statutes from the eariest times. Under the Zhou dyn., the minister of Music was styled 大司樂 (Da Si Yue); see the chapter on his duties in the 'Rites of Zhou,' 春官,宗伯,第二十六. 夔 is the name of a monstrous animal, 'a dragon with one leg.' I can find no other information about the officer thus designated besides the notice here and in Bk IV., p.9 (i.e., SMC reprint p. 87; see reference).

9. All of this is quoted from Qin Qing Ying?

10. Original entry
The Qin Shi biography of 帝舜 Emperor Shun is as follows:





當是時,至和之氣充塞上下,覆被動植。《(尚)書》曰: 簫韶九成,鳳凰來儀。和之極也。


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