舜的傳說 Legend of Shun
Inscribed list: National List, Third Batch
Inventory no.: I-90
Nominating unit(s): Shanxi Province, Qinshui County; Shandong Province, Zhucheng City
根據傳說，舜生於一個貧困家庭，與其家人同居。生母歿後，他的瞎父瞽首（意指「瞎了的老人」）再娶一位冷酷的繼母，舜亦得到了一位同父異母的弟弟 — 象，以及一位同父異母的妹妹敤首。縱使舜受到其父母及弟弟的冷待，舜仍然以孝服待他們，並為家庭打理農地。但有時候，當他得知其父母及弟弟要殺自己的時候，他會離開其家，並在事情平息後才回去。
舜的孝心亦感動他人。後來，當堯帝在尋覓繼承人的時候，他從其他領袖得知關於舜的事情。在史記中，堯聽從從其他部落首領的建議後，他決定把其一對姊妹及女兒 — 娥皇及女英下嫁舜，以試驗舜的孝道，結果成功。舜不但為適合的繼承人，還是兩位妻子的好丈夫。
Shun, later known as Emperor Shun or Shun the Great, is one of the legendary leaders of ancient China, regarded as some as one of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors. Little is known about the period before the Xia-Shang dynasty, due to the lack of written records. Therefore, most stories about the pre-historic leaders of China were transmitted orally.
According to legend, Shun was born into a poor family. After the death of Shun’s mother, his blind father, Gusou (瞽叟; which means “blind elderly”), was re-married to a cold stepmother, who gave birth to Shun’s half-brother, Xiang (象), and a half-sister named Ke Shou (敤首). Despite suffering abuse from his step-mother and half-brother, and his father turning a blind eye to his abuse, Shun remained filial towards them while helping the household to take care of the crops. Whenever he learned of his family’s plots to his to murder him, he would stay away from his home until the coast was clear.
The filial and compassionate heart of Shun moved everyone around him. Later, when Emperor Yao () was seeking a successor for his position, he soon learned of Shun. In Records of the Grand Historian, after Emperor Yao overheard the advice from other tribal leaders, Yao decided to let Shun marry his two daughters—named Ehuang (娥皇) and Nuying (女英)—intending to test Shun’s character. Shun proved to be a good husband and showed to be a perfect candidate to be Yao’s successor.
Shun achieved great respect for his peace-making skills and wisdom. However, his family members were jealous of him, and plotting to kill Shun and to have Xiang take the two sisters, they devised a plan to lure Shun to a barn and burn it down. After that failed, they decided to lure him out of his home and buried him underground to murder him, before proceeding to occupy all his properties granted by the emperor. But Shun survived both ordeals while remaining loyal to his family. In Shuowen Jiezi (說文解字) and Biographies of Exemplar Women (列女傳), Ke Shou, unlike the rest of her family, decided to help her brother by informing her brother’s wives when she learned of the plots to kill him.
Afterwards, Yao allowed Shun to become politically involved. Shun was intelligent and hardworking; he also banished those who were unable to cooperate with the ruler. Several tasks later, he was officially recognized by Emperor Yao as his successor. While in leadership, he made many political, judiciary and social reforms, and commanded Yu the Great to eradicate the problems had with regular flooding. Deciding that none of his children were up to the task, he decided to pass the reigns of his leadership to Yu the Great. During his rulership, neither his parents nor his step-brother tried to bring him further harm, as they were finally moved by his filial and kind heart.
The story of Shun was included in The Twenty-Four Filial Exemplars (二十四孝), a classic text of Confucian filial piety written by Guo Jujing during the Yuan dynasty. In Confucianism and Mohism (墨家), Shun and Yao are well-respected as role models of filial piety, in line with Confucian values. In Henan and Zhejiang, there is respectively the Temple of Shun, and the Fields of Shun (舜耕), the latter allegedly being the residence of the legendary emperor. Several scholars and historical books from the Warring states to the Qing Dynasty, including Mencius (孟子), have conjectured as to the true origins of Shun, but they all agree that he is most likely from the eastern side of China.
Although some scholars might debate on the real existence of Shun, the Legend of Shun has successfully been transmitted through hundreds of generations, and remain one of the most legendary yet mysterious leaders in Chinese history.
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