Chu Yuan (Qu Yuan)

Chu Yuan (Qu Yuan) (about 339 BC - about 278 BC), a great statesman and patriotic poet in the Warring States Period (475BC -221BC), is commemorated by the Chinese each year in the Dragon Boat Festival as well as the throwing of Zongzi into the river is a tribute to this great man.

Political Career
Qu Yuan, originally named Qu Ping, was of noble birth in the Chu Kingdom. Being a court minister, his talent in diplomacy won him much acclaim in King Huai's reign. In order to bring the long-existing turbulence to an end, he convinced the king to implement political reform and ally with the neighboring Qi Kingdom thus they could resist the aggressive Qin Kingdom. However once his political strategy was established he found himself out of favor with King Huai. Slanders and intrigues that had been fabricated by others, jealous ministers resulted in his dismissal from the court.

Before long, with the assistance of Qu Yuan, Chu and Qi restored their alliance-Chu could afford no more losses as a result of the Qin's aggression. However the king continued to turn a deaf ear to Qu's advice and policies, and as expected, King Huai was captured by the Qin army and died in a foreign country. King Huai's successor followed his father's footsteps and as a result his country was annexed by the Qin Kingdom. Having been exiled for many years, Qu Yuan was in great despair and drowned himself in the Milo River in Hunan Province in 278 BC when the capital was lost to the Qin army.

Pioneer of Chu Ci
Qu Yuan was not only a great diplomat but also regarded as one of the greatest poets in ancient China. He set the fashion for the new poem style named Sao after he created his magnum opus Li Sao (The Lament). And poetry of this kind is recognized as Chu Ci (Songs of Chu or Songs of the South). He abandoned the long-observed four-character verse and initiated verses with varying lengths so that more rhythms and rich expressions are allowed. Rich imagination plus legendary stories were conveyed through his use of flowery language. This style of romanticism has exerted enormous impact on later generations.

Qu Yuan's frustrated political career infuses his poetry and inspired him in the creation of Li Sao. Intense patriotic emotions as well as sharp criticism towards the corrupt aristocrats were revealed between the lines. There are many other works left by him including Jiu Ge (Nine Songs), Jiu Zhang (Nine Elegies), Tian Wen (Asking Heaven) etc.

The county of Zigui in Hubei Province lies at the foot of the Woniu Mountain in the north bank of the Yangtze River. It is where Quyuan was born around 339 BC. The county is blessed with serene sceneries and historical relics many of which are associated with Qu Yuan such as Qu Yuan Tuo (where is said laid the bone of Qu Yuan). Quyuan Temple was also built in commemoration of him.

Zigui is a place noticeable by another celebrity-Wang Zhaojun who was one of the Four Beauties in ancient China. This region has so many legendary stories that are just waiting for you to explore.

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