image: traditional Tujia brocade

Play All)Formal story texts: The Story of General Xiang

1.2: The Story of General Xiang

Tian Jinggui, Dianfang Township, Longshan County
recorded on 30 May 2002

This text tells the traditional story of General Xiang, one of the three great quasi-historical (c.10th century) heroes of the Tujia in Xiangxi, along with Hero Tian and Duke Peng. The tale contrasts the integrity of General Xiang with the duplicity of the emperor. Even in death General Xiang's integrity wins the day. This is a prepared text, written down using Chinese characters as phonetic aide-memoires to indicate Tujia words.

01 ba3ti3 xian2lao1guan1reng3-nie3 gu1 lao4 li3.
Let me tell you the story of General Xiang.
02 xian1xi1 bi2zi1ka3 wo2tu1 hu2ni1 ha4ri3-nie3 di1ga3-nie3 luo4 suo1 hu3 xie2, la2 hu3 peng3gong1 jiao2zu1, la2 hu3 xian2lao1guan1reng3, sang1 hu3 tian3hao1hang2. lei4 mo3 xian2lao1guan1reng3-nie3 gu1 lao4 li3.
Every Tujia person in Xiangxi has heard of these three great historical figures: Duke Peng, General Xiang, and Hero Tian. Today I'm going to tell you the story of General Xiang.
03 xian2lao1guan1reng3 nie2kuo3lai2 jie3-la1, sa3li3-hhe1, wu1ni3zi3 xie2. ai1 la2 long1, long3ma3zui1 pu2meng3 a3si3 lao4 ci1ba1 ti3-lie3 luo4 zu2-diu2.
General Xiang's real name was Ye Kelai. He was an eloquent speaker, and also excelled in martial arts. He became famous one year after obtaining a white dragon-horse at Longmazui.
04 tu1wan3 guo2 bo3 sa3 si4-lie3 ga2me1 lao4 po1-lie3, luo4die1 guo2 jiu1 xian2lao1guan1reng3 jie3-la1.
The local Tujia chieftain made him an official, and so people called him General Xiang.
05 huan3di2 ha4ri3-lie3 guo2 yi3-ya1ca1, tu1wan3 jiu1 guo2 duo3 jing2gong1-xie2, guo2 li2 ta2pa4 ce2ce1-die1 huo3-bo3, ma4 a3si3 jia1-lie3 jing1ceng3 ye4.
When the emperor heard about him he wanted to meet him, so the chieftain sent him to the capital to pay tribute. He arrived in the capital, riding on his white horse, and bearing tiger skins, honey, and other local products.
06 huan3di2 guo2 ka4, re2 hu3-zu2 guo2 si1lie3: "luo4 li3-xi2 xi4, se2 eng1ge1 ye3 tai2, kuo1 tai2, ngo4 tai2, kang3ku1-nie3 ye3 huo3-bo3 wo1 si2, sou3ma1?"
The emperor held a banquet for him, and when they were drinking wine together, he said to Xiang: "I hear your area is very poor, and has no gold, silver, or any other valuable goods, so you had to bring me these local products as tribute - isn't that so?"
07 xian2lao1guan1reng3 nie4-bo3 li3: "eng1di1 ye3-die1 kuo1-nie3 ngo4-nie3 ai1 ya ca2-nie1, kuo1 xie2 ngo4 xie2, pii1-duo3-ta1ti1; ang2 ge3 sang1 zou1 lu2 dong2 a, kuo1 ri3 ngo4 ri3, ai1ya1 pu2 pu3 xie2, xie2-xi3tai2 a!"
向老官人笑着说:“这些东西比金银财宝还好,有金有银都买不到。 我们那里三州六峒,州州满金,峒峒满银!还有龙和凤,富足得很呀!”
General Xiang smiled and said: "These gifts are better than silver and gold, they cannot be bought with gold or silver. In our three prefectures and six districts there is gold and silver everywhere, as well as dragons and phoenixes, truly we are very rich!"
08 huan3di2 guo2 si1lie3: "se2 cu1 qi2ma1 la?"
Then the emperor asked: "What is your home like?"
09 xian2lao1guan1reng3 li3: "ang2 cu1 xie2ma1ka3 ze3-da2, hi2 hi2 hi2 ka3tong3 li4ti3 ti1, hi2 hi2 hi2 hi2 la1meng3 zu2 qi4lie3;
General Xiang replied: "My house is not like a rich man's house, as it is only built on a thousand pillars and there are but ten thousand doors.
10 re2su4 ruo4 hhi3, su3su3 tie4tie3 ti2-nie3 cuo4; [ye3] hi2-nie3 luo4 ka3 wo4, [nie3] hi2-nie3 luo4 ce3 ke4; bu4 suo1 ca1 ce3 da3 mo3 la2bu1 ye4. ai1 la2 nie1 bang2 tang1 ruo4 lao4 ha3-lie3 suo1 nie1 la2bu1 ga2-ci3 tai2 a!"
The wind sweeps the floor and the moon lights the lanterns in the house. Eighty carry firewood and seventy draw water; three salt-barges ferry salt. Once, when one of them overturned on the Last Eagle shoals, we had to do without salt for three days!"
11 huan3di2 me3 wo2tu1 ge4 mo3 si1lie3: "se2 cu1 luo4 he2la3 xie2, ye3 ga2-ci3 xie2 ma?"
The emperor was secretly amazed, so he asked: "There are so many people in your house, do they all have enough to eat?"
12 xian2lao1guan1reng3 li3: "ang2 cu1, qiao2 ge3la1bi1 a3bu3 cuo4, qiao2 gu3la1bi1 tuo2ga1 xie2, la2 cuo4 he1he1 ye3 cu4 mo3 ku1za4 da4ze3.
General Xiang replied: "On one side of my house is a barn for kudzu vine, and on the other a barn for bracken; the food in them is heaped up like mountains.
13 suo1 qi1 ta2ci1-nie3 yan1si1 huo3lie3 cuo4 la1meng3 tong2, ye3 di4 ye3 ong1-xie2, ong1-lie3 tuo1-ta1-duo3."
The key to the barns weighs three and a half pounds, and if anyone wants food, they can just take as much they want, without having to pay anything back."
14 hang2la3, xian2lao1guan1reng3 ka3 cu1 ye3 tai2, mu4nie3 huo3lie3 wo3-bo3-xi2, dong3qi2dong3ga2-nie3 ka1ba1 cuo4 la2 cuo1 xie2.
In actual fact, General Xiang's family was very poor. They lived in a decrepit thatched hut where there were huge gaps in the bamboo walls.
15 ye3 hi2 se1tong1-nie3 a3ba1 ka3 wo4, nie3 hi2 se1tong1-nie3 a1nie3 ce3 ke4; guo2 a, suo1 qi1 ta2ci1-nie3 pii1ki1 be4-lie3 a3bu3 tuo2ga1 di3-bo3 nie4ka1.
His eighty year old father carried firewood and his seventy year old mother fetched water, whilst he shouldered his three and a half pound hoe to go and dig for kudzu vine and bracken to enable them to survive.
16 sa4 suo1 long3 long4-bo3-la1, sa4lie1 huo3lie3 la2bu1 a2li1 mo3 ga2. ai1 la2 nie1, bang2 guo2 lao4 di1die4-lu3, sa4lie1 tao2, suo1 nie1 la2bu1 ga2-ci3 tao2.
He kept three ducks, to get a bit of salt by bartering their eggs, but one day an eagle carried off one of the ducks, so for three days there were no eggs or salt.
17 huan3di2 li3: "se2 ge3 ye3 gei4di3 a, yi2si1 tu1mang3zi3, qiao2se1-nie3 luo4 tai2, sa3 tie2ba1 ri1-ta1ti1."
The emperor went on to say: "You lot, you are all barbarians, there are no capable men who can do great deeds."
18 xian2lao1guan1reng3 me3-lie1 he2ba3 mo3 li3: "ang2ni1 a, sang1 zou1 wo3 dong2 a, qiao2se1 ca2-nie3 luo4 xie2, li3-hhe1, ri1-hhe1; ce3 da3 mo3 pu2 xi4, ku1ca4 gu3-bo3 li2 ji1, re2su4 me2ze3 jie3, seng3xian3 guo2 duo3 ge4."
General Xiang replied haughtily: "Our three prefectures and six districts are full of able men, both with pen and sword; they wrestle with the flood dragon in the rivers, and catch tigers in the mountains; the wind and rain are at their beck and call, and even the immortals submit to them."
19 zeng1 li3-nie3-zu2, li3-nie3 jing2 ca2-zu2, hou2gong1 mi4 gi3-liao3, huan3di2 ge4 mo3 qi2ma1 ri1-duo3 ha1tai2,
Just as he was warming to his subject, the concubines' palace quarters caught fire, and the emperor panicked, at a complete loss as to what he should do.
20 xian2lao1guan1reng3 li3: "eng1di1 sa3 bi2kui1 la, huan3sang2 ni2 ge4-ta1-duo3." li3-zu2 le, a2ce1 suo1 ze2 hu3-lie3 hou2gong1 wo2tu1-bo3 la2 dong2 peng2, mi4 se2-liao3.
General Xiang reassured him: "Your Majesty, don't be afraid, this is just a small matter." So saying, he drank three mouthfuls of tea and spat them out towards the concubines' quarters, putting out the fire.
21 hou2gong1 tong2-lie3 ze2: "mo1cai3 me2 tie2ba1 ze3-lie3 mi4 tao2." huan3di2 xi4-liao3, ge4 mo3 yi2la1 bie4-bo3 mo3 la2xie1 duo3 ku2ru1-ta1tiu1.
From the concubines' quarters came the report that a sudden squall had put out the fire. The emperor was so frightened when he heard this that his tongue hung out of his mouth, and for a long time he was not able to draw it back.
22 huan3di2 me3-lie1 xian2lao1guan1reng3 za2xi1-si3tai2 a, guo2 guo2 a3-bo3 jian1sang1 ka4-i, huan3di2 li3: "ni2 ta4 song1kuo1-gu2, nga2 da4ha3 ge3 nie4 cai2 ka1-gu2!"
The emperor realised that General Xiang had amazing abilities, and wanted him to stay in the capital to help protect the nation: "Don't go back, why not stay with me and enjoy prosperity and a high position here?"
23 xian2lao1guan1reng3 kuo1ba1 qi4qi3-bo3 li3: "ni2 ge3 jing1long3bao1dian2 a, ang2 eng1ge1 wan2bao1 ku1ca4-lie1; se2 ge3-nie3 luo4die1 nie4 cai2 ka1-hhe1, sa3 ri1-ci1hhe1;
But General Xiang shook his head and replied: "You have a gilded palace here, we live on Wanbao [Ten Thousand Treasures] Mountain. You only know how to enjoy yourselves, but don't know how to do anything.
24 ang2 eng1ge1-nie3 luo4die1 jie2ri1-xi2 ca2, qie4 ri1 duo3 heng4, kuo1 di3 ngo4 di3 mo3 nie4ka1-bo3 cai2 xie2."
We are hard-working folk, excelling at whatever we do. We spend our days happily digging for gold and silver."
25 huan3di2 guo2 a3po1li1, guo2 ta4 ce3; huan3di2 guo2 song1kuo1-lie3 jian1sang1 a4yi3-xi2 ge4, me3-lie1 ta4-nie3 sa3 ze2;
The emperor tried again and again to persuade him to stay, but he adamantly refused. The emperor was afraid that after he returned he would rebel and usurp the throne, and would say bad things about him.
26 zu2-bo3 mo3 re2ti1ku1 lao4 lie2, re2 hu3-lie3 guo2duo3 se2. guo2 bo3 li3: "ni2 huo3-lie3 se2 eng1ge1-nie3 luo4die1 [hu3], hu2ni1 da4 la2 ze2 hu3."
So as General Xiang was leaving, the emperor gave him a flagon of [poisoned] wine, which would kill him when he drank it. Moreover, he told him: "Take this wine back with you to your people and drink it together in each other's company."
27 xian2lao1guan1reng3 luo4zi2, guo2 guo2 re2 huo3-lie3 se2-xi2 ha1tai2, re2ti1ku1 huo3-bo3 [pu2meng3] a3si3 jia1-lie3 song1kuo1-diu2.
General Xiang was a straightforward man and took the wine, never thinking for a moment that it would kill him. So clutching the flagon of wine, he rode back home on his white dragon-horse.
28 yan3leng3 be2ma1du2 ye4-lie3 ze2ga3-la1-hu3, guo2 jiu1 re2 la2 ze2 hu3, kuo1ba1 ye3luo3-la1-hu3, me3 di2-xi3tai2, eng2qi4 luo2bu1 mie4 zu2-diu2, jiu1 meng3 ga3 ong3-bo3 mo3 se2-liao3.
When they reached Baimadu in Yuanling, he began to feel thirsty, so he drank a mouthful of wine. At once his head began to spin, his stomach became unbearably painful, and blood gushed out of from his nose and eyes. He died, still seated on his horse.
29 pu2meng3 a3si3 luo4 sa3 hao4ri3, xian2lao1guan1reng3 wo4 mo3 be1ce3cu1cu1 mo3 jing1ceng3-bo3 xi4ca3-lie3 huan3di2 da4ha3 si1lie3.
The white dragon-horse understood human nature, so with General Xiang's body on its back and tears streaming down its face, it galloped back to the capital to denounce the emperor.
30 huan3di2 yi3-lie3, guo2duo3 a1ye3 ri1-bo3-xi2 ge4 mo3 se2.
When the emperor saw them, he knew he had done wrong and was frightened to death.
31 guo2 luo4se2tu1 bo3 li3: "nga2 ni2 bo3 nie3 nie3 re1 hi2 ge1-nie3 dao2cang3 ri1-i, ang2ni1 hu2ni1 da4 ni2 bo3 jie2zu1 a3si3 die4-bo3 si2-lie3 bong3."
He addressed the corpse: "I will give you the full forty-nine days of funerary rites, and I and the entire court will dress in mourning for your burial."
32 luo4se2tu1 ei1ya1 geng1ke4-ta1-zu2, huan3di2 li3: "nga2 ta1nie3ku3 ka4, ni2 lang3qi1-cai3 ka4, nga2 ni2 bo3 tu1wan3 pu3sa3 lao4 po1, hi2 hi2 hi2 hi2 long1-nie3 ci1ke1ta1 xian1 sou2, me2 da4ha3 nie3hhe2 hhe3, lao3ci3 su3su3 da4ha3 ku1su3."
But the corpse still did not topple, so the emperor added: "Let me rule this world and you the netherworld, I will deify you as the Tuwang god, so that you may enjoy the incense offerings of countless generations; you will live for ever, as bright as the sun and moon."
33 eng1-zu2, pu2meng3 a3si3 kuo1ba1 ga4 dong2 ku2ku1-lie3 xian2lao1guan1reng3 wo4-bo3 xian1xi1-bo3 eng3zou2.
At this, the white horse bowed, and galloped back to Xiangxi bearing General Xiang's corpse.
34 ta1nie1, bi2zi1ka3 guo2 die2-bo3 mo3 tu1wan3gong1 lao4 su2-lie3, peng3gong1 jiao2zu1 tian3hao1hang2 da4ha3 gong2-bo3 jing2-la1.
Afterwards, in order to commemorate him, the Tujia people built a Tuwang temple, and worshipped him alongside Duke Peng and Hero Tian.






Copyright (C) 2004 Philip & Cecilia Brassett