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LI PO'S RIDDLE NAMING CLOUD-RITUAL HStl IN RELATION TO THE FENG SACRIFICE OF 742 AND THE GREAT HEAVENLY TREASURE SCANDAL TO WHICH IS APPENDED A NOTE ON STAMPING SONGS AND A SINO-TURKISH NAME FOR THE HUNS Elling o. Eide Cloud-Ritual Hsu ~~~jt, an accomplished flute player from Jen-ch'eng County1-x ~"(the modern Chi-ning ;ttin Shantung). was the grandson of Li Mo~~. China's most famous flautist, who served in the Buddh~st Music Section of the Imperial Pear Garden Conservatory. According to a story in the T'ang collection called Rumors from the Sweet Marshes (1), some!time about 795, Cloud-Ritual gave the poet Wei Ying-wu .•• u.1p the following account of how he acquired .. I::;, ~~ hlS glven name: "At the beginning of the Heavenly Treasure reign, when I was just a month old. an Imperial Party returning from the Feng Ritual in the east made a stop at Jen-ch'eng, and my grandfather learned of my being born. When he saw me, he was extremely pleased and took me to the scholar Li Po to request that he create me a lucky name. Master Li had just sat down in a restaurant with a wine f~~~\nd was ordering wine in a loud voice, when Mr. Ho-lan 'l{_~, the proprietor, who was over ninety years old, lnvited them to drink in one of the upstairs rooms. My grandfather played a sophisticated flute to accompany the wine, and Master Li, grasping his brush, drunkenly wrote a poem across my chest: ~1""F {~ iaJ ;, /f t-8- -A- ~ ~t ~~ ?ti fJ... \3 tf 11fF-~1~ 'f What man is tha~ beneath the tree? Not talking truly is my pleasure. If talking reaches mid of day. The mist thanks Heaven for Ch'en's Treasure. My grandfather complained, 'I ask the scholar for a name, and now I can't understand what he has written!' To this, Master Li replied, 'The name is in the poem. "The man beneath a tree" gives you a tree and a child; the character for "child" written beneath the character for "tree" gives you the character for your surname "Li." Then, "not talking" means that there is no one speaking; the character for "no one" combined with the character for "speaking" 8 gives you the character for "Mo." The character for "pleasure" is composed of the character for "daughter" and the character for "child;" a daughter's child is a grandson. When "talking reaches mid of day," you are speaking about noon; the character for "speaking" written beside the character for "noon" gives you the character for the surname "Hsil." Finally, "the mist thanks Heaven for Chlenls Treasure" refers to the clouds appearing for the Feng Ritual; that is to say, it was a lIcloud ritua1.11 Thus you get, "Li Mols grandson, Hsilof the Cloud Ritual.II'1I Today, even a Chinese reader needs more than Li POlS explanation to understand the last line of the riddle and its relevance to Cloud-Ritual's name. "Chien's Treasure" is a mythical creature with the body of a man and the head of a rooster, that flies in from the southeast during the night and then crows (or makes a noise) to wake up the roosters of the world. The peculiar name is derived from "Ch'en's Granary,1I the place where, in 747 B.C., Duke Wen of Ch'in is supposed to have obtained "some rocks" that embodied the spirit of the creature (2). It seems likely that what Duke Wen really found were "some rock chickens," the crimson-tailed blood pheasants (Ithaginis cruentus) that are native to the area, but be that as it may, the important thing here is that this avian divinity, a potent sun symbol, is sometimes also called "the Heavenly Trasure," the same name that Emperor Hsilan Tsung took for the new reign title that he inaugurated in 742. On another level, the mention of "Chien's Treasure" simultaneously suggests the notorious "divine talisman" concocted by the household of the Emperor's twenty-fifth son, the Prince of Chien, to help convince the public that the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1759-7633
Print ISSN
0737-5034
Pages
pp. 8-20
Launched on MUSE
2021-04-08
Open Access
No
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