Nine Songs


The “Nine Songs” is the title of a chapter in the “Chu Shu”, which was originally the name of an ancient song in Chinese mythology and legends, and was created by Qu Yuan, a native of Chu in the Warring States, based on the folk music songs for the gods in Chu. There are eleven poems in the “Nine Songs”: “East Emperor Taichi”, “Lord of the Clouds”, “Lord of Xiang”, “Lady of Xiang”, “Great Sage”, “Lesser Sage”, “Lord of the East”, “Hebe”, “Mountain Ghost”, “National Elegy” and “Ritual Soul”.

About the Author

Qu Yuan (about 340-278 BC), named Ping, character Yuan, was a native of the State of Chu during the Warring States period, and served as a left apprentice and a great official of Sanlu. The “Chu Rhetoric” collects the poems and fusions of Qu Yuan and Song Yu of Chu during the Warring States period and Jia Yi of the Han dynasty, which were collected by Liu Xiang of the Western Han dynasty, and the chapter and verse (an analysis and interpretation of ancient books) by Wang Yi of the Eastern Han dynasty. These poems use the poetic form and rhyme of the Chu region, and describe the local customs of the Chu region, so they have a strong local color, hence the name “Chu Shu”. The poetic style is called “Chu-rhetoric style” or “Suo style” in later times.

Qu Yuan and the Nine Songs

The Nine Songs is a group of 11 poems.

Dong Huang Tai Yi (The God of Heaven)

The God of Clouds

Xiangjun” and “Lady Xiang”: the god of Xiang water

The Great God of Life and Death

Shaosiimei: God of heirs

Dongjun: the god of the sun

He Bo: the god of the Yellow River

Mountain Ghost”: the god of mountains

National Gothic”: sacrifice to the soldiers who died for the country

Spirit of Ritual”: a song for the gods

The “Nine Songs” include 11 chapters, which have been combined by previous generations in order to make them conform to the number of “nine”.

For example, Jiang Ji of the Qing dynasty, in his “Shanzhi Ge Note on the Chu Rhetoric”, advocated that “Xiangjun” and “Lady Xiang” should be combined into one chapter, and “Daishimei” and “Shaosimei” should be combined into one chapter. Wen Yiduo’s “What are the Nine Songs” advocates “Dong Huang Tai Yi” as the welcome song, “Spirit of Rites” as the send-off song, and the middle nine chapters as the body of the “Nine Songs”.

However, most people agree with Wang Yuan and Wang Fuzhi that the first ten chapters are dedicated to ten gods and spirits, and the ten gods and spirits are closely related to the struggle for production and competition for survival from the origin of ancient human religious thought.

The ten gods can be divided into three types: (1) the gods of heaven – Dong Huang Tai Yi (the noble god of heaven), Yun Zhong Jun (the god of clouds), Da Siming (the god of longevity), Shao Siming (the god of heirs), Dong Jun (the god of the sun); (2) the gods of earth – Xiang Jun and Lady Xiang (the god of Xiang Shui), He Bo (the god of the river), Mountain Ghost (the god of the mountains); (3) the ghosts of men – Guo Shi (the souls of fallen soldiers).

Some people believe that, in the above ten kinds of spirits, the first “East Emperor Taichi” is the supreme, the end of the chapter “national death” for the martyrs, are male; the rest is the yin and yang of the two sexes, namely, the East King (male) and the Cloud King (female), the Great Sifu (male) and the Lesser Sifu (female). The rest are yin and yang couples, i.e. Dongjun (male) and Yunzhongjun (female), Daishimei (male) and Shaosimei (female), Xiangjun (male) and Lady Xiang (female), and Hebe (male) and Mountain Ghost (female). The original order of the Nine Songs was basically arranged according to the above-mentioned relationships, but the present version of “Dongjun” is mistakenly reversed (Wen Yiduo, “Chu Shu Shu”).

Composition Process

The “Nine Songs” was composed by Qu Yuan based on the musical songs of the folk rituals in Jiangnan.

The title is a copy of an ancient title, according to Li Sao: “The Nine Discourses and the Nine Songs are the same as the Nine Songs, and Xia Kang entertains himself. According to “Tianwen”, “The Nine Discriminations and the Nine Songs were composed in the Xia Dynasty”, and “The Nine Songs were composed in the Xia Dynasty.

Origin of the composition

The “Nine Songs” were written by Qu Yuan. In the past, the southern Ying of Chu, between Yuan and Xiang, its customs believe in ghosts and good shrines, its shrines must make songs and drums to music the gods. Qu Yuan was exiled, and he fled to his domain, and he was so worried and bitter that he saw the rituals and music of the rituals and dances of the common people, and his words were so vulgar that he composed the song “Nine Songs”, which is a tribute to the gods, and a sarcasm to his grievances. (Wang Yi, “Chapter and Verse of the Chu Rhetoric – Preface to the Nine Songs”)

Time of Composition

The mood of “The State Elegy” is a song of mourning for the soldiers who died in the Battle of Danxi, which took place in the seventeenth year of King Huai (312 BC), after the Battle of Danxi and before the Battle of Lantian. The “Nine Songs” is different from the anguished style of Qu Yuan’s other works, and is written in a fresh, poignant, and profound manner. Obviously, this is because it uses folk materials and incorporates the mood of folk songs, which makes the style somewhat unique compared to his other works.

Origin of the name

As for the origin of the name of “Nine Songs”, Wang Yi believes that it was composed by Qu Yuan after the folk songs of Southern Chu. Chu Hsi believes that Qu Yuan modified the song and “refined its words” (Chu Shi Jiji jiji). Hu Shi believes that the “Nine Songs” is an ancient “religious song and dance of the Xiangjiang River people”, and “has nothing to do with the legend of Qu Yuan” (“Reading Chu”). Most people today take Zhu’s words. “Nine songs” name, the origin is very ancient.

In addition to the “Shang Shu”, “Zuo Zhuan”, “Shan Hai Jing” called the cited, “Li Sao” there are “open nine arguments and nine songs, Xia Kang entertainment to indulge in”, “played nine songs and dance Shaoxi, chatting holiday to music”, “Tian Wen” there are “open thorns In the “Heavenly Questions”, there are words such as “the nine debates and nine songs”. Although the content of the “nine songs” mentioned in various books has evolved, it can be proved that the “nine songs” are very ancient music in the legend. As for Qu Yuan’s use of it as the title of the piece, it seems that it is not related to the number of chapters of the ancient “Nine Songs”, nor is it necessarily the same as the tune of the ancient “Nine Songs”. It is possible that it was used for “entertaining the gods”, and combined with the meaning of “recreation” and “music” in “Li Sao”, it basically belongs to the type of new songs taking on old names.

Religious legends

According to the legend, the Nine Songs are originally the music of heaven. The “Nine Songs” and the Shao dance accompanying the Nine Songs were the “Nine Songs” that Zhao Jianzi heard when he ascended to heaven in his dream. (Li Sao, “The Nine Songs were played and Shao danced.”) The “Nine Songs” were stolen to earth by the queen of Xia, Qi, and a feast led to the rebellion of the five sons, which finally led to the downfall of the Xia. The historical background of this myth is as follows.

The “Nine Songs” was the music of the Xia people, and perhaps only used during the sacrifice to God. Kai played this music to enjoy the gods, that is, the so-called Juntai’s enjoyment. As with the music of primitive societies, the content of this music and dance is quite obscene. It is because in primitive life, religion and sex are not easily separated, so although it is obscene, it can still be used for the enjoyment of God. Perhaps it was during that great feast in the suburbs that a conflict arose between Qi and Taikang, father and son, over the presence of two daughters (the “mother of five sons”). When the situation grew to such an extent that Taikang led his brothers to rebel, the enemy, Yi Yi, took advantage of the situation and destroyed Yixia. (There is another testimony about this matter.) The gods of heaven were originally invited by Qi. Legend has it that the guest was invited by Qi, so there is a story about Qi being a guest in heaven. This is probably due to the word “Bin” in the so-called “Qi Bin Tian”, (The “Heavenly Question”, “Qi thorn Bin Shang” means Bin Tian, and the “Great Wilderness West Scripture”, “Open the three concubines on (The word “Bin” in “Tianwen” means “Bin Tian”, and in “Dahuang Xi Jing” means “to open three concubines in the sky”, the same word for concubine and bin.) It has two meanings: “to invite” and “to be a guest”. As the meaning of “to invite” becomes “to be a guest”, the music used to enjoy heaven becomes the music of heaven, and the music played to enjoy the guest becomes the music stolen by the guest. This is the only point where the legend is confused, but the rest of the story says that Kai died because of the Nine Songs, which is quite true.

These points are especially mentioned here to indicate the most ancient role of the Nine Songs and its obscene content, because it is quite helpful for the interpretation of the “Nine Songs of Chu”. Shaosiming is said to be the god who rules over human misfortune.

Proof of origin

The Nine Songs, being based on folk ritual songs, has many of the characteristics of the folk witch songs of the Chu state, and the Hanshu-Geography says: “(Chu land) believes in witchcraft and ghosts and emphasizes obscene rituals.” The “Lü’s Spring and Autumn Period – Luxury Music” also says: “The decline of Chu was also as witchy sound.” The so-called “wu yin”, that is, the musical songs of witch and wizard sacrifices to the gods, is the difference between the “Nine Songs” and other poems of Qu Yuan. However, the verses such as “The clouds and the flags are winding”, “Jiuyi is welcoming”, “My way is Dongting”, “Old Ran Ran “, “the total number of” and other idioms, and Qu Yuan’s other poems in the same vein. Therefore, it should be an organic part of Qu Yuan’s poetic art as a whole.

Commentary and Appreciation

Overall Assessment

The “Nine Songs” is a sacrificial song for the purpose of amusing the gods, and the artistic image it portrays is, on the surface, a superhuman god, but in essence, a deification of a real human being.

Characters’ remarks

The “Nine Songs” is the work of Qu Yuan. In the past, in the south of the Chu country, between Yuan and Xiang, the people believed in ghosts and good shrines, and their shrines must make songs and drums for the pleasure of the gods. Qu Yuan was exiled, and he fled to his domain, and he was so worried and bitter that he saw the rituals and music of the rituals and dances of the common people, and his words were so vulgar that he composed the song “Nine Songs”, which is a tribute to the gods, and a sarcasm to his grievances. (Wang Yi, “Chapter and Verse of the Chu Rhetoric – Preface to the Nine Songs”)

The “Nine Songs” and the “Nine Arguments” are all about the emotions. (Liu Xin Diao Long – Discerning Sow)

Zhu Xi once commented on the “nine songs”: “than its class, it is appropriate for the three “ode” of the genus; and on its rhetoric, it is the “national wind” and then change the “Zheng”, “Wei” carry on. (“Chu rhetoric proof”)

Chen Benli of the Qing dynasty has pointed out: “nine songs” of music. There are male witch song. Female witch song; witch and wizard dance and song; a witch singing and witch and. (Qu Shi Jing Yi)

In this way, the “Nine Songs” contain a large number of words about the love between a man and a woman, and under the veil of religious rituals and human-god relations, the living drama of love between a man and a woman in the human world is performed. (From the “Nine Songs”)

These Shintoists-actually, the witches on whom the gods were “based”-performed in classes of varying degrees of sorrowful or tragic stories according to their status, much as they did in the modern-day temples. The situation was similar to that of a play performed in a modern temple. (Wen Yiduo, “Wen Yiduo’s Complete Works – Chu Shu”)

Wen Yiduo once “interpreted” the Nine Songs into a large-scale song and dance drama.

Appreciation of the work

Dong Huang Tai Yi

Dong Huang Tai Yi is the first piece in the Nine Songs. It is a musical song for the Chu people to worship the most noble of the heavenly gods, namely God. The name “Huang” is the honorific name of the god of heaven, and the Chu people set up a shrine to the god in the east, so it is called the East Emperor. The name “Taiyi” refers to the boundlessness of the divine way. Zhuangzi – Heaven and Earth: “The Lord of the Lord is Taiyi.” Cheng Xuanying notes: “Tai is the name of the vast. One is named after the unity of the universe. It is said that the Great Way is vast and unrestricted, encompassing all things and becoming one, so it is called Taiyi.” The poem is divided into three stanzas: the first one is about choosing an auspicious day and offering sacrifices to the god of heaven with respect; the second one is about the sacrificial scene, focusing on the abundance of offerings and the joyful singing and dancing; and the last one is about the wishes for the god of heaven. The whole poem does not describe the image of Dong Huang Taiyi specifically, but only focuses on the enthusiastic scene of the sacrifice, thus expressing the devotion and respect to the God of Heaven.

Lord of the Clouds

This is a musical song dedicated to the god of clouds (or the god of the moon). Wang Yi, “Chapter and Verse”: “The cloud god, Fenglong, is also known as Pingguo.” In ancient Chinese mythology, the cloud god and the rain god, often combined in two, became one. Guo Pu “Shanhaijing – Hai Xi Bu East Jing” note: “rain master is called Ping Ying also.” As the clouds are the rainmaker, so the sacrifice to the clouds is also a request for rain. This piece is written from the point of view of the witch, who loves and hopes for the cloud god. The first part of the poem is about the witch who bathes and dresses and waits for the cloud god to come; the next part is about the cloud god’s coming and praises his virtue of “being in harmony with the sun and the moon”; the last part is about the cloud god’s return to the sky in a hurry and the witch’s anxiety. The poem vividly depicts the scene when the group of witches appear as the cloud gods and the worshipers’ praise, admiration and attachment to the gods. The portrayal of the cloud gods is based on the natural characteristics of the clouds with imagination, exaggeration and embellishment, which both captures the natural beauty and contains people’s pursuit of brightness, freedom and other beautiful things. The descriptions are twisted and delicate, euphemistic and moving.

Yuan Zhangwo Donghuang Taiyi


Xiangjun” and the following “Lady Xiang” are both musical songs dedicated to the god of Xiang water. It is said that Xiangjun refers to Shun and Lady Xiang refers to the two concubines of Shun, Ehuang and Nuying. Legend has it that Emperor Shun was buried in Cangwu during his southern tour, and the two concubines were chased to Dongting and died in the water, becoming the goddess of Xiang Shui. This piece expresses the love of this goddess of Xiang Shui for Xiangjun and her bold pursuit of love in the tone of Lady Xiang. The first stanza is about Lady Xiang’s nostalgia for Xiangjun; the second stanza is about Lady Xiang’s disappointment and grief over Xiangjun’s missed appointment; the third stanza is about Lady Xiang’s resentment for not meeting Xiangjun in person; the fourth stanza is about Lady Xiang’s resolute feelings and inner conflicts. The whole poem makes good use of simile and description of scenery to express the complex psychological activities of the heroine, so that the character of Lady Xiang can be fully expressed. The writing is delicate and the rhythm is long.

Lady Xiang

Lady Xiang” is written in the tone of Xiangjun’s voice to express this Xiang Shui male god’s nostalgia for Lady Xiang, showing his fidelity to love. The first stanza is about Xiangjun’s eagerness to meet Lady Xiang and his despair when the meeting is unsuccessful; the second stanza expresses Xiangjun’s infatuation with Lady Xiang and his desire for a happy life; the third stanza is about Xiangjun’s decisive feelings and hopes. The poet’s descriptions of realistic, imaginary and fantasy scenes form a blend of scenes and scenes, which in many ways underline the ups and downs of the characters’ emotions. Xiangjun” and “Lady Xiang” are a pairing of each other. The poet uses the “misunderstanding method” to express their pursuit of pure love and their desire for a better life in a twisted way. The two of them originally loved each other sincerely and met on a date, but they did not agree on a meeting place, so they went back and forth in vain, and the meeting was not meant to be, so they had a lifelong resentment and even donated their penannular jade pendants to show their determination; however, the fire of love in their hearts cannot be extinguished, and once the truth is revealed, the snow and ice will disappear, and they will love more deeply.


Daishimei is the god of heaven who is in charge of human life and death in the minds of ancient people. In this poem, a male wizard plays the role of the Great Sifu and a female witch plays the role of a mortal woman on earth. By singing to each other, the poem shows the story of the Great Sifu landing on earth, falling in love with a mortal woman on earth, and returning to the heavenly palace alone. The image of the Grand Master is serious and mysterious, while the image of the earthly mortal girl is gentle and amorous. She is in love with the Great Sifu, but the Great Sifu, who is in charge of human life and death, has to part with her. So, who is in charge of the blessings, disasters, glory and disgrace on earth? People love life and wish to live long, but life is unpredictable and death often threatens people; therefore, people devoutly worship the god of fate.

Yuan Zhangwo, the Great Sifu

Shaosiming is the god of heaven who is in charge of the offspring of human beings. Wang Fuzhi’s “General Commentary on Chu” says: “The Great Sifei is the master of human life and death. And the lesser gods are in charge of people’s offspring. Because of its division of the infant, so it is called less.” The whole poem is sung by the male wizard who officiates. The first six lines and the last four lines are positive praise of the young goddess, saying that she is always concerned about the issue of human heirs, “holding a long sword and embracing a young baby”, holding a long sword in one hand and embracing a baby in the other, an image of a human guardian god, both powerful and loving. The middle part describes the love between the gods and the humans, which on the other hand shows the tenderness and amorousness of this goddess, thus making the image of the young goddess more fleshed out and touching. “The two lines of the poem, “Don’t be sad when you are separated, be happy when you are newly acquainted”, summarize the feelings of people who miss each other and part with each other, and have a strong flavor of folk songs.

Yuan Zhangwoo Shaosi


This is a musical song dedicated to the sun god. The poem is divided into three parts, the first ten lines of which are sung by a witch in the guise of Dongjun, describing the sun rising in the east and his feelings of lingering in his hometown. The middle eight stanzas are sung by the witches who entertain the god of the east, positively describing the prosperous scene of the song and dance for the god of the sun and expressing the people’s love and expectation for the god of the sun. The last six lines are still sung by the witches pretending to be the god of the sun, and they describe the righteous deeds of the god of the sun as he travels westward from the middle of the sky to eliminate violence and kill evil, as well as his joy after his success. As for the allegorical meaning of shooting the “wolf”, Wang Yi says that the wolf is “a metaphor for greed and cruelty”, while Jiang Ji says “a metaphor for villainy”, which is actually a more reasonable metaphor for Qin. During the Warring States period, Qin was an aggressive “tiger and wolf state” in the minds of the Chu people, and the main plundering star Sirius was located in Qin. The poem reflects the strong desire of the people of Chu to defeat the strong Qin, and also the poet’s desire to serve the country and his love for it. The poem is written in anthropomorphic style and successfully portrays the sun god Dongjun. At the same time, he is also a personified image of a god, endowed with various human feelings, becoming a living image of a god with personality and emotion. About the “East ruler”, Mr. Wen Yiduo said in the “Chu Rhetoric Supplement”: “the East ruler and the cloud in the king are the genus of the gods, its song rhetoric should also be the second. The two chapters of the present book live in the suspension, no meaning can be found. It is the wrong simple, almost no doubt. I think the ancient version of the East King is in front of the Cloud King. The book of history – Fengchan book “Hanshu – suburban sacrifice” and cloud: “‘Jin wu shrine five emperors, the East, the cloud in the king’ …… into the two gods even called, Ming Chu custom to sacrifice, poetry man-made song, also should be two gods will be. And only the East in front of the cloud in the gentleman, less than the Secretary is able to and Hebe first and last, and Hebe first two lines is able to tep into the less than the Secretary in the ear.”


Hebo is the god of the Yellow River. The oracle bone inscriptions excavated at Yinxu have a record of “sacrifice to the river”. The name of Hebo originated in the Warring States, and in Han Feizi (Han Fei Zi): “The people of Qi said to the king of Qi: ‘Hebo is a great god.'” The image of Hebo appears in Zhuangzi – Qiushui. The Chronicle of History – Chronology of the Six Kingdoms says: “Eight years of the Duke of Qin Ling, the first to the monarch wife River.” Chu Shaosun complements the “Historical Records – Slippery Chronicle” contains the story of Hebo marrying his wife. This is a musical song to the river gods, throughout the woman’s tone to narrate the joyful meeting with the riverboat swimming. They swam on the nine rivers in a water carriage with two dragons, they climbed to the top of Kunlun where the Yellow River originated, they lived in the water, the palace decorated with fish scales and purple shells was magnificent, they traveled eastward hand in hand, the waves greeted them and the fish accompanied them. In ancient times, the Yellow River often flooded into disaster, people were unable to conquer the Yellow River which was harmful to people, so they adopted the methods of appeasement, peace and bribery. This song of the river is a reflection of this approach. Some people also believe that this piece writes the love story of Hebe and the goddess of Luoshui. The words “woman”, “son” and “beauty” all refer to the goddess of Luo Shui, and the whole piece is narrated in the tone of Hebe, which can be prepared for a story.

Mountain Ghost

This poem is a musical song dedicated to the gods of the mountains, and is called “Ghost” because it is not a proper god. Many scholars of ancient and modern times believe that the goddess of the mountains written in the poem is the legendary Goddess Yao Ji of Wushan. The Qing dynasty Gu Chengtian’s “Nine Songs” says: “King Xiang of Chu traveled to Yunmeng and dreamed of a woman named Yaoji. Throughout the rhetoric, it seems to refer to this.” Guo Moruo’s “Modern Translation of Qu Yuan’s Fugue”, based on the poem “picking the three shows in the mountains”, believes that “Yu” and “Wu” have the same ancient sound, “Yu Mountain The mountain god is the goddess of the Wushan Mountains as written in Song Yu’s “Gao Tang Fu”. In the poem, the mountain ghost is a lingering and sentimental goddess, and the whole poem meticulously expresses the mountain goddess’s longing for a beautiful love and her sadness and misery after losing it. The first eight lines describe the appearance of the mountain ghost, her attire and appearance, and the scene of the carriage ride to the appointment; the middle twelve lines describe the inner activities of the mountain ghost when she does not see her lover on the appointment; the last seven lines further render the pain of the mountain ghost after the loss of her love with a poignant background. The image of the mountain ghost has both the natural beauty of the mountain and river scenery and the beauty of a beautiful and amorous woman in the social world, which is a clever combination of natural and social beauty.

National Mourning

National Gothic refers to the sacrifice of the soldiers for the country, the death of the immortal is called Gothic. Dai Zhen “Qu Yuan Fu Note”: “Gothic meaning of two: men and women bundled crown and maturity and the dead is called Gothic outside and the dead is called Gothic. Gothic words wound also. The state, the death of the state affairs, is so different from the two ulcers also. Song this to hang, the whole chapter straight endowed with its affairs.” The Nine Songs, from “East Emperor Taiyi” to “Mountain Ghost”, are dedicated to the gods in nature, but the last one, “National Elegy”, is dedicated to the soldiers who died for the country on earth. Many scholars believe that it is related to the war between Qin and Chu during the Warring States period, when King Huai of Chu fought against Qin many times, and almost every time suffered a heavy defeat. In order to defend the country and fight against the Qin, the people of Chu bravely killed the enemy and went on to fight. Qu Yuan wrote this poem to praise the heroic spirit of Chu’s generals who were willing to die to defend the country. The first ten lines of the poem are about the fierce and mournful battle scene, in which the Chu army fights in front of the strong enemy, and its struggle spirit is astonishing to heaven and earth and weeps to the gods. The last eight lines mourn the death of the soldiers for the country and praise their heroic spirit to the death. The whole poem is an immortal masterpiece in the poetry world of ancient and modern times.

Spirit of Rites

This poem is a rite of passage to send off the gods. It includes the gods of heaven and earth, as well as human ghosts, which were worshiped in the first ten chapters of the Nine Songs. Wang Fuzhi’s “General Commentary on the Chu Rhetoric” says: “Where the first ten chapters, each has its own gods and songs, this chapter is the first ten chapters are common to the end of the ancient unending, is the song of sending the gods.” The poem depicts the enthusiastic scene of singing and dancing when the ritual is completed, expressing the people’s hope that the ritual will never end.

Influence of the work

The Nine Songs is a collection of ancient Chinese poetry. It is said to be a musical song of the Xia Dynasty, but was later left behind by the people. It was sung and performed by the folk during the rituals of the gods, and Qu Yuan adapted it into an elegant poem. (Wang Yi, “Chapter and Verse of the Chu Rhetoric”): “In the past, in the south of the Chu country, between Yuan and Xiang, the people believed in ghosts and were good at worshiping the gods, and their worshipers would make songs and music to entertain the gods. Qu Yuan was banished. He was in exile, and he was worried, bitter and depressed. When he saw the rituals and music of rituals and dances of the common people, his words were despicable. (Because the song “Nine Songs” was written to show respect to the gods and to express his own grievances, and to be a sarcastic admonition.) Qu Yuan wrote eleven songs depending on the deity he was worshipping, among which “The Elegy of the State” was dedicated to the spirits of soldiers who died in the war. However, some scholars now believe that the nine in the Nine Songs is an imaginary number, and that there are actually ten of them, because the Ritual Soul has only three lines, which should not be a separate chapter, and is part of the National Elegy. Ma Chengcheng summarizes the works of the Nine Songs in five ways: religious songs and dances, rhetoric of Qu Yuan’s self-sacrifice, a fictional account of events, and the Han Ganquan Shou Gong song poem.

Overview of the Work

The Nine Songs is the most refined, beautiful, and charming of the Qu Fu poems. It represents the highest achievement of Qu Yuan’s artistic creation. The poem is based on the virtues and heroic achievements of the ancestors of the Chu state, on the gods of mountains and rivers and natural scenery, on myths and historical legends, and expresses the poet’s sorrowful feelings of loyalty and patriotism, sorrow for the world and sadness in his late exile between Yuan and Xiang in southern Chu. The poet’s intention is “to relax my sorrowful heart”, “to express his love for plants and trees, and to express his love for men and women”, and “to chant his emotions in order to wind them up”.

Content and Form

The main contents of the Nine Songs are “Dong Huang Tai Yi”, “Yun Zhong Jun”, “Xiang Jun”, “Xiang Fu”, “Da Si Mu”, “Sha Si Mu”, “Dong Jun”, “He Bo”, “Shan Gui”, and “Guo Shi” (including “Ritual Soul”).

Judging from the content and form of the Nine Songs, it seems to be a prototype of a god-sai drama. In the “Nine Songs”, the “words of the guest and the host,” such as “Yu,” “I,” “Jun,” “Maiden (You),” “Beauty,” and “Prince,” are all titles used in the singing and dancing drama. The identity of the main singer is just three kinds: one is the wizard who plays the god, male wizard plays the god of yang, female wizard plays the god of yin; the second is the wizard who receives the god, male wizard welcomes the god of yin, female wizard welcomes the god of yang; the third is the wizard who helps the festival. Therefore, the structure of “Nine Songs” is mostly in the form of male and female witches singing and harmonizing with each other. The expression of the feelings of men and women is extremely complicated and twisted: sometimes it shows the feelings of longing for the gods that do not come, sometimes it shows the feelings of suspicion that the gods do not come, sometimes it shows the feelings of joyful meeting with the gods, and sometimes it shows the feelings of grief and mourning after parting with the gods. In terms of the mood of the poem, it is quite unique.

The Nine Songs is indeed different from the poems of Zheng and Wei in the Book of Songs. However, this is not due to the “re-changing” of the “declining world style”, but rather the different cultural characteristics of the North and South during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States period. The poems of Zheng and Wei show the straightforwardness and simplicity characteristic of northern folk songs, while the Nine Songs are not only clothed in a mysterious religious veneer, but also present a deep, hidden, twisted and delicate mood, with a strange and rich artistic charm.

The love between men and women does not summarize the entire content of the Nine Songs. As a sacrificial song, the content of each chapter is different because the object it is dedicated to is different, such as the solemnity of “East Emperor Taichi” and the magnificence of “National Elegy”, which have nothing to do with the love between men and women. It is also a battle hymn to promote and inspire morale. Through the description of fierce battle scenes, it warmly praises the heroes who died for the country, reflecting a side of the character of the Chu nation.

Ritualistic nature

The Nine Songs have a strong religious ritual character. Wang Yi’s “Chapter and Verse of Chu Rhetoric” says: “The Nine Songs were written by Qu Yuan. In the past, in the south of the Chu country, between Yuan and Xiang, the customs believe in ghosts and good shrines. Its shrines, must make songs and music to inspire the music of the gods. Qu Yuan was exiled, fleeing to his domain, with bitterness and sorrow, sorrowful thoughts boiling depression. Out to see the rituals of rituals, songs and dances of music, the words are vulgar, because the song “nine songs” between Chu Yuan and Xiang “believe in ghosts and good shrines”, compared with the same period in the Central Plains, its rituals have a stronger primitive color. Therefore, although the “Nine Songs” has been processed by Qu Yuan, its folk ritual traces can still be seen. The individual deities dressed up by the shamans are significantly different from the official ritual music and dance of the Central Plains. Most of the history books of the past generations have recorded the witchcraft in Chu. The book of Han – geography of the cloud: “Chu has a river and Han Chuanze mountains and forests of spare, …… believe in witch ghosts, heavy obscene sacrifice.” And in the Central Plains “do not speak strange power to mess with the gods”, for the ghosts and goddesses is “respect and far away”.

These records reflect the difference in attitude between Chu and the Central Plains in treating ghosts and gods. The civilization of the Central Plains matured earlier, and religious rituals were more closely integrated with the political ideals of kingship, especially after the rituals and music of the Western Zhou Dynasty, and its primitive color was more diluted. In the Analects – Advanced, it is recorded that when Zi Lu asked Confucius about ghosts and gods, Confucius said, “If I cannot serve man, how can I serve ghosts?” This attitude illustrates the Confucian attitude to governance, and this attitude also typically represents the religious outlook of the northern Central Plains area. The form of rituals in Chu, however, retains more primitive legacy because of its strong witchcraft. The Sui Shu – Geography Zhi” cloud: “Most Jingzhou rate respect ghosts, especially the importance of ancestral rituals, the former Qu Yuan for the system “nine songs”, cover also from this.” Therefore, “Nine Songs” is a product of the background of witchcraft in Chu.

Wen Yiduo had “nine songs” “hanging interpretation” for a large song and dance drama, for us to study the “nine songs” of the dramatic factors are quite inspiring. Although the Nine Songs has elements of entertainment and drama, and certain chapters may constitute a certain plot, not every deity worshiped is necessarily related to each other, and the entire Nine Songs does not constitute a complete plot. The purpose of the shamans, who sometimes pretend to be gods and sometimes charm the gods, is to welcome the gods to the altar and obtain their blessings, not just to perform, so the “Nine Songs” cannot be regarded as a complete song and dance drama. In addition, although the “Nine Songs” are processed and adapted on the basis of ritual songs and music, Qu Yuan’s literary creations cannot be excluded. The surviving “Nine Songs” are mainly in the form of literary works, poems in the tsuo genre. The study of the dramatic elements of the Nine Songs should not stop at the Nine Songs themselves, but should look through the Nine Songs to the entertainment and acting of such forms in the process of folk rituals.

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