Lakes of wine and forests of meat 

Historical Allusions

King Zhou of Shang was the last emperor of the Shang Dynasty. According to legend, he was known as a tyrant in China for his misdeeds and corruption of the imperial government. To punish those who opposed him, he invented and used a lot of torture. He also believed in the slanderous words of his favorite concubine Daji and lived a life of debauchery and shamelessness.

Not only that, King Zhou also built many magnificent palaces and magnificent deer platforms. The Deer Terrace was a thousand feet high and three miles wide. According to Jiang Ziya’s estimation, this project would take thirty-five years to complete, which shows the magnitude of the project. King Zhou ordered the northern king Chong Houhu to supervise the construction of the deer platform, which cost a lot of manpower and material resources and took two years and four months. Thirty-five years of construction, only two years and four months to complete, King Zhou’s scavenging of the people’s money is evident.

King Zhou also ordered to fill the pool with wine on the sand dune platform, and cut the meat of various animals into large chunks and hang them in the woods, which is called “wine pool and meat forest”, so that while playing, while eating and drinking at will. At the same time also called naked men and women chasing each other play, life is rotten and desolate to the extreme.

King Zhou’s atrocities finally got their comeuppance, and finally the Shang Dynasty fell at his hands! The idiom of “wine pool and meat forest” is derived from King Zhou’s lousy and despicable life, describing his lustful and extravagant life.

Idiom Origin

The Records of the Grand Historian – The Annals of Yin: “He used wine as a pool and hung meat as a forest.”

The Book of Han – Zhang Qian’s Biography: “He offered rewards, and made wine pools and meat forests.”

Idiom Usage

Union; Used as an object and a definite article; describing an extremely extravagant and luxurious life.

Han Feizi (Han Fei Zi) and Yu Heng (Yu Zeng) record that King Zhou of Shang “drank wine, pools, meat and forests” and “long nights of drinking”.

The Records of the Grand Historian – The Annals of Yin: “The great music and games in the sand dunes, (Zhou) to wine for the pool, the county (hanging) meat for the forest, so that men and women naked in the middle, for a long night of drinking.” Later people often used the term “wine pool and meat forest” to describe the extravagant life and unrestrained lust. The tyranny of Shang Zhou, combined with alcoholism, eventually led to the downfall of the Shang Dynasty. During the Zhou Dynasty, a strict ban on alcohol was issued in the gathering places of merchants. Later, the term “wine pools and meat forests” was used to describe the extreme luxury and extravagance.

Hanshu-Zhangqian Zhuan: “The reward was given, and the wine pools and meat forests were used to make foreign guests look at the accumulation of each storehouse, in order to see the vast Han, and they were appalled.”

Jinshu-Jiang Tongzhuan: “and to the end of the world, to extravagant lost, the emperor has a Yaotai Qiong room, jade cups and elephant chopsticks, food and drink of the treasures are bear paws and leopard fetuses, wine pools and meat forests.”

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