Baili Xi was a famous politician, thinker and military man in China’s history, who was a native of Wanyi in the State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn Period (present-day Nanyang, Henan Province). Bai Li Xi lived in a period of great social upheaval and change, when many rivals were fighting for power and blood was flowing. “It was one of the Five Hegemons of the Spring and Autumn Period, and laid a solid foundation for Qin’s eventual unification of China for thousands of years. Baili Xi’s noble qualities and tortuous experiences are extremely legendary.
Baili Xi was a well-read poet and a talented scholar, but his family was poor, and because of the strict patriarchal system in Chu, there was no hope for a commoner to enter the government. Baili Xi’s wife Du, a very knowledgeable woman, knew that her husband was a brilliant man, so she encouraged him to travel to other countries to seek a career. On the day of Baili Xi’s trip, the family could not afford to pay for the trip. Du got up early in the morning, slaughtered the only hen that laid eggs, chopped the latch and stewed the hen, cooked millet rice, and gave her husband a farewell trip. After traveling from Nanyang to seek a career, Baili Xi went through Song, Qi and other countries, but was not hired because there was no one in the court. In Qi, Baili Xi was in a difficult situation, and at one time he begged on the street to continue his career. In Qi, he met Jianshu, and they had a good talk and became confidants. Afterwards, he was recommended by Jian Shu to become a great official in the State of Yu. In 655 B.C., the ruler of Yu disobeyed Baili Xi’s advice and was destroyed by Jin. Since he refused to work as an official in Jin, he was made a slave by Jin and accompanied Mu Ji to Qin when she married Duke Mu of Qin.
On his way to Qin, Baili Xi fled back to Chu. When King Cheng of Chu heard that Baili Xi was good at raising cattle, he asked Baili Xi to raise horses for him. When he heard that Baili Xi was a talented man, he wanted to buy him back for a large sum of money. The Duke of Qin’s advisor, Gongzi Ling, said, “King Cheng of Chu must not know the talent of Baili Xi, so he let Baili Xi raise horses. If he were to ransom him for a large sum of money, wouldn’t that be like telling someone that Baili Xi is a once-in-a-lifetime talent?” Duke Mu of Qin asked, “Then what can I do to get Baili Xi?” Duke tie up said, “I can buy it at a low price, the market price of a slave, that is, five black ram skins for Baili Xi, then King Cheng of Chu will not suspect.”
When Baili Xi was escorted back to Qin, Duke Mu of Qin received him personally. Baili Xi said, “I am a minister of a fallen state, so I am not worthy of the king’s inquiry!” The Duke of Qin said, “It is not your fault that you were taken captive because the king of Yu did not use you.” The Duke of Qin personally relieved him of his slavery, and conferred with him on matters of state. The two men talked for three days, and their words were unanimous. The Duke of Qin was so happy that he wanted to appoint him as a senior minister and entrust him with the state administration, in effect giving all the military and political power of Qin to Baili Xi. But Baili Xi resolutely resisted and recommended his good friend Jian Shu to be the top minister. In the end, Duke Mu of Qin invited Jian Shu to Qin with a heavy gift, and made Baili Xi and Jian Shu together to become the upper governor of Qin. Because Baili Xi was the slave that Duke Mu of Qin traded for five black ram skins, the world called Baili Xi “Five Ewe”. Ewe is the meaning of black ram skin.
The five black rams’ skins are the same as the black rams’ skins.
Duke Mu of Qin
After he became the top governor of Qin, he always kept the idea of loving the people, he was diligent in his administration, he did not ride in a car when he was tired, he did not wear an umbrella in the heat, he went around the country without a vehicle and without armed defense, so he was trusted by the people of Qin. Internally, he advocated education, opened up the people’s wisdom, and changed the backward state of Qin by following the official system and court rituals of the Zhou Dynasty; externally, he improved the relationship with the neighboring countries and did not start any war, which led to the great governance of Qin in a short period of time.
On one occasion, Baili Xi’s palace was very lively with mingling and laughter. Baili Xi told the dancers to play music and sing to entertain the guests. A maid who washed clothes in the palace heard the sound of musical instruments and asked to play a song for Baili Xi, who readily agreed. The old woman went out into the public and graciously played her instrument and sang to herself, saying
Baili Xi, five sheep skin. I remember the time when I parted, cooking the female, cooking the upright bar, today I am rich and forgetful. Baili Xi, when he first married me, he had five sheepskins. When we were parting, we cooked chickens, and now we are rich and forgetful. Baili Xi, Baili Xi, his mother had died and was buried in the South Stream. The grave was covered with tiles, firewood, spring yellow quinoa, and water-boiled chickens. I entered the Qin in the west, and the five ewe skins, and now I don’t want to be rich and powerful.
When he heard the song, he was amazed and went up to his wife, Du, who was looking for her husband. Baili Xi’s wife, Du, had not heard from her husband for decades since he left her. Her family was poor and in a time of disaster, so she took her son with her to flee the country. When she arrived in Qin, she found out that Baili Xi had become a doctor in Qin. In order to get closer to Baili Xi, she managed to work as a laundry maid in Baili Xi’s house.
After they met in the hall, the couple cried and hugged each other. When the Qin people found out about this, they were touched by Baili Xi’s qualities. The Duke of Qin sent many treasures to congratulate him. Since then, the story of Baili Xi, who never forgot his old love and recognized his wife in the hall, has been widely spread among the people. This touching story is also recorded in the Eastern Han Dynasty’s Ying Shao’s “Customs and Traditions”: “When Baili Xi was the minister of Qin, the music in the hall was made, and the woman who was leased to him said that she knew his wife, so she sang and played the strings on her zither. Asked, is his old wife, but also for the couple, also known as upright door barn.”
In 1988, a huge tomb was unearthed at Qilin Gang, where the tomb mound of Baili Xi is located in Nanyang, and more than 200 pieces of portrait stones were unearthed. It is difficult to tell the age from the unearthed artifacts, but the carving style is very peculiar and very different from the usual Han portrait stones. During the excavation of the tomb, a portrait stone was found, recreating the scene of Baili Xi identifying his wife: a woman playing the zither, while another person leans back, both hands raised high in surprise, and both eyes examining the person playing the zither in front of her. This ancient portrait stone tells the story of Baili Xi’s recognition of his wife. This is an extraordinary discovery, because the address of the ancient tomb, is in front of the door of Baili Xi’s former house Qilin Gang. This is the scene of the “Qin Song” sung by the washerwoman in Baili Xi’s house during the reign of Duke Mu of Qin, as recorded in the “Customs and Traditions”. After becoming a minister, Baili Xi did not abandon his wife, leaving behind a popular love story.
Baili Xi listening to the zither
Baili Xi was the embodiment of a perfect personality, and his noble qualities and love for the people had a great influence on the formation of the personality of traditional Chinese scholars. The former residence of Baili Xi, on the Qilin Gang, west of the present-day Nanyang city, was originally inscribed with a stone inscription of Zheng Lianshu Wu Ewe Dafu in the 23rd year of the Tang Dynasty (735 AD), but was later abolished. In 1697, Song Lin, the governor of Kangxi, engraved a monument of “the former residence of Baili Xi”. There is a tomb mound in the east of the village, about 7 meters high, for the tomb of Baili Xi Dafu, there are seven stones in front of the tomb, commonly known as the seven star mound. The original stele is on the left side of the tomb, and the stele is engraved with a poem by Tang Han Chang. During the Tang Dynasty, Li Bai, a great poet who admired Baili Xi, visited Nanyang many times and was so impressed by Baili Xi’s great work that he left the lines “Qin Mu five sheepskins, buy Baili Xi to death” and “Tao Zhu and five ewe, their fame spreads between the sky and the earth”. In the Song Dynasty, Huang Tingjian passed by the Baili Xi mound and saw the broken walls and broken monuments, so he wrote, “Passing by the Baili Xi mound”: “I feel the season when I am traveling, and I think of the ancient people. When was the last time I saw a mound of earth, there was no stone unicorn. The broken stele is slightly readable. The general asked the general for the west. I know the skin of five sheep, and sell myself a thousand gold bodies. In the last days of the world, there were so many sins in the media, and so many words that they were not true. Fortunately, Meng Ke rewarded him, and he was worthy of the soul of Weizi.” According to the Records of the Grand Historian, after the death of Baili Xi, both men and women in Qin wept and shed tears, even the children did not sing songs, and the people who were pounding rice did not make the corresponding trumpets out of sorrow.