One day during the Spring and Autumn Period, King Chu Zhuang gave a banquet to all his ministers. Everyone participated happily and drank happily.
The film and television works on the market today, especially the so-called big-budget films piled up by a certain few big directors desperately trying to throw money at them, have created an illusion for almost all viewers: ancient monarchs and ministers drinking in big bowls and eating meat is an unusual trivial matter. People always think that ancient monarchs and ministers lived a good life. In fact, archaeological findings and historical research tell us that the quality of life of Qin Shi Huang was no better than the long-time workers of the landlords in the Republic of China. Life was hard in ancient times! The nobles and ministers of Chu rarely had the opportunity to eat meat and drink, and they ate two meals a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, so they were not hungry. Now when they heard that King Chu Zhuang was inviting guests, they all came at a trot, even more quickly and neatly than at the court.
King Chu Zhuang was very generous this time, there was not only meat but also wine at the banquet. The ministers were so happy that they ate and drank until the sun went down, but they unbuckled their belts and continued to fill their stomachs with food. No one had any intention to leave. The great sage of the Western Zhou Dynasty, the Duke of Zhou, had issued a ban on drinking at night. The ostensible reason was that King Zhou of the Shang Dynasty was the one who died of alcoholism, and the vassals and dancers of the Zhou Dynasty should be warned; the real reason was that the productivity level of the Zhou Dynasty was too low and the material reserves were too small to support the noble class to eat and drink a lot. Therefore, once the sun set during the Spring and Autumn period, even the nobles shuffled off to bed. Now see the twilight began to appear, several ministers at the banquet heart guilty of muttering, this banquet looks like it will come to an end, I better seize the last time to eat more.
But the king of Chu Chuang instructed his servants to light the lamps and candles, continued to serve wine and food, and announced that he would feast with everyone.
The ministers were overjoyed and turned their grateful eyes to King Chu Zhuang. Many of them would have shouted hail if their mouths were not full of food.
This King Chu Zhuang was really something. A few years ago, he was a muddle-headed and unmotivated ruler, but after hearing someone say that there was a big bird on the mountain of Chu, he claimed that he was the big bird, and if he didn’t fly, he would fly and be astonishing. Sure enough, King Zhuang of Chu was amazing in these two years as he led the state of Chu to conquer the east and the west. This night, his generosity to the ministers was also quite amazing.
As the saying goes, it’s true that you can’t help but feel lustful when you’re full. The ministers, who had been overeating for several hours, slowed down their battles and began to slowly digest the food in their stomachs. Many of them reclined their bodies and closed their eyes. Are they reminiscing about the deliciousness of the banquet, or are they missing their concubines at home? It was not known.
Seeing that everyone slowed down their eating and the banquet atmosphere cooled down a bit, King Chu Chuang called out his favorite concubine Xu Ji to take turns pouring wine for the ministers. The two lakes produce beautiful women, as all Chinese people know. Xu Ji since the king of Chu’s favor, naturally represents the highest level of beauty in Hubei, beauty is not my humble pen can describe. I just saw several ministers in the courtroom, looking at Xu Ji Shi Shi over to pour wine, eyes ambiguous up.
A night wind suddenly rose, blowing out all the lamps and candles in the courtroom. The banquet was plunged into darkness. Xu Ji, who was bending down to pour the wine, was suddenly dragged over by a big hand, and she felt a mouth that smelled of wine then come up. The wise and beautiful Xu Ji is not in danger, quickly stabilize her weight, stand firm, a hand swept past the man’s head, touching the top of the helmet. Xu Ji had a quick idea and broke the tassel on the helmet in the process.
Xu Ji, blushing, rushed back to King Chu Zhuang’s side and told the king what had just happened. To molest the king’s favorite concubine was to offend the king, and to molest the king’s concubine in front of the king was an even greater sin. That daring wraith of lust is going to be unlucky. The question is, who is this person? Xu Ji took out the broken cap tassel and quietly suggested that after the lamp and candle were relit later, he would be convicted of the crime of whoever had no cap tassel on top of his helmet.
After listening to this, King Chu said loudly, “Today, the king and his ministers are drinking to the fullest. There is no need to sit upright or dress up. Come on, take off the tassels of your helmets and make yourselves comfortable.” At the same time, he instructed his subordinates to suspend the lighting of the lamps. When the ministers took off their helmets one after another, King Chu Zhuang let him light the lamps and candles again and restarted the banquet. This night, the rulers and ministers of Chu had a good time. In those days, women were so orthodox that any man who dragged her hand was like taking away her chastity, unlike nowadays when women and all kinds of men are hugging each other.
The case of the sexual harassment of the princess that happened in the court of Chu was covered up in this way.
In the eyes of King Chu Zhuang, politics was the first priority, and the most beautiful and favorite women were secondary. Women have to serve the politics. Therefore, he would not hurt the relationship between the ruler and ministers for a woman, but to use it to buy the loyalty of a minister. In fact, King Chu Zhuang succeeded. Three years later, a war for supremacy broke out between Chu and Jin. A Chu general (some say his name was Tang Cui, others say Jiang Qi) defied the odds and fearlessly killed his way into the enemy’s line. King Chu Zhuang called him in between battles and asked curiously, “I usually do not give you special preference, why do you sacrifice your life so much to fight for me?” The general replied, “Does the king still remember the banquet three years ago? I was the one whose hat tassel was broken. When the king did not kill me at that time, I was determined to serve him to the death and repay his kindness.” It was because King Chu Zhuang used various means to gather the hearts and morale of the people that Chu’s army finally defeated Jin’s army and established hegemony.
The previous feast, according to the custom of ancient historians and good writers, needed to be given a loud name to commemorate the event, and names such as “the feast of tassels” and “the feast of tassels” came and went. Some good people even wrote a poem saying: “In the dark, holding hands in drunken love, jade hands like the wind has been extinct tassels. The king of the river and the sea, the animal fish water is not very clear.”
No one has ever paid attention to the neglected Xu Ji in all generations. The relationship between the king and his subjects was even more ironic, King Chu Zhuang bought the hearts of the people and achieved hegemony, what about her Xu Ji? She was sexually harassed by someone (the severity of sexual harassment in the Spring and Autumn period was much higher than now) and that was it, she deserved to be harassed?
Very unfortunately, ancient Chinese history is basically a male history, nothing about women. Let’s take the famous “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” as an example. In this work, if we exclude those concubines and maids and maids, only three women appear in the whole book. One is Miao Chan, who is used as a tool by Situ Wang Yun to make a beauty ploy that allows her to hover between two men, Dong Zhuo and Lu Bu. The second is a toy that was fought over by two men, Dong Zhuo and Lu Bu, and after the defeat of Lu Bu she also took on the notorious name of “red-headed bogeyman”. The second was Sun Shangxiang, who danced with swords and guns and was not liked by her family. As a result, she was designed by her brother Sun Quan and minister Zhou Yu, and “married” to Liu Bei’s uncle as a gift to sap the fighting spirit of the enemy. Liu Bei later developed, and Sun Quan turned his back on him, and Sun Shangxiang returned to Eastern Wu in disgrace. Later writers, such as Luo Guanzhong, probably felt that this woman was too individualistic and needed to be brought closer to the “main theme”, so they arranged for Sun Shangxiang to be buried in the river after Liu Bei’s death. The third female character is Lady Zhurong. She is very powerful, throwing a good hand flying daggers, successive capture of a number of Shu Han generals. Unfortunately, Luo Guanzhong didn’t look at her at all, because Mrs. Zhurong was the wife of Meng Huo, a barbarian from the southwest (the one who was so stupid that he was caught six times and still didn’t remember it by the seventh time). “People from outside of the world” are not enough.
Discrimination, outright discrimination. Feminists often criticize with indignation the discriminatory words and deeds of women in ancient China, and take up the cause of the inferior status of women. In ancient times, women basically followed their fathers at home, their husbands at marriage, and their sons at the death of their husbands, not to mention their careers, and were lucky not to be dragged away by the emperor to be buried. Feminists often cite the ancient example of forcing widows to commit suicide by hunger strike, which has been criticized by Lu Xun and others, and sternly denounce the fact that a woman’s life is no better than a tablet of chastity from the county magistrate? According to some extreme feminists, ancient women were to be fully equal to men, not dependent on men, not confined to the home, and to do everything that men could do – including being female emperors. Some believe that if ancient women were given a fulcrum, they could pry up the earth.
Archaeological findings and logical reasoning tell us that the idea of achieving gender equality in ancient times was wonderful, but not reasonable. The shabby banquets of Chu’s rulers and ministers can prove how hard the material life was in ancient times. Men worked hard for a year, plowing and cultivating, but in the end, they often could not solve the problem of food and clothing. In ancient times, the distribution of population was also very sparse, not enough to ensure the safety of most people on the road, and in a few places there were even tigers and wolves. Under such circumstances, it is unfair to let women, especially inexperienced girls, to engage in the business that men struggle to make a living. After all, there was a gap between men and women in terms of physical strength and energy, and considering the working conditions at that time, women might not be capable of farming, breeding, trafficking, trading, etc. More difficult jobs such as ocean voyages, digging and mining, and fighting from the military were even less suitable for women.
Those who argue that men and women were completely equal in ancient times are in essence persecutors of women who use the name of equality to practice inequality.
The dependency of women in ancient times had another meaning: the responsibility of men to women. Since women were dependent on men in ancient times, fathers, husbands, and sons had a responsibility to them to ensure women’s livelihood and safety. Women were free from the hardships of labor and from the sun and rain. The fact that men are the mainstay and women are the mainstay is a conclusion that the ancients came to during their hard and difficult lives, and it naturally has its reasons. Of course, the status of women in ancient times was not good, and sometimes very bad. Like Xu Ji, who was well clothed and fed, but not in a good mood. Her husband, King Chu Zhuang, did his duty to provide for her, but it was not enough. King Chu Zhuang should not have no regard for Xu Ji’s feelings for political considerations. Life is not only about food, drink, shelter and transportation, but also about feelings, emotions, perceptions and so on. In the ancient times when men and women were not equal, men may have satisfied the material needs of women, but did not consider all the needs of women equally and completely. Perhaps the history of women’s dependence on men is so long that men have gradually forgotten to treat women equally and observe them deeply. They would rather talk for hours with boring colleagues and first-time drinking buddies than talk for a quarter of an hour with their wives on an equal footing and take for granted the arrangements for their daughters’ marriages. This is the root cause of many women’s tragedies, and is what today’s gender egalitarians should condemn.
For King Chu Zhuang’s dilemma, if he was not willing to light a lamp to seek justice for his favorite concubine, he should have at least explained his considerations clearly to her afterwards, comforted her and thanked her. Unfortunately, King Chu Zhuang did not do it, so he was not a good husband.