Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/228

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THE PROVINCE OF HUNAN
By Mr. A. H. Harris, late Acting Commissioner of Customs at Changsha.

Hunan of the present day formed part of that territory known in ancient times as the San Miao Kuo or Kingdom of the Three Aboriginal Tribes. Its early history is full of the reputed deeds of the primitive rulers of China. We find the Emperors Yao, Shun, and Yü celebrated in its annals. Did not the great Shun die while on an expedition against the aborigines of the south, and temples to his honour exist in the province. Is not the grave of his two consorts, the daughters of Yao, to be seen on the isle of Chünshan in the Tungting Lake; coming south to nurse him in his illness and receiving news of his death, they committed suicide in the waters of the lake near to this lovely spot. Does not Hunan's mountain peak, the Nan Yo, possess the ancient and celebrated Tablet recording the pacification of the waters by the Emperor Yü—the Kulou Pei or Deluge Stone, famous throughout China; and an Imperial Commissioner annually proceed to worship before his reputed tomb in the south of the province!

Coming to later times, we find that Hunan formed part of the State of Ch'u, no mean kingdom, under the Chou dynasty (circa 1122-255 B.C.). The celebrated Dragon Festival, observed with the greatest éclat on the fifth of the fifth month throughout China, owes its origin to the suicide by drowning near Changsha of an early statesman and poet, Ch'u Yuan, author of the

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