Emperor Ku of GaoXin/高辛

Dive into Emperor Ku's reign, exploring exotic gifts, ancient spirits, and the fascinating tale of the Red Jade Jar's discovery.

Emperor Ku, of the Gaoxin clan, had a consort from the Zoutu clan. After Yellow Emperor (Xuanyuan) defeated the rebellious Chi You, he relocated the kind-hearted people to Zoutu and sent the unruly ones to the cold and desolate northern regions. Initially, they took their names from the places they settled, eventually dividing into the Zou and Tu clans. The women of the Zoutu clan were said to walk without touching the ground, often riding the winds and clouds, wandering between the Yi River and Luo River. Emperor Ku met with one of these women in that area and eventually married the daughter of the Zoutu clan. The Empress Zoutu often dreamt of swallowing the sun, which led to the birth of her sons. She had a total of eight such dreams, resulting in the birth of eight sons. People of that time referred to them as the “Eight Deities” or “Eight Yis.” “Yi” signifies brightness, and they were known for their extraordinary powers and keen insight. Their radiance illuminated all things in the world, and common people spread tales of their divine wisdom.

There was a country called Danqiu that offered a carnelian jar used to store sweet rainwater. The virtuous influence of Emperor Gaoxin extended far and wide to distant lands. People brought the sweet rainwater stored in the carnelian jar to the kitchen. Carnelian, a type of jade, is known for its quality, with the finest specimens coming from the south. In those times, experts in horse divination would examine a horse’s brain after its death. If the brain was blood-red in color, the horse could travel thousands of miles and even fly through the sky. If the brain was yellow, the horse could cover a thousand miles in a day. A green-brained horse could be heard neighing from hundreds of miles away. A black-brained horse didn’t get its mane wet when entering water and could travel five hundred miles in a day. A white-brained horse had great strength but was easily provoked. In those days, people often crafted items in red. If these items were artificially made, most of them would not become useful tools, and even if they were made, they appeared quite simple. The people of Danqiu could distinguish the color of a horse’s brain by listening to its neigh.

In the land of Danqiu, there are malevolent spirits known as “Nightmare Yaksha Horses.” They use red horse brains to craft exquisite vessels and various objects, all of which are delicate and beautiful. People in the Central Plains who use these objects are protected from malevolent spirits and demons. It is believed that horse brains are formed from the coagulated blood of these evil spirits. In the past, Huangdi exterminated Chiyou and other wicked forces from all directions, along with demons and malevolent creatures. Their bodies filled the mountains, rivers, and valleys, forming pools of blood that eventually converged into deep abysses. The accumulated white bones turned into ash, and the flowing fat transformed into springs. Therefore, there is a fertile river in the south known as the Fat Spring River and a white chalk mountain. This mountain is very tall, with its towering cliffs resembling frost and snow. There is also a red hill that ignites once every thousand years, and the Yellow River becomes clear once every thousand years. The virtuous rulers of the land consider these phenomena as auspicious signs.

In the wilderness of Danqiu, there is a lot of ghost blood, which has turned into red stones known as agate. Although agate cannot be cut and carved, it can be used to craft tools. During the reign of Huangdi, agate vessels were passed down to the Central Plains. They were still present during the time of Emperor Yao, and the sweet rain stored in these vessels never dried up; people referred to it as “Precious Dew.” Emperor Yao used it to reward his ministers. However, by the time of Emperor Shun, the Precious Dew had gradually diminished, reflecting the changing times and values of society. In times of purity and simplicity, the agate vessels were full of Precious Dew, but in more decadent times, they became dry. During the reigns of the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties, starting from the era of Emperor Yao, the Precious Dew in the agate vessels began to decrease. Emperor Shun relocated the Precious Vessel to Mount Heng, and thus, there is a Precious Dew Altar on Mount Heng. Below this altar, Emperor Shun built a Moon Palace for the worship of the Moon Deity. When Emperor Shun went on a southern expedition to Mount Heng, various lords and officials received Precious Dew rewards. At that time, a cluster of clouds formed around the Precious Dew Altar. After Emperor Shun’s passing, the agate vessel was buried underground.

It wasn’t until Qin Shihuang diverted a tributary of the Miluo River into a small stream, creating a direct waterway from Changsha to Lingling, that the Red Jade Cistern was excavated from underground. The Red Jade Cistern could hold eight dou of water, symbolizing the eight directions. The excavation site of the Red Jade Cistern was in front of the main hall of the Temple of Shun. People in later generations obtained the Red Jade Cistern but did not know the exact year and month of its creation. Later, during the Han Dynasty, Dongfang Shuo recognized the Red Jade Cistern, and he wrote the “Cistern Inscription,” which stated: “Miraculous clouds formed around the Dew Altar, auspicious winds blew near the Moon Palace. Looking from afar, the Three Mountains appear as one chi in size, and the Eight Vast Regions resemble twisted bands.” The Three Mountains refer to three immortal mountains in the sea. The first is called Fanghu, which is Fangzhang Mountain; the second is called Penghu, which is Penglai Mountain; the third is called Yinghu, which is Yingzhou. These three immortal mountains have a shape like a cistern, with a wide top, a narrow middle, and a square bottom, as if they were artificially created. All three immortal mountains are steep and resemble the walls of Huashan, as if they were cut with a knife. The Eight Hong represent the eight directions; “hong” means large. From the Moon Palace, looking far into the distance at the Three Mountains and the Four Seas, they all appear as piles of rice grains and twisted bands.



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