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.

帝嚳之妃,鄒屠氏之女也。軒轅去蚩尤之凶,遷其民善者於鄒屠之地,遷惡者於有北之鄉。其先以地命族,後分為鄒氏、屠氏。女行不踐地,常履風雲,遊於伊、洛。帝乃期焉,納以為妃。妃常夢吞日,則生一子,凡經八夢,則生八子。世謂為“八神”,亦謂“八翌”,翌,明也,亦謂“八英”,亦謂“八力”,言其神力英明,翌成萬象,億兆流其神睿焉。

有丹丘之國,獻碼瑙甕,以盛甘露。帝德所洽,被於殊方,以露充於廚也。碼瑙,石類也,南方者為之勝。今善別馬者,死則破其腦視之。其色如血者,則日行萬里,能騰空飛;腦色黃者,日行千里;腦色青者,嘶聞數百里;腦色黑者,入水毛鬣不濡,日行五百里;腦色白者,多力而怒。今為器多用赤色,若是人工所製者,多不成器,亦殊樸拙。其國人聽馬鳴則別其腦色。丹丘之地,有夜叉駒跋之鬼,能以赤馬腦為瓶。盂及樂器,皆精妙輕麗。中國人有用者,則魑魅不能逢之。一說云,馬腦者,言是惡鬼之血,凝成此物。昔黃帝除蚩尤及四方群凶,並諸妖魅,填川滿谷,積血成淵,聚骨如岳。數年中,血凝如石,骨白如灰,膏流成泉。故南方有肥泉之水,有白堊之山,望之峨峨,如霜雪矣。又有丹丘,千年一燒,黃河千年一清,至聖之君,以為大瑞。丹丘之野多鬼血,化為丹石,則碼瑙也。不可斫削雕琢,乃可鑄以為器也。當黃帝時,碼瑙甕至,堯時猶存,甘露在其中,盈而不竭,謂之寶露,以班賜群臣。至舜時,露已漸減。隨帝世之污隆,時淳則露滿,時澆則露竭,及乎三代,減於陶唐之庭。舜遷寶甕於衡山之上,故衡山之岳有寶露壇。舜於壇下起月館,以望夕月。舜南巡至衡山,百辟群後皆得露泉之賜。時有雲氣生於露壇,又遷寶甕於零陵之上。舜崩,甕淪於地下。至秦始皇通汨?之流為小溪,徑從長沙至零陵,掘地得赤玉甕,可容八斗,以應八方之數,在舜廟之堂前。後人得之,不知年月。至後漢東方朔識之,朔乃作《寶甕銘》曰“寶雲生於露壇,祥風起於月館,望三壺如盈尺,視八鴻如縈帶。”三壺,則海中三山也。一曰方壺,則方丈也;二曰蓬壺,則蓬萊也;三曰瀛壺,則瀛洲也。形如壺器。此三山上廣、中狹、下方,皆如工製,猶華山之似削成。八鴻者,八方之名;鴻,大也。登月館以望四海三山,皆如聚米縈帶者矣。

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