Delve into the tranquil reign of Emperor Yao, marked by harmonious nature, the mystical Qinghui bird, and the enigmatic Western Sea raft.
After Emperor Yao ascended to the throne, his virtuous rule spread far and wide. Along the Yellow River and Luo River, he obtained a jade tablet with inscriptions, measuring one chi in square, depicting the patterns of heaven and earth. He also acquired auspicious golden and jade treasures, with clear and distinct inscriptions arranged in rows, recording the origins of the creation and evolution of heaven and earth. The four villains, Gong Gong, Weidou, Sanmiao, and Gun, had already been eliminated, and virtuous people came to pledge their allegiance. Yao appointed these loyal subjects to various positions, established official titles, and established a proper order. Yao also commanded Great Yu to dredge the river channels and marshes with stagnant water, ensuring that abnormal phenomena related to the heavens and natural beings no longer occurred in the northern and southern regions. Even the swimming fish and flying birds were tamed and found their proper places. In the area north of Yushan, in Youzhou, there is a bird known for its melodious singing. It has a human face, a bird’s beak, eight wings, one leg, and feathers resembling those of a wild chicken. When it walks, its feet do not touch the ground. This bird is called Qinghui. Its melodious and tuneful cries resemble the sounds of bells, chimes, sheng (a musical instrument), and yu (a musical instrument). “Shi Yu” records: “When the Qinghui bird sings, there is great peace throughout the world.” Therefore, during prosperous and peaceful times, the Qinghui bird flies and sings in marshes and lakes with dense water and vegetation. Its singing follows musical harmony. The Qinghui bird prefers to soar high in the sky and never walks on the ground. After Dayu subdued the Great Flood and pacified the world, the Qinghui bird settled in plains and mountains. Wherever the Qinghui bird gathered, individuals of great virtue emerged. Since ancient times, when people began casting various treasure tripods and objects, they would depict the image of the Qinghui bird on them. Praise and inscriptions celebrating the Qinghui bird’s virtue have continued to this day.
During Emperor Yao’s thirtieth year on the throne, a massive wooden raft was floating in the Western Sea. The raft emitted light, shining brightly at night and disappearing during the day. Fishermen at sea observed the fluctuating brightness on the wooden raft, resembling stars and the moon appearing and disappearing behind clouds. The raft frequently floated around the four seas, completing one circuit around the heavens every twelve years in a continuous cycle. People called it the “Moon-Passing Raft,” also known as the “Star-Hanging Raft.” Flying immortals rested on the wooden raft. They rinsed their mouths with dew, and the dew they spat out made the light of the sun and moon appear dim. Records about the appearance and disappearance of this wooden raft ceased during the later periods of Emperors Yu and Shun. Only sailors continued to pass down stories of its mystical presence. To the west of the Western Sea, there is a Floating Jade Mountain, at the base of which lies a massive cave. Inside the cave, there is a peculiar red-colored water that appears like fire. This water is dimly lit during the day and radiantly bright at night, shining through the cave’s entrance. Even when waves crashed, this light did not fade, known as “Yin Fire.” During Emperor Yao’s reign, this “Yin Fire” displayed vibrant colors, transforming into red-colored clouds, illuminating the four directions and calming rivers, making them clear and tranquil. Sailors referred to these red clouds as “Sinking Flames,” symbolizing the auspicious reign of Fire Virtue.
During Emperor Shun’s seventy-year reign, young phoenixes flew in year after year to roost, while qilins roamed in the lush marshes and lakes, and malevolent birds like owls fled to remote deserts. The Zhi nation presented a Heavy-Bright Bird, also known as the “Double-Pupil” Bird, as it was rumored to have double irises in its eyes. This bird resembled a chicken and had a cry resembling that of a phoenix. At times, it shed its feathers but could still fly with fleshed wings. This bird could fight and drive away fierce beasts like tigers and wolves, preventing calamities caused by evil creatures. People fed it with delicious jade ointment. The Heavy-Bright Bird would visit at times, sometimes multiple times a year, and sometimes with years in between. The entire nation would sweep and clean their courtyards, hoping for the Heavy-Bright Bird to come and roost. When the Heavy-Bright Bird was absent, some people carved it from wood, while others cast it in bronze, creating statues in its likeness to place at their doorways, causing ghosts and demons to retreat and hide. Nowadays, people annually place chicken statues, whether carved, cast, or drawn, in their windows on the first day of the lunar year, preserving the shape passed down from the ancient Heavy-Bright Bird.