Thursday, March 10, 2022

Qu Yuan

QU YUAN (Chinese; c. 340-278 BCE)

Qu Yuan was a Chinese poet and politician in the State of Chu during the Warring States period, a time when seven kingdoms were battling it out until the eventual unification by the Qin (the source of our word China) in 221 BCE. The Chu lay in the southernmost part of China's then-territory, along the Yangtze, and Qu Yuan's work is collected in the Chu Ci, meaning Songs of Chu but sometimes translated Songs of the South. It is one of the two greatest collections of ancient Chinese verse, along with the Shi Jing.

  • A popular legend says that, despairing of the political situation, Qu Yuan drowned himself in a river near Hunan's Dongting Lake. The local people raced out in their boats to save him, dropping sticky rice balls into the water to keep the fish from eating Qu. This, they say, is the origin of the Dragon Boat Races held on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, as well as the tradition of eating zongzi (sticky rice balls) at that time.


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