Saturday, 11 September 2010

To Sleep On Brushwood And Taste Gall--Wo Xin Chang Dan

The Chinese of Wo Xin Chang Dan is 卧薪尝胆.

During the end of Spring and AutumnSpring and Autumn|||||The Chinese Spring and Autumn period (722-476 BC) was roughly the same period as Greece ARCHAIC PERIOD (750-500BC).

Like ancient Greek, China, at that time, was composed of many small states. Period, a war took place between two adjacent states Wu (吴) and Yue (越) in south China ( the south of modern Jiang Su province and the north of modern Zhe Jiang province ).

First, He Liu, the king of Wu, invaded the kingdom of Yue. At the beginning, Wu's army won some battles. But they got caught in a ambush at last battle, in which He Liu lose the thumb of his right and he died from this wound. His son, Fu Cha (夫差), took over the throne and swear to revenge. He let a solider yell at him every morning: “Fu Cha! Do you forget your
Fu Chai 夫差
father's murder?” and then he replied solidly: “I dare not!” After a couple of years of training his troop, Fu Cha attacked Yue again and eliminated the whole Yue’s force and captured their king, Gou Jian(勾践).

 Fu Cha became complacent because of this great triumph. As a result, he mistakenly forgave his father's murder Gou Jian Instead of killing him to avenge as he swear. But, in order to humiliate him, Fu Cha forced Gou Jian to guard his father’s tomb and care for his horses as servant.

Although Gou Jian had been a prisoner, he never forgot his great aspiration of rebuilding his country and avenging himself. During his time in captivity, he pretended to be very thankful for Fu Cha’s forgiveness and acted faithful and obedient to Fu Cha. To earn Fu Cha’s trust, he
Gou Jian 勾践
even tasted Fu Cha’s feces when Fu Cha was sick. Finally he fooled Fu Cha and was released.

After returning to Yue, Gou Jian slept every night on brushwood and hanged a small bag of gall from an animals’ gallbladder in his room. Before eating or going to sleep,
he would taste a bit of gall to remind himself of the humiliation and sufferings. After ten years of efforts to enrich his state and rebuild his troop, Gou Jian attacked and defeated Wu and made Yue one of the strongest and most prosperous kingdoms of the time.

Background and Comment:
Wo Xin Chang Dan (卧薪尝胆) - To Sleep On Brushwood And Taste Gall is from "The Records of the Grand Historian"《史记》written by Sima Qian 司马迁. It often used to encourage someone in hard time to get through the hardship and bestir himself.

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