Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Who Would Kill The Deer--Lu Si Shui Shou

The Chinese of Who Would Kill The Deer--Lu Si Shui Shou is 鹿死谁手。 
Shi Le was the founder of the Jie (a non-Han Chinese ethnic group) state Later Zhao in Chinese Wu Hu period.

In his young age, he was captured and sold as a slave by Jin Dynasty's ethnically Han officials Si Ma Teng who ordered his soldiers to capture civilians and sell them to make money, but Shi Le's master, seeing that his appearance was not like that of an ordinary man, soon let him go free.

Shi Le then helped Liu Yuan, the founder of Xiongnu (a non-Han Chinese ethnic group) state of Han (historians called it Later Han), start a rebellion and eventually became a powerful general. When Liu Yuan died, Shi le had conquered most of northern China in Han's name but hold the territory under his own control.
In 319, after a dispute with the Zhao emperor Liu Yao who was Liu Yuan's son and changed his state name from Han to Zhao, Shi Le broke away from Zhao and formed his own state, also named Zhao (historians called it Later Zhao), and in 329 he captured Liu Yao and conquered Zhao, adding western China to his empire as well.
It was said that Shi le was an illiterate but liked to let his attendants read historical books for him, and often gave enlightening comments on historical figures and events. Once, when feasting the foreign diplomats, Shi Le was a little drunk and said loudly to his favorite minister Xiu Guang: " Which king or emperor do you think I can match?"

Xiu Guang, wanting to flatter his emperor, said: "Your Majesty, your rare gifts is greater than Liu Bang (the founding emperor of Western Han Dynasty), and your bold strategy is greater than Cao Cao (the founder of state Wei in Chinese three kingdoms period). No rulers but Huang Di (the legendary emperor in Chinese history) can take rank with you."

Shi Le burst out laughing and said: "It's the nicest compliment I've ever had, but it is not true. I know myself. If I were in the time of Liu Bang, I dare not compete with him. I would have server him as a general. If I were in the time of Liu Xiu (the founding emperor of Eastern Han Dynasty), I would contend with him for the throne. But it is hard to say who would kill the deer. (Deer, in ancient Chinese Culture, is a metaphor for throne or sovereign power. Killing the deer means controlling China)"

Background and Writer Comment:

Today, this idiom is used to describe the case in which two parties are competing and it is still unclear who will win.

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