We visited General Yue Fei’s tomb in Hangzhou, and hundreds of Chinese tourists were there. It was early October 2008. This was our third trip to the city in a decade, and I was watching people spitting on the kneeling, life sized metal statues of men dead for more than eight centuries. Those metal effigies with their hands tied behind their backs had been traitors.
It may be difficult to understand what honor means to most of the Chinese if one isn’t Chinese. One way to possibly understand the importance of this concept is to examine two of China’s historical heroes.
General Yue Fei died on January 27, 1142. He was a famous Chinese patriot and military general who fought for the Southern Song Dynasty against the Jurchen armies of the Jin Dynasty.
Several jealous Song ministers lied to the emperor saying that Yue Fei was planning to kill him and take over. The emperor believed these lies and had General Yue Fei executed. When the truth came out, Yue Fei became a model for loyalty in Chinese culture. By spitting on those statues of those ministers who lied, the Chinese honor Yue Fei’s memory.
Continued in Part 2 on February 11, 2015
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards
Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival
Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.
[…] What Honor Means to Many Chinese: part 1 of 3 […]