"Daughter of the Mountain" Chapter 1: Revolution on Holy Ground

I was born at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, on a holy ground hidden deep in the mountains of the southern part of China - Hunan Province, the burial ground of Yan Di Shen Nong 炎帝神農, the founder of Chinese civilization, a legendary figure who lived about 5600 years ago. He brought civilization to every aspect of life ... herbal medicine, agriculture, pottery, a market system, music instruments... and he was buried in my hometown. 

The story goes like this: Yan Di 炎帝's tribe and Huang Di黃帝's tribe (another important figure in Chinese civilization who united the warring tribes into a federation of tribes) fought in the heart of China (that time it was not yet called China) 5600 years ago, and Yan Di lost the battle. Yan Di led his people and followers in retreat and migrated to the South. On their migration route, Yan Di taught the people how to plant; he taught them the nature of herbs by tasting each herb and getting himself poisoned many times a day and then curing himself by herbs; he established the market system that lasted until today in remote regions of China - every Sunday before noon the villagers would gather in a designated place and trade with each other; he also taught them how to make pottery and house hold utensils; and he made music instruments to refine people's character... So he was called the "God of Agriculture (Shen Nong)" and he was remembered and worshipped by generations after generations until this day. 

There are stories and traces of him in many places of China along his migration route. 

When he was 75 years old, he knew his mission on Earth was completed, so he took an herb that burst his intestines and died. Before his death, he told his followers to place his body on a raft in a river going upstream and, until the raft would not move any further, that place would be his burial ground. His wish was carried out by his faithful followers. The raft went upstream into the deep mountains, until it came to a spot near a mount, then it stopped and would move no further, no matter how hard it was pushed. So his followers knew this was the spot Yan Di had chosen for himself. They buried him in the mount and kept watch over his tomb until this day. My hometown was named after him - Yan Lin county 炎陵, meaning the Burial Ground of Yan Di.

Leave a comment