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Zigui introduction

  Qu Yuan, one of China's greatly loved patriotic poets, was born in 340 BC in the Qu family Yangtze Rivervillage very near Zigui. The fame of the walled town on the north bank dates his period long ago.

  Qu Yuan's Memorial Hall, with its distinctive white gateway and walls edged in red, is visible on the hillside east of the town. It contains a Ming--dynasty (1368-1644)statue of the poet, as well as stone inscriptions.

  The great poet served as a chancellor to King Huai of the Kingdom of Chu, with special responsibility for the royal clans. The king had complete trust in him until discord developed among the clans and Qu was falsely slandered. Banished from the capital,he wandered about in Hubei Province, deeply sad and bitter. His poetry and essays reveal his romanticism, loyalty and patriotism. Qu had vigorously advocated that the State of Chu stand firm against attack by the Qin state, but his advice had gone unheeded, and in May of the year 278 BC, he drowned himself in Dongting Lake at the age of 62.

  According to historical records, the local people scoured Dongting Lake for his body, beating drums and racing their boats in the course of their search. This event came to be commemorated each May, and to this day the Dragon Boat Festival(Duanwu Jie) is held in the river towns up and down the Yangtze and in many other parts of China. Zongzi--packets of sweetened rice steamed in leaves and tied with reeds--were thrown into the water as a sacrifice to Qu Yuan. The tradition of eatingzOngzi at this festival continues in Chinese communities the world over.

  There are many fairy tales about Qu Yuan. East of Zigui is a bay named after him.lt is said that when he died, a huge fish swallowed him up and swam all the way from Dongting Lake past Zigui to Yufu Yangtze Riverand back again, where it disgorged the body, amazingly stil1 intact . In his home village is the Qu Field which he allegedly tilled. It is said that he never forgot his ancestral home, to the farmers there he introduced a jade-white rice which was soft and fragrant. Locals remember him at each new rice harvest.


   A small stream just below Zigui and above the entrance to Xiling Gorge is well known to all Chinese as the home of the beautiful Han-dynasty (206 BC--AD220) heroine Wang Zhao jun. Her story is the quintessence of virtuous patriotism.
  Zhao jun, a maid of honour to the emperor, refused to bribe the painter from whose portraits of court ladies the emperor traditionally chose his concubines. In revenge, the painter portrayed her as quite hideous, and so imperial favour was denied her. In 22 BC the emperor, wishing to make a marriage alliance with the northern Xiongnu king, chose Wang Zhao jun. Only then did he set eyes on her; he was captivated but it was too late. Married to the Xiongnu king, Zhao jun was able to exert a good influence on relations between the Xiongnu and Han peoples, which gained her great respect. The emperor, in his rage at having lost her, decreed the beheading of the corrupt court painter. Local people say that before her marriage, Wang Zhaojun returned to her home town and, when washing in the stream, dropped a precious pearl which caused the stream to become crystal-clear and fragrant. Tradition names a pavilion-topped mound to the south of Hohhot in Inner Mongolia as her burial site.

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