In the morning I paid my respects with a sacrificial pig and a flagon of wine at the shrine of the Heroic and Numinous Prince who Aids Favourable Outcomes. This is the so-called Downstream Water Palace of the River God. The shrine belongs to Golden Mount Monastry and is usually tended by two monks without any other officiant.
Yet the noticeboard states “Offerings of Pig’s Heads Belong to this Temple”.
Everyone who sees this smiles.
Previously, at the end of the Shaoxing Period (1161), when Wanyan Liang invaded and ravaged the area, Mr Ye Yiwen of the Bureau of Military Affaris was defending the River. He offered prayers at the shrine of the Water Palace Monastry pleading that if peace were restored he would petition that the god be promoted to the rank of emperor. But nothing came of this.
In the Longxing period, when the enemy invaded again, a close imperial advisor raised the matter once more, but the experts argued that the Four Watercourses were only enfeoffed as princes and that the Water Palace should not be superior to the Four Watercourses, so it was merely given a fancy appellation.
In the temple I met a military man, Wang Xiu. He told me he comes from Bo prefecture and is aged fifty-one. At the time the border was being ravaged he joined the irregular forces north of the Yellow River, attacked and took Daming, and awaited the arrival of our imperial armies. But following his return he had recieved no citation, and says he’s without influence and has no way of making his case known. He sobbed and sighed without cease.
This evening I’d wanted to go out onto the River but the boatman declined to do so on the grounds that the tides were wrong: so we are spending the night on the entrance to the River.
Da6 6/25 ( 9th August)
At the fifth watch (3-5am) our boat set forth. Today is the first time the boatmen have sounded the drums. We then visited Golden Mount and I climbed to the Jade Looking Glass Hall and Wondrous High Terrace, both of which are utterly magnificent, and far better than they once were. “Jade Looking Glass” is taken from a poem by Su Shen ( 996-1043)
Monks are seated in the jade looking glass’ rays
A traveller is trudging up the golden turtles’ backs.
Su Shen did indeed end up a member of the Hanlin Academy, and at the time this poem was considered prophetic.
Day 6/26 ( 10th August).
from Lu You’s 12th Century Travel Diaries.
Dear Reader, I hope you have enjoyed reading the Travel Diaries of 12th Century poet, writer and government official Lu You. Wishing you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas and a prosperous New Year from Spaceship China. We leave you now from the Song dynasty and see you back in the 21st Century!
Travel safely over the holiday period