I Ching, Yijing or Zhou Yi
"Oracle of the moon": © 2000 LiSe

  Yi Jing, Oracle of the Moon

The magic hole under the ash tree

Verse 269

This small opening under the tree
Is the beginning of a hole
It seems when moving here
Both happiness and riches will be attained

'The Governor of Nanke'


  'The Governor of Nanke' is a Tang dynasty Chinese chuanqi (a form of short story) by Li Gongzuo, set in the year 794.

Chunyu Fen (淳于棼) is a previously successful and rich officer in the Huainan army who has offended his general and been dismissed. Disgruntled, he drank himself to sleep under a huge ash tree and was carried back to his house by two friends. While he is resting in a half-asleep state, a pair of messengers enter with an invitation from the king of "Ashendon".

  Chunyu goes with the messengers in their carriage, which heads towards the ash tree and into the hollow under it. The scenery in the hollow, while consisting of mountains and rivers, looks different from the world above. After about ten miles, they enter a large city though a grand gate over which is written "The Great Kingdom of Ashendon".
Chunyu is informed by the prime minister that the king has invited him here with the hope of him marrying one of his daughters, creating an alliance.


  Chunyu and his wife come to love each other greatly, and his power grows.
  At his wife's request, Chunyu takes an official post at Nanke (a prosperous and fertile southern tributary state) where he serves as governor. After a farewell feast and a several-day-long journey, they arrive at Nanke. Chunyu is a wise governor and the state flourishes. He has five sons, who all take official posts, and two daughters who are married into the royal family.
  Chunyu's wife dies. The king starts to suspect him, because he gathers many followers, and because of a profecy of destruction. The king forces Chunyu to retire and to return home.
  Chunyu argues, saying that this is his home, but the king disagrees, saying that Chunyu came from the world of men. So, Chunyu returns the way he came, but this time in an old and shabby carriage.


  Entering his home again, he is gripped by sadness, and then is shocked to see himself lying in his bed. Suddenly he awakens, and finds that the day he fell asleep has not yet ended, despite having lived a generation in Ashendon.
  He goes out with his friends and uncovers a great ants' nest under the ash tree, with two huge ants attended to by the others, with another nest nearby for Nanke, and a burial mound for his wife.


  Chunyu forbids his friends to damage the nest and covers it again with the vines, but that night a severe storm destroys Ashendon, fulfilling the prophecy of destruction.
  Realising the emptiness of the material world, Chunyu becomes a Taoist, eschews money and women, and dies three years later.
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last update: 01.12.2020


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