Lines 71-80

(In this 8th installment of this blog’s Huangling Bei 皇陵碑 translation, Zhu Yuanzhang leads his army across the Yangzi River and captures Nanjing, which will become the capital of the Ming Dynasty. Click here to see the previous section. Also – click on any line number to see complete annotations of each section.)soldier4

Line 71: 於是家有眷屬,外練兵港。From then on, my household had relatives in it.  Beyond us, my soldiers were well trained and ready

Line 72: 群雄並驅,飲食不遑。Our band of heroes galloped off, with no more leisure for dining and drinking.

Line 73: 暫戍和州,東渡大江。We briefly held Hezhou before heading east to cross the great river. Continue reading

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Annotations to Lines 71-80

Line 71: This line marks the transition from an extended description of being reunited with family to Zhu’s military exploits.  The second half of the phrase, “my soldiers were well trained and ready 外練兵港” is literally “exterior trained, weapons sharpened.”  The word “exterior 外” indicates the physical body being strong and ready for battle, but also refers to Zhu’s switch from talking about his interior family life to the external world his troops must now face. Continue reading

Lines 61-70

(In this 7th installment of this blog’s Huangling Bei 皇陵碑 translation, Zhu Yuanzhang forms his own militia and gains fame, which leads to an unexpected family reunion. Click here to see the previous section.  Also – click on any line number to see complete annotations of each section.)

Line 61: 倡農夫以入,伍事業是匡。I convinced the locals to join my band for the cause of rectifying the state.

Chuzhou
The walled city of Chuyang, surrounded by a moat. The waterway through the city converges to the east with the Qingliu River.

Line 62: 不逾月而眾集,赤幟蔽野而盈岡。In less than a month I had gathered a multitude so that our red banners covered the countryside and spilled over the ridges.

Line 63: 率渡清流,戍守滁陽。I led my troops across the Qingliu River to defend the Chuyang Garrison.

Line 64: 思親詢舊,終日慨慷。I thought of my relatives and asked after them, all day sighing with emotion. Continue reading

Annotations to Lines 61-70

rural-fengyang2-e1506555567999.jpgLine 61: I convinced the locals 倡農夫.  These locals were farmers in the Huai River valley, in today’s Anhui Province. Zhu Yuanzhang is calling on them to join a righteous cause (as opposed to what the ruling Mongols would have deemed a rebellion).  The recruits were joining Zhu’s original band of “24 heroes,” who have been named in several places and included companions like Tang He 汤和 and Xu Da 徐达, the future generals who would fight at his side straight through to the dynastic founding in 1368. Continue reading

Why does this text matter? (Part 2 – The Monk Years)

LongXingStatute
Statue of Zhu Yuanzhang in the Anhui temple that claims him as a member of its fold.

Zhu Yuanzhang 朱元璋 is famous as the peasant-turned-rebel who defeated the Mongols and founded the Ming Dynasty in 1368.  However, prior to tying on a red turban and joining the rebellion, Zhu spent eight formative years as a Buddhist monk.  It is these years that are the focus of the middle third of the Imperial Tomb Tablet of the Great Ming 大明皇陵之碑.  Understanding how the Ming founder’s religious beliefs guided his path to the throne is another reason why this text matters.

To recap: after losing his entire family to a plague strike and its aftermath, the orphaned 16-year-old Zhu would have hardly looked like a future emperor.  In fact, he ranks as China’s most unlikely dynastic founder.  Continue reading