Cir – Lesson 402

In some places, there was also dragon and phoenix combined boat. Annuals of Shunde County records, “The dragon and phoenix boat in Daliang is extremely luxurious.” But now it is nowhere to find, with dragon head fixed at the bow, and phoenix tail mounted at the back. The phoenix tail is made of bamboo strips wrapped with red paper in the shape of a fan. It seems that dragon and phoenix boat is the product of combination between dragon boat and bird boat.

Grass Fighting on Dragon Boat Festival

Before Han dynasty, there was no record for grass fighting games.

We still don’t know about its origin, but people usually think it is related to the establishment of Chinese herbal medicine. In the far ancient times, it was very hard for people to survive and life was very monotonous. In their spare time, people may play with insect fighting, grass fighting, and beast fighting for pleasure. After Farmer God established herbal medicine by tasting hundreds of herbs, every year on Dragon Boat Festival, people would went to countryside in groups to collect herbs. They would put wormwood grass on doors to keep off poisonous gases, which gradually became a custom. After collecting herbs, people would often organize games to name flowers or grasses, the more the better, in which people would know better about herbs and improve their literature level. Children may take different grasses and tug against each other with grass stems. The one whose grass breaks would be the loser. In Viewing Baby Games, Baijuyi write, “Play with dust or grass, they are happy all day long.”

Wuyuan says, “Grass fighting begins from Hanwu Reign.” Jingchu Seasonal Records by Zonglin of Liang dynasty says, “On may 5, people all went to the countryside to tread on grasses, and there was also the game of grass fighting.” Nianhuajili wrtes, “On Dragon Boat Festival, people use herbs to lock doors and collect for medicine. They also play games with various grass, and tie five colored threads around arms.”

The custom is called treading on grass in South and North Dynasties, while in Tang dynasty, it is called grass fighting or fighting with various grasses. Records of Liubinke notes, “In Tang Zhongzong reign, Princess Anle played grass fighting on May 5.” In Song dynasty, this game is further developed to play on ordinary days, and many sholars have described this in their works.

In Beijing Imperial Palace Museum, there stored a painting named Babies Playing Grass Fighting, whose procedures are roughly like this: The two parties would respectively collect tough grasses to fight. Loulan notes, the grass is mostly plantain, which is a perennial grass grows at roadside or ditches in the field. It is about 15 to 30 centimeters long, tough in texture. Children would cross the grass and draw backward, the one whose grass does not break is the winner.

This grass fighting depending on the toughness of the grass and the strength of the players is called martial fight. Wangjian described this game in his Gongci, “Stems grow in water and flowers grow in earth would be collected and treasure them up. When all of other players used up their grasses, he would produce it from his sleeves and fight to be the winner.” Besides martial fighting, there is also gentle fight. The gentle fight is to contest for grass and flower names. In chapter sixty-two of A Dream in Red Chamber, there is the statement, “On the birthday of Baoyu, the sisters are busy arranging table and seats, then drink and compose poems. The maids from different houses would find their own fun like their masters. Xiangling, the concubine of Xuepan, and several maids collected some grasses and flowers to play grass fighting game. One maid says, she has Guanyin willow; another says she has Arhat pine. Suddenly, Douguan says, she has sister flowers. Thus, all the others were beaten not knowing how to reply. Later, Xiangling says, she has couple ears. Seeing that Xiangling has replied with an answer, Douguan says defiantly that there is never such a name as couple ears. Xiangling retorts a stem with one flower is called Lan, a stem with several flowers called Ear. If the flowers are arranged up and down, it is called brother ear; if the flowers are arranged side by side, it is called couple ear. This one of mine blossoms side by side, why can’t it be called double ear? For a while, Douguan does not know how to reply, and has to smile and say, according to your theory, if the two flowers are one large and one small, they should be called father and son ear. If the two flowers grow back to back, they would be called enemy ear. Xuepan has just left home for half a year, and now you miss him so much that you unexpectedly developed flowers and grasses into husband and wife ears, what a shame!” Hearing this, Xiangling flushed all over face, but has to run over and wrench Douguan by the mouth. They rolled onto the ground, and the maids burst into laughter heartedly. At this moment, Baoyu also collected some grasses and come over for a fun.


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