|Qu Yuan's Names|
|Courtesy name (字):||Yuan|
|Alias Given name (自名):||Zhengze|
|Alias Courtesy name (别字):||Lingjun|
Qu Yuan (ca. 340 BCE - 278 BCE) was a Chinese scholar and minister to the King from the southern Chu during the Warring States Period. His works are mostly found in an anthology of poetry known as Chu Ci. His death is traditionally commemorated on Duan Wu (Cantonese: Tuen Ng) Festival (端午节/端午節), which is commonly known in English as the Dragon Boat Festival or Double Fifth (fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese traditional luni-solar calendar).
Qu Yuan, born in the Xiling Gorge area of what is today western Hubei province, was a minister in the government of the state of Chu, descended from nobility and a champion of political loyalty and truth eager to maintain the Chu state's power. Qu Yuan advocated a policy of alliance with the other kingdoms of the period against the hegemonic state of Qin, which threatened to dominate them all. Legend has it that the Chu king fell under the influence of other corrupt, jealous ministers who slandered Qu Yuan and banished his most of loyal counselors. It is said that Qu Yuan returned first to his family's home town. In his exile, he spent much of this time collecting legends and rearranging folk odes while travelling the countryside, producing some of the greatest poetry in Chinese literature and expressing fervent love for his state and his deepest concerns for its future.
According to legend, his anxiety brought him to an increasingly troubled state of health; during his depression, he would often take walks near a certain well, during which he would look upon his reflection in the water and his own person, thin and gaunt. According to legend, this well became known as the "Face Reflection Well." Today on a hillside in Xiangluping in Hubei province's Zigui, there is a well which is considered to be the original well from the time of Qu Yuan.
In 278 BC, learning of the capture of his country's capital, Ying, by General Bai Qi of the state of Qin, Qu Yuan is said to have written the lengthy poem of lamentation called "Lament for Ying" and later to have waded into the Miluo river in today's Hunan Province holding a great rock in order to commit ritual suicide as a form of protest against the corruption of the era.
Today, people still eat zòngzi and participate in dragon boat races to commemorate Qu Yuan's sacrifice on the Duan Wu festival, the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The Koreans later adopted the festival from the Chinese and called it the Dano festival.
Other than his literary influence, Qu Yuan is also held as the earliest patriot in China history. His social idealism and unbending patriotism have served as the model for Chinese intellectuals to this day, particularly following the establishment of new China in 1949. For example, in the 1950's China issued a postage stamp bearing the "likeness" of Qu Yuan.
Wang Yi chose to attribute Zhao Hun to another contemporary of Qu Yuan, Song Yu; most modern scholars, however, consider Zhao Hun to be Qu Yuan's original work, whereas Yuan You, Pu Ju, and Yu Fu are believed to have been composed by others.
Record of the Grand Historian - various translations