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Main > Chinese folktales > Fairy tale "The King of Huai Nan"

The King of Huai Nan

Hens and hounds picked and licked it up, and all flew up into the skies. In Huai Nan to this very day the crowing of cocks and the barking of hounds may be heard up in the skies, and it is said that these are the creatures who followed the King at the time.

One of the King’s servants, however, followed him to an island in the sea, whence he sent him back. He told that the King himself had not yet ascended to the skies, but had only become immortal and was wandering about the world. When the emperor heard of the matter he regretted greatly that he had sent soldiers into the King’s land and thus driven him out. He called in magicians to aid him, in hope of meeting the eight old men himself. Yet, for all that he spent great sums, he was not successful. The magicians only cheated him.

Note: The King of Huai Nan was named Liu An. He belonged to the Han dynasty. He dabbled largely in magic, and drew to his court many magicians whose labors are collected in the philosophical work which bears his name. Liu An lived at the time of the Emperor Wu (see No. 34). The latter having no heirs, Liu An entered into a conspiracy which, however, was discovered. As a consequence he killed himself, 122 B.C. Our fairy-tale presents these events in their legendary transformation.

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