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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Bao.
Bao Zheng
Spouse Lady Zheng
Lady Tung
Lady Sun
Issue
Bao Ye 包繶
Bao Suo 包綬
Full name
Family name: Bao 包
Given name: 拯
Courtesy name: Xiren 希仁
Posthumous name
Xiaosu 孝肅
Born 999
Died 1062 (aged 63)

Bao Zheng (Chinese: pinyin: Bāo Zhěng), courtesy name Xiren 希仁,posthumous title Xiaosu 孝肅 (999–1062) was a much-praised official who served during the reign of Emperor Renzong of Song China. Bao is culturally a well-respected figure in Chinese history, and is today invoked as the symbol of justice in China.

After passing the imperial examination in 1027, Bao deferred embarking on his official career for a decade in order to care for his elderly parents and faithfully observe proper mourning rites after their deaths. From 1037 until his death in 1062, Bao successively held several offices at court and in provincial locations. In his lifetime, Bao was renowned for his filial piety, his stern demeanor, and his intolerance of injustice and corruption. Due to his fame and the strength of his reputation, Bao's name became synonymous with the idealized "pure official" (qingguan 清官), and quickly became a popular subject of early vernacular drama and literature. Bao was also associated with the Buddhist god Yama and the "Infernal Bureaucracy" of the Eastern Marchmount, on account of his supposed ability to judge affairs in the afterlife as well as he judged them in the realm of the living.[1] The fictionalized Bao Zheng was known variously as "Lord Bao" or "Judge Bao" (Chinese: 包公pinyin: Bao Gong), Edict Attendant Bao (Chinese: 包待制pinyin: Bao Daizhi), Bao of the Dragon Image (Chinese: 包龍圖pinyin: Bao Longtu), and "Blue-Sky Bao"/"Unclouded-Sky Bao" (Chinese: 包青天pinyin: Bao Qingtian). From the middle of the Song Dynasty to the present day, the character of Judge Bao has appeared in a variety of different literary and dramatic genres, and has enjoyed a sustained popularity by audiences of all ages.

Contents

Life and career

Bao Qingtian was born into a scholar family in Hefei, Anhui province, where the Memorial Temple of Lord Bao (Chinese: 包公祠pinyin: Bāogōngcí) is still located near the city center. It was built in 1066 close to his tomb. At the age of 29, he passed the highest-level imperial exams and became qualified as a Jinshi. He was a magistrate in Bian (Kaifeng), the capital of the Song dynasty.

He is famous for his uncompromising stance against corruption among the government officials at the time. He upheld justice and refused to yield to higher powers including the Emperor's Father-in-Law (Chinese: 國丈pinyin: guózhàng), who was also appointed as the Grand Tutor (Chinese: 太師pinyin: tàishī) and was known as Grand Tutor Pang (Chinese: 龐太師pinyin: Páng tàishī). He treated Bao as an enemy. Although Grand Tutor Pang is often depicted in myth as an archetypical villain (arrogant, selfish, and cruel), the historical reasons for his bitter rivalry with Bao remains unclear.

Bao had conflicts with other powerful members of the imperial court as well, including the Prime Minister, Song Yang. He had 30 high officials demoted or dismissed for corruption, bribery, or dereliction of duty. He also had Zhang Yaozhuo, uncle of the high-ranked imperial concubine impeached 6 times. In addition, as the imperial censor, he avoided punishment despite having many other contemporary imperial censors punished for minor statements.

Tomb of Bao Zheng, mount and altar on top
Tomb of Bao Zheng, entrance to burial chamber

Bao Zheng also managed to remain in favour by cultivating a long standing friendship with one of Emperor Renzong's uncle, the Eighth Imperial Prince (Chinese: 八王爺pinyin: Bāwángyé).

His burial site in Hefei contains his tomb along with the tombs of family members and a memorial temple.

In opera or drama, he is often portrayed with a black face and a white crescent shaped birthmark on his forehead. In most dramatization of his stories, he used a set of guillotines (Chinese: pinyin: zhá; Literal: lever-knife), given to him by the emperor, to execute criminals:

  • The one decorated with a dog's head (Chinese: 狗頭鍘 or 犬頭鍘pinyin: gǒutóuzhá or quǎntóuzhá; Literal: dog-headed lever-knife) was used on commoners.
  • The one decorated with a tiger's head (Chinese: 虎頭鍘pinyin: hǔtóuzhá; Literal: tiger-headed lever-knife) was used on government officials.
  • The one decorated with a dragon's head (Chinese: 龍頭鍘 or 火龍鍘pinyin: lóngtóuzhá or huǒlóngzhá; Literal: dragon-headed lever-knife or knife of the fire dragon) was used on royal personages.

He was granted a golden rod (Chinese: 金黄夏楚pinyin: jīnhuángjiáchǔ) by the previous emperor which he was authorised to chastise the current emperor with. He was also granted an imperial sword (Chinese: 尚方寶劍pinyin: shàngfāngbǎojiàn) from the previous emperor; whenever it was exhibited the persons surrounding, irrespective of their social classes, must pay respect and compliance to the person exhibiting as the Emperor was present thereat himself. All guillotines of Bao Zheng were authorised to execute any persons prior to reporting to the Emperor to get approval first, whilst some accounts stating the imperial sword was a license to execute any royals before so reporting; however, from both rose the idiom "kill first, report later" Chinese: 先斬後奏pinyin: xiānzhǎnhòuzòu).

In these works he was often helped by 12 deputies and detectives, collectively known as the "Seven Defenders and Five Righteous Men", who appear prominently in the novelization The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants (Chinese: 七俠五義pinyin: qīxiáwǔyì).

His name became synonymous with justice, with the clear blue sky (Chinese: 青天pinyin: qīngtiān) became a popular metaphor to justice in the Chinese-speaking world. Due to his strong sense of justice, he is very popular in China, especially among the peasants and the poor. He became the subject of literature and modern Chinese TV series in which his adventures and cases are featured.

There are many legends and stories about Bao and his wit as both a detective and judge. Some famous examples include:

  • Executing the Imperial Sister's Husband Case (Chinese: 鍘美案pinyin: Zhá měi àn) - The story about Bao executing Chen Shimei (Chinese: 陳世美pinyin: Chén Shìměi), who abandoned his previous wife (and later tried to have her killed) in order to marry a princess.
  • Beating the Dragon Robe Case (Chinese: 打龙袍案pinyin: Dá lóng páo àn) or Swapping the Imperial Son with Wild Cat Case (Chinese: 貍貓換太子案pinyin: Māo lí huàn tài zǐ àn) - The story of a plot to discredit an imperial concubine by swapping her son (the new born crown prince) with a wild cat or civet, in which Bao disguised as Yan Luo or God of the Underworld to try the eunuch Guo Huai (Chinese: 郭槐pinyin: Guō Huái). Guo supported Bao in front of the Emperor early in his career, making the case personally difficult for the judge. The perpetrator confessed when he thought he was in hell.

Bao's Legendary Allies

  • In most of the stories, Bao is always accompanied by his trusted bodyguard Zhan Zhao (Chinese: 展昭pinyin: Zhǎn Zhāo), a man with superhuman strength and unmatched skills in the martial arts. In some legends, he is seen as a companion and equal to Bao, as he represents the Wu (martial) aspect while Bao represents the Wen (civil) aspect, which is considered the two features of a perfect and complete person.
  • Besides Zhan Zhao, Bao is often accompanied by his adviser or personal secretary, known in the stories as Gongsun Ce (Chinese: 公孙策pinyin: Gōngsūn Cè). Gongsun like Zhan Zhao is often portrayed as loyal and devoted to Bao's causes, in contrast to the advisers to the magistrate portrayed in most stories as usually conniving and unscrupulous characters who are masterminds of corrupt activities in the yamen. While Zhan Zhao serves as Bao's enforcer, Gongsun is often portrayed as the intelligent and merciful advisor who helps Bao by offering him advice. The relationship between Bao and the characters of Zhan Zhao and Gongsun is very similar to that between Liu Bei and Guan Yu, Zhuge Liang, and Zhao Yun in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
  • Other than Zhan Zhao and Gongsun, Bao is often seen with his four enforcers (includes Wang Chao (王朝), Ma Han (馬漢), Zhang Long (張龍), and Zhao Hu (趙虎)) who are usually under the orders of Zhan Zhao, and when a hearing is in session, two of them are always on Bao's right and two of them are always on his left. Like Zhan Zhao and Gongsun, the enforcers are presented as righteous and incorruptible. This type of portrayal is often done on purpose to show the contrast of Bao's court which is from top to bottom morally upright and impartial, while corrupt officials tend to employ and associate with morally flawed characters.

Wealthy Ironmasters in Dengzhou, a memorandum to the throne

The poet and statesman Su Shi (1036-1101) wrote a memorandum to the throne in 1078 of the problems facing the Chinese iron industry at Liguo Industrial Prefecture, when he served as the governor of Xuzhou.[2] Su Shi wrote that of the 36 smelters each employing a workforce of several hundred persons, there was risk of bankruptcy due to the rivaling iron industry complex in Hebei province that convinced the central court to halt Xuzhou-manufactured iron products from being shipped up north through Hebei (on top of bandits robbing the wealthy ironwork families).[2] Much earlier though, in 1046, Bao Qingtian wrote a memorandum to the throne about the dire economic conditions of the iron industry in Dengzhou, and his concern for the iron industry nationwide. He wrote:

Request for the removal of the names of certain iron-producing households in Dengzhou from the register. Your servant begs to observe that he has previously set forth the condition of eighteen iron-smelting households in Dengzhou, including the Jiang and Lu families. I have stated that they are poor families without the means to smelt iron. Year after year they sell agricultural products and, 'sitting on an empty nest', purchase iron which they pay in to the government. I request that, in accordance to the regulations, their names be removed from the register [of iron-producing households]...I have twice made submissions on this subject, but have not received instructions. My investigations show that in former times, in those areas which produced the largest quantities of iron products, many of the households which originally requested permission to smelt have used up their family fortunes, and have no iron to work with; but the officials will not accept that they are poor. Unassisted they have delivered their quotas of iron, and in so doing they have dissipated their assets. [The obligation] continues with their children and grandchildren, who cannot avoid it. This is very often the situation. Though the potential profit is great, the rich fear future calamity, and are unwilling to establish [iron smelters]. For this reason the production of iron daily decreases, and for a long time there has been no entrepreneurial activity. I request that they [the rich] be required to be smelting households. But those who are truly bankrupt, and do not have the means to engage in industry, should be thoroughly investigated by an Imperial Commissioner; if no fraudulent practice is found, [the situation] should immediately be reported to the Tax Transport Bureau [of the circuit]. The prefectures and districts should as before be ordered to encourage all manner of persons, continually and in many ways, to establish ironworks, and not be permitted to delay or hinder them. If this advice is followed, the [iron-smelting] households will be happy in their work and the supply of iron will increase. For the bringing of plenty to the people and enriching the state there is nothing better than this.[3]

Popular culture

  • In modern Chinese, "Bao Gong" or "Bao Qingtian" is invoked as a metaphor or symbol of justice.
  • He appears as the main character in a Ming Dynasty Detective novel named Bao Gong An.
  • A side scrolling video game, Bao Qing Tian, was released for the Famicom.
  • Different TV programs about Justice Bao (包青天) were filmed in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mainland China and Singapore,[4] such as Young Justice Bao. The Chinese Television System 1974/75 and 1993/94 series were popular. The TVB and ATV networks in Hong Kong both bought the 1993/94 series in an attempt to gain viewers. Competition between the two networks during the showing of the series was so severe, that identical episodes were shown on both channels on the same night. It was also one of the first dramas that used the NICAM technology (Dual Sound Switch Cantonese/Mandarin). The series was so successful that it and its spin-off series ran to now and created other merchandise products related to Bao Zheng. Most of the series were pure fiction relating to Bao Zheng, especially with some Chinese fantasy thrown in. The series taught Chinese traditional values, like filial piety and respecting elders. Many starring Chin Chao Chun (金超群) as Bao and many series released VCD.
  • Stephen Chow made a spin-off movie based on Bao Zheng called Hail the Judge or "Pale Face Bao Zheng Ting" in proper Chinese title. In the movie Stephen plays a descendant of Bao Zheng called "Bao Sing" living in Qing Dynasty, whose family lost its once glorious prestige due to generation of incompetence and corruption.
  • Andy Lau in 2003 movie, Cat And Mouse portrayed Zhan Zhao, a court officer under Judge Bao who received order to pursue five mice. Judge Bao was played by Anthony Wong
  • He briefly appears in the novel Iron Arm, Golden Sabre and sponsors young Zhou Tong's entry into the military as an officer.[5]
  • In the Marvel comic series New Universal, Young Judge Bao is one of the characters in an in-universe comic book.
  • The new Justice Bao was recently shown on Taiwanese televisions and has consisted of characters from the first Justice Bao.

Notes

  1. ^ Wilt L. Idema. “The Pilgrimage to Taishan in the Dramatic Literature of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries.” Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR), Vol. 19 (Dec., 1997), pp. 23-57, p. 34
  2. ^ a b Wagner, 178-179.
  3. ^ Wagner, 179-180.
  4. ^ 内地、港台有关包青天、七侠五义的影视(附评书)列表
  5. ^ Wang, Yun Heng (汪运衡) and Xiao Yun Long (筱云龙). Tie Bei Jin Dao Zhou Tong Zhuan (铁臂金刀周侗传 - "Iron Arm, Golden Sabre: The Biography of Zhou Tong"). Hangzhou: Zhejiang People's Publishing House, 1986 (UBSN --- Union Books and Serials Number) CN (10103.414) and 464574

References

  • Wagner, Donald B. "The Administration of the Iron Industry in Eleventh-Century China," Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient (Volume 44 2001): 175-197.

External links

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