Story of Qu Yuan 屈原 - The Origins of Dragon Boat Festival
The Dragon Boat Festival is a 2,000 year old tradition. It commemorates the life and death Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet and respectable minister in the court of Emperor Chu. Qu Yuan was very unhappy that he was unable to persuade the Emperor to mend his ways and listen to his advice on reforms for the state of Chu. When Qu Yuan heard that the Chu dynasty had been taken over by the Qin dynasty, he committed suicide by jumping into the Miluo River in despair. On hearing the tragic news of Qu Yuan’s death, the people of Chu, so moved by his love and loyalty for the country, rushed to the river in their boats to search for him. As they were unable to find Qu Yuan’s body, they splashed wildly on the surface of the waters to scare the fishes and prevent them from devouring the poet’s body. They threw cooked rice wrapped in bamboo leaves to distract the fishes and as an offering to Qu Yuan’s spirit.
Today, 2,000 years later, the legend lives on. Dragon Boat racing and feasting on rice dumplings are seen as activities in honour of the memory of Qu Yuan.
Watch the YouTube clip below for an animated story of Qu Yuan in Mandarin. Click here to buy the book.