Tag Archives: war

With Lips Gone, Teeth are exposed to Cold

With Lips Gone, Teeth are exposed to Cold

(From: Spring and Autumn Annals)

 Re-written by BoSt


Long ago, Duke Xian of the state of Jin wished to expand his realm and power; the Duke hence, bade Xun Xi to launch an expedition against the powerful State of Guo. The great distance however was of some concern and the campaign’s success depended on traversing the State of Yu. At the time there was a tentative alliance with Yu so Duke Xian asked Xun Xi for his counsel on this matter.


“In order to secure Duke Yu’s promise to let our army pass …. Hmm…” Xun Xi remained hesitant for a moment, before resuming, “The surest way My Lord, would be to present Duke Yu with our Chuji Jade and good number of Quchan steeds.”

(Note: Xhuji in Xhanxi Province was famous at the time for producing excellent jade stones and Quxhan in Shanxi Province was renowned for its fine breed of horses.)


“Is there no other way?” The Duke Xian was displeased with the suggestion. “The stone is an inherited treasure and should remain so for the next generations. And the idea of losing my steeds to that loathsome, pompous Lord is quite unacceptable. “Duke Xian grumbled, “Perchance, what if Duke Yu accepted our gift but refused our request, what then?”

Xun Xi braved Lord’s fury with this quick riposte: “Well my Lord, if Lord Yu refuses the fine gifts, we can be certain of his veiled hostility and look elsewhere for the safe passage. If however, his Lordship does accept it, we’d only be allowing his Lordship temporary custody of the treasures. What is there to be worried about?”

Duke Xian nodded with approval and soon after sent Xun Xi to the State of Yu to negotiate the army’s safe passage.  


Xun Xi was quick to gain admittance to the Yu court.  He presented a splendid figure in his fineries holding the large precious stone before him.  Many courtiers gasped witnessing the magnificent steeds that were corralled into the courtyard, dazzling everyone. 

Duke Yu greedy for the fine gifts, was about to make the emissary of Jin Xun Xi a rash promise when one of his loyal subjects, Gong Ziyi, came forward to protest: “My Lord, I beg a private council with you, if you please.”

“What, now?” Duke Yu was annoyed.

“How preposterous an intrusion! Has propriety and good sense left Gong Ziyi” Many courtiers grumbled under their breath.

Nevertheless Guo Ziyi was a well respected, loyal minister and Lord Yu was bit intrigued. He signalled Guo to advance and gave him permission to speak his mind.

Guo Ziyi was most direct. “There shall be no promise of any kind, your Grace.” His strong, resounding voice simply ripped through the stone cold silence that had enveloped the court.

“What Yu is to Guo is like gums to the cheeks. Gums are closely related to cheeks and cheeks to gums; which is exactly the present situation of Yu in relation to Guo. As the old ancestral saying goes, ‘If the lips are gone, the teeth will be exposed to cold.’  The fact that Guo is able to exist depends on Yu while Yu’s ability to survive hinges on Guo.  This inter-dependency will be jeopardized, if we make way for Jin army, allowing Guo to perish.  Their demise will transpire in the morning to be followed by Yu in the evening.”


Guo again spoke in good strong voice: “Why should we ever let Jin pass?  Why seek a small gain, only to harm vital interests?”

Duke Yu, however refused to listen to reason and, blinded by greed, in the end still gave the Jin army convenient access to Guo.

Thus Xun Xi attacked Guo and conquered it, and on the way back attacked Yu and conquered it too.

Xun Xi then triumphantly returned to Jin. The jade and the horses were once again restored to Duke Xian who, greatly pleased, said in good humor: “The jade remains the same, but he horses have got some more teeth!”












Haka War Dance

New Zealand’s Te Ngai Tuahuriri War dance Haka at International Stage at CNE in 2009.
Te Ngai Tuahuriri originated from the Waimakariri district of Te Waipounamu (South Island) of Aotearoa (New Zealand) and belong to the Ngai Tahu tribe (www.ngaitahu.co.nz).
Their performance incorporates the traditional elements of the Maori culture including the use of karakia (Prayer), korero purakau (legend), moteatea (ancient chant), as well as contemporary presentations of haka (war dance), poi (female dance), waiata-a-ringa (group dances) and tititoria (games with sticks).
The group also uses traditional wind instruments such as putaatara and koauau to accompany some works. Instruments of weaponry such as mere-pounamu, patu and taiaha also feature in their performance.

To see a video of this: Click here

Two Tigers Fighting

Two Tigers Fighting

Once upon a time there were two powerful nations at war.

As each were equal in might the fierce continuous engagement had lasted for over two years wasting away manpower, arms and draining the treasury with neither of them gaining an advantage.

The long drawn out war presented certain advantages to an adjoining kingdom.  The Sovereign of this neighbouring country, was considering intervention to bolster his country’s prestige and might.  He called a war counsel and asked his ministers for their opinion. The ministers were divided; some claimed this was an opportunity that should not be missed, others claimed it would only draw their country into this never ending conflict and the losses would far outweigh any advantages. Only one junior minister, Roltan, had remained quiet on the subject.   After several hours of discussion the King, left with a serious quandary, dismissed the entire counsel, save for Roltan.

“You have abstained from voicing your opinion, any reason for that? “  The King addressed Roltan when the chamber had emptied.

“Your Majesty is most discerning, “Roltan begun with certain eloquence. “ Your Highness, if I may I be so bold as to relate a short story about what had happened to me once. When I was in my teens, to test my mettle, I had once undertaken to hunt a pair of Tigers that were terrorizing a village.

To lure the tigers to a trap, I had first tied an ox to the trunk of an ancient tree in a clearing just outside of the village perimeter.

When the tigers, as expected, descended upon the captive prey, I readied myself to strike.  Fortunately, I had with me a seasoned hunter, who quickly advised me to hold still. “Wait, he said. “ If you confront them now they will both attack you in unison. The beasts are just beginning to devour the ox. When they are halfway through, finding the meat rather savoury, they will fall into strife as they contend for the choices parts.  After the fray the smaller one will be bested while the big one will suffer injury.  Then you will easily finish them both and win certain fame for killing two tigers at once. “   Roltan paused, collecting his words before he spoke.” Never before has our Kingdom been in a more advantageous position to reach its true potential. “

The king eyed this young recruit with an appraising smile. It was in fact his secret ambition to ultimately subjugate these other kingdoms all under one rule, his rule.

The Old Man Loses His Mare

Prickly has another story to tell.

The Old Man Loses His Mare

(When events occur, who can rightly predict the outcome? Who can tell whether it happened for good or for bad, for fortune or for misfortune?)

Once upon a time an old frontiersman lived in a ramshackle hut.  He lived modestly with his wife and son tending their small plot of land from sunrise to sunset.  With never a cross word to anyone, always ready to land a helping hand, he was well liked by all his neighbours.

One spring day his untethered mare inexplicably ran off into the territory of a hostile tribe. On learning this, all his neighbours hastened to console him but the old man was not perturbed in the least.  He simply shrugged and quietly said, “Who’s to say this is not a blessing?”

Some months later, the mare returned accompanied by a fine stallion. His neighbours this time rushed to congratulate him on his good fortune.

“Who’s to say this is not a misfortune?”  His puzzling response sends the callers back home, shaking their heads.

Now it so happened that his spirited teenage son was fond of riding. At dusk after his chores were completed he yielded to temptation and, without a word to anyone, he simply mounted the stallion and galloped into the distance.  They flew over the rough terrain jumping hedges, boulders and streams to test his as well as the horse’s mettle.  At one ill-fated juncture, unable to clear a deep gully, the horse reared, throwing the boy to the ground and breaking his leg.

Again the worried neighbours rushed to offer their deep sympathy.

The old man once more shrugged it off. “Who’s to say this is not a blessing in disguise?”

That autumn the hostile border tribe having gathered up momentum, unleashed a wave of murderous raids to rape and plunder. All able bodied men were naturally called upon to mount a defence but by the time the reinforcements eventually arrived countless volunteers in this ragtag militia had lost their lives.

The son of the old man, being crippled, was spared from the fighting and so survived.

The old man said to his son, “Look how a misfortune may turn out to be a blessing and a blessing may be actually be a misfortune.  It is impossible to predict what capricious fate has in store.”