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An Anecdote about Zhu Yuanzhang's 朱元璋 (1328-1398) Magic Power


Legend has it that during the reign of Emperor Gao [of the Ming, i.e. Zhu Yuanzhang (1328-1398, ruling 1368-1398)] when the Imperial Academy was founded, His Majesty graced it with a visit and took great pleasure in its magnificence. Stopping in front of the Guangye Hall, [he] made a casual remark: “Blessed men of the world are meant to study here.” Over the past one hundred and forty years, students of this [learning] hall have often turned out to be the top candidates [in the imperial exams] and gained greater prominence than those who studied elsewhere. Moreover, there is no spider in any of the halls [of the Academy]. It is said that His Majesty on his visit observed spider webs spawling in every corner and said: “I have only just built this place. How dare you take possession of it already?” [He] raved at them and demanded that they leave. The spiders fled upon his words and never returned thereafter.

*From Lu Can 陸粲 (1494-1551), Gengsi bian 庚巳編 (Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編, vol. 2908, Shanghai: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1935), 1-2.

A popular portrait of Zhu Yuanzhang, who was not exactly known for his civil manners; traditionally attributed to the 18th-century painter Yao Wenhan 姚文瀚

Image credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art


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