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When tigers are swimming across the river...

遷九江太守。郡多虎暴,數為民患,常募設檻阱而猶多傷害。均到,下記屬縣曰:“夫虎豹在山,黿鼉在水,各有所託。且江淮之有猛獸,猶北土之有雞豚也。今為民害,咎在殘吏,而勞勤張捕,非憂恤之本也。其務退姦貪,思進忠善,可一去檻阱,除削課制。”其後傳言虎相與東游度江。[1]


[Song Jun][2] was promoted to the position of Grand Protector of Jiujiang.[3] The county was much troubled by tiger attacks, which caused calamities time after time. [The local authority] often recruited [men] to set traps, which [caused] even more injuries. Upon his arrival, [Song] Jun gave an instruction to the subordinate towns, saying: “Tigers and leopards live in the mountains, turtles and alligators in the water - each with a place of its own. Besides, fierce beasts are as common in the Jiang-Huai region[4] as chickens and pigs in the north. Now [the natural inhabitants] are causing calamities, the blame should be put on cruel officers. To waste manpower on the capture [of the wild beasts] goes against the principle of caring for [the people]. [We] ought to commit ourselves to repelling the wily and the corrupted and seek to promote the honest and the good-hearted. It is advisable to remove all traps and issue tax reliefs.” Later, it was said that the tigers swam away together eastwards across the rivers.


先是崤黽驛道多虎災,行旅不通。昆為政三年,仁化大行,虎皆負子度河。[5]

The courier routes in the Xiaomian[6] region used to suffer greatly from tiger attacks. Three years after [Liu] Kun[7] had taken charge, humane governance prevailed. Tigers, with their pups on their back, all swam away across the river.

[1] “Diwu Zhongli Song Han liezhuan” 第五鍾離宋寒列傳 in Fan Ye 范曄 (398-445), Hou Han shu 後漢書: https://ctext.org/text.pl?node=75266&if=gb. [2] Song Jun 宋均 (d. 76) was a minister and a classical scholar during the Eastern Han (25-220). [3] Jiujiang 九江 at the time included today’s Jiangxi province and parts of Anhui and Jiangsu. [4] Jiang-Huai 江淮 refers to the Yangtze River and the Huai River. [5] “Rulin liezhuan shang” 儒林列傳上 in Fan Ye’s Hou Han shu: https://ctext.org/hou-han-shu/ru-lin-lie-zhuan-shang/zh. [6] Xiaomian 崤黽 roughly corresponded to today’s Mianchi 澠池 in the northwest of Henan province. [7] Liu Kun 劉昆 (d. 57) was a descendant of Liu Wu, Prince of Liang 梁王劉武 (d. 144 BCE).


"Hongnong duhu tu" 弘農渡虎圖 by Zhu Duan 朱端 (15th-16th century) depicting Liu Qun and others watching tigers crossing the river.

Image credit: The Palace Museum, Beijing (https://www.dpm.org.cn/collection/paint/231924.html)


Detail of the hanging scroll above, showing a tiger and the pup on its back.

 

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