CHAPTER XXIX. CURIOUS CUSTOMS
As to Yueeh, there is no question as to its barbarism, though the one single king around whose name centres the whole glory of Yiieh (Kou-tsien, 496-475) seems to have been a man of great ability and some fine feeling. The native name for Yiieh was Yue-yueeh, as stated in Chapter VII.; and it seems likely that all the coast of China down to Tonquin, or Northern Annam, was then inhabited by cognate tribes, all having the syllable Yueeh, or Viet, in their names. The great empire or kingdom of Yiieh, founded upon the ruins of Wu, soon split up into the "Hundred Yiieh," i.e. (probably) it relapsed into its native barbarism, and ceased to cohere as a political factor. "Southern Yueeh" (the Canton region) has undoubted historical connections with the Tonquin part of Annam, and several other of the subdivisions of Yiieh, corresponding to Foochow, Wenchow, etc., show distinct traces of having belonged to the same race. But it is unsafe to say how the Chinese-transcribed name Yii-yiieh was pronounced; still more unsafe is it to argue that it must have been U or O-viet simply because the Annamese so pronounce the word now. We have seen that, according to one historical statement, the Wu and Yiieh people spoke the same language; in which case the members of the ruling Wu caste who fled to Japan in 473 B.C. were probably not of the same race as the "savages around them." As an act of bravado, in 481, the King of Wu made five condemned centurions cut their own throats before the Tsin envoy, in order to show what effectively stern discipline he kept, In 484 the King of Yiieh had already committed a similar act of bravado; but neither of these barbarian states is distinctly recorded to have indulged in human sacrifices at the death of a sovereign. Previous to the crushing of Wu by Yiieh, in 473 B.C., Yiieh was nearly annihilated by Wu, and on this occasion Kou-tsien's envoy advanced crawling on his knees to beg for mercy; this is hardly an orthodox Chinese custom. However barbarous Yiieh may have been, its ruling house possessed traditions of descent, through a concubine, from an emperor of the Hia dynasty; for which reason the founder was enfeoffed, near modern Shao-hing, west of Ningpo, in order to fulfil the sacrifices to the founder of the Hia dynasty, who was, and is, supposed to be buried there: like the first colonists who migrated to Wu, he cut his hair, tattooed himself, opened up the jungle, and built a town. In 330 B.C. Kou- tsien's descendant spoke of "taking the road left to Chu- hia," through modern Ho Nan province; that means taking the high-road to China proper. The term originated in times when Ts'u had not yet become a recognized "Hia." The fact that Yueeh, with its new capital then in Shan Tung, could never govern the Yang-tsz and Hwai inland regions, seems to prove that her power was always purely a water power, and that she was comparatively ignorant of land campaigns.