CHAPTER XXVIII. BARBARIANS

The country of Wu is in many respects even more interesting ethnologically than that of Ts'u. When, a generation or two before the then vassal Chou family conquered China, two of the sons of the ruler of that vassal principality decided to forego their rights of succession, they settled amongst the Jungle savages, cut their hair, adopted the local raiment, and tattooed their bodies; or, rather, it is said the elder of the two covered his head and his body decently, while the younger cut his hair, went naked, and tattooed his body. The words "Jungle savages" apply to the country later called Ts'u; but as Wu, when we first hear of her, was a subordinate country belonging to Ts'u; and as in any case the word "Wu" was unknown to orthodox China, not to say to extreme western China, in 1200 B.C. when the adventurous brothers migrated; this particular point need not trouble us so much as it seems to have puzzled the Chinese critics. About 575 the first really historical King of Wu paid visits to the Emperor's court, to the court of his suzerain the King of Ts'u, and to the court of Lu: probably the Hwai system of rivers would carry him within measurable distance of all three, for the headwaters almost touch the tributaries of the Han, and the then Ts'u capital (modern King-thou Fu) was in touch with the River Han. He observed when in Lu: "We only know how to knot our hair in Wu; what could we do with such fine clothes as you wear?" It was the policy of Tsin and of the other minor federal princes to make use of Wu as a diversion against the advance of Ts'u: it is evident that by this time Ts'u had begun to count seriously as a Chinese federal state, for one of the powerful private families behind the throne and against the throne in Lu expressed horror that "southern savages (i.e. Wu) should invade China (i.e. Ts'u)," by taking from it part of modern An Hwei province: as, however, barbarian Ts'u had taken it first from orthodox China, perhaps the mesne element of Ts'u was not in the statesman's mind at all, but only the original element, - China. An important remark is made by one of the old historians to the effect that the language and manners of Wu were the same as those of Yiieh. In 483, when Wu's pretensions as Protector were at their greatest, the people of Ts'i made use of ropes eight feet long in order to bind certain Wu prisoners they had taken, "because their heads were cropped so close": this statement hardly agrees with that concerning "knotted hair," unless the toupet or chignon was very short indeed. 'There are not many native Wu words quoted, beyond the bare name of the country itself, which is something like Keu-gu, or Kou-gu: an executioner's knife is mentioned under the foreign name chuh-lu, presented to persons expected to commit suicide, after the Japanese harakiri fashion. In 584 B.C., when the first steps were taken by orthodox China to utilize Wu politically, it was found necessary, as we have seen, to teach the Wu folk the use of war-chariots and bows and arrows: this important statement points distinctly to the previous utter isolation of Wu from the pale of Chinese civilization. In the year 502 Ts'i sent a princess as hostage to Wu, and ended by giving her in marriage to the Wu heir: (we have seen how Tsin anticipated Ts'i by twenty-five years in conferring a similar honour upon Ts'u). A century or more later, when Mencius was advising the bellicose court of Ts'i, he alluded with indignation to this "barbarous" act. In 544 the Wu prince Ki-chah had visited Lu and other orthodox states.

mark the capitals of Wu (respectively near Wu-sih and Soochow) and Yiieh (near Shao-hing). The modern canal from Hangchow to Shan Tung is clearly indicated. Orthodox China knew absolutely nothing of Cheh Kiang, Fuh Kien, or Kiang Si provinces south of lat. 300.]