|Transcription Number:||Mo 41-42|
|Transcription Pages:||269 pp.|
|Recording:||In 1991 in Silinqota, Walther Heissig recorded the text from the recitation of the bard B. Dorǰi of Aru Qorčin.|
|Transcription Note:||On March 25, 1992, Rinčindorǰi finished writing down the text. Rinčindorǰi also added notes to the text.|
|Further Information:||For the the circumstances of the recording, the analysis of the two tales, and the photo reproduction of Rinčindorǰi’s transcription, see Walther Heissig, “ Si Liyang”: Varianten und Motiv-Transformationen eines mongolischen Spielmannliedes. Mit Text-Transkripten von J. Rinčindorǰi , Wiesbaden 1996.|
|Language Archive Cologne:||hdl:11341/0000-0000-0000-2715|
Pages 1-27: Before the bard Dorǰi begins to narrate the story, playing the quɣur, he greets in song Walther Heissig, who has come from afar to record the tale. Then the bard goes on to narrate in song that after Emperor Li Shimin has pacified the East he sets out to conquer Western Liang, and that he fights for three years in Suoyang City . The bard also explains that “The Story of the Western Liang” is not a story he himself has created. It is an old story left by learned elders. The story deals with General Xue Rengui ’s second wife named Fan Jinding , and their son Xue Fanxiao , (song: pp. 1-4).
Now the story narrates that on the border of Yudu County and the south-west of Hanma City in Eastern Liao, lies Fan Family Village where the rich man Fan Taigong lives. He is known as Fan the Rich, and his daughter is Fan Jinding. In A.D. 637, while Xue Rengui is fighting against the stone men in the East, his heavenly-square lance breaks at the hilt and he comes to the gate of Fan the Rich’s house to asks him to make a new hilt. Fan the Rich takes Xue Rengui in his home, makes a new hilt for him and marries his daughter to him. Seventeen years pass, and in the meantime Fan the Rich has died. Xue Rengui had stayed in Fan the Rich ’s home for three days and was never seen again. Before leaving, Xue Rengui jokingly tells her wife that if she has a son she should name him Jiangshan (Rivers and Mountains). Fan Jinding gives birth to a son. When the boy is ten, his teacher gives him the name Fanxiao.
On day, Xue Fanxiao goes to the street and sees many people talking to each other. He sends people to listen what they are saying. When he sees them beating an old man Xue Fanxiao asks them why they are doing this, and he is told that he does not need to know what the old man has said. At Xue Fanxiao’s insistence, the people he has sent to listen, tell him that the old man said that he had no father. When Xue Fanxiao asks the old man who said he had no father, the old man tells him that he did not mean to say that he had no father, because his father is Xue Rengui , the warrior who conquered the East and is renowned in the world. He left this place seventeen years ago and did not return, the old man adds. Xue Rengui, continues the old man, is a great man but he did not keep his promise to come back and abandoned his wife. After hearing this, Xue Fanxiao goes home. A song describes Xue Fanxiao in a pensive mood going to meet his mother Fan Jinding (song: p. 10). Fan Jinding is now over forty and in the past seventeen years she has never stopped thinking about the situation of her son. A song follows which describes Fan Jinding thinking to herself about how Xue Rengui did not keep his promise to send someone to take her to his home, and about how she heard the news that Emperor Taizong (Li Shimin) falsely accused Xue Rengui, and that he sent him back to his homeland (song: p. 11). In the meantime, Fan Jinding is at home pondering to herself that her son has grown to be a talented and valiant young man, but he knows nothing about his father, and that it is her fault if she does not let him meet his father. On the other hand, she thinks, Xue Rengui is now thousands miles away from her home and she does not know how to reach him. Recently, she heard that it has been three years since Li Shimin and his army went on a campaign to Suoyang City, and that officials died there. In the event that Xue Rengui died, her son would not be recognised as a descendant of the Xue family. She also thinks that there has been news of Xue Rengui shooting an arrow, which accidentally killed his son Xue Dingshan on Jinliang River, in his birth place. If this is true, her son will be Xue Rengui’s only heir. While she is thinking about all these events, her son comes to her. A song relates how Xue Fanxiao kneels down before his mother and greets her. His mother stares at her son’s face and can see that he has an angry expression and fire in his eyes. When Xue Fanxiao tells her mother what the old man said, her face turns red and she heaves a sigh (song: pp. 13-15). When Xue Fanxiao asks her mother if his father is really Xue Rengui, as the old man said, his mother tells him the whole story about Xue Rengui coming to her house, and her father making a new hilt for his heavenly-square lance. A song follows which narrates how Fan Jinding complains that she has been neglected by Xue Rengui, and how her son justifies his father’s behaviour, saying that with the country in turmoil and his father commanding a force of sixty hundred thousand men, he would not have the time for thinking about family matters (song: pp. 76-77).
Xue Fanxiao is unsure as to whether he should tell his mother that he heard that his father Xue Rengui went to war against Western Liang, fought for three years and suffered a serious injury in Suoyang City. When his mother encourages her son to speak to her, Xue Fanxiao tells her that he has now reached manhood and his strength is unrivalled, and since, according to rumours, his father has been wounded, he expresses the desire to have an audience with Emperor Taizong and assist his army, meet his father and show him his filial love. If he does this, she will also meet her husband Xue Rengui. On hearing her son’s words, Fan Jinding is very pleased and tells him that Western Liang is thousands of miles away, and since, they have neither soldiers nor generals, she proposes that they should sell her father’s property and use the proceeds to raise an army. Xue Fanxiao tells his mother that he will circulate notices to recruit soldiers aged between eighteen and thirty so that he can raise an army of volunteers and set out for Western Liang. He says he will also see to the army necessities. A song comments on these events, saying that Xue Fanxiao sells his grandfather’s property to obtain the money for the army’s supplies. To cut a long story short, days and nights pass in a flash and more than half a month goes by (song: pp. 21-22).
Xue Fanxiao has already selected more than
three thousand soldiers, and, one day, he inspects them on the training
field. It is at this point that a song describes
Xue Fanxiao’s appearance. He is eight spans tall. His
face is like a luminous precious stone. His eyebrows are similar to sleeping
silkworms. He has the strength to carry a weight of many
jing on his shoulders. The song also narrates how
Xue Fanxiao inspects his troops who stand lined up with
their robes and armour straightened up and with sharp shiny weapons, and how
he addresses them, saying that they are about to set out for
Western Liang to bring help to his father,
the emperor and take alive the
Su Baodong of
Western Liang. He also tells his men that they are an
army of volunteers, not a government army. For this reason, he stresses,
they are not to act aggressively. They are not to pillage people’s
possessions and household goods. They must not cause disorder and have to be
vigilant at all times. Then
asks his troops if among them there are two capable men who will act as the
vanguard general and the rearguard in charge of the army provisions. At this
moment, two men come forward, walking with rapid steps with the hems of
their robes rising up. They look like the Four Kings of the upper world
descending to earth (song:
pp. 22-25). The two men are
Zhang Liang and
. They served as stewards in the house of
Fan the Rich for more than twenty years, and their skill
in arms is a match for a thousand men. Thus
Zhang Liang becomes the vanguard of the army, and
Guo Xiao takes up the rear. A song describes how the
two men don armour made from the hide of a cow.
Zhang Liang holds a spear seventy
Guo Xiao holds a faceted iron
club which weighs fifty
jing (song: p. 27).
Now the bard Dorǰi stops narrating the story and takes a rest.
Pages 27-89: The bard goes on to narrate in song how the young Xue Fanxiao tells his mother that all the preparations have been completed, and how his mother urges him to select a day for setting forth. Xue Fanxiao, accordingly, opens the 60-year astrology book and when he looks for the auspicious day which agrees with an auspicious month, it turns out that the auspicious day is the twenty-seventh day, a red tiger day, of the first lunar month of spring of the eleventh year of the reign of Emperor Taizong. Zhang Liang and Guo Xiao prepare the army necessities for the long journey. Cart drivers lead carts pulled by mules to the door of the store house, and provisions, firewood, weapons, and valuables are loaded onto carts (song: pp. 28-33). After this, Xue Fanxiao’s mother sits down in a cart. Then Xue Fanxiao makes ready for the journey. A lengthy song relates that Xue Fanxiao puts on padded armour next to his skin. Then he dons a suit of chain mail, precious fire-armour, and five-tiger armour. On his head he puts a helmet with tassels of five colours, showing the symbols of the Seven Treasures and the Eight Offerings. On his feet he wears boots with iron soles. He holds high a steel lance with an iron handle in his right hand, swinging it downwards. Xue Fanxiao only uses this lance, and two strong young men are needed to carry it. The song continues saying that after saddling his horse, the Dragon White foal, Xue Fanxiao rides to the military camp and jumps onto the commander’s platform and gives his troops their orders, crying out that because they are going to bring help to his father and assist the emperor in fighting his enemies, they should not cause people to suffer. They should not pursue their own profit, and must not disobey his commands. After this, the troops go straight on their way. Xue Fanxiao marches in the middle of the army, and his mother is seated in a cart. Young and old people alike of Fan Family Village line up along the road and wish for the troops well as they begin to march towards the distant Western Liang , the land of the enemy. The troops travel for more than twenty-one days and, one day, when it is about noon, Xue Fanxiao judges that it is the right hour for the troops to halt for a meal (song: pp. 34-44). They come to an open plain behind a high mountain and make midday camp on the northern border of the plain, where a large village is located. The troops pitch large tents, and put up straw mat sheds.
The name of the settlement is Wang Hou Village . The head of the family, Hou Taigong , is known as Hou the Rich. He has a son and a daughter. His son is interested in reading and studying, while his daughter, Hou Xiaolan, is fond of the military arts and exceptionally strong. She can carry a thousand jing on the shoulders. She is nineteen years old, and no matter how many times her father has urged her to marry, she will not listen, insisting that she will only marry a man who matches her skills in combat, and if such man cannot be found she will not marry at all. One day, the gatekeeper comes in and tells Hou the Rich that an army contingent has camped nearby. On hearing this, Hou the Rich becomes alarmed and sends men to investigate. When the men return, they tell Hou the Rich that the army has come from Fan Village in Eastern Liao , that it is an army recruited by Xue Rengui’s second wife and their son, Xue Fanxiao, to assist the emperor and to bring help to Xue Rengui , and that they have not come to cause trouble. Hou the Rich is very pleased at the news and sends a steward with horsemen to invite Xue Fanxiao and his mother to his house. A song follows which describes the envoys reaching the camp and telling patrols that they have come to meet Xue Fanxiao and his mother Fan Jinding (song: p. 50). On hearing that Hou the Rich has invited them, Fan Jinding is very happy. A song reflects on this event and describes Fan Jinding accepting the invitation with pleasure, considering that she has had an arduous journey and spent the night in the open steppe using a stone for a pillow. Mother and son set out for Wang Hou Village, escorted by some twenty men. Upon reaching, Hou the Rich greets them and praises them for offering service to the empire (song: p. 52). Xue Fanxiao and his mother are asked to a banquet, and the song which follows tells of Fan the Rich’s wife greeting Fan Jinding, and expressing her delight at meeting her (song: p. 53). While they are making a feast, Hou the Rich’s wife lifts a glass of wine, and says to Fan Jinding that it is a joy to meet her (song: p. 54). After this, Hou the Rich’s wife begins to speak about marrying his daughter to Fan Jinding’s son. She asks Fan Jinding if her son is married. When Fan Jinding answers that her son is not married, the woman reminds her that it is a mother’s duty to ensure that her son is married, and that she has a daughter aged nineteen who is good looking and talented, and also versed in all the military arts. Then the song emphasises that if two persons are fated to meet they will meet, regardless of how distant they may be from each other. Afterwards, Fan Jinding calls her son to her and asks him to pay his respects to his in-laws (song: pp. 56-59).
Then Hou the Rich asks his wife to call their daughter Hou Xiaolan so that she can meet and greet her mother-in-law. A song relates how a delighted mother goes to the courtyard behind the house, how her daughter comes down from the building where she is staying, how she kneels down and greets her mother, and how she asks her mother what she wants to tell her (song: pp. 60-61). The mother tells her daughter the whole story about Xue Fanxiao, and that her parents have decided to marry her to Xue Fanxiao . On hearing this, Hou Xiaolan reminds her mother of how she has repeatedly said that she will only marry a man who matches her martial skills. If Xue Fanxiao proves to be a match for her she will not oppose marrying him, she says. Her mother informs her husband and Fan Jinding of what Hou Xiaolan has said. When Fan Jinding asks her son if he is afraid of matching weapons with her, Xue Fanxiao laughs and says how could a man like him who considers thousands of enemies to be the same as grass and dirt be afraid of a girl. Then Xue Fanxiao and Hou Xiaolan make ready for a duel, while Hou the Rich, his wife and Fan Jinding watch them. The warrior maiden Hou Xiaolan dons engraved golden armour and puts a helmet on her head. A song, at this point describes Hou Xiaolan dressed for battle. She has feathers of a yellow pheasant fixed on her head, and the tails of sixty foxes hanging in front of her throat. In her hands she holds two pairs of yin yang swords, and she rides a crimson coloured horse. Xue Fanxiao rides his snow-white horse, wearing silver armour and a white helmet. He has a quiver at his waist, and a lance in his right hand dances in the air. The two of them rush into the field of combat (song: pp. 65-66). When Hou Xiaolan raises her gaze to look at Xue Fanxiao , she sees that his appearance is without equal in the whole world. The duel between Hou Xiaolan and Xue Fanxiao is described in song. It relates how Xue Fanxiao’s mood changes and how he thinks to himself that he is determined to fight a fierce battle. Holding his lance high, he shouts “watch out for my lance!”. Hou Xiaolan laughs coldly and challenges Xue Fanxiao to battle. The maiden warrior enters the battle waiving her swords. She knits her eyebrows, and her powder-white face turns paler. Her red lips are tightened, and her utpala-flower eyes, fixed upon him sparkle like stars. They fight, matching each other’s strength. When Hou the Rich sees that they are fighting to kill, he grows nervous and urges them to stop fighting. Xue Fanxiao and Hou Xiaolan continue to fight, but neither can vanquish the other (song: pp. 67-70). Only when Hou Xiaolan sees that her father is worried that they might kill each other do Hou Xiaolan and Xue Fanxiao stop fighting. When her mother helps her to dismount, Hou Xiaolan says that she and Xue Fanxiao have proved equally skilled in the use of weapons, but now she wants him to match her in archery. A red tassel is hung at a distance of one hundred paces, and Hou Xiaolan and Xue Fanxiao shoot an arrow at it three times, with neither missing the mark. Because Xue Fanxiao is a match for her, Hou Xiaolan agrees to marry him.
Hou Xiaolan goes to the building at the back, and a song describes how Hou Xiaolan applies powder to her face and smears herself with scented oil. Then she emerges, eyes down cast and smiling shily (song: pp. 74-76). Hou Xiaolan respectfully greets her mother-in-law, Fan Jinding, who wishes her happiness. Then Hou Xiaolan and Xue Fanxiao kneel down and bow their heads before Fan Jinding. A song is devoted to the goodness of Mother Fan Jinding , who carried her son for ten months, and lovingly nourished him with her first milk and raised him to be a man. It also narrates how the wedding feast takes place, how Xue Fanxiao ’s soldiers feast for three days, and how one hundred carts and the army supplies are prepared (song: pp. 77-78). Three days pass and the time comes for Xue Fanxiao , his bride, and his troops to set out. A song describes the troops setting out on their journey, with Hou the Rich and his wife standing on the top of the mountain following her daughter with their eyes. Father and Mother feel uneasy about their daughter, who has never been separated from them before, leaving home and going to Western Liang, the land of their enemies. The song also relates how young and old people alike wish that the troops defeat their enemies, win a famous name, and come back soon (song: pp. 80-85).
The troops march for twenty days and upon reaching a place called
Yuzhou Xian they collect information,
according to which
Suoyang City is under
Xue Rengui and the army have
been trapped inside the city for three years and have run out of food. There
is also news of
Lord Cheng Yaojin slipping
through the northern city gate wrapped in a piece of felt and going back to
Chang’an to bring an army of thirty
thousand men, and of
General Xue Dingshan
taking command of the second contingent. They are now on their way. On
hearing the news,
Xue Fanxiao and his army
set off for
Suoyang City immediately. A
song describes the army travelling from one relay station to another and
coming to a mountain that stand high above on the border of the enemy’s
land. They loath the mountain and keep on going for ten days (song: pp. 86-87).
and the army reach the
fortress, located 180 miles from
Suoyang City and on the border of the Tang Empire.
Lord Shu Wen, who
Qin River fortress lets the
troops in and tells
Xue Fanxiao how to get
Suoyang City. Then
Xue Fanxiao tells his mother that, according to
Lord Shu Wen, the enemy
Su Baodong of
is standing at the northern city gate and that the eastern
gate is also guarded, so that they should enter the city through the
southern gate by way of
Two generals of the Yin family are selected to guide
Xue Fanxiao and his army to
The bard Dorǰi, at this point, stops narrating the story and takes his midday rest.
Pages 90-111: The bard resumes the performance of the tale and, in song, summarises for the listeners the content of the part of the tale he has already narrated (song: pp. 90-92). The story goes on to narrate that Xue Fanxiao, his wife, Hou Xiaolan, and the army head for Guotang Mountain, which is located south of Suoyang City and east of the Qin River, with the aim of getting into Suoyang City through the southern gate. A song follows which relates how Xue Fanxiao and the army are approaching Guotang Mountain , and how they are moved by the enchanted scenery which appears before their eyes. It is the beginning of summer, and willow trees and elm trees have turned green beside the running water. All around chirping can be heard, announcing the end of spring. Mist settles over the mountain peaks. Crested parrots sound their notes flying around their nests, and since it is the time to sit on their eggs, they sing in sweet voices. The clear glittering water of hot springs flow swiftly. Turquoise coloured pines match the reddening sky. The army march for one day, cross the ridge and come close to Guotang Mountain (song: pp. 92-96). The mountain is of magic beauty, but it is also the lair of their enemies. Another song describes Xue Fanxiao’s mother, Fan Jinding, thinking to herself how she grew up in tranquillity, enjoying a comfortable life, and how she is now roaming a remote land with the sole objective of enabling her son to meet his father, and how her tears are streaming down to fill the lapel of her robe. She thinks to herself about the events of the past and feels resentment towards her husband Xue Rengui, who neglected her (song: pp. 97-99). In the meantime, Xue Fanxiao and the troops have approached the southern slopes of Guotang Mountain. A song gives an account of how they reach the southern slopes of the Guotang Mountain, and how they make camp there. They arrange the carts, set up tents, and unload grains from the carts. They stretch a rope, and from this they hang weapons and bows. They make a banquet, meat is distributed to the soldiers, and they spend the night in this place. Early next morning, Xue Fanxiao is impatient to go to meet his father and offer help to the emperor. He rises early and goes to his mother’s tent to talk to her (song: pp. 100-102).
Xue Fanxiao tells his mother, Fan Jinding, that according to the information he has obtained, there are enemy troops arranged in three circles guarding the border between the Tang Empire and Western Liang. The enemies have also dug seven-layered trenches and their encampment extend for fifteen miles. Since, Xue Fanxiao goes on, he does not know what has become of his father and the emperor, he will go to inform his father of the situation and meet with the emperor, then he will come back to take her to them. His mother agrees to let her son go, and Xue Fanxiao dons armour and helmet, has his horse saddled and sets off alone. He climbs to high ground in the north to survey the land, and far in the distance he sees countless soldiers and horses that fill the area. A song describes Xue Fanxiao thinking to himself that he has travelled a long way with his mother just to meet his father, and that thousands of hardships and tens of thousands of obstacles were unable to discourage him. He tightens armour and robe firmly so that they would not slip off if he fought for sixty days and nights. He also fastens his horse’s saddle girth and tether tightly. Then he thinks to himself that a lone horseman would not make much noise to alarm the enemies (song: p. 104).
To elude his enemies
Xue Fanxiao moves
quietly. He strengthens armour and helmet, mounts his
horse and rides northwards. A song includes the
description of the mighty hero
going to break into the midst of his enemies. He has a lance of steel in his
hand glittering in the sunlight. He holds onto the
horse’s bit firmly, his head lowered. The gold and
steel hoofs of the
White Dragon foal
rises from the ground, making a clattering noise, and
Xue Fanxiao’s armour and helmet of silver and gold also
clatter. It is early in the morning, and the enemies of
Western Liang have already got up and begun to carry
water. They cannot imagine what is going to happen soon. Someone has
penetrated the border, and patrols wonder why a lone horseman is coming
early in the morning, causing the horse to make a clattering noise. They
raise their weapons and ask, “Where are you going?” Before they can finish
Xue Fanxiao strikes them in the
necks with his lance and killed them. Chaos ensues, and voices call out that
he must be seized and killed. At this moment,
Xue Fanxiao dashes forth with his lance held high, the tassels on
his helmet spread out in all directions, while his
horse stirs up a cold wind. Cannons roar through the
ravines, and black smoke billow through the air (song: pp.
105-109). When the border patrols tell
General Gai Bulong of the
that a man of the Tang has
infiltrated the army, he sends out to battle his commanders, who are mounted
on fast horses. When they arrive,
attacks them. A song narrates how
Xue Fanxiao slays the enemies with his lance, piercing
their left and right flanks, their aortas, their throats, their ribs, and
their tailbones. Then
Xue Fanxiao heads
northwards and breaks through the second circle of the enemy troops that
Suoyang City (song: pp. 110-111). All the commanders who have fought with
Xue Fanxiao are dead, and
General Gao Bulong of the
Western Liang thinks to himself that
Xue Fanxiao is an extraordinary warrior.
The bard Dorǰi, at this point, states that the story is made up of many episodes, and that one bard alone cannot narrate two episodes at the same time. Thus he now leaves the story of Xue Fanxiao killing the enemies and tells his listeners about what is happening in Suoyang City .
Pages 111-180: Suoyang City is under siege and forty hundred thousand soldiers and thirty-six commanders of the Tang have been trapped in the city for three years. They have run out of food and fodder and are starving to death. When the horses die the soldiers eat them. When there are no longer any horses to eat, they begin to eat leather belts and saddle straps. A song elaborates on this event, stressing how both Emperor Li Shimin and his army are starving and enduring suffering in Suoyang City. Then it goes on to narrate that when the situation becomes impossible to bear, Emperor Li Shimin decides to discuss terms of surrender with the enemy Su Baotong of Western Liang and go back to his country with the remaining men. The army adviser Xu Maogong, however, opposes Li Shimin’s decision (song: pp. 112-113). Xu Maogong meets Li Shimin and tells him that he wants to inform him of a happy event. Xu Maogong says that he has made a divination which predicts that the next morning a general will come to bring aid to them, and that they should meet him at the southern city gate. The next morning Emperor Li Shimin comes to the southern city gate, escorted by officials and generals. This event is repeated in a song (p. 116). Xue Rengui , who has recovered from his wounds, also comes to the southern city gate. It is the first month of summer, and Li Shimin and the officials stand gazing in all directions in the clear light of the early morning. A song relates that this is the time of the year when juniper bushes, willow trees and elm trees are luxuriant and parrots call, and that Li Shimin is gazing in the distance (song: p. 117). While he is doing thus, cannons boom in the west, and Xu Maogong, pointing with his finger tells Li Shimin to look in that direction. Li Shimin looks, and a general comes, as Xu Maogong predicted. Xue Rengui and his thirty-six commanders express great admiration for Xu Maogong’s prediction. The general, who comes, has fought his way out of the third, the fourth, and the fifth circles of the enemy troops that surround the city.
A song describes Xue Fanxiao, mighty and luminous, coming forth, recovering from the exhaustion of battle and feeling relaxed in his heart. The patrols of the Tang army sees him and are astonished that a lone horseman could have passed through impenetrable barriers and powerful armies. They emerge from a trench and ask him in a loud voice who he is and why he has come. Xue Fanxiao tells them that he has come with his mother to meet Xue Rengui and bring help to the Emperor. When Emperor Li Shimin and the soldiers observe Xue Fanxiao, approaching the city gate, they see that he is extraordinary in appearance and has a striking resemblance to Xue Rengui. All of them forget about their hunger and rejoice. At that moment, Li Shimin and the officials stand observing from a watchtower. Li Shimin raises the sleeves of his dragon silk robe and from there he asks Xue Fanxiao where he comes from, what his name is and who his father is (song: pp. 120-123). Xue Fanxiao gets off his horse and greets Li Shimin by bending his body and raising his folded hands. Then he tells Li Shimin that his father is Xue Rengui and his name is Xue Fanxiao, that he was born in Fan Village in Eastern Liao, that he has used his family’s property to raise an army, and after reaching Guotang Mountain , he has come to meet his father and to bring help to Emperor Li Shimin. He also adds that he has travelled a long way with his mother, who is Xue Rengui’s second wife. On hearing this, Li Shimin is surprised and when he asks Xue Rengui if he knows anything about this matter, Xue Rengui affirms that his only wife is Liu Ning’chun and his only son was Xue Dingshan, whom he had accidentally killed. He has no other sons, he maintains. A song has Xue Rengui denying that Xue Fanxiao is his son (song: p. 126). Then Xue Rengui warns Li Shimin that their enemies will take advantage of their weakness and use a stratagem to infiltrate the city. Xue Rengui also adds that either they send Xue Fanxiao back or he will call for bow and arrow and shoot him down. At this moment, the army adviser, Xu Maogong, intervenes and tries to persuade Xue Rengui not to kill Xue Fanxiao, saying that Xue Fanxiao cannot be a spy sent by their enemies, since he reached there after passing through the enemy’s lines and killing soldiers and commanders. Xu Maogong also tells Xue Rengui that regardless of whether or not Xue Fanxiao is his son, they should let him enter the city. This leaves Xue Rengui unmoved, while Li Shimin by contrast is willing to let the young general in so that he can try to talk to him. Xue Rengui will not listen and insists on saying that the young general has come from the enemy camp, using his name as a stratagem to infiltrate the Tang army, and that he should be shot. Xue Rengui takes an arrow and fits it to the bowstring. When he is about to shoot, Li Shimin stops him. Then Li Shimin turns to Xue Fanxiao and tells him that he should prove to Xue Rengui that he is, in fact, his son. He also suggests that he should go back and fetch his mother. Xue Fanxiao agreed to this and sets out for Guotang Mountain to bring his mother.
A song describes a sad Xue Fanxiao travelling over thirty miles to fetch his mother, fighting his way through enemy lines, and thinking how happy he was when he left home with his mother and the troops, and how sad he feels now that his father has not recognised him as his son. The song goes on to narrate that Xue Fanxiao comes to Guotang Mountain and goes to see his mother. He kneels before her and tells her how he fought with the enemies, how he met with Emperor Li Shimin, and how his father did not show compassion for him. On hearing this, Xue Fanxiao’s mother has a cold feeling in her chest as if she has swallowed iced water (song: pp. 129-133). Xue Fanxiao’s words also causes embarrassment to his mother, since her daughter-in-law is at her side. Then she says that if she has travelled thousands of miles it is only to unable his son to meet his father, and she is ready to face whatever obstacles might come. After this, more than two hundred carts are filled with provisions, and Xue Fanxiao, his mother, his wife, and the troops set off. A song relates that when Xue Fanxiao and the troops set out originally they were in high spirits and did not beat gongs or drums. This time they are angry and are coming for the kill, beating war drums, while cannons boom and smoke billows through the air. The song goes on to narrate that Xue Fanxiao marches on with the tassels on his helmet spread out in all directions, while his elephant-steed stirs up a cold wind. He marches in the middle of the army with the stewards Zhang Liang and Guo Xiao on his left and right. At this time, chaos arises among the troops of Western Liang. They come to do battle, shouting loudly that the young general has come back (song: pp. 134-136).
Xue Fanxiao rises his lance and whips his horse, and on horseback, he implores the spirit masters of the locality to protect Emperor Li Shimin, his mother and himself. Then he crushes into the midst of the enemy troops. When Xue Fanxiao passes through the first circle of the enemy troops that surround Suoyang City, a general of Western Liang orders him to halt and tell him his name. When he threatens Xue Fanxiao , shouting that he has come looking for his death, Xue Fanxiao raises his head and sees an ashen-faced man, two spans tall. His hair and beard has the colour of copper. He rides on a dappled horse, and grabs a crescent moon-shaped sword. He is wearing a silk battle robe with iron armour under it, and has a golden helmet on his head. Xue Fanxiao says in a loud voice that he is Xue Rengui’s son, and that he has come with auxiliary troops. The general of Western Liang has hardly finished saying that his name is Yang Kun when Xue Fanxiao dashes forth to fight with him. The ensuing duel between the two enemies is narrated in song. It describes how the two enemies are locked in fierce combat, matching each other’s strength, how their weapons clash, and how lightning flashes from the tips of their weapons. They fight to the utmost of their skills, but neither can defeat the other (song: pp. 139-140). After fighting thirty rounds, Xue Fanxiao, holds a whip of steel in his right hand. In his left hand he holds a lance levelled at Yang Kun’s flank. The whip descends on Yang Kun, and he tumbles from his horse. Xue Fanxiao cuts off Yang Kun’s head and hangs it on his horse’s neck. He rides off and when he breaks through the second circle of the enemy troops, four generals of the Western Liang headed by the commander Gai Bulong bar his way. Twirling his lance, Xue Fanxiao crushes into the midst of the enemies. A song describes a battle fought in wild confusion with heads falling, blood-soaked ground and the clattering of weapons. It also contains the description of how Gai Bulong of Western Liang whips his black horse and rushes at Xue Fanxiao, and how they fight against each other (song: pp. 142-145). The two enemies fight forty rounds, and when Xue Fanxiao can no longer withstand the enemy alone, Zhang Liang and Guo Xiao take the troops and join the fray. The battle that follows is narrated in song. The song also relates how Xue Fanxiao’s wife, Hou Xiaolan, enters the battle with her two swords dancing in the air and hitting back and forth with them. When she charges the enemy it is as if the waters of the Four Seas are splashing. It is as if the young of a white lion is running here and there in confusion. The song continues to narrate that when Gai Bulong of the Western Liang realises that he cannot win, he flees the field. Xue Fanxiao gallops after Gai Bulong in pursuit, and hits his horse’s rump with his steel whip, making Gai Bulong tumble from his horse. When Xue Fanxiao is on the point of striking him with the lance, Gai Bulong rushes towards his troops and disappears from view (song: pp.145-147).
The fierce battle takes its toll, and Xue Fanxiao ’s soldiers are all killed in battle. Then Xue Fanxiao approaches the fifth circle of the enemy troops that surround Suoyang City, along with the stewards Zhang Liang, Guo Xiao and Hou Xiaolan, Xue Fanxiao ’s wife, guarding the carts of provisions. At this moment, Emperor Li Shimin, Xu Maogong, and Xue Rengui are standing at the city gate marvelling at the courage of the hero Xue Fanxiao. A song describes Li Shimin and the officials watching Xue Fanxiao fighting his way out and emerging from yellow dust, covered in blood. Zhang Liang and Guo Xiao and Hou Xiaolan are also approaching. The song continues narrating that Xue Fanxiao, crosses the drawbridge and waits for his mother there. (song: pp. 149-150). In the meantime, the troops of Western Liang are shooting arrows, and Xue Fanxiao who is standing on the drawbridge wonders how he can find his way out, should the enemy attack. Just then he raises his head and sees three generals of the Tang army who have come to rescue him at Li Shimin’s command. Xue Fanxiao, Zhang Liang, Guo Xiao , Hou Xiaolan, and Xue Fanxiao’s mother, Fan Jinding come to the city gate. Fan Jinding kneels down before Li Shimin, and after exchanging words of greeting, Li Shimin turns to Xue Rengui and tells him that Xue Fanxiao has gone through thousands of perils to fetch his mother and now he should recognise Fan Jinding as his wife. Xue Rengui objects, insisting that the enemies have sent a mighty warrior like Xue Fanxiao to destroy them. On hearing this, Li Shimin argues that in the history books they have both read not even once is there any mention of a general who let his own soldiers be killed in order to infiltrate the enemy camp. Since Xue Rengui is not convinced, Li Shimin asks Fan Jinding to tell them if she truly is Xue Rengui’s second wife. Fan Jinding explains that on the third day of the first lunar month of spring of the eleventh year of the reign of Emperor Taizong, Xue Rengui came to Fan Family Village, that on the ninth day her father married her to him, and that Xue Rengui left her home three days after the wedding. She also mentions how at that time the hilt of Xue Rengui’s lance broke, how he came to her house, and how her father made a new hilt for him. When Li Shimin asks Fan Jinding if she could recognise Xue Rengui if she happened to see him, she states that she could recognise him from among ten thousand men. Thus forty men of the same height as Xue Rengui and wearing the same armour and helmet, with each holding a heavenly-square lance are asked to line up on a watchtower. A song describes Fan Jinding examining the men who are lined up on the watchtower (song: p. 160). When Fan Jinding confirms that Xue Rengui is the ninth man on the left-hand side, Li Shimin becomes furious and censures Xue Rengui for denying that Fan Jinding is his second wife.
At this moment, the army adviser
whispers some words in
Li Shimin turns to
Fan Jinding and asks her if she has a
marriage certificate to prove that she married
Xue Rengui. She says that she does have one, but she also stresses
that she has not come all this way to look for her husband. She has only
come to unable her son to meet his father and to get him to support
Emperor Li Shimin. After this,
Fan Jinding asks that
Xue Rengui’s lance be fetched. Two men bring the lance
and the hilt is removed. Inside its hole there is a piece of yellow silk
with words on it written in red by
’s father, which makes clear that his new son-in-law
Xue Rengui came to his home, that he made a
new hilt for his lance, and that he wrote the document as proof to his
Fan Jinding’s marriage to
Xue Rengui. On the strength of the
document, an enraged
Li Shimin severely
Xue Rengui for his disgraceful
behaviour and for deceiving and making a faithful woman suffer. As a
Xue Rengui is demoted three
degrees in rank by
Li Shimin, who also
takes away his seal of army commander.
, at this point, smiles and tells her son
Xue Fanxiao that his wish to meet his father has been
fulfilled and her task accomplished. After these words,
Fan Jinding steps back, runs forward and hits her head on
the southern gate of the city, and so she dies. A song laments the death of
Fan Jinding and describes her son
grieving for his mother’s death, and how all who are present break down in
tears (song: pp. 167-169).
Xue Fanxiao, overcome by grief, cries out his sadness for
his mother who has travelled a long way and found no good end. At this
Xu Maogong orders the gate to be
opened and let
Xue Fanxiao enter the city.
A song also relates that just when
, his wife, and the stewards
Zhang Liang and
enter the city, cannons are fired and
and one hundred
Western Liang are
approaching the city.
Xue Fanxiao takes
his mother’s dead body and goes in. Then the gate is sealed (song: pp. 170-172). After this,
Li Shimin orders that
be buried and the funeral rites be conducted. Dressed in white robe,
Xue Fanxiao mourns his mother. A song
describes a sad
Xue Fanxiao shedding tears
and regretting that he is unable to repay in this lifetime the goodness of
his mother, who carried him for ten months and nourished him with her first
milk (song: pp. 173-175). When
Xue Rengui sees his son mourning his mother, he takes
pity on him and embraces him. Then a song describes
Xue Rengui sobbing, and admitting his wrongdoing. He now
Xue Fanxiao as his son (song:
pp. 176-177). After this,
Li Shimin requests
to bury his second wife and conduct the funeral rites.
Li Shimin appoints
Xue Fanxiao as army commander and bestows the title of
Lord on him. Finally, provisions, silver and gold and other valuables which
have been taken there in carts are distributed among the Tang troops. This
is cause for celebration, and
shines with happiness, and with this the bard
Dorǰi concludes the performance of the tale.
In the song that follows the bard Dorǰi states that he has narrated a section of the entire story, and if he continued narrating the story of the thirty-six generals and soldiers of the Tang Empire, a month would not be sufficient to finish the story. Finally, the bard sings words of good wishes for Walther Heissig, who recorded the tale.