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    Xiangqi Stories

    Meng Changjun Played Xiangqi and Danced with Lady Zheng (Click Here for Artwork)

    Meng Changjun was one of the Four Gentlemen of the Zhan Guo Period (Warring States). His real name was Tian Wen, who succeeded his father (Tian Ying) as the Duke of Xue (South East of Teng in Shangdong). Meng loved knowledge and he invited thousands of scholars as his house-guests. Wang Anshi of the Song Dynasty once porteayed Meng as the leader of bandits, because of his hospitality of inviting almost anyone to his house. This is not fair. We know at least one of his house-guests, Feng Guan was a great accountant with far sight. Meng lent money to thousands in the land of Xue. Instead of collecting these debts for Meng, Feng burnt all the I-owe-you contracts, making Meng extremely popular among the people of Xue.

    Among his house-guests, there were musicians, dancers, and experts of Xiangqi. Liu Xian mentioned in Shuo Yuan, 'Meng Changjun played Xiangqi and danced with Lady Zheng.' Zheng may be a famous prostitute of the time.

    It was also recorded in Shi Ji that Yong Men Zhou (from the land of Qi) came to see Meng carrying a yangqin (a musical instrument). Meng was in the midst of a Xiangqi game, and told Zhou that he would keep him as a house-guest if Zhou can make him sad with the music of his yangqin. Zhou replied, 'My music can only sadden those who became poor after experiencing great wealth in life. How can you be sad while playing Xiangqi and dancing with lady Zheng?' Meng answered, 'I do have issues that depress me.' Zhou replied, 'Ah! Both the Chou and Qin kingdoms are expanding left and right. Regardless of who wins, the land of Xue will be doomed. Do you still feel like playing Xiangqi and dancing?' He thus proceeded to play a melody for Meng, and Meng was greatly saddened. Afterwards, Meng greeted Zhou and told him, 'Your music made me feel like a homeless man after the fall of my kingdom, and I couldn't control my emotion.' Indeed, Meng accepted Zhou as his house-guest and treated him with great respect. From this, we can see that the term Xiangqi was already common as early as the Warring States.
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