The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 1

His Filial Piety Moves Heaven and Earth

Emperor Shun was mistreated by his father and stepmother since childhood. They attempted to harm him but were unsuccessfully for many times, yet he still remained filial to them. The Heavenly God was touched by his filialness. Emperor Yao chose Shun to succeed his position as Emperor.  

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 2

He Tasted His Mother's Medicine

When his mother was ill for three years, Liu Heng (Emperor Wen of Han Dynasty) personally took care of her and paid careful attention to her needs. When medicine was served to her, he insisted on tasting it first. His filial piety was greatly known. 

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 3

He Felt Pain in His Heart When His Mother Bit Her Finger

Zheng Shen, a student of Confucius, was known for his filial piety. He once put forward the self-cultivation method of “I reflect myself for three times a day”. One day, a guest visited his home and his mother became perplexed. She bit her fingers with her teeth, and Zeng Shen suddenly felt a pain in his heart. He knew his mother was calling on him and returned home immediately. 

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 4

He Carried Rice for Hundred Miles

Zhong You, a student of Confucius, came from a poor family. He often had to carry back a sack of rice with wild vegetables to feed his parents. After he became a prime minister, he wrote “The Filial Book” advising people to be filial to their parents.  

 

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 5

He Obeyed His Mother and Wore Thin Clothes

Min Sun, a student of Confucius, was ill-treated by his stepmother. During winter, his stepmother prepared a coat made of reed catkins for him. His father wanted to expel Min's stepmother from the family. However, Min kneeled and pleaded with his father to spare his stepmother. Min's stepmother was finally touched by his action.

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 6

He Fed His Parents with Doe's Milk

Tan Zi lived during the Spring and Autumn Period. His elderly parents were ill and needed doe's milk to cure them. Tan Zi covered himself with deer's skin and went to the mountain to get doe’s milk. With the help of a hunter, he managed to catch a doe and obtain its milk. His parents were cured. 

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 7

He Dressed Up to Amuse His Parents

Laolaizi lived in the Chu state during the Spring and Autumn Period. He was very filial to his parents. Even in his seventies, he still dressed up in bright coloured clothes, played with toys, and behaved in a childish manner to amuse his parents and keep them happy.

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 8

He Sold Himself for His Father's Funeral

Dong Yong lived during the Eastern Han Period. His parents died when he was young. He sold himself in exchange for the money to bury them. The Heavenly God was touched by his action. The Heaven Maiden descended to earth to marry him and help him to gain back his freedom. 

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 9

He Carved Wooden Figures of His Parents to Serve Them

Ding Lan, who lived during the Western Han Period, was orphaned at a young age, but he missed his parents so much that he carved wooden figurines in their likeness and worshipped them as a sign of his yearning of them.

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 10

He Laboured to Support His Mother

Jiang Ge was from the state of Qi during the Eastern Han period. His father died when he was a teenager. During chaotic period he fled and carried his mother on his back. When they encountered robbers intended to kill them on the journey, Jiang pleaded with them to spare him and his mother. Later, he worked hard to ensure that his mother could live comfortably. During the reign of Emperor Ming he was called “filial and upright”.

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 11

He Hid Oranges for His Mother

Lu Ji lived during the Era of Three Kingdom. When he was six years old, his father once brought him to a visit. The host treated them to mandarin oranges. Lu took two and hid them in his sleeve in order for her mother to taste it, but the oranges fell to the floor. He was laughed at for this. However when he revealed the reason for his action, he was praised for his filial piety. 

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 12

He Buried His Son for His Mother

Guo Ju lived during the Jin Era in Longlü (a place knows today as Lin municipality in Henan).   His family was poor and he was unable to feed her mother. He made the decision to bury his son in order to be able to feed her mother. While Guo was digging, he discovered gold which was a gift to him from Heaven. With the gold, Guo was able to provide for his whole family.

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 13

He Fanned the Pillow and Warmed the Blanket

Huang Xiang, who lived during the Eastern Han era in Anlu, lost his mother when he was nine years old and was very filial to his father. During summer, Huang fanned his father's pillow to ensure that his father could sleep comfortably at night. In winter, he wrapped himself with his father's blanket to warm it.

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 14

He Picked Mulberries for His Mother

Cai Shun lived during the Han era in Runan. He lost his father when he was young. There was no rice in his house so Cai and his mother ate mulberries to sustain themselves. He ate black mulberries with his mother and he ate red mulberries alone. The Red Eyebrow Army was touched by his action and sent him rice and beef  as a sign of respect.   

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 15

The Fountain Bubbled and the Carps Leapt Out

Jiang Shi lived during the Eastern Han period. He and his wife were both very filial and routinely went to the lake to collect water and to catch fish for his mother. Their filial piety touched the Heavenly God. One day, a fountain suddenly burst out in front of the house and two carps also leapt out of the fountain every day. From then on, Jiang and his wife no longer needed to travel to the lake to collect water and catch fish.

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 16

He Cried at His Mother's Grave When He Hears Thunder

Wang Pou lived during the Wei-Jin period. His mother was afraid of the sound of thunder when she was still living. After she died, she was buried inside a jungle. Whenever Wang heard thunder, he rushed to her grave to kneel before her tombstone and comfort her.

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 17

She Breastfed Her Mother-in-Law

Cui Shannan lived during the Tang Dynasty. Cui's great grandmother, Madam Tang, was very filial. When she was young, she breastfed her mother-in-law who was unable to eat. After Cui Shanan became a high ranking official, she was very filial to his grandmother. The descendants of Cui family were known for their filialness and were widely praised. 

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 18

He Laid on Ice in Search of Carp

Wang Xiang lived in Langya. His mother died during his childhood and he was mistreated by his stepmother. Once, during winter, his sick stepmother wanted to eat carp. Wang didn’t hate his stepmother for her mistreatment of him. He travelled to the frozen river and laid on the icy surface. The ice thawed and two carps emerged to the surface. His stepmother recovered from her illness after she ate the carps. 

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 19

He Fed Mosquitoes with His Blood

Wu Meng lived during the Jin Dynasty in Puyang. He was known to be filial to his parents since he was eight year old. His family was poor and could not afford mosquito nets. He afraid his father couldn’t sleep well because of mosquitos. He stripped and sat in front of his father’s bed to allow mosquitoes to suck his blood without chasing them out.

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 20

He Strangled a Tiger to Save His Father

Yang Xiang lived during the Jin Dynasty. When Yang Xiang was 14, he once followed his father to harvest the crops. A tiger suddenly appeared and carried his father away by its mouth. Yang strangled the tiger without thinking of his safety and managed to save his father. 

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 21

He Cried and the Bamboo Sprouted

Meng Zong lived during The Period of Three Kingdoms. His father died when he was young. When his mother was ill, the physician suggested to cure her illness with fresh bamboo shoots.It was in winter. Meng hug the bamboo shoots and cried. Suddenly, fresh bamboo shoots sprouting out of the ground. She recovered from her illness after consuming it.

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 22

He Tasted His Father's Faeces and Worried about His Father

Yu Qianlou was an official in Nanqi Kingdom.  When his father was ill, the physician told him that the way to check his father's condition was to taste his faeces. If they tasted bitter, it meant that his father was fine. Yu then tasted his father's faeces and found that they tasted sweet, so he became very worried. After his father died, he mourned for three years.

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 23

He Gave Up His Official Career to Search for His Mother

Zhu Shouchang lived during the Song Dynasty. When Zhu Shouchang was seven year old, his mother was forced to married another man. He never heard from his mother for fifty years. When he became a government officer, he received clues of her whereabouts. He gave up his career, and tried to locate her. After a few years, he was eventually reunited with his mother.

The Twenty-four Chinese Filial Exemplars, Story 24

He Washed His Mother's Bedpan

Huang Tingjian lived during the Northern Song Dynasty. He was very filial to his mother and took care of her personally even though he was a high ranking government official. Every night he would wash his mother's bedpan and fulfil his responsibility as a son.