We now see that “Imperial Plowing and Weaving” is a redraw of the “Offering to the Gods” of “Plowing and Weaving” using Lou Wang Shou’s drawing as the blueprint. It was done by the Jiangnan gentry during Kangxi’s southern tour in the 28th year of the Kangxi reign (1689). Seeing the vividness of each picture, Kangxi personally inscribed a poem on the top of each picture, with “Yuanjianzhai” stamps at the beginning of each poem, and “Kangxi Baohan” and “Baohe Taihe” stamps at the end, all in red color. They are now stored in the National Library and have become precious art relics to be appreciated and researched by future generations.
The “Imperial Plowing and Weaving” was first painted in the early Shaoxing years of the Southern Song Dynasty by Lou Wang Shou; it was called “Plowing and Weaving.” “Plowing and Weaving” was divided into “plowing” and “weaving.” “Plowing” illustrates the whole process of agriculture from “soaking seeds” to “storage” in a total of 21 panels. “Weaving” includes a total of 24 drawings from “bathing silkworms” to ” Offering to the gods.” The “Picking cocoon,” “Selecting cocoon,” and “Sorting out silk” pictures were transported to ancient Greece and Rome through the Silk Road, and are still in the London Library collection, and were written about in “A Global History.” There are also a large number of “plowing” and “weaving” panels remaining in China. There are 27 of them on the wall painting of Huangze Temple, Guangyuan; and there are more than ten “plowing and weaving” panels on the pagoda in the village of Jinhe, Yanting Sanyuan Township, which is the hometown of Leizu (the legendary empress who discovered sericulture and invented the silk loom). When I was a child, I didn’t know what these drawings were, but they were so colorful and pretty that we named them “Little Wang Er Plowing the Field,” “Old Man Wang Soaking Seeds,” and “Silly Aunt Raising Silkworms,” etc.
The seven-character stanzas in the poem on Kangxi’s inscription on the “Offering to the Gods” panel in “Imperial Plowing and Weaving” reads: “To work hard and worship God, happy to get the silk into the wish has been fulfilled, since the Xiling merit, ten thousand years of clothing has benefited boundless.” It can be seen that this is Kangxi’s description and praise for the content of the picture. He did not comment on the artistic value or his appreciation of the picture, but praised the custom of worshiping God and ancestors in Xiling, Western Shu, thus expressing his respect to the daughter of Xiling, Leizu, for her invention of planting mulberry, sericulture, silk, and benefiting Chinese descendants of the virtue for thousands of years.
The five-character poem of Sacrificial Gratitude on the picture of “Offering to the Gods” reads: “Before spring, the silkworm market was made, and the great event was spread to Western Shu; this state enjoys the heavenly silkworms and then worships the silk all over the eyes. Horse leather wrapped jade muscle, God is not insulted, although it was said that the matter is small, it is solved as a blessing to the people.” This is the analysis of the picture by the author Lou Wangshou. the poem expresses the author’s ideals and ambitions in life.
In the poem, the author first sketches out the silk breeders in this state of Western Shu. After the spring silk market, with a joyful mood, they worship the ancestor of the silkworm Leizu to bless them with a good harvest. The author sees the people’s reverence for people of merit and virtue and thinks that if he were to go to the battlefield, he must achieve something for his country, and even though he dies, he will be honored. If not, he would like to spend his life for the people and be a respected person like Leizu.
Additionally, it can be appreciated from this poem that Lou Wangshou saw from the surface of the picture the Western Sichuan state enjoying the first sericulture, focusing on his aspirations. While Kangxi, as the son of heaven (an emperor), looked farther ahead, he thought of the great achievements Leizu brought to the world as the leader of the ancient country of Xiling 5,000 years ago.
In the Tang Dynasty, Li Bai’s mentor, Zhao Lei, recorded in the “Tang Tablet” that Leizu was buried in the present Yanting Jinji Town, Qinglong Mountain, which was a part of the ancient country of Xiling but was questioned by some people. Over the years, many experts and scholars have examined the history and local historical records and proposed that the ancient Xiling country must be in line with the theory of many history books in six scientific standards, including era, geography, orientation, watersheds, near neighbors, and folklore, before concluding the real existence of the ancient country of Xiling. in 1992, the national experts and scholars held a symposium on Leizu in Yichang. At the conference, the experts and scholars argued a total of five different countries and regions, namely, Yichang, Huanggang, Xishui, Diexi, and Yanting. It turned out that the first four were not consistent with the standards and were hard to be connected to the ancient country of Xiling. The only one left, Yanting, was not only consistent with all six standards but also had evidence from many aspects, such as archaeology, local literature, and place names. Therefore, it was generally agreed by experts and scholars from around the country that Yanting County, Sichuan was the location of ancient Xiling and the hometown of Leizu. Other relics, legends, or ruins of Leizu’s trace were places where Leizu taught mulberry planting, and sericulture and lived when she traveled around the country. These places are also worth studying in Leizu culture. When the national authoritative history book “China Yanhuang Huidian” was published, special personnel were sent to Yanting to take pictures and write articles to be compiled into the book as the conclusion of the historiography. From then on, the controversy over the ancient Xiling land was settled.
Lou Wangshou’s poem recorded Leizu in Western Shu, and Kangxi’s poem recorded Leizu in Xiling. They were just the same as the research of experts and scholars nowadays, proving Yanting as the location of ancient Xiling once again.
Mr. Meng Wentong said in “Han Guru Pavilion Examination”: “Guru water in the territory of today’s Yanting, was known as Xiling River in ancient times.” Studying the local records, we know that: in ancient times, small tribes built the Xiling vassal state along the Xiling River, and selected Leizu, who invented sericulture, silk, and clothing as the chief. It was a strong country with a big territory. Later, the ancient Xiling country was united with the Central Plains by the marriage of Leizu and the Yellow Emperor, and Rayon Zu toured the world to teach the technique of planting mulberry and raising silkworms, and the strong ancient Xiling country gradually became weaker. With time changing, it was annihilated in the long river of history. Fortunately, although the ancient Xiling Kingdom no longer exists, there is still a great deal of folklore about it. Worship of Leizu in various places has never been extinguished, the remnants of the ruins still exist in large quantities, such as Yanting Sanyuan Cage Village marriage site, Huangdian Town Leizu Xuan dragon phoenix auspicious place, Shehong Leizu Silk Pool power station name, the southern Silk Uncle (Aunt) Mountain, Zhongjiang Phoenix Hill, etc. A large number of mountains and land belonging to the original ancient Xiling still retain the names related to Leizu, Pheonix, and Silk, which is also regarded as the cultural and psychological memory of the descendants of the Chinese nation in pursuit of the good, and is a tribute to the virtues of Leizu, the mother of the creation of the history of human civilization.