4,500-year-old Yan Emperor links modern neighbors

Updated: 2016-05-16 08:40

By Sun Ruisheng / Li Yang(China Daily)

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About 2,000 people, more than half of them from Taiwan, attended an annual memorial ceremony on Saturday for the Yan Emperor in what is thought to have been his hometown in Gaoping, Shanxi province.

The Yan Emperor was a legendary Chinese ruler who lived about 4,500 years ago. He is also known as Shennong, or holy farmer, and is credited with spreading farming technology, inventing tools, finding herbs and collecting grain seeds.

The eighth day of the fourth month on the Chinese lunar calendar, which fell on Saturday this year, is believed to be the birthday of the Yan Emperor. The ceremony was held at a newly renovated tomb and adjacent temple, which consists of about 300 halls covering 11 hectares.

Yok Mu-ming, president of Taiwan's New Party, who was a keynote speaker, said: "Chinese from the two sides of the Taiwan Straits have the same ancestors. The purpose of our joint memorial for the Yan Emperor is peace and harmony for future generations. The two sides should help each other's economy for the rise of China."

It is estimated that there are 146 Yan Emperor temples in Taiwan.

Some delegates of the temples took part in the ceremony and will take back incense ashes as a symbol of the two sides' sharing the same root.

Residents offered ritual sacrifices before a statue of the Yan Emperor, and some students from Taiwan who attend a school in Dongguan performed for the ceremony.

Song Heping, spokesman for the Gaoping government, said there are hundreds of ancient temples, stone tablets and historical sites, as well as a strong folk culture surrounding the Yan Emperor in Gaoping, dating to at least 2,000 years ago. The county - specifically the region around Yangtou Mountain - was believed to be the emperor's birthplace, main region of activity and burial site.

Contact the writers at liyang@chinadaily.com.cn

 4,500-year-old Yan Emperor links modern neighbors

Students in traditional costumes perform during the annual memorial ceremony for the Yan Emperor in Gaoping, Shanxi province, on Saturday. Sun Ruisheng / China Daily

(China Daily 05/16/2016 page5)