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Statue of Lady Wang and Qin Hui in Hangzhou. Visitors traditionally spit on the statues.

Qin Hui (Plantilla:Zh-tsp; 1090 - 1155), style name Huizhi (會之), was a Prime Minister of the Song Dynasty in China who is widely regarded as a traitor of the Han race for his part in the political execution of General Yue Fei.


Born in Jiangning (Present day Nanjing, Jiangsu, China), Qin won Jinshi in the Imperial examination of 1115. During the North Song Dynasty, Qin was an activist against the invasion of Jin Dynasty. He was captured along with Emperor Qinzong and Emperor Huizong in the Jingkang Incident. At this point of history, Qin's reputation was extremely good.

Some years later, he suddenly returned from captivity in the Jin empire to the capital of Emperor Gaozong. He claimed some sort of miraculous escape but quite some people expressed doubt regarding his story. However, he quickly won the emperor's favor and became the Prime Minister of the Southern Song empire in 1131. In the next year, he was removed from the position after impeachment. After some Song victories in 1137, the Jin empire was forced to reopen peace talks, and Qin gained power as a pacifist.

With Qin's help, the emperor suppressed the war hawks and signed the Treaty of Shaoxing with the Jin empire. The emperor basically accepted the status of being a vassal of the Jin empire publicly. To open the peace talks, the national hero general Yue Fei, who was famous for his loyalty, was killed in prison. Thus, Qin became notorious as a traitor, and quite some people suspected that Qin was a traitor deliberately released by the Jin empire for ulterior motives.

Popular legend holds that a descendant of Qin's, deeply ashamed of his ancestor's treachery, distinguished himself in the Chinese army and died in battle.

Cultural echo[]

The Story of Yue Fei states that after having Yue Fei, Yue Yun, and Zhang Xian arrested under false charges, Qin and his wife, Lady Wang (Plantilla:Zh-c), were sitting by the "eastern window", warming themselves by the fire, when he received a letter from the people calling for the release of the general. Qin was worried because after nearly two months of torture, he could not get Yue Fei to admit the false charges of treason and would eventually have to let him go. However, after a servant girl brought fresh oranges into the room, Lady Wang devised a plan to execute the general. She told Qin to slip an execution notice inside the skin of an orange and send it to the examining judge. This way, the general and his companions would be put to death before the Emperor or Qin himself would have to rescind an open order of execution.[1] This conspiracy became known as the “East-Window Plot”.[2] An anonymous novel was written about this called the Dong Chuang Ji ("Tale of the Eastern Window") during the Ming Dynasty.[3]

When asked by General Han Shizhong what crime Yue had committed, Qin Hui replied, "Though it isn't sure whether there is something that he did to betray the dynasty, maybe there is.” [4]The phrase "perhaps there is" or "could be true" (sometimes mistakenly translated as "there is no reason", Plantilla:Zh-tsp) has entered the Chinese language as an expression to refer to fabricated charges.[5][6]

For their part in Yue Fei's death, iron statues of Qin Hui, Lady Wang, and two of Qin Hui's subordinates, Moqi Xie (Plantilla:Zh-c) and Zhang Jun (Plantilla:Zh-c), were made to kneel before Yue Fei's tomb (located by Hangzhou's West Lake). For centuries, these statues have been cursed, spat and urinated upon by young and old. But now, in modern times, these statues are protected as historical relics.[7] There is a poem hanging on the gate surrounding the statues, it reads:

"The green hill is fortunate to be the burial ground of a loyal general, the white iron was innocent to be cast into the statues of traitors."[8]

The story of Qin and his wife are also said to be the origin of Youtiao[9].


Qin Hui The Stinker[]

The following is a folktale about one of Qin's descendants:

During the Ming Dynasty, the new Provincial Governor-General of Hangzhou, who was a direct descendant of Qin and Madam Wang, had both iron statues thrown into the West Lake under cover of night. The next day, the lake turned pitch-black and smelt of vomit. The townsfolk realized that the lake’s condition coincided with the statues' disappearance. When Official Qin arrived on the scene, the people questioned him about his relationship with Qin. Because he knew the statues had sunk to the bottom of the lake, he boasted "If anyone can really scoop the statues out of the lake, this official is waiting to resign and ask for punishment." At that exact moment, the murky water became clear and the statues drifted ashore as if propelled by an invisible force. The cowardly official bolted for his sedan when he saw this miraculous sight. The townsfolk pelted his sedan with rocks as he fled, many of them ripping through the curtain, giving him huge lumps on his head. That night, Official Qin escaped Hangzhou, never to be heard from again.[10]

The mad monk sweeps Qin out of the temple[]


'Qin Hui encounters the Monk of the Wind' from the Tale of the Eastern Window novel.

During the Southern Song Dynasty there were two famous Buddhists named the "Crazy monk" Ji Gong and the "Mad Monk" Fengbo. Monk Fengbo lived during the time of Yue Fei and became famous for "Sweeping Qin Hui’s face with a broom". The story is told after having Yue Fei imprisoned on false charges, Qin went to the Lingyin Temple to have his fortune read. There he was confronted by a laughing Feng Bo who asked, "Cao Cao was once a big hero, but where is he today?" The Prime Minster asked him what he meant in confusion. Fengbo said, "The principles of heaven are clear. Loyalty and treachery are self-evident. Goodness and evil will be met by reward or retribution. You, as the Prime Minister, hold a lot of power. Why do you want to murder a man who is as important to the country as a pillar to a house? Does the safety of the nation mean nothing to you?" Qin countered "Who is that pillar of the country?" "General Yue Fei!" screamed Fengbo. When Qin seemed unaffected by his words, Fengbo laughed and said, "What a fool! Repent now before it is too late." He then grabbed a broom and raked it across the Prime Minister’s face and quickly ran off. Feeling embarrassed, Qin returned to the palace a defeated man.

The boldness of the monk caught the attention of the common folk. It is said he would appear in crowded areas and begin to sweep the floor, even in the cleanest of places, and proclaim "sweeping Qin" as a reminder to the people that they should band together to eliminate the traitor Qin from office. The "Mad Monk" was later raised to the level of Arahat.

The statues of the "Mad and Crazy Monks" were often seen together in various temples throughout the Southern Song Dynasty. There are two such statues of these arahats in the Da Xiong Temple Hall of Zhan Tan Forest on the Jiu Hua Mountain. One of them is the "Crazy Monk" Ji Gong in the form of a deity and the other is the "Mad Monk" Fengbo holding a duster in one hand and a broom under his left armpit, standing ever ready to give the wicked Prime Minister another sweep.[11]

This is a derivative of an episode from The Story of Yue Fei, which mentions no "sweeping" at all. The fortuneteller's name was "Xie Renfu of Chengdu" and he told the fortunes of both Emperor Gaozong and Qin Hui, who were in disguise, in the Dragon's Intonation Monastery. When Qin returned to the palace he sent men to arrest the fortuneteller, but he had fled the city out of fear once he discovered who they really were.[1]

See also[]

Footnotes and references[]

  • History of Song Volume 473, Biography of Qin Hui
  • History of Song Volume 365, Biography of Yue Fei
  1. 1,0 1,1 Qian, Cai. General Yue Fei. Trans. Honorable Sir T.L. Yang. Joint Publishing (H.K.) Co., Ltd. (1995) ISBN 978-962-04-1279-0
  2. Tang, Xianzu. The Peony Pavilion: Mudan ting, Second Edition. Trans. Cyril Birch. Indiana University Press; 2nd edition, 2002 (ISBN 0-2532-1527-7)
  3. Trapped behind Walls: Ming Writing on the Wall
  4. History of Song, Volume 365, Biography of Yue Fei:「獄之將上也,韓世忠不平,詣檜詰其實,檜曰:『飛子雲與張憲書雖不明,其事體莫須有。』」
  5. Li, Y. H. & Lu, D. S., eds (1982), Chinese Idiom Dictionary. Sichuan Publishing, Chengdou.
  6. Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio Volume 4:「殺人莫須有!至辱詈搢紳,則生實為之,無與叔事。」
  7. Archaeologists to Excavation of Possible Tomb of Qin Hui
  8. Yue Fei's Tomb
  9. West Lake, a Collection of Folktales (ISBN 9620400542) page 181.
  10. Listen to this Story
  11. An Allusion from History: A Buddhist Monk Feng Bo Upholds Righteousness

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