THE PEOPLE OF TAO-CHOU

In Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), in the land of Tao-chou (now in county Tao in Hunan Province), many of the people are dwarfs; The tallest of them never grow to more than three feet. They were sold in the market as dwarf slaves and yearly sent to Court; Described as “an offering of natural products from the land of Tao-chou.”

That custom of tribute dwarfish slave to the court has been in existence before Tang dynasty, and the local governor made a great profit of it, but the people suffered great, because that parted men from those they loved, never to meet again! Old men — weeping for their grandsons ; mothers for their children !

One day — Yang Ch’eng came to govern the land as the governor; He refused to send up dwarf slaves in spite of incessant mandates. He replied to the Emperor, “All people of Tao-chou are short, I don’t which to chose and send to the court,” and he also quoted from the ancient Sacred Books, and said, ” Your servant finds in the Six Canonical Books ‘ In offering products, one must offer what is there, and not what isn’t there ‘ On the waters and lands of Tao-chou, among all the things that live I only find dwarfish people ; no dwarfish slaves.”

The Emperor’s heart was deeply moved and he sealed and sent a scroll “The yearly tribute of dwarfish slaves is henceforth annulled.”

The people of Tao-chou, old ones and young ones, how great their joy! Father with son and brother with brother henceforward kept together; From that day for ever more they lived as free men. The people of Tao-chou still enjoyed the great gift of their governor. When they speak of the Governor. tears start to their eyes. And lest their children and their children’s children should forget the Governor’s name, when boys are born the syllable “Yang” is often used in their forename.

The people of Tao-chou also set up temples to remember Yang-cheng, and called him the God of Happiness, which was of the three gods: — the god of  fortune, the god of longevity and the god of happiness.

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