Emperor Kangxi’s Filial Piety

Zheng Jian, Contributor, Dora Li, Contributing Translator

At the age of eight, Emperor Kangxi (1654–1722) ascended the throne. He was Emperor of China for 61 years and laid a solid foundation for the prosperous Qianlong period of the Qing Dynasty when his grandson ruled. Kangxi was one of the most outstanding emperors in Chinese history.

In the 10th year of Kangxi’s reign (1672), Kangxi’s grandmother learned that there was a freshwater spring called “The OneGreat Spring” at China’s northern border. It was said that the spring water had a miraculous effect in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis,so she asked to go to this spring for her legs. Kangxi happily agreed upon hearing the request. He immediately sent someone to build a palace for her near the spring in Chi City.

The second year after the construction of the palace was completed, Emperor Kangxi personally led the team of royal ministers in accompanying the Empress Dowager, his grandmother, to Chi City. They traveled for six days, through the Desheng Gate, a major pass through the Great Wall. On their way, when the road was dangerous, Kangxi would dismount from his chariot and use his hands to guide his grandmother’s chariot to make sure she was safe. When they crossed the Huailai Pontoon Bridge, Kangxi was afraid that the bridge was not solid enough. He went on the bridge first to test it, and then let his grandmother pass. During the journey, whenever she took a rest or had her meal, Kangxi personally aided her.

Kangxi’s grandmother stayed in Chi City for 51 days. During this time, no matter where she lived, no matter how dangerous the road was, no matter how cold the weather was, Kangxi went to see his grandmother every day, sometimes twice a day, and the distance of the trips was as far as 60 li (about 20 miles). This fully displayed Kangxi’s benevolence and his filial piety toward his grandmother.


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