Stories About Lu Yü

Hulu jushi fanyi






Feng Yan (active ca. 755-794 A.D.)
Record of Things Heard and Seen
Chapter 6
“Drinking Tea”

In the Discourse on Tea, Lu Hongjian of Chu explained the merits and methods of brewing and toasting of tea, devising twenty-four tea implements and using an elegant case in which to store them. Near and far, everyone imitated him, and every proper household kept a case of tea implements. Because of his teachings and embellishments, Lu Hongjian, as well as Zhang Boxiong, created a great movement in the art of tea. Princes and nobles and courtiers without exception all drank tea. Li Jiqing, the Censor in Chief, was sent to inspect the Jiangnan region and arrived at the district offices of Huai County. He was told that Zhang Boxiong excelled at tea, whereupon Lord Li summoned Zhang to attend him. Boxiong was dressed in a yellow, sleeveless gown and a black, silk cap, carrying in his own hands his tea utensils. He spoke with authority on the names of tea, showing discernment and giving instruction, expounding on the changes in methods. When the tea was brewed, Li sipped only two cups. Arriving in the Jiangnan region, Li was told that Lu Hongjian was skilled at tea, whereupon Lord Li summoned Hongjian to attend him. Hongjian wore rustic robes and entered accompanying his tea implements. After sitting, he earnestly gave instruction just as Boxiong had done. But in his heart, Li despised him. When the tea was over, Li ordered a servant to take thirty coins to pay “Doctor Tea Cook.” Having traveled widely throughout the south, Hongjian was intimately familiar with fame and celebrity, but this was a shameful incident to which he reacted by writing the Discourse on the Ruination of Tea.



Yan Zhenqing (709-785 A.D.)
“Inscription on the Stele along the Spirit Path of the Honorable Master Li, Grand Master of the Palace with Gold Seal and Purple Ribbon, Acting Grand Mentor of the Heir Apparent, Concurrent Chamberlain for the Imperial Clan, Chief Minister, Minister of Works, Supreme Pillar of State, and Dynasty-founding Duke of Longxi County,” excerpt
Complete Literary Works of the Tang Dynasty
Chapter 342

His Eminence Li Qiwu was demoted to Prefect of Jingling Prefecture. At the time, Lu Yü Hongjian accompanied the Master on a tour of inspection of the region. Lu Yü stated that Li Qiwu stepped from his carriage and summoned his officers, saying to them: ‘Among officials, there are those who do not cultivate the sacred rites; among Buddhists and Daoists, there are those who are incompetent at monastic discipline; and among the common people, there are those who are reckless and impulsive. Before my taking office, none were held responsible. But from now onward, offenders will be relentlessly pursued.’ Within a number of years, the state of the prefecture completely changed, and Jingling flourished and prospered as in the golden age of the ancient sage emperor Fuxi.



Li Zhao (flourished circa 818-821 C.E.)
Supplement to the Dynastic History of the Tang, 827 A.D.
Chapter 3

In the Jiangnan region, there was a station master who did things his own way. When the governing prefect arrived on an official tour of inspection, the station master simply said, “The station is all in order. Please make your review.” Thereupon, the prefect proceeded. He first saw a room with the sign “Wine Storage” where various drafts were brewed. On the outside of the room was painted the image of a deity. The prefect asked, “What is this?” To which the station master answered, “That is Du Kang, the Sage of Wine.” The prefect then said, “Everywhere this is so.” At another room, the sign read “Tea Storage,” where tea was stored, and again there was an image of a deity. “What is that?” “That is Lu Hongjian, the Sage of Tea.” The prefect thought it was excellent and approved. At another room, the sign read “Pickle Storage,” where pickles were prepared. Again, there was a deity. “What is this?” The official said, “Cai Bojie.” The prefect laughed out loud, saying: “No need to display this!”



Zhou Yüan (active ca. 773-816 A.D.)
“Composing Three Expressions of Being Moved after Visiting West Pagoda as Metropolitan Governor of Jingling”
Complete Literary Works of the Tang Dynasty
Chapter 620

The writings of the ancients included banners and funerary palls, songs of the meritorious, the heterodoxy and apocrypha, and works cherishing the past: flags of praise were posthumously bestowed; songs of the worthy were genuine expressions of form; the unorthodox were simply eccentric and unconventional; reverence for the bygone revealed true human feeling. In contrast, casting inscriptions in bronze and carving them in stone aggrieve the spirits. These are not respectful but rather quite maudlin. And what of my writings, do they revere the past? Objectively speaking, what are they to be taken as?

I, Zhou Yüan, who having written “His Honor Ma Zong of Fufen and his Military Commission over the One Hundred Ethnic Minorities,” formerly worked with the Honorable Li Fu of Longxi, Governor of Nanhai. Li Fu was ordered to move to Huatai. When Ma joined me on Li’s staff, it was in Lingnan at Rongzhou and Guangzhou for about seven meteoric years. Now, Ma Zong’s meritorious contributions fill the world, his literary compositions fly forth from his brush, and as Military Commissioner of Nanhai, he is mother and father to its people. By comparison, I, Zhou Yüan, as a mere provincial governor, just look frail and weak. But, we two are enveloped with one another like “twin carp,” each of us harboring deep regard for the regions of Chu and Yüe. Li Fu, however, lived but a short life and died young. This indeed is the first expression of being so moved and stirred!

Li Fu’s father was the late Li Qiwu, who was a man of great virtue and Governor of Jingling. Because he was born during his father’s days as governor, Li Fu was given the name Fu. Alas! I, Zhou Yüan, who carelessly and disgracefully administers Li Qiwu’s province, was on Li Fu’s staff, and I now govern his father’s prefectural realm. Alack! Li Qiwu! In the official residence, the songs and bells are now extinguished, and Li Qiwu has been buried these many years – now only tears and lamentations. This is indeed the second expression of being so moved and stirred.

For many unbroken years, the Imperial Instructor to the Heir Apparent Lu Yü and I were aides together in Li Fu’s office. Lu Yü was truly my brother! In his Autobiography, Lu wrote he was from Jingling. At the time, he said, “Jingling is beautiful. There is no place better than my hometown.” Now, I administer his town of Jingling. Remembering his words, Lu Yü truly did not exaggerate. Ma Zong also knew Lu Yü. Speaking on his behalf, Ma addressed Lu Yü’s background. Lacking records in the ancestral shrine, Lu Yü began life as a foundling, and until he came of age at nineteen, he lived the life of a Buddhist monk, received Buddhist teachings and its Law, and esteemed the Buddha. A saint, indeed!

Lu Yü, sobriquet Hongjian, a serious scholar of the One Hundred Schools and a companion to half the dignitaries and senior officials under Heaven. He was, moreover, a straightforward and honest critic, a practitioner of witty repartee – a lofty and sublime recluse whose literary works and integrity are incomparable. Ah!

In the west of my prefectural seat, there is Fufu, a place that is round like a mountain top and in the middle of which is a monastery and a pagoda. The bamboo there – as big around as an arm – is a dark green thicket, indeed a living portrait of Hongjian’s teacher. My, such sadness! Resembling a mountain peak, the bamboo of Chu surrounds the pagoda. The abbot whose remains are buried within the pagoda is the same monk who raised and nurtured Lu Yü. The cane in front of the pagoda is the same bamboo once planted and cultivated by Lu Yü.

I look upon the pagoda, the earthly memorial to the elder monk. The bamboo grows old and weathered, and Lu Yü is long gone. As a governor of Chu, I come to Fufu and its Buddhist cloister. It is daylight, and there is no incense burning for Lu Yü. All is abandoned, scattered and lost. My robes tremble in the Chu wind. This is indeed the third expression of being so moved and stirred.

Written in verse, seven characters per line. If Li Fu could read the Three Expressions of Being Moved, how could he hold back his tears and not be sad? Delivered below the pagoda, this composition is Zhou Yüan’s crowning achievement.



願與百越節度使扶風馬公,曩時俱為南海連率隴西李公復從事 。公詔移滑台,扶風公洎予又為幕下賓,從容兩地,七改星火。今扶風公勛庸滿世,文翰飛走,續鎮南海,(11)作民父母﹔而願才貌單薄,亦為刺史。繇是二客雙鯉 ,殷勤於楚越。隴西短齡閱川而物故,予感一也。


羽,字鴻漸,百氏之典學鋪在手掌,天下賢士大夫半與之游。加以方口諤諤,坐能諧謔,世無奈何,文行如軻,所不至者,貴位而已矣。噫!我州之左,有覆釜之地,圓似頂狀,中立塔廟, 篁大如臂,碧籠遺影,蓋鴻漸之本師像也。悲歟!似頂之地,楚篁繞塔。塔中之僧,羽事之僧﹔塔前之竹,羽種之竹。視夫僧影泥破,竹枝筠老而羽亦終。予作楚牧,因來頂中道場,白日無羽香火,遐嘆零落,衣搖楚風,其感三也。是為三感說七言詩以語陳事。



Li Fang (925-996 A.D.)
Extensive Records of the Taiping Era, 978 A.D.
Chapter 399
“Lu Hongjian”

In the spring of 814, Zhang Youxin, who had just become famous, arranged to gather with other National University Students of Grace at the Jianfu Temple. Youxin and Li Deyü arrived first and went to rest in the quarters of the monk Xüanjian along the west corridor of the monastery. Just then a monk from Chu arrived and set down a bag to rest. The bag contained several books. Youxin took out a volume and read through it. The writing was all notes and closely detailed. At the end were inscribed the words A Record of Water for Brewing (the word “record” was originally the word “places” according to the emendation of a Ming dynasty copy). In the time of Emperor Taizong [sic], Li Jiqing was governor of Huzhou. When he arrived at Weiyang, he met the recluse Hongjian. Li Jiqing had heard of Lu Yü and was pleased with the chance travel with him. When they arrived at the post station along the Yangzi, it was about dinner time. Li Jiqing said, “Master Lu excels at the art of tea. All under Heaven know this. The water at Nanling along the Yangzi is also exceptional. Today the chance meeting of these two marvelous things is one in a thousand. Why neglect this opportunity?” He ordered a trustworthy and diligent military officer to take a jar and a boat to the deepest part of the Nanling to fetch water. While waiting, Lu Yü cleaned his utensils. Very soon after, the water arrived. Lu Yü used a ladle to scoop out some, saying, “This is indeed river water, but it is not drawn from Nanling. It seems to be water taken from along the shore.” The officer replied, “I rowed the boat and entered the deepest part of the water. This was witnessed by several hundred people. How dare I deceive you?” Lu Yü said nothing, and then he poured from the jar half the water and quickly stopped. Again, he used a ladle to scoop out some and said, “Now this is water from Nanling.” Suddenly startled, the officer hastily knelt and said, “As I was holding the jar level from the Nanling to the riverbank, the boat swayed and the water spilled. Fearing the loss, I added water from the shore. The recluse’s discernment is divine insight, indeed! Who dares conceal or deceive him! Li Jiqing was amazed and filled with admiration. The several tens of bystanders were all shocked and alarmed. Since Lu Yü’s perception was so keen, Li then asked him if he would judge the merits and demerits of water from the places he experienced. Lu said, “The water of Chu is superior. The water of Jin is the most inferior.” Li Jiqing then arranged a sequence of water from places all ranked according to Lu Yü. (This was published as the Book of Water)


元和九年春,張又新始成名,與同恩生期於薦福寺。又新與李德裕先至,憩西廊僧玄鑒室。會才有楚僧至,置囊而息,囊有數編書。又新偶抽一通覽焉,文細密,皆雜記,卷末又題雲《煮水紀》(“記”原作“處”,據明抄本改)。太宗朝,李季卿刺湖州,至維揚,遇陸處士鴻漸。李素熟陸名,有傾蓋之歡,因赴郡。抵揚子驛中,將食,李曰:“ 陸 君善茶,蓋天下聞,揚子江南零水,又殊絕。今者二妙千載一遇,何曠之乎!”命軍士信謹者,挈瓶操舟,深詣南零取水,陸潔器以俟。俄水至,陸以杓揚水曰:“江則江矣,非南零者,似臨岸者。”使曰:“某棹舟深入,見者累百人,敢绐乎?”陸不言,既而傾諸盆,至半,陸遽止。又以杓揚之曰:“自此南零者矣。”使蹶然大駭,馳下曰:某自南零赍齊至岸,舟蕩半,懼其尠,挹岸水以增之。處士之鑒,神鑒也,其敢隱欺乎!”李大驚賞,從者數十輩,皆大驚愕。李因問陸,既如此,所經歷之處,水之優劣可判矣。陸曰:“楚水第一,晉水最下。”李因命口佔而次第之。(出《水經》


09. January 2015 by Steven D. Owyoung
Categories: Literature, Literature, Translation | Comments Off on Stories About Lu Yü