|Portrait of Liu Bowen
Somebody may question why Beijing (Northern Capital) as China’s capital is established over here. Actually, it is closely connected with the story that Prince Yanwang (Zhu Di（1360-1424）, 朱棣，Emperor Cheng Zu, the third emperor of Ming Dynasty) pacified Northern China.
Zhu Di was assigned to be the king of Yan Area, which today covers Beijing, Hebei province and some parts of Shanxi provinces, when he was young. He was quite talented and perhaps was the most excellent candidate to be the emperor of Ming Dynasty. When Zhu Di lived in Nanjing, he had planned to build a capital in northern China, therefore, he inquired Liu Bowen(刘伯温, one of most important founders of Ming Dynasty) about the location of establishing the northern capital. Liu Bowen answered to him: “please let General Xu Da(徐达, another important founder of Ming Dynasty) take charge of this affair”. Zhu Di summoned Xu Da at once. Liu Bowen told Xu Da: “It will be decided by your strength and your archery, and it would be the location of northern capital where your arrow touches”. Xu Da agreed and shot an arrow towards north at the outside of palace of Nanjing. Liu Bowen hurried up to go after the arrow following Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal
The arrows did not stop until arrived in Nan Yuan(南苑), which today is more than 20 kilometers far away from southern area of Beijing. At the time, there were eight moneybags living in Nan Yuan, and they were rather uneasy and nervous. They thought in mind: if the capital was settled here, their properties and farmlands would be occupied. Finally, they came up with an idea that moved this arrow to another place, where today is Houmenqiao(后门桥)
A stone stele with three characters: 北京城(Town of Beijing) was said to be erected under Houmenqiao, and that arrow was said to fall over there. Liu Bowen mysteriously gave a prediction after they got to Nan Yuan that the arrow fell here. And he called on these moneybags and forced them to return the arrows. The moneybags had no choices but beg Liu Bowen: Anything required would be followed as long as the town was not selected to be built here. Liu Bowen thought for a while and said: “Ok, but the expenditure of building capital must be paid by you”. These moneybags thought they owned a large amount of treasure and agreed the requirement of Liu Bowen.
Town Tower of Xizhimen Gate was the first building to set up, but unexpectedly, eight moneybags had been broke to the world before the completion of the this tower. How to solve the problem, Liu Bowen re-showed his surreal power and knew the solution. He ordered an understrapper to look for a man named Shen Wansan（沈万三，the number-one richman of Ming Dynasty and said to be the sworn brother of Zhu Yuanzhang(朱元璋) who was the founder of Ming Dynasty）. After a long time, Shen Wansan was founded and sent to Shichahai, where Liubowen used to live in Beijing. Majority of people felt disappointed that Shen Wansan was a beggar in the dirty and ragged clothes. Shen Wanshan was quite sacred and nervous on hearing Liu Bowen asked him for financial support. He shivered and said:“I am just a poor beggar without a penny”. Liu Bowen posed to be furious and shouted: “no way! Beat him! ” the understrappers harshly beat Shen Wansan. At the beginning, Shen Wansan cried quarters for a long time, but it was useless, besides, the beat became more and more serious. He finally said:“Please stop, the money you need can be gotten underground here”.
Liu Bowen was exultant, and really got a great deal of money underground. They resumed the project, but money ran down once again. Liu Bowen continually asked the understrappers to beat Shen Wansan, and Shen Wansan could not bear the pain any more and pointed at the earth he stood and said:”Stop please, more money you need can be available here” Liu’s understrappers dug and really get another deal of money. Like this, once and again, Beijing City was finally built up. And the big pits that Liu Bowen’s understrappers dug for money were filled with water, and gradually became today’s Shichahai(什刹海), Beihai(北海) and Zhongnanhai(中南海).
Writer: David from Seeraa International
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