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Yong-le: Year 6, Month 12, Day 4

20 Dec 1408

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The eunuch Zhang Qian and the Messenger Zhou Hang were sent to escort Xia-wang, successor to the post of king of the country of Bo-ni, and others back to their country. On departure, a gold and jade belt, 100 liang of gold, 3,000 liang of silver as well as cash, paper money, quilts and drapes of brocaded fine silks and silk gauzes, vessels and utensils were conferred upon Xia-wang. Rewards were also conferred upon the king's mother and uncle and their subordinates. Previously, the former king of Bo-ni Ma-na-re-jia-na-nai had said: "I have received the great grace of the Court, been enfeoffed with the title of king and all the territory of my country is subject to the zhi-fang. Behind the country there is a mountain and it is humbly requested that it be enfeoffed as the protector of the country (一國之鎮)." At this time, his son Xia-wang repeated the request and thus the mountain was enfeoffed as the "Mountain Which Will Ever Peacefully Protect the Country" (長寧鎮國之山). It was ordered that when they arrived at that place, Qian and so on should erect a tablet. The Emperor personally composed a text for it, which read: "Heaven has provided the base of help and instruction for our country for 10,000 generations. It ordered our Gao Emperor Tai-zu to pacify all under Heaven, to nourish the people and, in ruling and educating, to widely make known benevolence and righteousness. His brightness extended to the outer limits and the 10,000 countries in the four directions rushed to become subjects, taking the Court as their hub. The mechanism of Sagely influence was as wonderful as this. I inherited the task of safeguarding the Great Plan and, in observing the patterns, I have remained respectful and in awe. Making no distinction between inner and outer, I looked on all as one. The distant and the near all became peaceful and were all able to undertake my will. Ma-na-re-jia-na-nai, the king of the country of Bo-ni, was sincere and respectful in the extreme and he knew that which should be respected. He moved towards culture and learning and became increasingly loyal and respectful. Leading his family and ministers and not considering the tens of thousands of li he had to traverse as a long journey, he sailed across the ocean and came to Court, thereby achieving his goal and fulfilling his wishes. Kowtowing, he spoke as follows: `Your distant subject and his wife have been greatly favoured by the grace of the Son of Heaven who has provided support and assistance and brought peace to all. I wished to see the brightness of the Sun and the Moon and thus, not fearing the dangers and distance involved, I have dared to come to Court.' He also said: `Heaven covers me and Earth supports me. However, the fact that I have been given land and people, that my fields and towns are many, that I have palaces in which to dwell, that I have the pleasure of my wife and concubines, good food and fine clothing, that we have implements to assist in our livelihood and that the strong dare not attack the weak and the many do not bully the isolated--all these are conferred by the Son of Heaven. This excellent virtuous power which the Son of Heaven bestowed upon me was as great as that of Heaven and Earth. On looking up I could see Heaven and on treading down, I could feel the Earth. Only the Son of Heaven was distant and difficult to see and my loyalty could not be conveyed. Thus, your distant subject and his wife, not daring to consider themselves outsiders, crossed the mountains and seas and personally came to Court to express our loyalty.' I said: `It was Heaven and my Imperial father who bequeathed on me all under Heaven and the people they had treated as their children. Heaven and my Imperial father looked on all equally. I inherited the virtuous power of Heaven and my Imperial father, but I fear that I am not worthy and not equal to your words.' The king saluted with his hands and kowtowed, saying: `Since the Son of Heaven's reign began, my country has been peaceful and the harvest bountiful. Treasures have flowed forth from the mountains and rivers. Those plants and flowers which do not normally bloom have burst into blossom and borne fruit. Exotic birds have chorused in harmony and animals pranced about. The elders of the country said that it was due to the fact that the virtuous power of the Chinese had reached us that all was so excellent. Although my land is distant from the capital, it is indeed the territory of the Son of Heaven, and thus I determined to come here to have an audience.' I noted the kings fine words and reverent manner and observed that his actions did not transgress the standards. I was greatly pleased with his propriety and learning and by the fact that he had thrown off his old ways. Only those of special excellence could act thus. Ancient records were consulted and it was found that from ancient times there had been distant lands which had accorded with the Way of Heaven and looked up to the ways of culture and whose rulers had personally come to Court. However, only one, the king of the country of Bo-ni, brought his wife, children, brothers, relatives and attendant ministers to the Court and bowed his head and called himself a minister before the throne. Of the various feudatory rulers in the South-west, none can match the king in terms of worthiness. The king's perfect sincerity is as firm as metal and stone and has become known to the gods. His name is to be passed down in perpetuity and it will be said that he was illustrious. Thus, I have especially enfeoffed the mountain within the king's country as the "Mountain Which Will Ever Peacefully Protect the Country" and am conferring a text to be inscribed in stone to record the king's excellence. This record will thus be displayed for 10,000 years and will long endure without decay. Herewith, a poem: In the wilds of the ocean tropics lies Bo-ni, Influenced by benevolence and transformed by righteousness, all accord and none di.obey, The diligent and worthy king longed for the influence of culture, Thus, guided by an envoy, he hurried to Court. With his wife and children, brothers and ministers, he kowtowed before the Emperor and spoke of his feelings, He said that the Emperor is like Heaven and in bequeathing his excellence, Looks on all equally, without favouring or di.criminating against any. His words were insufficient to describe such rare virtuous power. In travelling trough the hazards of the ocean, the king made great efforts. Ancient records of distant lands were thus examined, It was found that some rulers had personally come to Court regardless of the difficulties of the seas, To do so personally is difficult, How mu ch more difficult it is to bring one's family! The king was truly sincere and his determination was as metal and stone. Which of the South-western feudatory rulers can match this king in worthiness? The lofty peak will protect the kingdom, And this inscription will be chiselled into stone so that the king's virtuous power is widely known. When the king's virtue is displayed, the kingdom will be forever peaceful, And for 10,000 years, it will look up to our Great Ming."

Tai-zong: juan 86.1a-2b

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 11, page 1133/36

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Preferred form of citation for this entry:

Geoff Wade, translator, Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-lu: an open access resource, Singapore: Asia Research Institute and the Singapore E-Press, National University of Singapore, http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/reign/yong-le/year-6-month-12-day-4, accessed October 20, 2019