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The tomb of a Boy Emperor who died in 1279 still attracts worshippers today 
Name: Song Shao Di Mu, the Tomb of Song Shao, Last Emperor of the Southern Song Dynasty, Chiwan, Shekou, Nanshan, Shenzhen, Guangdong, PRC.

History says that the conquering Mongols (who established the succeeding Yuan Dynasty) forced the seven-year-old  emperor to leap into the sea and drown himself.  This was Song Di Bing (宋帝昺),and a brief account excerpted from this page is as follows:

In 1276, the Southern Song Dynasty court fled to Guangdong by boat, fleeing Mongol invaders, and leaving the emperor Gong Di behind. Any hope of resistance centered on two young princes, Gong Di's brothers. The older boy, Zhao Shi, aged nine was declared emperor, and, in 1277, the imperial court sought refuge first in Silvermine Bay (Mui Wo) on Lantau Island [in modern Hong Kong] and later in today's Kowloon City, Hong Kong. The older brother became ill and died, and was succeeded by the younger, Zhao Bing, aged seven. When in 1279 the Song army was defeated in its last battle, the Battle of Yamen, against the Mongols in the Pearl River Delta, a high official is said to have taken the boy emperor in his arms and jumped from a clifftop into the sea, drowning both of them. These emperors are also believed to have held court in the Tung Chung valley, which takes its name from a local hero who gave up his life for the emperor. Hau Wong, an official from this court, is still revered as a god in Hong Kong.

Another page gives the high official's name as Lu Xiufu, who "jumped into the sea with emperor on his back after driving his family into the sea."

Legend picks up where history leaves off: a little body later washed up on the shore, wearing the yellow dragon-embroidered robes of an emperor.  At the same moment, a board fell from the interior of the Tian Hou Temple.  Devotees who recovered the body prayed at the temple to find out what to do with it.  Tian Hou answered that the fallen board had been "given" to make a casket, and that the boy was to be entombed nearby.  The tomb is now a fifteen-minute walk from the temple.

As a side note: another legend about Song Di Bing's brother Song Di Zheng gave rise to the name "Kowloon."  It was believed that the Emperor could be safe if he were sheltered in a place with "nine dragons."  There are eight mountains around Kowloon, so figuring that the Emperor himself was the Ninth Dragon, they decided to rest there. (As we saw above, they were wrong.)  "Kowloon" is an English transcription of the name they gave the place, gau lung, meaning "Nine Dragons."

Offerings are placed in front of the Boy Emperor's statue.
Closer up: Lu Xiufu holds the boy aloft before plunging into the sea.

This is a side altar; the "bee-hive" on the right is an incinerator for the burning of offerings to ancestors ("ghost money").
Women praying in front of the tomb itself


Getting there: From Tian Hou Temple (see link below), walk west until you reach the traffic circle.  (Note that this is the end of the line for bus #226; if you stay on it past the Tian Hou Temple, you can alight at the end to begin your visit to Chiwan.) Turn right at the traffic circle, then make a quick left.  Walk past the school, and turn left at the next corner, where you will see the statue of the Boy Emperor.  (The Tomb and the school share a boundary.)
Located near:  Tian Hou Temple, Chiwan and the Left Old Fort, or Zou Pao Tai, seen on the A Day in Chiwan page.
About the photos:  All photos on this page are copyright 2004 by James Baquet
References:   Details to be added soon!




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