Qin Hui ( ; 1090 - 1155),
style name Huizhi (會之),
was a Chancellor of the Song Dynasty in China who is
widely regarded as a traitor of the Han race
for his part in the political execution of General Yue Fei.
Modern historians however, have
placed as much blame (if not more) on reigning Emperor Gaozong
Jiangning (Present day Nanjing, Jiangsu, China), Qin
won Jinshi in the Imperial examination of 1115.
During the North Song Dynasty, Qin was an activist against the
invasion of Jin
. He was captured along with Emperor Qinzong
and Emperor Huizong
. At this point
of history, Qin's reputation was extremely good.
Some years later, he suddenly returned from captivity in the Jin
empire to the capital of Emperor
. He claimed some sort of miraculous escape but quite
some people expressed doubt regarding his story. However, he
quickly won the emperor's favor and became the Prime Minister
of the Southern Song
empire in 1131. In the next year, he was removed from the position
after impeachment. After some Song victories in 1137, the Jin
empire was forced to reopen peace talks, and Qin gained power as a
With Qin's help, the emperor suppressed the war hawks
and signed the Treaty of Shaoxing
with the Jin empire.
The emperor basically accepted the status of being a vassal of the
Jin empire publicly. To open the peace talks, the national hero
general Yue Fei
, who was famous for his
military successes against the Jurchins, was first removed from his
position, then imprisoned, and then killed in prison. The killing
of Yue Fei is one of the most famous evil acts by government
minister in the whole history of the Song Dynasty. Qin became
notorious, and (after he lost power and died) some people suspected
that he was a traitor.
Qin removed all his political opponents from the government by use
of his control over the Imperial Censorate. Most of his enemies
were exiled far to the south, several in fact died on Hainan Island.
He believed that the schools should only
teach "acceptable ideas" and practiced a strong form of censorship
and thought control over the Imperial university.
After his death and the resignation of the old emperor, the new
Emperor Xiaozong of Song
pardoned most of Qin's political enemies, including a posthumous
pardon for Yue Fei. From that point on, Qin was constantly vilified
by Chinese historians. He became one of the most important examples
in Chinese history of an evil minister.
There is much to dislike about Minister Qin but it must also be
admitted that he helped put the Song Dynasty on a firm footing. By
1160 the Southern Song state was well run, economically prosperous,
and had experienced nearly 20 years of peace.
The Story of Yue
states that after having Yue Fei, Yue Yun
, and Zhang Xian arrested under false
charges, Qin and his wife, Lady Wang ( ), were sitting by the
"eastern window", warming themselves by the fire, when he received
a letter from the people calling for the release of the general.
Qin was worried because after nearly two months of torture, he
could not get Yue Fei to admit the false charges of treason
and would eventually have to let him go.
However, after a servant girl brought fresh oranges into the room,
Lady Wang devised a plan to execute the general. She told Qin to
slip an execution notice inside the skin of an orange and send it
to the examining judge. This way, the general and his companions
would be put to death before the Emperor or Qin himself would have
to rescind an open order of execution. This conspiracy became known
as the “East-Window Plot”. An anonymous novel was written about this
called the Dong Chuang Ji ("Tale of the Eastern Window")
during the Ming
When asked by General Han Shizhong
crime Yue had committed, Qin Hui replied, "Though it isn't sure
whether there is something that he did to betray the dynasty, maybe
there is.” The phrase "perhaps there is" or "could be true"
(sometimes mistakenly translated as "there is no reason", ) has
entered the Chinese language as an expression to refer to
part in Yue Fei's death, iron statues of Qin Hui, Lady Wang, and
two of Qin Hui's subordinates, Moqi Xie ( )
and Zhang Jun ( ), were
made to kneel before Yue Fei's tomb (located by Hangzhou's West Lake).
For centuries, these statues have been
cursed, spat and urinated upon by young and old. But now, in modern
times, these statues are protected as historical relics. There is a
poem hanging on the gate surrounding the statues, it reads:
"The green hill is fortunate to be the burial
ground of a loyal general, the white iron was innocent to be cast
into the statues of traitors."
The story of Qin and his wife are also said to be the origin of
Qin Hui The Stinker
The following is a folktale about one of Qin's descendants:
Dynasty, the new Provincial Governor-General of Hangzhou, who was a
direct descendant of Qin and Madam Wang, had both iron statues
thrown into the West
Lake under cover of night.
The next day, the lake
turned pitch-black and smelt of vomit. The townsfolk realized that
the lake’s condition coincided with the statues' disappearance.
When Official Qin arrived on the scene, the people questioned him
about his relationship with Qin. Because he knew the statues had
sunk to the bottom of the lake, he boasted "If anyone can really
scoop the statues out of the lake, this official is waiting to
resign and ask for punishment." At that exact moment, the murky
water became clear and the statues drifted ashore as if propelled
by an invisible force. The cowardly official bolted for his
when he saw this miraculous
sight. The townsfolk pelted his sedan with rocks as he fled, many
of them ripping through the curtain, giving him huge lumps on his
head. That night, Official Qin escaped Hangzhou, never to be heard
The mad monk sweeps Qin out of the temple
'Qin Hui encounters the Monk of the
Wind' from the Tale of the Eastern Window
During the Southern Song
there were two famous Buddhists named the "Crazy monk"
and the "Mad Monk" Fengbo
. Fengbo lived during the time of Yue Fei and
became famous for "Sweeping Qin Hui’s face with a broom".
is told after having Yue Fei imprisoned on false charges, Qin went
to the Lingyin
Temple to have his fortune read.
There he was
confronted by a laughing Feng Bo who asked, "Cao
was once a big hero, but where is he today?" The Prime
Minister asked him what he meant in confusion. Fengbo said, "The
principles of heaven are clear. Loyalty and treachery are
self-evident. Goodness and evil will be met by reward or
retribution. You, as the Prime Minister, hold a lot of power. Why
do you want to murder a man who is as important to the country as a
pillar to a house? Does the safety of the nation mean nothing to
you?" Qin countered "Who is that pillar of the country?" "General
Yue Fei!" screamed Fengbo. When Qin seemed unaffected by his words,
Fengbo laughed and said, "What a fool! Repent now before it is too
late." He then grabbed a broom and raked it across the Prime
Minister’s face and quickly ran off. Feeling embarrassed, Qin
returned to the palace a defeated man.
The boldness of the monk caught the attention of the common folk.
It is said he would appear in crowded areas and begin to sweep the
floor, even in the cleanest of places, and proclaim "sweeping Qin"
as a reminder to the people that they should band together to
eliminate the traitor Qin from office. The "Mad Monk" was later
raised to the level of Arahat
The statues of the "Mad and Crazy Monks" were often seen together
in various temples throughout the Southern Song Dynasty.
two such statues of these arahats in the Da Xiong Temple
Hall of Zhan Tan Forest on the Jiu Hua Mountain.
One of them is the "Crazy Monk" Ji Gong
in the form of a deity and the other is the
"Mad Monk" Fengbo holding a duster
hand and a broom under his left armpit, standing ever ready to give
the wicked Prime Minister another sweep.
This is a derivative of an episode from The Story of Yue Fei
mentions no "sweeping" at all. The fortuneteller's name was "Xie Renfu of
Chengdu" and he told
the fortunes of both Emperor
Gaozong and Qin Hui, who were in disguise, in the Dragon's
When Qin returned to the palace
he sent men to arrest the fortuneteller, but he had fled the city
out of fear once he discovered who they really were.
Footnotes and references
- Qian, Cai. General Yue Fei. Trans. Honorable Sir T.L.
Yang. Joint Publishing (H.K.) Co., Ltd. (1995) ISBN
- Tang, Xianzu. The Peony Pavilion: Mudan ting, Second
Edition. Trans. Cyril Birch. Indiana University Press; 2nd
edition, 2002 (ISBN 0-2532-1527-7)
- Trapped behind Walls: Ming Writing on the
of Song, Volume 365, Biography of Yue
- Li, Y. H. & Lu, D. S., eds (1982), Chinese Idiom
Dictionary. Sichuan Publishing, Chengdou.
- Strange Stories from a
Chinese Studio Volume 4:「殺人莫須有！至辱詈搢紳，則生實為之，無與叔事。」
- Archaeologists to Excavation of Possible Tomb of
- Yue Fei's Tomb
- West Lake, a Collection of Folktales (ISBN 9620400542) page
- Listen to this Story
- An Allusion from History: A Buddhist Monk Feng Bo