The legend tells of “Grandfather Jiuliu (九六太公)”, an ancestor of the Huang family (黄氏家族的祖先), who resided near Huangzhai Shangshi Village (黄宅镇) by the Monk Pond in what would later be known as the “Ten Li Huang Mansion (十里黄宅)”.
He earned his livelihood through farming, having not been fortunate enough to inherit any wealth from his predecessors.
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The Simple Beginnings of ‘Grandfather Jiuliu’
His family was stricken by poverty, and for many years, he found employment in the households of the wealthy. Despite being physically unimpressive and bearing a scar from a childhood infection, he remained single well into his thirties.
Even so, “Grandfather Jiuliu” was a man of towering height and robust build, known for his remarkable strength and unwavering work ethic.
Every day, he woke early and worked late for a prosperous family in Zhong Village, earning their admiration for his steadfast diligence.
A Chance Encounter and the Power of Persistence
Every morning, he left home before dawn, arriving at the rich man’s house before the doors and windows were opened. His early arrival and knocking often disturbed others’ sleep, leading the gatekeeper to comment, “With such diligence, why don’t you start your own business?”
This comment triggered deep introspection in “Grandfather Jiuliu”. On his way home, he found himself at Monk Pond, a vital resource in the village for washing, irrigation, and firefighting.
To test his resolve, he picked up a piece of iron and made a silent vow, “If I can throw this iron across the pond, I will surely succeed in business.”
He threw the iron, which, just as he had hoped, spun in the air and slid across the water to the other side. Elated, he vowed never to work for others again and set out to start his own business.
From Tofu Salesman to Potential Groom: An Unexpected Proposal
After careful consideration, he identified tofu as a potentially profitable venture. Starting a small tofu workshop, he worked from dawn until late, grinding soybeans in the early morning, making tofu during the day, and selling it around the village.
His tofu was affordable and high quality, and his affable nature soon drew a loyal customer base. Slowly, his business began to prosper, and his savings started to accumulate.
While selling tofu at Zhu Village five miles away, a wealthy family there was struggling to find a suitor for their daughter who, due to her choosiness, was still unmarried in her thirties. This had become a source of concern for them. Upon seeing “Grandfather Jiuliu”, they believed they had found a suitable match.
Although he had seen the girl before and desired to marry her, his poverty had held him back. However, when the proposal was made, he readily agreed.
The ‘Iron Dustpan’ Destiny: A Match Made in Heaven
It was said that a fortune teller had once predicted that “Grandfather Jiuliu”, with his “iron broom (铁扫帚)” destiny, needed a woman with an “iron dustpan (铁畚箕)” destiny to complement him.
Coincidentally, the old maid was said to have this “iron dustpan” destiny, making them a seemingly perfect match.
The wealthy family was thrilled to hear this, and they agreed to provide a generous dowry.
The Magic of the ‘Wutong’: An Unending Supply of Wealth
Before the wedding, the bride found a long worm, resembling a “big snake”, in her bathtub. Startled at first, she realized it was the legendary “Wutong (五通)”, a supernatural being said to gather items from all directions with its powers.
The “Wutong”, when placed amongst gold and silver treasures, was believed to bring endless wealth, and when placed amongst grains, it could provide an unending supply of food.
The old maid requested the “Wutong” to shrink itself so she could take it to her new home. The “Wutong” did as asked, and the bride hid it in her dowry.
After the wedding, the bride put the “Wutong” into a pottery jar filled with rice. Miraculously, the small jar was always full, regardless of how much rice they scooped out.
Overjoyed, the couple no longer had to worry about food or clothing. Their tofu business thrived, and they accumulated considerable savings within a few years, enough to contemplate building a new house.
Building a Dream Home: An Ambitious Construction Project
After buying a plot of land and planning the foundations, they gathered building materials. “Grandfather Jiuliu” traveled to Puyang County, twenty miles from his home, to select timber. In the largest timber shop, he examined the selection thoroughly.
When the shop owner asked him what kind of wood he needed, he replied, “All the wood in your store wouldn’t be enough for me!” Surprised, the shop owner offered to deliver the wood for free if “Grandfather Jiuliu” bought everything.
And so, he pulled out a large bag of silver coins as a deposit and said, “I’ll take all of it.” Taken aback, the shop owner accepted the deposit, on the condition that the transport workers be given a meal upon delivery. “Grandfather Jiuliu” agreed.
The next day, a long line of transport workers carrying wood arrived at their home. They piled the wood near the village, creating a small mountain of materials.
The Power of Good Deeds: Thanking the ‘Wutong’
After laboriously preparing a meal, “Grandmother Jiuliu” invited the workers into their home to rest and eat. Both the rice pot and food pan seemed to magically replenish themselves, a phenomenon attributed to the “Wutong”. Tired but satisfied, “Grandmother Jiuliu” exclaimed, “I am completely worn out today.
At that moment, the “Wutong” spoke up, “To help you, I have worn through several pairs of iron shoes.” “Grandmother Jiuliu” asked why, and the “Wutong” explained that it had travelled across neighboring counties, gathering food from restaurants and farmhouses.
On the return journey, it tripped at ‘Guoguo Ridge’ and spilled some food. When “Grandfather Jiuliu” later travelled through ‘Guoguo Ridge’, he found a pile of broken ceramics, verifying the “Wutong”‘s story.
As the construction of their new house began, the “Wutong” helped tirelessly, running errands without complaint. Once the house was finished, the “Wutong” left them an account book full of detailed records. “Grandfather Jiuliu” and “Grandmother Jiuliu” thanked the creature and pledged to perform more good deeds. With its mission accomplished, the “Wutong” left their house.
Legacy of ‘Grandfather Jiuliu’: The Flourishing ‘Ten Li Huang Mansion’ Clan
“Grandfather Jiuliu” amassed significant wealth, and his descendants flourished, becoming one of the major surnames in the Huang Mansion area.
This clan, known as the “Ten Li Huang Mansion”, was a testament to the couple’s journey from humble beginnings to prosperity, aided by their diligence, business acumen, and the miraculous help of the “Wutong”.
As you have journeyed through the fascinating story of ‘Grandfather Jiuliu’, from his humble beginnings to the creation of the prosperous ‘Ten Li Huang Mansion’ clan, one wonders: what would you do if you encountered the ‘Wutong’ in your life?
Would you seize the opportunity, strive for your dreams, and leave an unforgettable legacy, just like ‘Grandfather Jiuliu’? Reflect on this legendary tale and consider what riches — whether tangible or not — you wish to pass down to your future generations.
Have you heard the story of ‘Liu Hai Plays with Gold Toad‘? Don’t forget to explore its fascinating legendary tale as well.