It’s Mrs. Cheng, not Mrs. Su: How did she achieve Su Xun, Su Shi and Su Zhe?

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Recently, the microblog blogger “yigongzi” talked about a Song Dynasty woman – Mrs. Cheng in his video program

(1010-1057)

, arousing the wide interest of netizens.

Who is Mrs. Cheng? She is Su Xun’s wife and the mother of Su Shi and Su Zhe. In ancient times, a woman was often crowned with her husband’s surname after she got married. However, she has been called “Mrs. Cheng” since ancient times, rather than “Mrs. Su” or “Su Cheng” because of her unique quality which is praised by everyone.

Later generations say that Mrs. Cheng has achieved the “three Soviets”. The reason why the “three Soviet Union” can be listed among the eight great masters of the Tang and Song Dynasties is inseparable from the woman who paid silently.

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Mrs. Cheng teaches her son. Photography / Xiaozhou photography, source / image insect creativity

Encourage her husband to study

Mrs. Cheng was born in chengjiazui, the fertile plain of Pingba at the intersection of Minjiang River and Simeng river. The Cheng family is a well-known local family. Her father, Cheng Wenying, was an official at Dali temple in the Northern Song Dynasty. The Cheng family has a family tradition of farming, studying and inheriting. Therefore, even if Mrs. Cheng is a woman, she can receive a good education. She has been familiar with poetry and books since childhood. She is well aware of etiquette, righteousness and shame, and has great foresight. Unfortunately, women in that era had a low status. Even if Mrs. Cheng was a rich lady, she did not leave her name.

I don’t know whether it was the order of her parents or free love. At the age of 18, Mrs. Cheng married Su Xun of the Su family in Meishan. The Su family was once a big family. In the Tang Dynasty, there were prime ministers like Su Weiwei. After su Weiwei’s death, he was buried in suqiu village, Luancheng city. One of his sons stayed in Meishan, Sichuan.

The Su family in Meishan has never produced anyone who can be called a leader. It can be said that their family life is in decline. Su Xun’s father, Su Xu, is a good man who is kind-hearted, but he doesn’t like reading. Su Xun also inherited his father’s gene of not loving reading. He likes to travel and do nothing.

 

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Su Xun. Photography / Xiaozhou photography, source/

Graphic insect creativity

 

Mrs. Cheng’s marriage to Su Xun is a real mistake. Someone suggested that she ask her family for money to improve her life, but she refused. She said she didn’t want her husband to be said to be dependent on others. Moreover, if you stretch out your hand once, there will be a second time. Over time, people will develop a dependency mentality, become lazy and never recover.

What Mrs. Cheng didn’t expect was that her husband was so playful that he wandered around all day long and had no sense of responsibility to support his family. In modern terms, he is a typical “street slut”. After that, the couple had children, but they didn’t let him know how to earn money to support his family, which made Mrs. Cheng depressed for a time.

Although Su Xun didn’t read much, he was very confident. It was nothing to take part in the imperial examination. At the age of 25, he was the first candidate in the rural area, and was not surprised to fail.

After this failure, Su Xun seems to have been connected with Ren Du, and suddenly announces that he will work hard to study and gain fame. One day, he said impassioned to his wife, I’m going to start studying and taking scientific examinations, but then I can’t concentrate on making money. What can I do? Mrs. Cheng said calmly, I’d like to persuade you to study for a long time, but I don’t want you to feel forced to study. Now that you wake up, you can go to study at ease. I’ll take the responsibility of supporting your family.

Usually, in this case, many wives will pour cold water on their husbands. It is too late for you to start learning until you are almost thirty. What’s more, is it too much for a big man to shift the responsibility of supporting his family to his wife?

This is why Mrs. Cheng is different. She believes that the motivation for reading must be spontaneous, not external. She unconditionally supports Su Xun’s study, and does not expect him to be outstanding. Instead, she hopes that he can learn the way of dealing with the world when saints are struggling and aspiring, so as to improve his self-cultivation and be a upright person.

 

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Mrs. Cheng. Source / embroidery of ancient and modern virtuous women

After Su Xun’s prodigal son turned back and studied hard, Mrs. Cheng looked at his poems and pointed out the shortcomings of his lack of depth and connotation. As a result, Su Xun burned all his poems and articles, realizing that he was still shallow in knowledge and needed to work harder. He re studied the classics, read widely, and sat in his study every day.

He swore that he would not write any articles before he was mature.

This year, he was 27 years old.

After six or seven years of painstaking study from morning to night, Su Xun finally achieved something. Later, his poems should be deep and elegant, which is amazing. In 1056, Su Xun took his two sons to Beijing to take the exam. Ouyangxiu, a scholar of Imperial Academy, saw his articles such as the book of rights and several strategies, and praised them. He recommended Su Xun to the imperial court. Su Xun was named Gongqing. A few years later, recommended by Hanqi, an important official in the court, Su Xun was appointed as the Secretary of the provincial school. From then on, he embarked on an official career and completely changed the fate of himself and his family. During his off-duty schooling years, Mrs. Cheng was doing housework and supporting her family. Mrs. Cheng has quite a business sense. By doing business, she has made the Su family live a well-off life. She is really a powerful woman.

 

Edify children’s personality

Mrs. Cheng is not only a good wife, but also a good mother.

When Su Xun was studying, his daughter eight niangs was 5 years old, his sons Su Shi was 3 years old and Su Zhe was 1 year old. In 1045, Su Xun left home for a study trip, and the important task of educating his children fell to Mrs. Cheng. Mrs. Cheng’s orientation for their children’s education was very high from the beginning. Instead of urging them to study hard and go to college to find a good job, she asked them to be ambitious and not to study like many of their peers just to get the reputation of a scholar.

 

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Sansu temple. Photography / autumn water in Bantan, source / image insect creativity

She also paid special attention to history education, thinking that reading history can be wise, and learning from the past can learn from the present. She often infects her son with the deeds of heroes in history, and trains him to be upright and to distinguish right from wrong. On one occasion, she explained fan Pang’s biography of the later Han Dynasty to little Su Shi.

Fan Pang was the principal of guangluxun in the Eastern Han Dynasty. He responded to the emperor’s call and reported more than 20 powerful and powerful figures such as the assassin and erqianshi at one time, offending many powerful and influential people. Later, he was arrested by the imperial edict after experiencing the disaster of Party imprisonment twice. In order not to implicate others, he volunteered to die. He was only 33 years old when he died. Su Shi asked his mother if she would allow him to become like fan Pang in the future? After all, normal people will “seek advantages and avoid disadvantages”, while fan Pang does not know how to protect himself. This is by no means a smart move.

Mrs. Cheng said to Su Shi, “if you can be fan Pang, can’t I be fan Pang’s mother?” It turned out that before fan Pang volunteered to die, his mother said to his son, “if I want to make you evil, then evil cannot be done; if I make you good, then I will not be evil.”

 

In Mrs. Cheng’s opinion, fan Pang’s noble sentiments, awe inspiring righteousness and fearlessness of life and death are an example worth learning from his son. Even if he dies young, he will die well. Since the son wants to be a hero, he is willing to be the hero’s mother.

On weekdays, Mrs. Cheng also sets an example to edify her children’s personality. First, although Mrs. Cheng is a rich lady, she is not greedy for material comforts. After she made money in business, she did not invest in business. Instead, she was charitable, helped the poor, and did not save money for her children. She’s in shawu

(today’s Sansu Temple)

When renting a house, she found the hoard of gold and silver of her predecessors. Instead of secretly taking it as her own, she asked people to bury it again without taking any money. She taught her children that “you can’t take a penny without a penny.” Later, the two brothers, Su Shi and Su Zhe, were incorruptible officials and were inseparable from their mother’s education.

 

The second thing is that when the Su family rented a house, the bamboo and trees in the house were luxuriant, birds came to nest, and flowers grew in clusters. Mrs. Cheng taught her children to be kind to the people and love things, and not to harm birds. Since then, the birds in the garden have settled down at ease, built nests and hung branches, and people and birds coexist in a beautiful and pleasant environment. Influenced by this, the Su Shi brothers never oppressed the common people when they were officials, because how could a person who could not bear to hurt a bird hurt a living person?

 

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Stills of Su Shi. Source / TV series screenshot

 

The success of Mrs. Cheng’s family education has not only affected her children, but also her daughter-in-law. When Su Shi was an official in Fengxiang, Shaanxi Province, he found the pills hidden by his predecessors and wanted to steal them. His wife Wang Fu warned him: “if his mother-in-law was there, it would not be like this!” After hearing this, Su Shi was so ashamed that he put down the pill.

 

In her life, Mrs. Cheng not only encouraged her husband to teach her children, but also went into business to make money. After exhausting her mental energy, she became ill from overwork. She died at the age of 48. What is more regrettable is that when she died, Su Shi and Su Zhe happened to be taking exams in the capital. Su Xun was also in the capital. She failed to hear the good news from her two sons, and one died on the eighth day of April in the same year. After her death, the Su family asked Sima Guang to write her epitaph. Sima Guang refused at first, but after Su Xun told her story in detail, he was deeply moved and accepted the Commission.

 

Sima Guang summarized Mrs. Cheng’s life in the epitaph of Su Zhu Bo Cheng:

 

The poor do not tarnish their husbands, and the rich do not consider their sons tired. Knowing mechanics can show its door; And straight road can be honored in the world. He who tries to teach his children is better than Everbright.

 

At the end of the article, it also points out the decisive influence of mother on a family:

 

Whoops! A woman is gentle enough to make her family happy, and intelligent enough to make her family whole. She is already a virtuous man. Kuang Ru’s wife is able to develop guidance, achieve her husband and son, and make them all attach importance to Literature in the world? In ancient times, it was said that there was a state-owned family, whose rise and fall were all based on the boudoir. Today, I see the credibility of the ancients from my wife.

 

Mrs. Cheng has become a model of ideal women in ancient China by persuading her husband to make progress, teaching her children to learn, and running a family to be rich.

 

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Figure sculpture of Sansu temple.

Photography / Xiaozhou photography, source/

Graphic insect creativity

 

 

reference material:

1. Written by Sima Guang and annotated by lizhiliang: Notes on the annals of Sima Wen’s public collections, Bashu publishing house, 2009

2. Fan Ye, post Han Dynasty: biography of fan Pang, Zhonghua Book Company, 2000

3. Shaoyongyi, mother of Su Shi: wife Cheng, a female hero of the Northern Song Dynasty, West China Metropolis Daily, May 14, 2020

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