Beware the Bull Demon King

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    ‘The legend is real. The Monkey King’s staff is removed. We have to find him. It is the only way to save everyone…’

    RETURNING his bow, the Bull King said, “Aren’t you Sun Wukong, the Great Sage, Equal to Heaven?” [Ruzhong Wu Cheng’en, The Journey To The West] Worse than Kai (the extremely vengeful, bitter and treacherous villain of Kung Fu Panda 3), Bull King (牛魔王) was a Demon-Ox-Head hunted down by both Buddha in Heaven and the Taoist Celestial

    Ruler and outwitted by Alakazam the Great.

    We open our celebration of the Chinese New Year of the Metal Ox with the Xī Yóu Jì and “its multiple incarnations” that “can be used to help students unpack the complexities of China as a subject and develop a critical awareness or appreciation for a culture.” [https://www.asianstudies.org/publications/eaa/archives/journey-to-the-west/] What else?

    (1) “Marshal Chin Ta-shêng, ‘Golden Big Pint,’ who was an ox-spirit and endowed with the mysterious power of producing in his entrails the celebrated niu huang, ox-yellow, or bezoar. Facing the Snorter, he spat in his face, with a noise like thunder, a piece of bezoar as large as a rice-bowl. It struck him on the nose and split his nostrils. He fell to the earth, and was immediately cut in two by a blow from his victor’s sword.” [Edward Theodore Chalmers Werner. Myths and Legends of China. London: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1922]

    (2) “On 1 August, the Ministry of Health (MoH), China reported a cluster outbreak of pulmonary plague cases in the remote town of Ziketan, Qinghai province. The first case was a 32 year old male herdsman, who developed fever and hemoptysis on 26 July. He was referred to a hospital but died en route, and was buried the following day. On 30 July, 11 people who had close contact with the case (mainly relatives who attended the funeral) developed fever and cough, and were all hospitalized. On 1 August, specimens taken from all these 12 people, including the 1st case, tested positive for plague.” [https://www.who.int/csr/don/2009_08_11/en/]

    (3) “The day is not distant when the Chinese, placed on their feet in finance, will pay half the expense of medical missions. The Chinese give licorice to men and animals as a cure for wasting diseases. From the skin of a venomous toad their doctors derive a preparation which they call Sen-so. It is a far more powerful stimulus to heart action than our drug digitalis. It is well known that deer’s horns are ground to powder by the old-fashioned Chinese doctors.” [John Stuart Thomson. China Revolutionized. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1913]

    (4) “These few days I have been thinking again: suppose that old man were not an executioner in disguise, but a real doctor; he would be none the less an eater of human flesh. In that book on herbs, written by his predecessor Li Shih-chen, it is clearly stated that men’s flesh can he boiled and eaten; so can he still say that he does not eat men?” [Lu Xun, “A Madman’s Diary,” April 1918]

    (5) “The disease was first reported in late February, 1957, in China. From established foci in countries along the eastern fringe of Asia the disease spread to many new areas in May. North America, northern South America, and Europe experienced widespread Asian strain influenza epidemics before the month of September was over.” [Frederick L. Dunn, M.D., “Pandemic Influenza In 1957: Review Of International Spread Of New Asian Strain,” JAMA, 1958:166(10):1140-1148; https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/323481]

    (6) “The Chinese as a people laugh at our medical science, and, we are bound to say, with some show of justice on their side. They have a medical literature of considerable extent, and though we may condemn it wholesale as a farrago of utter nonsense, it is not so to the Chinese, who fondly regard their knowledge in this branch of science as one among many precious heirlooms which has come down to them from times of the remotest antiquity.” [Herbert A. Giles. Chinese Sketches. London: Trübner & Company, 1876]

    (7) “The subsequent 1968 influenza pandemic—or ‘Hong Kong flu’ or ‘Mao flu’ as some western tabloids dubbed it—would have an even more dramatic impact, killing more than 30,000 individuals in the UK and 100,000 people in the USA, with half the deaths among individuals younger than 65 years—the reverse of COVID-19 deaths in the current pandemic. Yet, while at the height of the outbreak in December, 1968, The New York Times described the pandemic as ‘one of the worst in the nation’s history,’ there were few school closures and businesses, for the most, continued to operate as normal.” [Mark Honigsbaum, “Revisiting the 1957 and 1968 influenza pandemics,” Volume 395, ISSUE 10240, P1824-1826, June 13, 2020; https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(2031201-0/fulltext]

    (8) “A guaranteed cure! Eaten warm like this. A roll dipped in human blood like this can cure any consumption!” [Lu Xun, “Medicine,” April 1919]

    (9) “The SARS epidemic was not simply a public health problem. Indeed, it caused the most severe socio-political crisis for the Chinese leadership since the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. Outbreak of the disease fueled fears among economists that China’s economy was headed for a serious downturn. A fatal period of hesitation regarding information-sharing and action spawned anxiety, panic, and rumor-mongering across the country and undermined the government’s efforts to create a milder image of itself in the international arena.” [Yanzhong Huang, “The Sars Epidemic And Its Aftermath In China: A Political Perspective,” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92479/]

    (10) “Motionless, by earth I travel 80,000 li a day, Surveying the sky I see a myriad Milky Ways from afar. Should the Cowherd ask tidings of the God of Plague, Say the same griefs flow down the stream of time.” [Mao Zedong, “Farewell To The God Of Plague,” to the tune of lu shih poems, 01 July 1958]

    (11) “A dreadful plague annually sweeps down the valley and mows down its inhabitants.

    Can it be wondered that few people care to risk their existence in the plague-stricken hollow, and that accommodation unworthy of the name is all that can be obtained? I managed to distribute my followers over the small village of Huang-chia-p’ing; but I was unfortunate enough to be laid up with an attack of fever, which compelled us to remain for a couple of days in a small mud stable without door or window.” [Alexander Hosie. Chapter VII: “Through Caindu To Carajan.” Three Years In Western China: A Narrative Of Three Journeys In Ssŭ-Ch’uan, Kuei-Chow, And Yün-Nan. Second Edition. London: George Philip & Son, 1897]

    (12) “Historically, China’s minority nationalities have been estranged to a high degree from the Han nationality… Only after a long time through examining the facts will we be able to put an end to the historical estrangement between the minority nationalities and the Han nationality caused by Han chauvinism.” [Deng Xiaoping, “The Question of Minority Nationalities in the Southwest,” 21 July 1950]

    “The Demon Bull King is back! The legend is real. The Monkey King’s staff is removed. We have to find him. It is the only way to save everyone before the world is dest…”