The Legend of Wen Shi (Long Mu)
My Version of the Story: Wen Shi -The Mother of the Dragons
During the Qin Dynasty, in the Teng District of Guangdong Province a second girl child, named Wen Shi, was born to Wen Tianrui and Liang Shi. Wen Shi often frequented the banks of the nearby Xi River to catch fish or do the laundry. On one such errand she chanced upon a large, smooth, white stone along the banks of the river, partially hidden by a cluster of rushes. Drawn to it at once, she picked it up and admired it for a long while before placing it in her apron’s pocket.
When she concluded her chores she returned home for supper. As she was getting ready for bed, her hand chanced upon the stone in her pocket. Elatedly she showed this beautiful new find to her siblings but her sisters weren’t at all interested and, as in the past, they laughed and teased her endlessly for liking such odd things. She didn’t care, for the more she handled it, the more things she found to like about it. For one, it possessed a nacreous depth and a unique hint of luminosity, it grew warmer with prolonged touch and it offered her unending comfort. You can imagine her thrill when she discovered weeks later that it was actually an egg; an egg from which hatched five baby snakes. Her sisters wanted nothing to do with these slithering creatures and again teased her incessantly for her odd attraction to them. She pleaded with her parents to be allowed to keep them, promising to bear the sole responsibility of feeding them, caring for them and keeping them out of trouble. Although they were a poor family Wen Shi saved the best portions of her own food and diligently fed these morsels by hand to the baby snakes. She carried them with her always, even when doing her chores. Soon the snakes grew up under her good care, and loving her in return, they assisted her whenever they could with her chores. These unusually intelligent snakes were quite adept in the water and excellent swimmers; therefore, they used their ability to help Wen Shi catch bountiful loads of fish in the Xi River.
Then a time came when another wonder manifested; the snakes matured into five magnificent and most powerful dragons. By then her parents had departed this world and her sisters had been happily married off and lived elsewhere. She therefore dwelled in her parent’s home alone. In Chinese culture, dragons are deemed spirits of water and have the power to control the weather. When a bad drought plagued her village and caused untold hardships for many families living within that region, Wen Shi gathered her dragon children to her and asked for their help. The dragons instinctively knew what to do and they set to work in summoning the rain. Soon the downpours drenched the parched land, renewing life of vegetation and crops. The grateful villagers from that time on overcame their innate fear of the dragons and named Wen Shi “Mother of Dragons” or “Divine Human”.
Visitors spread the word far and wide of this miracle and the benevolent dragons that had saved the villagers from certain ruin. Before long it reached the ear of the Emperor of the Qin Dynasty, Qin Shihuang. Immediately Wen Shi was summoned to Court for a private audience with the Empreor in the Imperial City, Xianyang, far to the north near the Yellow River. Wen was declared a Benevolent Being and was also endowed with gifts of gold and jade.
By the time of this summons she was an elderly woman in rather frail health and her dragons feared for her well being and safety. They tried to deter her from the gruelling trip but she was a loyal subject and would not hear of it. Soon she boarded the boat to begin her journey to the Imperial City. Unbeknownst to her, however, her concerned dragons had hidden themselves under the boat and pulled it backward; no matter how hard the rowers struggled, the boat failed to pass Guilin. Eventually the frustrated Imperial officials aborted their mission with great reluctance and allowed Wen Shi to return to the safety of her home.
Finally after many years, Wen Shi passed away and the grief-stricken dragons buried her with due reverence on the northern side of Zhu Mountain. Then they forsook their dragon forms and permanently assumed human shapes. In time they became known as the Five Scholars.