The Twenty-four Filial Exemplars: Ding Lan 二十四孝：丁兰
As one of the cores of Chinese culture, "filiality" is not only the moral code for maintaining family relationships in Chinese society for thousands of years, but also the traditional virtue of Chinese Nation. A Yuan-dynasty(元朝Yuáncháo) writer Guo Jujing(郭居敬Guō Jūjìng) compiled the stories of 24 filial exemplars in ancient times and finished the Stories of Filiality. Let me introduce the 22th story to you.
Carve Wood for Worshipping Parents
During the Han Dynasty(汉朝Hàncháo) a young man named Ding Lan(丁兰Dīng Lán) lost both his parents at an early age, before he knew how to serve them properly. After growing to adulthood, he longed to pay proper filial regard to mother and father, but as they had left the world, he could not get his wish. He hit upon a plan that would allow him to fulfill his filial duties: he gave a large piece of fine-quality wood to a craftsman and asked him to carve it into the images of his parents. The artisan fashioned two statues that satisfactorily captured the likeness of Ting's mother and father.
When the images were done, Ding Lan reverently placed them in the living-room altar. Every day, morning and evening without fail, he would offer up incense, bow, and ask after the well-being of the statues. After he married, Ding Lan would lead his wife before the altar twice each day and perform the same ceremony of offerings to his departed elders.
His wife grew weary of the tedious ritual, and one day, out of boredom, when Ding Lan was not home, pricked the hand of one of the small wooden carvings, just to play a joke. Who could have guessed that the statue's hand would bleed! The sight of real blood dripping from the image on the altar frightened his wife out of her wits.
Ding Lan returned home and bowed before the images as usual, and noticed the eyes of one of the statues were filled with tears. Marveling at this state, he looked closer and saw a trickle of blood running down the tiny hand. He demanded an explanation from his wife. She shamefully admitted her little joke, and how she had pricked the statue's hand with a needle. Ding Lan blew up in anger, and calling his wife an unfilial wretch, he threw her out of the house and, got a divorce!
A verse in his honor says,
Wooden statues of his parents, Carved to look as if alive. Pay heed, all good sons and daughters: Serve your parents while you can!
The next story is: Weep by Bamboo and New Bamboo Shoots Grow