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  Defeat of the Kanyang Idol  1844

 

Hong Xiuquan and followers

destroying the evil Kan yang idol

 

Xiuyuan's movement increased its power initially by suppressing groups of bandits in the area .

 

About that time, it was reported to him that, in the area of Thistle Mountain, there was a very famous idol, by the name of Kan-wang-ye. During his life, this Kan had been an inhabitant of the department, and had been extremely addicted to the arts of geomancy. When, then, it was told him one day by a magician, that a " bloody burial" would be followed by great prosperity in his family, he immediately went home, and killing his own mother, caused her to be buried in the spot marked out by the compasses. The promised prosperity actually followed ; and, after a life spent in dissipation, the profligate was worshiped as a demon. Great was the dread which fell upon all the The wardens were even afraid to sleep in the temple ; and whenever they entered it to light the lamps and burn incense, they beat the gong to prevent Kan-wang- ye from appearing to them.

 

Whoever said a word against him was sure to be instantaneously seized with bowel-complaint, the course of which could be stayed only by acknowledging the power of his godship— at least, such was the popular belief.

 

But when  Xiuquan heard of this delusion, his anger was aroused, and he said, " This is the kind of demons I used to exterminate when my soul was wandering in heaven." Then, taking with him Yun-san, Wang-ni, and a few others, he set off for the temple of Kan-wang-ye. At the end of the second day they reached it. On approaching the place, they beheld a number of small temples, scattered over a hillside, with one principal building near the summit.Xiuyuan stopped a moment to contemplate the beauty of the scene ; then, silently praying to God, advanced into the terrible presence of Kan-wang-ye.

 

This was found to be a huge wooden deformity, about ten or twelve feet high, with gilded head and feet. But not fearing his gilt godship, and having bound, hand and foot, the few priests in attendance,  Xiuquan took a stick, and smote him in the face. Thereupon,  Xiuquan and his friends threw down the image, broke it in pieces, rent its robes, and destroyed the sacrificial vessels of the temple. This task of holy indignation successfully accomplished, the party withdrew ; and, escaping pursuit, arrived safely at Thistle-mount.

 

This daring feat was immediately noised abroad through the district, and a large reward was offered for the apprehension of its perpetrators, but it was afterwards withdrawn, when the demon, speaking by the mouth of a small boy, of whom he had taken possession, said : " The destroyers of idols are sincere men ; you are not able to hurt them ; be content with repairing ray image." The reputation of  Xiuquan was greatly increased by this action ,his fame scarcely less augmented by a prophecy, published at that time, respecting another celebrated shrine, called, "

 

The iconoclastic zeal thus introduced was quickly fol-lowed up by the destruction of many images. Upon this the officials, for the first time, came into contact with them, and Pung-yun-san and another were imprisoned, mainly through the malignancy of a rich graduate named Wang, who bribed the magistrate for that purpose. Eventually, the God-worshippers induced the same official to release their friends, but only Feng Yunshan was restored to them ; the other had expired in prison, through the brutal treatment of his Manchu jailers.

 

The temple of the six caverns

 

The temple of the six caverns." This sacred establishment consisted of several small, but beautiful stalactite caves in the mountains, the entrances to which were ornamented with great care by means of various hanging plants, and festoons of flowers, as well as by the usual trees, gardens, and buildings. But as its groves and caverns had been prostituted to forbidden pleasures, Xiuquan wrote a satire upon it, wherein he reproved the loose morals of the people, and declared that the time would speedily arrive, when the images of the temple of the six caverns would be destroyed, as had been that of Kan-wang-ye. And lo ! In a few weeks after, an army of white ants, so destructive in that country, invading the temple of the six caverns, devoured its entire wood- work, and ate up all the idols.

 

Death of Xiuquan's Father

 

Chinese queue

 

Shortly after this his father died at the age of 73 . He had been converted by Xiuquan and calling his children and his grandchildren around his bed, said : " I am now ascending to heaven ; after my decease you must not call any Buddhist priest, nor perform any heathen ceremonies, but merely worship God, and pray to him."  Xiuquan mourned sincerely for his father ; and when his friends, pointing to his hair and beard, which had been allowed for some time to grow long, said he must have foreseen the death which had called him to mourning, he did not undeceive them.

 

But the fact was that he had secretly resolved no longer to shave his head, as for the space of two hundred years his countrymen had been compelled to do. in token of submission to their conquerors, the Tartars. The queue was a specifically male hairstyle worn by the Manchu people from central Manchuria and later imposed on the Han Chinese during the Qing dynasty. The hairstyle was compulsory for all males and the penalty for not complying was execution for treason. Because of their long hair, the Taipings were often called chang mao ' long hairs ' 长毛 or 长毛鬼 'long haired ghost' by the Qing officials for growing their hair in defiance of the Manchu

Qing government .

 

He remained at home nearly a year, mourning for his father, and teaching the Christian doctrines, as he had opportunity caused to be distributed among the heads of families in his clan five wooden rods for the chastisement of wickedness, each one having inscribed on it the particular crime it was to be used for punishing. The inscriptions were these : " 1. Beat the adulterers. 2. Beat the female seducers. 3. Beat the disobedient to parents. 4. Beat thieves, robbers, and gamblers. 5. Beat all vagabonds plotting evil.-' Such proceedings as these plainly show that Xiuquan was beginning gradually to carry out into acts the conviction, that he had been commissioned by God to destroy the power of wickedness and idolatry in the world, and was fast preparing himself to take the lead not only of a militant sect, but of an armed insurrection.

 

Growth of the Movement, becomes more militant 1850

 

The Taiping movement had grown larger, with a large number of Hakka converts fleeing the attacks of some of the hill tribes of Guangxi . The Taipings, having increased in number to about 10,000 by 1849, were going to villages to smash idols, temples, and shrines. They also attempted to force people to join their movement.

Economic and political conditions in South China continued to deteriorate. The governor of Guangxi,Siu Kwang sin,  did little to stop the rising tide of banditry that followed bad harvests in the late 1840s. Many Hakkas were joining as a civil war broke out between the Hakkas and the Han Chinese or Ben di ren . Many non Hakkas were joing to survive and anger at the corrupt ruling class .

 

 Such activities raised the opposition of the local gentry and officials. They were alarmed by the God Worshippers’ iconoclasm. It became obvious to Xiuquan that soon he must come into conflict with the Manchu government and he began organizing his following in military units and raiding nearby market towns for supplies . Weapons began to be secretly  made at a foundry owned by a God worshiper .

 

The unopposed march of the Taiping insurgents from the northern mountains of Guangxi toward Guangdong alarmed the people of Guangzhou, and the viceroy . By August the activities had attracted the attention of the imperial authorities, troops were sent against it with the purpose of breaking it up . . A Manchu general , Yiketanbu , was killed and Beijing began to take serious notice of the God  Worshipers.

 

The new emperor in Beijing, 19 year old Xianfeng sent comminssoner Lin Zexu, whose actions in burning the English opium chests had started the Opium War . However, he died on the way to Guangxi . In Lin Zexu's place, the Mongol Grand Councilor Saishang-a, who used to command the Board of War . Xiuyuan and his force left Thistle Mountain and moved to Liuzhou, Guangxi which is protected from attack by the Liu river .fortified so strongly that, when the soldiers arrived, it was impregnable. From this place Xiuyuan sent messengers into Guangdong, calling upon the remaining relatives of the two clans, Hong and Feng, to join him in Guangxi. Before they could do this, Xiuyuan, from want of provisions, was compelled to move his camp. This he effected in a fine strategic manner. To deceive the Imperialists as to his real intentions, he placed a number of women and boys belonging to the town in a house close to the river, and in the direction of the besiegers' camp, ordering them to beat the drums throughout the following day ; while he, with his entire force, evacuated the place at night without giving the foe the slightest suspicion of his movement.

 

After evacuating the town of Liuzhou, Xiuyuan took up his new position at a large village, Thai-sun, and at this place received very considerable additions to his force. Two female rebel Triad chiefs of great valour, named respectively Qiu-ersao ( 1822 - 1853 )and Su Sanniang, each bringing about two thousand followers, here joined him, submitting to his authority and adopting the religious opinions of his people. Some

 About this time 8 chiefs of the Triads or Tiandihui 天地會 , a Chinese secret society with about 10,000 men dedicated to expelling the Manchu Qing . The Triads at this time are mounting the Red Turban Rebellion (  1854 - 1856 ) in Guangdong and are of more concern to the Qing than the Taipings . There were rebellions erupting all over China by this time .  They were eager to join the Taipings and learn their ways and asked for teachers . They also wore red turbans as a sign of membership . Unfortunately, one of the Taiping teachers was beheaded for withholding gifts from the Triads to the Taiping public treasury, which scared off many of the Triads who became afraid they might be executed in the future . Seven of the Triad chiefs turned against the Taipings and joined the Qing . One of the Triad chiefs, Ling Shiba ( 凌十八 ), became an ally for the Taipings  and tried to enter Guangxi from his base in Guangdong and join with the Taipings.

 

 

 

 

 

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Thistle Mountain

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Kingdom of Heavenly Peace

 1851