Dragon boat racing is said to originate from the legend of people paddling out on boats to seek the body of patriotic poet Qu Yuan, who drowned himself in the Miluo River.
The Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the life and death of Qu Yuan, the ancient patriot-poet and loyal official of the state of Chu, China, who lived during the Warring States Period from 340-278 BC.
Qu Yuan was born in a ruling family and served in high offices. He was the number one advisor of the Kingdom of Chu, and dedicated his whole life to assisting the king to build the State of Chu stronger.
He advised the King to ally with the State of Qi (one of the seven warring states: Qi, Chu, Yan, Han, Zhao, Wei, and Qin) to fight against the most powerful State of Qin. However,he was slandered by jealous officials and accused of treason, and the King dismissed and exiled him.
During his exile, Qu Yuan wrote a great deal of enduring poems showing his love and passion for his country, some of which are still very famous in China.
In 278 BC, the Qin State conquered the capital of Chu. On hearing of the defeat, Qu Yuan in great despair committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month.
The rest is legend… When they heard of Qu Yuan's death, the local people were very sad, and rowed out on the river to search for his body, but were unable to find him. To preserve his body, the locals paddled their boats up and down the river, hitting the water with their paddles and beating drums to scare evil spirits away. They threw lumps of rice into the river to feed the fish, so that they would not eat Qu Yuan's body.
An old Chinese doctor poured realgar wine into the river to poison the monsters and
to protect Qu Yuan.
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