Beauty in Motion
Qu Yuan, a poet and statesman who lived twenty-three hundred years ago, hated corruption but he was surrounded by it. When he tried to introduce fair policies, his fellow ministers wouldn’t hear of it. They plotted and told the Emperor lies about Qu Yuan. And so Qu Yuan was sent away in disgrace.
Still, Qu Yuan remained loyal to his emperor. He lived in exile and wrote beautiful poetry that told of his passion and love for his country. In time he became a hero who was admired and loved by all the people.
One day Qu Yuan learned that enemy troops had invaded and were storming the palace to overthrow the emperor. Qu Yuan was heartbroken. Rather than see his country conquered by the enemy, he decided to kill himself. He went to the edge of the Milo River, grabbed a huge rock as a weight, and threw himself into the water. He sank immediately and died.
Local people, learning of his suicide, rushed out in their fishing boats to the middle of the river and tried desperately to save him, but were unsuccessful. In order to keep fish and evil spirits away from his body, they beat drums and splashed the water with their paddles.
Today, people participate in dragon boat races to commemorate Qu Yuan’s sacrifice on the Duan Wu festival, the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar.
Dragon boating is the fastest growing outdoor sport in America. The actual boat is a very long and narrow vessel, with room enough for a crew of 20 paddlers, 1 steerer and 1 drummer. The paddlers work together, matching the stroke of the person in front of them. When done in perfect synchronization, it is a beauty in motion.
What is Dragon Boating?