Zheng Jian, Contributor, Dora Li, Contributing Translator
“Fan the Pillow and Warm the Quilt” is a story collected in The 24 Paragons of Filial Piety, published during the Yuan Dynasty. The main character of this story is Huang Xiang. Huang Xiang was born in the area known as Jiangxia, in the Eastern Han Dynasty. His mother died when he was only nine years old. He felt very sad and missed his mother day and night. Upon seeing this, all the villagers praised him for being a good boy with filial piety.
In order to give his father more time to rest, he tried to do a lot of the hard work around the house even though he was very young. He took good care of his father every day, even for tiny things. During the hot summer, there were so many mosquitoes that Huang Xiang was afraid his father would not sleep well. Often before his father went to bed, the boy would fan the pillow and sleeping mat to make them cool and to get rid of the mosquitoes. Then he would tell his father that he could go to bed. In the winter, Huang Xiang was afraid that his father would not sleep well because of the cold. Thus, he would lie in his father’s bed, using his body heat to warm the quilt. Afterward, he would tell his father that he could go to bed.
The story of Huang Xiang’s filial piety soon spread to the whole city. People one after another praised him, saying, “A Huang Xiang in Jiangxia has no parallel throughout the world.” This saying has been passed down through Chinese history.