The Legend of Five Finger Peaks


Five Finger Peaks, the main peaks of Jinggang Mountain, got its name from its five peaks that look like the five fingers of hand. On the back of one version of RMB 100-banknote there is the image of the Five Finger Peaks. How did it come into being?

A long time ago, in a remote hilly area there lived a woman called Zhou Changxiu who lost her husband when she was 29. At that time her baby boy, who was by the name of Degeng, was just one year old. After long years of hardship and suffering, she finally brought up Degeng. The mother and the son took care of each other and lived a poor but contented life. But unfortunately, when Degeng was 18, his mother became paralyzed out of long period of excessive hard labor. Since then she had to lie on the bed under the care of his son, who was extremely filial and did everything to satisfy the needs of his mother. He always ensured that his mother had enough food and clothes even though he himself was often reduced to be hungry and cold. Changxiu stayed on bed for three years and Degeng¡¯s love and care for her was constant. Seeing that her son was so filial, Changxiu thought that her long years of hardship in bringing Degeng up were worthwhile after all.

One day Degeng presented a bowl of rice, a steamed chicken and a roasted fish to his mother for meal, which was to the great surprise to Changxiu, who asked, ¡°Oh my son, where did you get these things?¡± ¡°I bought them from the market¡±, replied Degeng. ¡°Where could you have so much money?¡± Changxiu continued his enquiry. ¡°Mother, I have found a job in a rice shop and I am well paid.¡± said Degeng, ¡°Be assured and enjoy them to your heart¡¯s content.¡± Having heard that his son had found a well-paid job, Changxiu was very pleased and enjoyed heartily the best food she had ever had for her whole life. Since that day, Changxiu not only had good food such as chicken, duck, fish and pork to eat, she also had new quilts to cover and new clothes to wear.

Another day Degeng led a teen girl to his mother, saying, ¡°Mother, I was very busy in the rice shop and could not take care of you as well as I hope, so I hired this girl to attend you. Her name is Guiying. How do you like it?¡± Changxiu had long been bothered by the trouble she brought to her son these years in helping her do all sort of messy things such as washing clothes, she was of course very happy that a girl was hired to help her in place of Degeng. But how about the pay of the girl? Degeng assured Changxiu. ¡±Mother, I will give her pay handsomely¡±. Since then in the company of Guiying, Changxiu led a happy and comfortable life.

One day when talking with Changxiu, Guiying casually mentioned that there appeared a cat burglar who stole two hundred tael of silver from a money shop and after months of search by the court, was still at large. He was said to be able to walk on the eave and hide himself. A few days later, Guiying mentioned to Changxiu that 100 rolls of cloth had been stolen by the cat burglar. Now everyone felt a shiver when talking of the thief, saying that he was a devil. Now all families kept their door closely shot even before the evening came.

At first Changxiu just took it as irrelevant news, but later when thinking of what she had been eating, wearing and using, she could not help being clouded by doubts, ¡°From where Degeng got so much money?¡± Thinking of this, I immediately asked Guiying to ask about the pay of his song Degeng in the rice shop.

When Guiying went back, Changxiu was told that her son earned a pay of three rolls of silver coins per month. At this, her heart sank, ¡°Three rolls of silver coins were far from supporting such a life. Is it possible that my son is just the cat burglar?¡±

In the evening when Degeng came back, his mother enquired him in that regard. He at first prevaricated, but later claimed that he picked up one hundred tael of silver in the wilderness. At this, Changxiu became angry, scolding her son, ¡°The ancestors have long taught us that it is not right to pick up unrightful things, and even if you caught it, you should have given it to its owner. You¡­¡± Degeng hurried to explain that he had searched its owner but failed to find, so he kept it to himself, and he acknowledged his mistake.¡± Seeing that his son had realized his mistake, Changxiu dropped the matter, but she still has misgiving, ¡°Even one hundred of silver could have been long used up in our present standard of life. After further thinking, it occurred to Changxiu that Degeng had been keeping his room locked since last year and had never allowed anyone to come in. I doubt whether he has kept something unrightful things in his room.¡±

At the night, Changxiu said to Degeng, ¡°My son, I had left one clothes in your room. Ask Guiying to fetch it for me.¡± ¡°No, no, it cannot be in my room,¡± Degeng replied in a hurry, ¡°you have never put your clothes in my room.¡± ¡°Then it is really a strange thing because I cannot find it anywhere. Guiying, go to Degeng¡¯s room to check whether it is there.¡± Changxiu insisted. At that, Degeng immediately got up, ¡°I go there for you.¡± The moment he got into his room, he locked door and went out after a long time. ¡°Mother, as I said, your clothes were not at my room.¡± said Degeng to Changxiu. All these strange behaviors of Degeng put a heavy cloud of doubt in his mother¡¯s mind.

The next day when Degeng went out to work in the rice shop, Changxiu asked Guihua to break into Degeng¡¯s room. A moment later Guihua went back in a hurry, exclaiming, ¡°Auntie, there are countless treasures and silks in the room of Brother Degeng.¡± These words stroke Changxiu like a bolt from the blue. She could not help bursting out into a sorrowful cry, ¡°I have never expected that after all these years of hardship I should have turned out my child into a thief!¡±

At the night, with tears on her face, Changxiu scolded her Degeng,¡±Oh my son, you have committed things that evoke curse and contempt from all people of the world! Tell me where you got all those treasures and silks!¡± Degeng found that his deeds had been brought to light, but instead of showing sign of shame, he explained to his mother cheerfully, ¡°Mother, no need to be so sad. I do this all for your sake. You were widowed at a young age and suffered countless hardships before bringing me up. I have long resolved that I would try my best to present you the most precious clothes and the most delicious food to pay the sacrifice you have done for me. Mother, I tell you, I shall never be found in stealing because I can make myself invisible before others. If you do not believe, I make a show before you.¡± With that, he suddenly disappeared. Changxiu stared with wide eyes but could not find Degeng anywhere, and began to cry, ¡°Oh my son, where have you gone?¡±¡° Here I am¡± came the voice of Degeng. But Changxiu still could not see his son.A moment later, Degeng showed himself before his mother, who was astonished as well as scared and asked, ¡°Where did you learn this magic?¡±¡° Well, it was the year before last year. One day when I was plowing in the field, I suddenly found a pot. I took it up and open it, and then a book came in view. It turned out to be a book that taught invisible skill. I learned it for half a year and grasped it.¡± ¡°My Son, since you have the special ability to hide yourself, you should have employed it for the benefit of the broad masses. How did it occur to you to do such a despicable thing? You¡¯d better give yourself up to the court.¡± Hearing that his mother asked him to confess to the court, Degeng was greatly scared and his face became pale. ¡°No, no, if I confess my crime, I would be beheaded.¡± At this Changxiu trebled, thinking, ¡°He after all is my son, a flesh of my flesh. I have not the heart to surrender him to the court and leave myself sonless and desolate.¡± And then she turned to her Degeng,¡±Oh my son, living in this world what is most precious is our reputation. We shall never do unlawful things. Listen to my words and from now on you should have a clean break with your past.¡± Degeng kept nodding his head.

But after that, Degeng threw what his mother told him to the winds and continued his unlawful business. After dozens of persuasions of his mother, he remained the old self. At this, Changxiu¡¯s heart was almost broken.

At last Changxiu made up her mind that she must stop his son from his crime. So one day she said to Degeng, ¡°My son, give me your hand and let me take a look.¡± Without knowing her intention, he reached his hand to his mother, who with tears in eyes watched the hand, turned it up and down, and caressed it, and suddenly, took out a knife from behind and hacked off the hand. Suddenly the palm was down to the ground with a lot of blood shedding on the ground. Degeng kept rolling on the ground out of pain. Changxiu took her son to her bosom and cried, ¡°Oh my dear son, I hate to do this, but I have no choice. It is my earnest wish that you could make a fresh start in your life."

Degeng, covering his bleeding hand with the other one, keeled down to Changxiu, ¡°Mother, you are right to do so. Please forgive this unfilial son.¡±

Determined to turn over a new leaf of life, Degeng not only abandoned his invisible skill but also distributed all his stolen treasures and silks to the poor in secret. Since then the mother and the son led a destitute but contented life.

Changxiu put the left palm of Degeng in an exquisite box and asked Guiying to bury it in the vegetable field behind their house. After untold years, five peaks rose up from the original place and grew higher and higher until they are as high as they are today.