Chinese & Art Classroom

Chinese Classical Poem 140 & Shirley Created Painting, Articel, Music & Poem Songs 140 for: Chile Chuan by Hu Lvjin March 12, 2012 / July 18, 2010/ Oct 8, 2005

Listen to Shirley Singing the Poem in Chinese July 18, 2010
Listen to Shirley Singing the Poem in English July 18, 2010

Listen to Shirley Explaining the Poem & Follow Me to Read It ( March 12,2012)
Follow Shirley to Read the New Words & the Poem ( March 12,2012)

Learn the Meaning of the Poem & It Created Background

See Shirley Created Paintings for the Poem May 31- June 3, 2012
See Shirley Created Paintings for the Poem Feb 26- March 1, 2012
See Shirley Created Paintings for the Poem July 19,2010

About the Author & Background of the Poem

The poem Chi Le Ge -- Che Le Song was created in the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589).

It was first sung in the Xianbei Language in the Northern Dynasty (386-581, it includes the Northern Wei Dynasty, Northern Qi Dynasty, and Northern Zhou Dynasty) . and then it was translated into Chinese language.

There are two opinions about its author . One opinion is that it was created by an anonymous person; the other opinion has it created by a military officer under the first emperor Gao Hua of the Eastern Wei ? Hu Lǜ Jin in 546.

Chi Le, was called “Ting Ling”   in Han Dynasty and it was also known as Chi Le in Wei, Jin and the Northern and Southern Dynasties.

Chi Le people were famous for creating vehicles with high wheels. The largest diameter of the wheels was 1.4 meters. The height of the vehicle was similar as a horse, higher than an ox. It could go across places covered with tall grass, thick snow or swamps. So, the southern people are also called Chi Le People " Gao Che ? High Vehicle".

In the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C. 206 BC ) and Han Dynasty (206 BC ? 221 AD) , the ancestors of the Chi Le lived in what today is referred to as the Baikal valley. At the end of the Han Dynasty ( 206 BC ? 220 AD) and the Southern and Northern Dynasties, most of Chi Le people migrated or were forced to move to the South.

The rich southern area of the great desert became their nomadic place. As more and more Chi Le people gathered there, this place was called Chi Le Chuan ? Chi Le Plain.

As the Chi Le people moved into the Chi Le plain during the Northern and Southern Dynasties, the Northern area of the Yellow River of China was governed by another nomadic nation ? Xianbei. Eventually Chi Le and Xianbei people integrated together.

In 534 AD, North Wei was split into Eastern Wei and Western Wei. In 546, they went to war. The first emperor of the Eastern Wei ? Gao Huan led an army with 100,000 soldiers to fight with the Western Wei. After fighting for about 50 days, he lost 70,000 soldiers.   

During the retreat, a rumor said that Gao would die because he was hit by an arrow. Wounded and sick, Gao Huan gave his ministers a banquet in order to stabilize morale. To inspire enthusiasm, he ordered one of his military officers Hu Lǜjin to create a song that would express the hearts of both of Xianbei and Chile nations.

Then, Hu Lǜ Jin first sang Chi Le Song in Xianbei language. Gong Hua, his officers and all soldiers sang it with tears together, and at once, the army was inspired.

Since then, Chi Le Gong has been loved by Chinese people for 1478 years.

Comments about the Poem
With just 27 simple Chinese characters, this poem expresses a huge artistic appeal, describs
how vast ,distant, wealthy and glorious the Chi Le Plain was, along with hints of the endless love of the Chi Le people have for the extensive grassland and their nomadic life.

The first two lines: 敕勒 - Chì lè chuān,阴山 - yīn shāng xià。Chi Le plain lies at the foot of the Yinshan Mountains.

Yinshan Mountain is one of the ten largest mountains of China. It lies across the middle of the Inner Mongolia. The eastern part winds its way to the northwestern part of today’s Hebei Province, stretching about 1200 kilometers (about 1931 miles); the width from south to the north is 50 - 100 kilometers (80 ? 160 miles). It is the northern borderline of the Yellow River valley, the boundary of monsoon and non-monsoon regions, and also forms the borderline between Chinese ancient nomadic culture and the agricultural culture / farm culture. A part of the Great Wall built in Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.) was just on the top of the Yinshan Mountains.

The first six simple but quite bright sound Chinese characters point out the geographical position and physical characteristics of the Chi Le Plain ?there is nothing to block people’s visual field .Only the endless plain stretches out as far as the foot of the Yinshan Mountains to meet readers’ eyes.
Behind the surface language, indirectly, we also see hints of something like the Chinese proverb :“ yī fāng shǔi tǔ yǎng yī fāng rén -    Each place has its own way of supporting its own inhabitants.” As a group of nomadic people, Chi Le People certainly have wide chests like the extensive grassland; they can live in the wilderness, they have certainly strong and brave national characters; the most important reason they love Chi Le Plain maybe not only for its beautiful view, but also that it is their source of livelihood.

So, I feel, the first two lines, tell us not only where the Chi Le is, but also, what Chi Le people were like and how they love this land.

The next two lines: 穹庐 - tiān sì qióng lú, 笼盖四野 - lǒng gài sì yě。 ? Sky is just like a domed yurt covering/ enveloping the earth.

“ Qiong Lu “      means    “ yurt ”,    Today we call it    “ Meng Gu Bao - Mongolian yurt    ”. To say the sky is like a yurt, What   a wonderful comparison that is! The size of a little yurt is just like the huge sky. The shape of the little yurt is also just like the huge sky. we can easily understand how Chi Le People were proud and loved their home and land.

Based on this background, the two lines paint out how extensive the sky and the land is and write out the most typical life character of Chi Le nation, and describe a great Northern landscape for us.

The fifth and sixth lines: 苍苍 - Tiān cāng cāng,
茫茫 - yě máng máng ? The heavens are dark green/blue and vast, the wilds is boundless “.

“ Cang cang ” means dark green and vast, describing   how the heavens are high and vast, so that the usual blue has been changed to be dark green. “Mang mang” means endless, to describe the immense open wilds.

Repeating the same Chinese characters, emphasizes how wide and faraway the sky is and the vastness of the plain is, hinting as to how the Chi Le people would have the same vast chests, bold and uninhibited characteristics.

The last line: 风吹草低见牛羊 - fēng chuī cǎo dī xiàn niú yáng ? When the wind blows the grass low, cattle and sheep appear there.”

Because the grass is so plentiful and lush, everything was concealed inside. Now, the wind is blowing the grass low, and the flickering cattle and sheep appear everywhere.

Based on the macroscopic and static description in the first six lines, this line switches the writing to the other subject, with three verbs    “ chui - blow”, “ di - low” and “xian - appear” in a line that there is only 7 Chinese characters in it with so much passion, just like something from the beginning to the end without stopping,    this line pushes the poem from static state to the activity, from the entire description to the detailed statement, from the surface to the inside, reaching the climax. At once, the whole of the grassland is full of the vibrant with life.

In other words, the first 6 lines of this poem describes the plain, the great mountains, the sky and the wilds, creating a quite magnificently artistic conception, just like a play, the screen has been opened, we must see the actors or actress there, then the play can be started and go on. Therefore, there is the last line, to complete the poem -- all of the descriptions on the view are focused on a group or groups of cattle and sheep.

What a wonderful writing style, it is!   

Maybe you would like to ask, why do they sing high praise for Chi Le Plain as related to their life style?    The domed yurt is their living places, the grassland is the source of their food and clothes, they have certainly deep loving feeling to these things which are related to their life and fortune. Therefore, I would like to say, when they admire the plain and their cattle and sheep, they are just admiring their hometown.

For the same reason, this poem has a deeply strong national and local color.
As Gao Huan and his soldier did, every time I read this poem, I am touched by something inside. Therefore, after visiting my parents in Wuxi in Oct, 2005, on the airplane coming back to Shenzhen,    When I   looked at   the vast and blue sky,   the white floating clouds, thinking of the first time, my mother saw and heard what I had created, and first time, she encouraged me to create my own music after she was against me to learn painting and music for many years, tears could not help flowing on my face silently,   then on the airplane, I created a piece of music to match this poem. Then I created two paintings to match it in July 2010.

Also, I re-wrote this article now. I do hope that my effort will be of some help with your understanding of Chinese culture and learning Chinese language...
The Main Meaning of the Poem

Chi Le Song

By by Hu Lǜjin    ( Southern and Northern Dynasties   420 -589)

Chile plain,
Lies at the foot of the Yinshan Mountains,
The sky is like domed yurt, enveloping the earth.

The dark-green heavens are vast, the wilds boundless.
When the wind blows the grass low,
The cattle & sheep appear there...

Chinese Characters and Pronunciations

You can click any Chinese Character to open the New Character Board and to see its Chinese pinyin, meaning, pronunciation and follow my reading,   you can also click the links over to enter thePainting Column,or you can directly enter the art notes on the painting that I created for this poem to see my painting and art notes for the poem


敕勒 - Chì lè chuān,
阴山 - yīn shāng xià。
穹庐 - tiān sì qióng lú,
笼盖四野 - lǒng gài sì yě 。

苍苍 - Tiān cāng cāng,
茫茫 - yě máng máng,
风吹草低见牛羊 - fēng chuī cǎo dī xiàn niú yáng。

If you have any questions, comments and suggestions, please write to or You are welcome to publish your opinions in Message Board as well.

Shirley Zhang

March 11, 2012, July 18, 2010/Oct 8, 2005

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