With the Dragon Boat Festival coming up on Thursday, one man has fashioned his own way of commemorating the scholar behind the Chinese holiday.
The traditional festival, in which people race dragon boats and eat zongzi, is thought to have formed around the suicide of Qu Yuan, a poet and government minister of the ancient Chu state during the Warring States period of the Zhou dynasty.
Legend has it that Qu was sent into exile for writing government critiques, particularly concerning an alliance with the powerful state of Qin. When Qin forced captured the Chu capital nearly three decades, Qu threw himself into the Miluo River in despair and drowned.
More than 2,000 years later, a 41-year-old man in Xichang, Sichuan province has been mimicking the scholar’s final act by shouting out one of Qu’s quotes (“There are no true men in the state: no one to understand me.
Why should I cleave to the city of my birth?”) and belly-flopping into his local river where he floats face-down for about 10 seconds.
Jia Zhiyong has been performing this same stunt for the last four years. This time around he’s been catching some negative attention with a video of his dive circulating around Chinese social media.
Netizens have dismissed the stunt as both “meaningless” and “dangerous,” accusing Jia of only trying to hype himself up.
For his part, Jia claims that the yearly act is his own personal way of honoring Qu Yuan. He cautions that others should not mimic him. We will take his advice.