Xiahou Dun Yanking an Arrow that Pierced His Eyeball

夏侯惇拔矢啖睛

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Xiahou Dun (夏侯惇, died 13 June 220) was one of Cao Cao’s (曹操, 155-220) most valued generals in the late Eastern Han dynasty (东汉, 25-220) of China. Xiahou showed his strong temperament even when he was in his early teens. Once his mentor was insulted, and he went straight to the insulter and killed him. During the 190s in a military campaign against the famous fighter Lv Bu (Lü Bu 吕布, died 199), an arrow hit one of Xiahou’s eyeballs. He showed his valour by yanking the arrow out of his eye socket and ate his own eyeball as an act of filial piety because of the cherished belief that any part of the body was a gift from parents and should not be thrown away. From then on, Xiahou was known as ‘One-eyed Xiahou’.

Read Dr Yibin Ni’s blog for more analysis of the artistic presentations of Xiahou Dun on Chinese antique porcelain, woodblock print and other art forms, in association with comparable figures in Western culture.

Acknowledgement:

Fig 1-3: porcelain dish with overglaze enamelled decoration, Qing dynasty (1644-1911), courtesy of Qingzhou Municipal Museum

Fig 4: illustration, woodblock print, Qing dynasty (1644-1911)

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