Son of Duke Bao Jun and Xue Jing
The ruler of the Four Rivers province, duke Bao, was aptly nicknamed Bao-Zhu. ‘Zhu’ translates to pig, and the duke earned this nickname due to his appearance and gluttony, which alienated not only close friends but also acquaintances.
Bao-Zhu was the son of duke Bao Gun and the beautiful Xue Jing, who happened to be the daughter of the ruler of Kruitep. From his early days, young Bao stood out from his peers with chubby cheeks, and his plumpness did not diminish.
When he inherited the title of duke (along with the governance of the Four Rivers province), the young duke Bao’s plumpness turned into outright gluttony. He demanded no fewer than five meals from his servants, with each meal featuring entirely different dishes. It was during this time that he earned the nickname ‘Zhu,’ and no matter how hard duke Bao tried to shake off this nickname, it stubbornly stuck.
Duke Bao-Zhu lost the battle against this derogatory nickname, and in his quest for retaliation, he began to seek praise at every opportunity. The deputies noticed this characteristic of the duke, and various gifts started arriving in the province’s capital, to which duke Bao Zhu was quite pleased.
Takuan and duke Bao-Zhu met in the duke’s castle, where Takuan arrived on an important matter. As for the specifics of the matter, we shall not discuss it here. Let’s just say that duke Bao-Zhu was delighted by the unexpected guest as an excuse for an extraordinary, already the sixth change of lunch dishes. This happened within the pages of the book ‘The Prince of Blue Flowers.’
Duke Bao-Zhu also plays a significant role in ‘Envoys of Celestials.’ If it weren’t for the duke’s presence in the castle or his inherent arrogance, the messengers of the Goddess of the West would not have found... However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
To find out whom the messengers of the Goddess of the West encountered in duke Bao-Zhu’s castle, read the concluding part of ‘Takuan from Koto’ titled Envoys of Celestials.’
Bao Xue Jing gave birth to the duke’s one and only son, who was named Zhu for the enormous appetite he showed, even in his earliest days. With time, the son grew up and, as per custom, inherited the title of Duke Bao – but he also took his father’s greed, which had never left him.
Bao-Zhu turned out to be swaggering and hungry for praise. Under his rule, bribery flourished in the principality of the Four Rivers. Merchants looking for the duke’s favours brought numerous gifts to Bao-Zhu.
In the dining hall stood a huge table, which was heaped with all kinds of food. There were phoenix claws, and plum-stuffed zucchini, and spotted snake meat roast, and spicy sparrows, and crab shiplets. There was even a dish of eighteen parts, the name of which has not yet been invented.
The opulent Bao-Zhu sat at the table in the most honourable place. Three, or more often five, daily meals helped the duke maintain himself in the form that he liked the most. Bao-Zhu motioned the prince to the sitting pillows.
The guests were invited to the table, where there were already all sorts of dishes. There were fried pike-perches in batter, which an observant cook had captured from the market, and whole-fried cockerels marinated in sweet and sour sauce, and a salad, among the leaves of which tiny octopuses were hiding, and even a dish made up of eighteen parts, which in different provinces was named in different ways. In Surin, the dish was called ‘Duke Bao-Zhu jumps over the sea’.