from Illustrations of the Three Powers (1609)
|Native name||Family name: Bāo (包)
Given name: Zhěng (拯)
Style name: Xīrén (希仁)
Posthumous name: Xiàosù (孝肅)
11 April 999|
Hefei, Anhui, China
|Died||20 May 1062
Kaifeng, Henan, China
|Resting place||Hefei, Anhui, China|
Bao Zheng (包拯) (999–1062), commonly known as Bao Gong (包公, "Lord Bao"), was an official during the reign of Emperor Renzong in ancient China's Song Dynasty. During his 25 years in civil service, Bao consistently demonstrated extreme honesty and uprightness, with actions such as sentencing his own uncle, impeaching an uncle of Emperor Renzong's favourite concubine and punishing powerful families. His appointment from 1057 to 1058 as the prefect of Song's capital Kaifeng, where he initiated a number of changes to better hear the grievances of the people, made him a legendary figure.
Nicknamed "Clear Sky Bao" (包青天), Bao Zheng today is respected as the cultural symbol of justice in Greater China. His largely fictionalized stories have appeared in a variety of different literary and dramatic genres, and have enjoyed sustained popularity.
|“||Any of my descendants who commits bribery or malfeasance as an official shall not be allowed back home nor buried in the family burial site. He who shares not my values is not my descendant.
— Bao Zheng's instruction to his family
According to History of Song, Bao Zheng was born into a scholar family in Hefei, Anhui province. At the age of 29 he passed the highest-level Imperial examination and became qualified as a Jinshi. He was a magistrate in Bian (Kaifeng), the capital of the Song Dynasty.
After passing the imperial examination in 1027, Bao deferred embarking on his official career for a decade in order to care for his elderly parents and faithfully observe proper mourning rites after their deaths. From 1037 until his death in 1062, Bao successively held several offices at the imperial court and in provincial locations.
While at the post in Duanzhou, renowned for its inkstones, he discovered that previous prefects always collected more inkstones than allowed. Bao Zheng stopped the practice and left without a single inkstone in his possession once his tenure was over.
In his lifetime, Bao was renowned for his filial piety, his stern demeanor, and his intolerance of injustice and corruption. Due to his fame and the strength of his reputation, Bao's name became synonymous with the idealized "honest and upright official" (qing guan 清官), and quickly became a popular subject of early vernacular drama and literature. Bao was also associated with the god Yanluo (Yama) and the "Infernal Bureaucracy" of the Eastern Marchmount, on account of his supposed ability to judge affairs in the afterlife as well as he judged them in the realm of the living.
He had 30 high officials demoted or dismissed for corruption, bribery, or dereliction of duty. He also had Zhang Yaozhuo, uncle of the high-ranked imperial concubine impeached 6 times. In addition, as the imperial censor, he avoided punishment despite having many other contemporary imperial censors punished for minor statements.
Bao had 3 wives in his life, named Lady Zheng, Lady Dong and Lady Sun. He had 2 sons, Bao Ye (包繶) and Bao Suo (包綬). Bao left this warning for his family: "Any of my descendants who commits bribery as an official shall not be allowed back home nor buried in the family burial site. He who shares not my values is not my descendant." Despite his high rank in the government, he led a modest life like a commoner.
His burial site in Hefei contains his tomb along with the tombs of family members and a memorial temple. It was built in 1066.
Literary Traditions 
Bao Zheng's stories were retold and preserved particularly in the form of performance arts such as Chinese opera and pingshu. Written forms of his legend appeared in the Yuan Dynasty in the form of Qu.
- Rescriptor Bao Cleverly Investigates the Circle of Chalk (包待制智勘灰闌記) by Li Qianfu
- Rescriptor Bao Thrice Investigates the Butterfly Dream (包待制三勘蝴蝶夢) by Guan Hanqing, English translation can be found in Yang & Yang 1958
- Rescriptor Bao Cleverly Executes Court Official Lu (包待制智斬魯齋郎) by Guan Hanqing, English translation can be found in Yang & Yang 1958 (as The Wife-Snatcher)
- Rescriptor Bao Sells Rice at Chenzhou (包待制陳州糶米), English translation can be found in Hayden 1978
- Ding-ding Dong-dong: The Ghost of the Pot (玎玎當當盆兒鬼), English translation can be found in Hayden 1978
- Rescriptor Bao Cleverly Investigates the Flower of the Back Courtyard (包待制智勘後庭花) by Zheng Tingyu, English translation can be found in Hayden 1978
Also discovered from this period include some ballads which had been translated by Wilt L. Idema in 2010.
The 19th century novel The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants by the storyteller Shi Yukun (石玉昆) (partially translated by Song Shouquan in 1997 as well as Susan Blader in 1997) also added a wuxia twist to his stories.
In legends, because he was born dark-skinned and extremely ugly, Bao Zheng was considered cursed and thrown away by his father right after birth. However, his virtuous elder sister-in-law, who just had an infant named Bao Mian (包勉), picked Bao Zheng up and raised him like an own son. As a result, Bao Zheng would refer to Bao Mian's mother as sǎoniáng (嫂娘, literally "sister-in-law mother").
- The one decorated with a dog's head (Chinese: 狗頭鍘 or 犬頭鍘; pinyin: gǒutóuzhá or quǎntóuzhá; Literal: dog-headed lever-knife) was used on commoners.
- The one decorated with a tiger's head (Chinese: 虎頭鍘; pinyin: hǔtóuzhá; Literal: tiger-headed lever-knife) was used on government officials.
- The one decorated with a dragon's head (Chinese: 龍頭鍘 or 火龍鍘; pinyin: lóngtóuzhá or huǒlóngzhá; Literal: dragon-headed lever-knife or knife of the fire dragon) was used on royal personages.
He was granted a golden rod (Chinese: 金黄夏楚; pinyin: jīnhuángjiáchǔ) by the previous emperor, with which he was authorised to chastise the current emperor. He was also granted an imperial sword (Chinese: 尚方寶劍; pinyin: shàngfāngbǎojiàn) from the previous emperor; whenever it was exhibited the persons surrounding, irrespective of their social classes, must pay respect and compliance to the person exhibiting as the Emperor was present thereat himself. All guillotines of Bao Zheng were authorised to execute any persons without first obtaining approval from the emperor, whilst some accounts stating the imperial sword was a license to execute any royals before so reporting.
He is famous for his uncompromising stance against corruption among the government officials at the time. He upheld justice and refused to yield to higher powers including the Emperor's Father-in-Law (Chinese: 國丈; pinyin: guózhàng), who was also appointed as the Grand Tutor (Chinese: 太師; pinyin: tàishī) and was known as Grand Tutor Pang (Chinese: 龐太師; pinyin: Páng tàishī). He treated Bao as an enemy. Although Grand Tutor Pang is often depicted in myth as an archetypical villain (arrogant, selfish, and cruel), the historical reasons for his bitter rivalry with Bao remain unclear.
In many stories Bao is usually accompanied by his skilled bodyguard Zhan Zhao and personal secretary Gongsun Ce (公孙策). Zhan is a skilled martial artist while Gongsun is an intelligent adviser. There are also four enforcers named Wang Zhao (王朝), Ma Han (馬漢), Zhang Long (張龍), and Zhao Hu (趙虎). All of these characters are presented as righteous and incorruptible.
Due to his strong sense of justice, he is very popular in China, especially among the peasants and the poor. He became the subject of literature and modern Chinese TV series in which his adventures and cases are featured.
Famous cases 
All of these cases have been favorites in Chinese opera.
- The Case of Executing Chen Shimei (鍘美案): Chen Shimei had two children with wife Qin Xianglian, when he left them behind in his hometown for the Imperial examination in the capital. After placing first, he lied about his marriage and became the emperor’s new son-in-law. Years later, a famine forced Qin and her children to move to the capital, where they learned what happened to Chen. Qin finally found a way to meet Chen and begged him to help at least his own children. Not only did Chen refuse, he sent his servant Han Qi to kill them to hide his secret, but Han helped the family escape and killed himself. Desperate, Qin brought her case to Bao Zheng, who tricked Chen to the court to have him arrested. The imperial family intervened with threats, but Bao executed him nonetheless.
- Executing Bao Mian (鍘包勉): When Bao Zheng was an infant, he was raised by his elder sister-in-law, Wu, like a son. Years later, Wu's only son Bao Mian became a magistrate, and was convicted of bribery and malfeasance. Finding it impossible to fulfill both Confucian concepts of loyalty and filial piety, an emotional Bao Zheng executed his nephew according to the law and later tearfully apologized to Wu, his motherly figure.
- Wild Cat Exchanged for Crown Prince (狸貓換太子): Bao Zheng met a woman claiming to be the mother of the current Emperor Renzong. Dozens of years ago, she had been Consort Li, an imperial concubine of Emperor Zhenzong's, before falling out of favor for supposedly giving birth to a bloody dead Chinese wild cat. What really happened was a jealous Consort Liu plotting with eunuch Guo Huai to secretly swap Li's infant son with a skinned Chinese wild cat minutes after birth. The infant eventually became Emperor Renzong, but he refused to accept Bao's findings. As Kou Zhu, the palace maid who defied orders to help smuggle the baby to safety, had already died, getting a confession from Guo Huai presented a challenge. With the help of a woman dressed as Kou's ghost, Bao dressed himself as the hell overlord Yama and used Guo's fear of the supernatural and guilt to extract the confession. After the verdict is out, Bao also ordered a set of beatings for the emperor for failing to oblige filial piety; the emperor's Dragon Robe was beaten instead. Eventually Emperor Renzong accepted Consort Li and elevated her as the new Empress Dowager.
- The Case of Two Nails (雙釘記): Bao Zheng investigated a husband's suspicious death whose cause had been ruled natural. After an autopsy, his coroner confirmed the earlier report that there was no injury throughout the body. At home, the coroner discussed the case with his wife, who mentioned that someone could force long steel nails into the brain, leaving no other traces on the body. The next day, the coroner found a long nail indeed, and the widow was arrested and confessed to adultery and mariticide. Afterwards, Bao Zheng began to question the coroner's wife and learned that the coroner is her second husband, as her first husband had died. Bao ordered his guards to go to the cemetery and unearth her first husband's coffin. Sure enough, there was also a nail in the skull.
Modern References 
- In modern Chinese, "Bao Gong" or "Bao Qingtian" is invoked as a metaphor or symbol of justice.
- A side scrolling video game, Bao Qing Tian, was released for the Famicom.
- He briefly appears in the novel Iron Arm, Golden Sabre and sponsors young Zhou Tong's entry into the military as an officer.
- In the Marvel comic series New Universal, Young Judge Bao is one of the characters in an in-universe comic book.
- Stephen Chow made a spin-off movie based on Bao Zheng called Hail the Judge and titled "Pale Face Bao Zheng Ting" in Chinese. In the movie Stephen plays a descendant of Bao Zheng called "Bao Sing" living in Qing Dynasty, whose family lost its once glorious prestige due to generations of incompetence and corruption.
- Lingling Takiguchi, a sister-duo team, wrote and drew the manga Hokusou Fuuunden (北宋風雲伝), with Bao as the central character while retelling or tweaking several of the cases. It was published by monthly Japanese magazine Princess Comics, serializing from May 2000 to May 2008, and compiled into 16 tankōbon.
- "Les éditions Fei" publish a series of French-language comics about Bao Zheng, as of August 2010, 2 volumes are in print.
- In March 2012, Frederic Lenormand, author of 18 Judge Dee's New Cases (Fayard 2004-2011), published at Editions Philippe Picquier Un Thé chez Confucius (A Tea with Confucius), first novel of his new series, The Judge Bao Cases.
- Inside the Forbidden City (宋宮秘史), a 1965 Shaw Brothers musical film stars Cheng Miu as Bao Zheng, and tells the story of the "Wild Cat for Crown Prince conspiracy" case.
- King Cat (七俠五義), a 1967 Shaw Brothers film features Cheng Miu as Bao Zheng.
- The Wrongly Killed Girl (南俠展昭大破地獄門), a 1976 Hong Kong film stars Jen Hao as Bao Zheng and tells the Liu Jinchan murder.
- Cat and Mouse (老鼠愛上貓), a 2003 Media Asia romantic comedy stars Anthony Wong as Bao Zheng.
- Game of a Cat and Mouse (包青天之五鼠鬥御貓), a 2005 film stars Jin Chao-chun as Bao Zheng.
- Hua Gu Di Wang (包青天之化骨帝王), a Mainland China film planned for 2013 release.
Some of the more prominent TV series include:
- Justice Bao (包青天), a 1974-1975 series produced by CTS totaling 350 episodes. Yi Ming portrayed Bao Zheng.
- Justice Bao (包青天), a 1993-1994 series produced by CTS with 41 cases totaling 236 episodes produced in one season. This would be the first series where Jin Chao-chun portrayed Bao Zheng.
- Justice Bao (包青天), a 1995 series produced by TVB and starring Ti Lung as Bao Zheng, with 16 cases totaling 80 episodes.
- Justice Bao (新包青天), a 1995-1996 series produced by ATV and starring Jin Chao-chun as Bao Zheng, with 25 cases totaling 160 episodes.
- Justice Bao (包青天), a 2008 Mainland series starring Jin Chao-chun as Bao Zheng, with 5 cases totaling 61 episodes.
- Justice Bao (包青天), an ongoing Mainland series starring Jin Chao-chun as Bao Zheng. The first season airing in 2010, three seasons totaling 120 episodes have been shown as of 2012.
See also 
- Chang Fu-jui (1976). "Pao Cheng". In Franke, Herbert. Sung Biographies. Franz Steiner Verlag. pp. 823–832. ISBN 3515024123.
- (Chinese) Toktoghan et al., History of Song, vol. 316 (Bao Zheng)
- 王家歆 (Wang Chia-Hsin) (2002). "〈宋史包拯傳〉疏證" [A Study of "History of Song: Bao Zheng Biography"]. Journal of National Taichung Technological College: Humanities and Social Science (in Chinese) 1: 33–50. Retrieved 2012-02-19.,
- 孔繁敏 (Kong Fan-Min) (1986). 包拯年谱 [Annals of Bao Zheng] (in Chinese). Anhui: Huangshan Publishing House. Retrieved 2012-02-19.
- Wilt L. Idema. “The Pilgrimage to Taishan in the Dramatic Literature of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries.” Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR), Vol. 19 (Dec., 1997), pp. 23-57, p. 34
- Idema, Wilt L. (2010). Judge Bao and the Rule of Law: Eight Ballad-Stories from the Period 1250-1450. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing.
- West, Stephen H.; Idema, Wilt L. (2010). Monks, Bandits, Lovers, and Immortals: Eleven Early Chinese Plays. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company.
- Yang Hsien-yi; Yang, Gladys (1958). Selected Plays of Kuan Han-Ching. Foreign Languages Press. OCLC 459980671.
- Hayden, George Allen (1978). Crime and Punishment in Medieval Chinese Drama: Three Judge Pao Plays. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0674176081.
- Idema, Wilt L. (2010). Judge Bao and the Rule of Law: Eight Ballad-Stories from the Period 1250-1450. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Company. ISBN 9814277010.
- Comber, Leon (1964). The Strange Cases of Magistrate Pao: Chinese Tales of Crime and Detection. Clarendon, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Company. ISBN 9810845677.
- Shi, Yukun; Yu, Yue; Song Shouquan (trans.) (2005). The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants. Esther Samson (ed.), Lance Samson (ed.). Beijing: Foreign Languages Press. ISBN 7507103587.
- Blader, Susan (1997). Tales of Magistrate Bao and His Valiant Lieutenants: Selections from Sanxia Wuyi. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press. ISBN 9622017754.
- Wang, Yun Heng (汪运衡) and Xiao Yun Long (筱云龙). Tie Bei Jin Dao Zhou Tong Zhuan (铁臂金刀周侗传 - "Iron Arm, Golden Sabre: The Biography of Zhou Tong"). Hangzhou: Zhejiang People's Publishing House, 1986 (UBSN --- Union Books and Serials Number) CN (10103.414) and 464574
Further reading 
- (English) Another biography
- Chang Fu-jui (1976). "Pao Cheng". In Franke, Herbert. Sung Biographies. Franz Steiner Verlag. pp. 823–832. ISBN 3515024123.