An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Can Cong 蠶叢

Jan 23, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Can Cong 蠶叢, also called Qingyishen 青衣神 "God of the Bluegreen Clothes" was an ancient ruler of the kingdom of Shu 蜀 in the region of modern Sichuan. He was the first of his dynasty and ruled during a time when the people of that region did not yet a script nor "rituals and music" (liyue 禮樂).

According to legend, Can Cong instructed his people in silkworm raising and so became a local inventor hero. He reigned for several hundred years during the Xia 夏 (17th-15th cent. BCE), Shang 商 (17th-11th cent. BCE) and early Zhou 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE) periods, and was succeeded by Bo Guan 柏灌, whose throne was in turn inherited by Yu Fu 魚鳧. In fact, the reign of these persons must have been during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE).

Chinese historians believe that Can Cong must have been active in the region of Maoxian 茂縣, Guan Huan in Jiangyan 江堰 and Guangou 灌口, and Yu Fu somewhere in the plain around Chengdu 成都 (modern Chengdu, Sichuan). According to legend, Can Cong regularly toured his kingdom and observed the people and supported them in their silkworm breeding. During that activity he used to wear bluegreen clothes, which gave him his style Qingyishen. There was even a district called Qingyixian 青神縣 "that of the Bluegreen God". A shrine of Can Cong was once found southwest of Chengdu.

Li Jianping 李劍平, ed. (1998). Zhongguo shenhua renwu cidian 中國神話人物辭典 (Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe), 542.
Sichuan baike quanshu bianzuan weiyuanhui 《四川百科全書》編纂委員會, ed. (1997). Sichuan baike quanshu 四川百科全書 (Chengdu: Sichuan cishu chubanshe), 702.
Yuan Ke 袁珂, ed. (1985). Zhongguo shenhua chuanshuo cidian 中國神話傳說詞典 (Shanghai: Shanghai cishu chubanshe), 317.