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Eight Elements Battle Formation

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The Eight Elements Battle Formation (Ba Zhen Tu) was a stone battle formation drawn up by Zhuge Liang, a famous politician and strategist of the Shu Kingdom during the Three Kingdoms Period (220 - 280). It is an exceptional ancient combat formation which adopts the methods of a nine-square field system and the Eight Diagrams of Taoism, as well as the knowledge of astronomy and geography. "Eight elements" refer to the sky, earth, wind, cloud, dragon, tiger, horse and snake. It is recorded that the Eight Elements Battle Formation was first created by the Yellow Emperor over 5,000 years ago and was amended by many strategists, such as Jiang Ziya in the Zhou Dynasty (11th Century - 771BC), Sima Rangju, Guan Zhong and Sun Wu of the Spring and Autumn Period (770BC - 476BC) and finally completed by Zhuge Liang. 

The Eight Elements Battle Formation was said to be found in four places in China. One was in Mianxian County, Shaanxi, the second was in Xindu, Sichuan, and the last two were in Fengjie County, with the Eight Elements Battle Formation in Water in Fengjie County is the most famous one. It is a stone embankment 1,500 meters (0.9 miles) long and 600 meters (0.4 miles) wide, located about 1 km (0.6 miles) east of Fengjie County, at the place where the Plum Stream merges with the Yangtze River. With rocks and stones piled randomly, the embankment was believed to be the Eight Elements Battle Formation where Zhuge Liang drilled his troops. It is now about 60 meters (197 feet) under water due to the construction of the Three Gorges Project. The other one in Fengjie, found near White Emperor City, is named Eight Elements Battle Formation on Land. It is about 2 km (1.2 miles) east of the cottage of Du Fu (a famous Tang-dynasty poet), where there are criss-cross ravines and gullies, as well as steep cliffs. 

For those who are interested in Chinese culture, especially fans of the famous novel Roman of the Three Kingdoms, the story of the Eight Elements Battle Formation is quite familiar. In chapter 84 of the book, when general Lu Xun of the Wu Kingdom chased after the defeated Shu army to Fengjie, he felt a sense of danger and believed there must be an ambush ahead, so he ordered a retreat for 5 km (3.1 miles) and sent a soldier to see if there were any enemies. However, the soldier reported that there was nothing special apart from piles of rocks on the riverbank. When Lu Xun learnt the rocks were the battle formation drawn up by Zhuge Liang, he laughed and said it was just used to mislead people. As soon as Lu Xun's troops marched into the formation, the stones and rocks began to move up and down, with fierce wind and sandstorm blowing. Realizing it might be a trap set up by Zhuge Liang, Lu Xun and his troops found no way out. At that moment, an old man appeared and said he could lead them out. When getting out of the formation, the old man told Lu Xun that Zhuge Liang had already foreseen that a general of Wu would be trapped in the formation, and asked him not to help the general. Lu Xun then realized that the wisdom and foresight of Zhuge Liang was unsurpassable, so he ordered his troops to withdraw.

 More Fengjie Attraction: White Emperor City 

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