Liu Kun Fought Off Invaders By A Long Whistle
Liú kūncháng xiào tuì dí
At the end of the western Jin Dynasty there was a famous general and poet named Liu Kun who, in 307, was appointed as the governor of Bing Zhou, a prefecture at the northern border of western Jin and the only area that was not occupied by foreign invaders north of Yellow River.
After he arrived at his jurisdiction, Liu Kun, by virtue of his wits and determination, repelled the enemy attack many times.
One year, fifty thousand Xiong Nu (a non-han group) invaders attacked Jin Yang, the capital of Bing Zhou. Liu Kun had too few soldiers and thus had to take up defensive positions, waiting for help. However after seven days no reinforcement came and the food supply was running out. As a result, great panic quickly spread throughout the city.
Liu Kun was very worried, but he didn't show it. He went up to the city wall every day, observing the enemy situation. He found that though the enemy outnumbered his men twenty to one, they only lay seige the city, but had never attempted to attack. From this observation he reached two conclusions:
I. Obviously his enemy wished to force the defenders to surrender by a long siege.
II.The enemy had low morale and their commander had no courage to fight.
So Liu Kun decided to play a mind game with his foes. On a cold night, standing on the city wall in the bright moonlight, he gave the enemy's camp a long whistle, which was so bleak and sad that every Xiong Nu soldier who heard it was touched and came out of his camp to see what happened. Then Liu Kun ordered his military band (Liu Kun was an outstanding musician when he was young; he always took his military band wherever he went) to play Hu Jia, a wind instrument with a sound that was loud but very gloomy. It was popular among non-han groups like the Xiong Nu, Xia Bei and so on.
The sad tune of the Hu Jia aroused a homesickness in the Xiong Nu soldiers, and many of them cried, even including the generals. The next morning, the Xiong Nu commander was astonished to find that nearly half of his men had run away. Afraid that more soliders would run away, he ordered a retreat at once.