Just like in other eras, in feudal times, offenders would be punished. Beheading was the heaviest punishment for criminals at that time. However, beheading is not always possible, but must be done according to regulations. One of the rules that we often see in the movies is the execution time. The mandarins always choose the three hours of the Horse to execute prisoners.
During the Tang and Song dynasties, there were regulations: Every year from the spring and autumn equinoxes, the January, May, and September; On great days, days falling on the 24th qi period, the day of the precepts, the first day, the full moon day, the upper and lower Xuan and the 8th, 23rd, 24th, 28th, 29th, and 30th, the death sentence is not allowed to be executed.
Inmates convicted of beheading will be executed at the third hour of the Horse. (Photo: Sohu)
In addition, when the sun has not risen, the rain has not stopped, nor is execution. Therefore, each year there are less than 80 days to behead prisoners.
In the Ming and Qing dynasties, the same regulations were set as the Tang and Song dynasties, but there was no specific time limit.
What is the Three Carving Horse Hour?
In ancient times, people did not have clocks, so they only had to rely on astronomical phenomena, the calendar of animals to calculate the time. The Chinese calculate time according to the 12 zodiac signs. In which, “time” and “engraved” are used as 2 units to divide time. Specifically, a day is divided into 12 periods, each time is 2 hours and divided into 100 carvings, each time is 15 minutes. They used the method of carving lines on the water tank, then punching holes to let the water drip down, after a day and night, the water in the barrel would drain out.
Three-hour Horse time is 11:45 in modern time. (Photo: Sohu)
In the book “Theory of Literature and Liberation” by scholar Xu Than during the Eastern Han Dynasty, it was written that: “Returning to the eradication of details, staying in the night of a hundred carvings”. That is, in a day and night, there are a total of 100 engravings divided equally. Each engraving is 14.4 minutes (equivalent to 15 minutes now).
In the 12 periods, the first time is the Rat hour, starting from 11 pm to 1 am, the Pig hour is the last hour from 9 pm to 11 pm. According to this calculation, Horse time is equivalent to 11 o’clock to 13 o’clock.
Thus, the time of the Three Horses is 11 hours and 45 minutes according to modern time.
What’s so special about the Three Horses Hour?
The time of the third Horse is near 12 noon, also the time when the Sun stands in shadow, the shadows on the ground are shortened. The ancient Chinese believed that the hour of the Third Horse was the time when the Sun was strongest, the yang qi was at its maximum, and the yin qi was the weakest.
Why are prisoners executed at the third hour of the Horse?
According to historians, the ancient Chinese chose the time of the Three Horses as the time to execute prisoners for two main reasons.
Inmates are executed at the third hour of the third horse to suppress the yin. (Photo: Sohu)
The first is based on a spiritual point of view. The ancients believed that human life and death were decided by the gods. When a person dies, that person’s soul turns into a ghost. This soul will have to go to the Underworld to move on to another life.
After a person died, the King of Hell would send his soldiers to earth to escort them back. The ancient Chinese believed that, at the time of the third horse, when the yang qi was strongest, it would suppress the yin of the executed prisoner. Yang Qi also weakens the ghost and the soldiers of the King of Hell will easily send the dead to the Underworld.
In addition, at the time of the Three Horses, he can control the negative spirits that are wandering on the earth. They wouldn’t be able to lure newly dead ghosts or gather together.
Beheading prisoners at the hour of the Third Horse will help them relieve their pain. (Photo: Sohu)
The second is due to the humanistic point of view. From a scientific point of view, people often feel most tired in the afternoon and most healthy in the morning. Therefore, if prisoners are beheaded in the morning while awake, they will feel the pain very clearly.
Therefore, the ancients decided to choose the time of the Three Horses to execute the execution. Thus, the death row inmate will feel tired and no longer focus on the fact that he is about to be executed, the pain will quickly pass. At the same time, those who witness this moment will be more easily distracted.