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  1. #21
    20. Cai Wenji (afemale musician and poetess)
    Cai Wenji (176--249AD) was the daughter of the famous literary man and calligrapher, CaiYi (133-1932 AD). He also knew mathematics, astronomy, and music.Growing up in such a family environment, Cai Wenji was talented andversed in music. She was a musician as well as a poetess. She couldplay zither and had the ability to tell which string on the zitherwas broken by the sound when other people were playing and a stringsuddenly broke.
    She was married toMr. Wei, but he died after only one year. As she did not bear anychildren for him, she was sent back to her father's home. Then whenXiongnu tribe in the north invaded the area where she lived, she wascaptured and was forced to marry the chieftain at the age oftwenty-three. She gave birth to two sons for him, and stayed therefor twelve years. She learned to play the reed pipe, a musicalinstrument of the tribe, and also learned their language.
    When the warlordCao Cao (155—220 AD) was in power, he thought of Cai Wenji, thedaughter of Cai Yi, who had been his tutor when he was young. So CaoCao sent a messenger to give the chieftain a thousand taels of goldand a pair of white jade to redeem Cai Wenji, who was then back toher family alone, leaving her two son with the father. Then she wasmarried to Dong Si and bore a son and a daughter for him. Her fatheralready died. She wrote down four hundred articles of her father'swriting from memory. It was because in the warring chaos, most of herfather's writings were lost. She handed down to us only a longautobiographic poem and song words to the music of the reed pipe,called “Eighteen Beats of Reed Pipe.” (A beat means a stanza inher poetic song words.) These were her own composition.

  2. #22
    21. Xun Guanniang (akungfu girl)
    Xun Guanniang(303—360 AD) was the first girl in the history of China, who hadkungfu and could fight on horseback. She was born a hundred yearsearlier than Hua Mulan (412—502 AD). She was the great greatgranddaughter of Xun Yu (163—212 AD), who was a famous adviser ofthe warlord Cao Cao.
    It was in thesecond warring period (265—589 AD), and in the third moon of 317AD, when Xun Guanniang was only thirteen. Her father, Xun Song(263—329 AD) was a general guarding Wan town. Du Zeng, amagistrate, wanted to betray the emperor and took Wan town as hisbase. He commanded his two thousand soldiers and came to surround thetown. There were only one thousand men for the defense. The attacklasted for several days and Du Zeng could not take the town yet. Butcasualties on both sides increased. Besides, the provisions were lessand less in the town since it was surrounded by the enemy. Thesituation was so serious that someone must volunteer to break enemy'ssurrounding line to get reinforcement from other cities. For a coupleof days, no one volunteered. General Xun Song wanted to go himself.But as he was the commander, people could not defend the town withouthis leadership. At that critical moment, the girl of thirteen stoodforth for the difficult task. Others were doubtful whether a girl ofsuch age could succeed. She analyzed that the enemy's soldiers wereall exhausted. They looked okay in the daytime, but in the night theymust fall in sound sleep. She added that if she could have a fewbravest fighters with her, they could steal through enemy's lineunder the cover of night. No one could disagree, or they would alldie, if not in combat, but of starvation.
    Thus they brokethrough the line with little fighting. When they reached the nearestcity, the magistrate there agreed to help. So when the reinforcementcame to attack the enemies from the back, the defenders in the townwent out to attack from front. Du Zeng was defeated and the town wassafe. The girl was praised by all the townsfolk that she could finishsuch a difficult job at so young age.

  3. #23
    22.Liu Lanzhi (a woman of tragic death)
    LiuLanzhi (?--?) was the wife of a petty official, Jiao Chongqing(?--?), living in Lujiang town of present Anhui province, towards theend of East Han dynasty (25—220 AD). She was a nice girl from awell-to-do family. She could weave at thirteen, could make dress atfourteen, could play harp at fifteen, and could read classics atsixteen. She married her husband at seventeen.
    Jiaofamily consisted of the old widow, his mother, her mother-in-law, andhis young sister. At first the couple lived a harmonious life. Buthis mother was very picky and fastidious. She did not like herdaughter-in-law for no reason at all. Perhaps, like other old widows,she depended on her son as her life company after the death of herhusband. Now the daughter-in-law came and it seemed as if she tookaway her life company and left her alone. Therefore, she hated thewife of her son and tried to drive her away.
    Sheoften complained to her son that his wife was not nice to her anddisobeyed her. In fact, the daughter-in-law was very nice and filialto her. She listened to her mother-in-law for whatever she said.Anyway, the mother decided to get rid of his wife. In old China,there were seven rules for a wife to be driven back to where she camefrom, i.e., the house of her parents. The seven rules were that shedisobeyed her mother- or father-in-law; that she did not bear a son(a daughter did not count); that she was lewd; that she jealous ifher husband had concubines; that she had severe diseases; that sheliked to gossip; and that she stole from her husband's house for thefamily of her parents. She did not bear any children for her son yet.
    JiaoChongqing was a filial son and under the pressure of his mother, whooften threatened her son with suicide if he did not send his wifeaway. He had one day to harden up his heart and bid farewell to hiswife. He promised her to get her back some day when he persuaded hismother to accept her. But Liu Lanzhi had no confidence about it. Shewent back to the home of her parents, to whom it was a disgrace thattheir daughter was sent back. So they had to marry their daughter toanother man. The daughter could not disobey her parents and agreed tomarry again. But in her mind, she determined to end her life to therule that a woman should never remarry. The night before her weddingday to another man, she went out and threw herself in a pond near herhome. When Jiao Chongqing heard of the death of his ex-wife, hehanged himself on the branch of a tree in the courtyard of his home.They were buried together at the foot of Huagai Mountain. Localpeople grew pine trees and cypresses around their grave. An anonymouspoet wrote a long poem about their sad story.
    Alegend developed that there were a pair of mandarin ducks flyingabout the trees, crying bitterly. Young couples in the subsequentdynasties came to visit their tomb in hopes that the deceased couplewould bless them to have a happy result for their love.

  4. #24
    23.Diao Chan (the third beauty of the four beauties)
    DiaoChan (?--?) was the third beauties of the four beauties in thehistory of China. (As for the fourth beauty Imperial Concubine Yang,please read my book Love Tales of Ancient China.) Her surnamewas Ren and her given name was also unknown. Her own parents wereunknown, too. Being beautiful and clever, she was selected at the ageof fifteen to enter the palace and appointed to be a handler ofheadwear for the empress and concubines. Her job title was Diaochan.Hence, historians called her Diaochan.
    Thenthere was a riot in the palace, and Diaochan escaped from the palace.She was then adopted by Wang Yong (137—192 AD) as his daughter.Wang Yong was an official of high rank towards the end of East Handynasty. At that time, Dong Zhuo was in power as head of courtiers.He was a corrupt man. Wang Yong and other courtiers wanted to killhim. Once Cao Cao, a petty officer then, went to assassinate him, butfailed and escaped. The event was that Cao Cao had a good dagger andknew that Dong Zhuo liked good weapons. Therefore, carrying thedagger, he went to see Dong Zhuo, who was then napping. When Cao Caowas about to draw out the dagger to stab Dong, suddenly Dong openedhis eyes and asked Cao what he was doing. Cao said that he got a gooddagger and came to offer it to Dong. As Dong took it, Cao badefarewell and fled out of the capital secretly.
    SoWang Yong had no chance to kill Dong. When he adopted the girl, awonderful idea struck him. Dong was a lewd man and liked beautifulgirls. Therefore, Wang Yong made up a scheme called “BeautyEntrapment.” Dong Zhuo had an adopted son by name of Luu Bu (?--199AD), who was known as the bravest and more skillful knight at thetime. Luu was young and still single.
    Thetrick was carried out like this. First Wang Yong invited Luu fordinner at home. When dinner went on midway, Wang let Diaochan comeout to toast Luu. At the first sight of the girl, Luu fell in lovewith her right off as she was such a beauty. Wang thereby promised tomarry the girl, declared as his daughter, to Luu. Luu was glad andgrateful.
    Nextday, Wang Yong invited Dong Zhuo for dinner at his home. When Dongcame, Wang let Diaochan come out to toast Dong. The girl was declaredto be a singsong girl to entertain guests. As she was so beautiful,Dong liked her at once. When dinner was over, Dong took the girl withhim even without asking for the permission of Wang. If the girl wasdeclared as Wang's daughter, Dong could not take her away so freely.But a singsong girl had no status in society, Dong could do anythingwith her as he liked. Because Dong was so powerful, Wang could notsay NO to him. If the girl was declared to be his daughter, Wangcould say NO. That was the point of the trick. So far so good for theruse.
    Afew days later, Luu Bu came to ask when the wedding could take place.Wang was silent. Luu inquired again, and again no answer. At last,Luu forced Wang for an immediate reply. Want sighed and said withtears in his eyes, “A few days ago, I invited your (adoptive)father for dinner. When he saw my daughter, he just took her awaywithout even asking my permission.” Hearing this, Luu began to hateDong for robbing him of his wife. But he did not go to see Dong todemand an explanation. He was a bit afraid of his adoptive father.
    Oneday, Luu came to Dong's residence and met Dong in the Fengyi Arbor inthe garden. Chinese people liked to give names to their arbors andpavilions so that when they mentioned the names they knew where theywould meet. When they were talking in the arbor, Diaochanintentionally came bringing cups of tea. She looked at Luu with tearyeyes as if saying that she really loved Luu, but was unwillinglytaken by Dong. Luu met with Diaochan's eyes, but he could say nothingbefore Dong. Dong detected the love eye contact between the girl andLuu. He flared up and wanted to kill Luu, but Luu ran away. When Dongtold it to one of his advisers, he said that Dong should not offendsuch a brave general for a girl and that Dong should give the girl toLuu so Luu would be thankful to him and even willing to die for him.Dong considered it over and over and made his final decision tofollow the advice. When he talked to the girl, she started to crybitterly, saying that she did not like Luu, and that if she wasforced to leave Dong, she would rather kill herself. Finally Dong lether stay with him. The trick went on smoothly.
    Atlast all courtiers encouraged and instigated Luu to kill Dong. Theysaid that as a young hero, Luu should not let his wife be occupied byanother man and that he must take her back. The only way to take thegirl back was to kill Dong. Luu thus made up his mind and killedDong. Then he took Diaochan to his residence and married her.
    Nolong afterwards, some Dong's followers revolted and Luu escaped withDiaochan to a small town called Xiapi. Wang Yong was killed by thefollowers. After the death of Dong Zhuo, Cao Cao rose in power andconquered the followers. Then he attacked Luu Bu, who was killed. Asfor the end of Diaochan, there were two legends. One was that shehanged herself to follow her husband Luu Bu to Hades. The other wasthat Cao Cao captured her after the death of Luu, and no one knewwhat became of her later.

  5. #25
    24. Xie Daoyun (afamous poetess)
    Xie Daoyun (350—405AD) was a famous poetess in the history. With the above two, BanZhao, Cai Wenji and she were known as the three talented women in theearly history of China. She was the niece of Xie An (320—385 AD), afamous politician and general, and the daughter-in-law of Wang Xizhi(303—361 AD), a renowned calligrapher. The most known event of herwas that one day in winter when it was snowing heavily, the flakeswere hovering down. Xie An, one of his nephews and the girl weregathering to look at the flying snow flakes. Xie An asked who coulduse something in comparison to describe the flying snow flakes. Thenephew said, “Casting salts into the air is the right comparison.”But the girl said, “It's better to compare it to the catkins flyingin the wind.” Catkins were better comparison than salts to the snowflakes. So poets in subsequent dynasties said that she had catkintalent.
    It was a traditionthat on the third day of her marriage, a girl could return to thehome of her parents and the parents would inquire her what she feltabout the marriage. So did her parents to her, she was dissatisfiedwith he husband. When her parents said that he was a good man withoutany defects in his character. She answered that he was okay, but agood-for-nothing while his cousins and his brother were all talentedand had their own careers. Once the brother (also a famouscalligrapher as the father) of her husband was cornered in a debateby a quest. She came out to his rescue. She put the guest in a cornerby her eloquence and reasoning.
    Then some rebelscame and killed her husband. When she heard of it, she ran out with asword, but was captured after she killed several rebels. The leaderof the rebels respected her bravery and faithfulness to her husband,and let her go. She lived the rest of her life as a widow. Themagistrate learned her fame and came to visit her. She had a screenput between herself and the guest. They had a pleasant conversation.After it, the magistrate expressed his admiration of her talent.

  6. #26
    25.Liu Chuyu (having thirty love mates)
    LiuChuyu (446—465 AD) was princess Shanyin. Her husband (446—482 AD)was the son of an official of high rank. Once the princess said tothe emperor, his brother, “We come from the same father. Althoughwe have the difference of sex, why you can have many women while Ican have only one man? It's not fair to me.” Therefore, theemperor, Liu Ziye (449—465 AD), got thirty handsome men for her.Courtier Zhu Yuan (435—482 AD) was very handsome. But he was anupright person.
    However,the princess wanted to take a look at him first, secretly, to see ifshe liked him. The emperor sent for the courtier in his royal study,and the princess peeped at him from behind a screen. After she seteyes on him, she liked him very much. She asked the emperor to lethim accompany her for ten days. So the emperor ordered Zhu Yuan tostay in a special pavilion for ten days. In the night of the firstday, the princess went to see him and wanted to sleep with him. Butas soon as the princess approached him, Zhu Yuan stood up to salutethe princess. For the whole night, he stood there with little moveabout. The princess said, “You look a man, but you don't act like aman.” He replied, “As a man, I can't do such a thing.” Whateverthe princess did to force him, he would never give in. On the lastday of the ten days, the princess had to let him go.
    LiuYu (439—472 AD) was the uncle of the emperor. He always thoughtthat the throne should belong to him. Then on the twenty-ninth day ofthe eleventh moon in 465 AD, he sent someone to kill the emperor andmade himself the emperor, Emperor Ming. Next day, he gave an edict inthe name of the empress dowager to order the princess to commitsuicide for the reason that she was a lewd woman. The princess mustobey the order of her mother. Therefore, she hanged herself.

  7. #27
    26. Pan YuEr (awoman who could whip the emperor)
    Pan YuEr (?--?) wasnot only beautiful with white skin and fine figure, but the mostfamous feature of her beauty was her lovely little feet. She was bornin a vendor's family. Her father, almost illiterate, gave her thename called Nizi (literally meaning “Little Girl”). Such a namewas deemed vulgar. But her beauty attracted everyone who caught sightof her. They lived from hand to mouth, and so, when she grew intoteenage, she often went to help her father sell things. She wasfamiliar with market and trading. Once her mother had a chance toenter the palace as a wet nurse to feed the crown prince.
    It was not until498 AD when the crown prince succeeded the throne and became theemperor. As he often heard the mother, his wet nurse, talk about thegirl, he had always yearned for her. Now he sent for her to thepalace and made her the imperial concubine. Her beauty stunned him ashe first set eyes on her. Her white skin glittered like pure jade. Sohe changed her name to YuEr (literally meaning “Jade Girl”). Hehad a new hall built for her. The floor was covered with engravedlotus patterns so that every step of her landed her on a lotuspattern. It was called that her steps produced lotus flowers.
    Her feet were sosmall and lovely. He was a foot fetishist. He liked to caress herwhite feet and kiss her toes one by one and licked them in turns.Sometimes he bit her big toe and when she felt a big painful, shebeat his back with a stick. And he liked it. He was a masochist. Inthe long Chinese history, Pan YuEr was the sole concubine who couldbeat the emperor like whipping a slave. Instead of a concubinewaiting on the emperor, this emperor liked to wait on her. He madetea for her and massaged her back and legs.
    Once she said tothe emperor that she had liked the life in a market place. Therefore, he built a market for her, and let maids and eunuchs play the rolesof traders and customers. Sometimes, the emperor would let sometraders pretend to offend some rules and be brought to the presenceof Pan YuEr, who would decide how to punish them. She enjoyed thisvery much. Once YuEr pretended to be the owner of a wine shop andstood behind the counter to sell wine, and the emperor played thepart of the customer. And sometimes the emperor acted like a butcherstanding behind a booth to sell pork, and the concubine came as abuyer.
    This life style ofthe imperial couple enraged courtiers. Some of them criticized theemperor. The emperor killed them. He even killed his kinsfolk tillone day his brother, afraid of being killed, too, could no longerendure it. He marched his troops to surround the capital and killedthe emperor. He gave the girl to one of his generals as a reward forhis merits. The general held a banquet to celebrate it. When all theguests wanted to see the beauty that they had heard of so much and solong, the general led them to his bedroom, where the girl should stayto wait for his arrival for the night. But as the door was openedthey saw the girl hanging herself from the beam, and still lookingbeautiful.

  8. #28
    27. Xu Zhaopei (thewoman having makeup on half of her face)
    Xu Zhaopei (?--549AD) was the wife of Emperor Yuan of Liang dynasty (502—557 AD),which was a short dynasty during the second warring period. In thetwelfth moon of 517 AD, she went to where the emperor lived. On herway there, there were strong winds that blew down houses, then snowstorm came. When she arrived there, there were pealing thunders thatshattered a pillar. All these were considered as bad omen.
    After marriage, shebore a son and a daughter for him. As the emperor had one eye blind,Xu did not like him and was often rude to him. The emperor dislikedher, too. Once when he went to her room, she only put the makeup onhalf of her face to imply that the emperor had only one eye good. Sothe emperor was enraged and seldom to see her ever since.
    She then hadadultery with some other people. The first one was a monk and sheoften went to his temple. The second one was Ji, a favorite courtierof the emperor. They had the action in the temple, too. After theaction, they lay on bed and composed poems to each other.
    Xu was a jealouswoman. Whenever the emperor liked someone, she would find a way tomurder her. Although the emperor disliked her, he liked her son andmade him the crown prince. But the son died in a battle. The emperorforced her, the mother, to commit suicide. Finally she threw herselfinto a well and drowned inside it. Then the emperor revealed her lewdaction to let people know it so that he forced her to make suicidewas not without reason.

  9. #29
    28. Lou Zhaojun (shemarried a common man, but became emperor finally)
    Lou Zhaojun (501—562AD) had a legendary life. Her father was a courtier of high rank.When she grew up, many official families came to see her father toask for her hand, but she denied all the suitors. She wanted to finda man fit to be her husband.
    One day, she saw aman, a general, called Gao Huan (496—547 AD), doing some work atthe battlements. She knew how to read the face. His face showed thathe would be a leader of a state some day. Therefore, she married him.Although a general, he had no money. She gave him money and let himuse it to make friends with all the known heroes of the time.Besides, she offered stratagems so that he could win merits inbattles. He was promoted to be the premier.
    When Gao Huan gotpowerful enough, she helped him to establish a new state, named NorthQi. Gao became the emperor and she was the empress. She had born sixsons and two daughters for him. Three of her sons were emperors indifferent times. Her daughters both became empresses of other states.She was frugal by nature. As the empress she would weave and sewherself. She treated her own children and the children of otherconcubines equally. Once she made sacrifice for her husband.
    To strengthen hispower for the situation, he should marry the princess of Ruru State.When he asked his empress if this was right for him to do, EmpressLou gave her ascent without hesitation. When Princess Ruru came, shelet her be the empress and herself be the concubine. For that, shewas praised by people in the small empire. The emperor had one wifeand ten concubines. He had fifteen sons and three daughters in all.
    Once when she waspregnant and got into hard labor, someone wanted to send urgentmassage to the emperor, but she would not agree. At last she gavebirth to twin babies, a son and a daughter. When the emperor returnedand learned the condition, he was greatly moved.
    Once he wasdefeated. A general came to offer to lead an army for the revenge.The emperor was glad and about to consent, but empress Lou said no.She explained that if the general had an army under command, whetherhe won or lost in the fight, he would never come back to obey him anymore. He would be independent with an army in his control. So theemperor did not let the general go. The general later did betrayanother emperor in another state.
    When the emperor,Gao Huan, died, his eldest son Gao Cheng became the emperor. LouZhaojun, as empress dowager, controlled the power. When Gao Chengdied, her son Gao Yang took the throne. Not long later, Gao Yangdied, too. His son, Gao Yin, succeeded the throne. Gao Yin was thegrandson of Lou. As Gao Yin was not a good emperor, the empressdowager deposed him and made him Prince JiNan. Then her another sonGao Yan was made the emperor. Not long afterwards, Gao Yan also died.She made her another son Gao Zhan the emperor, and made two othersons the princes. She died at the age of sixty-two.

  10. #30
    29. Mu Huanghua (anempress became the bawd)
    Mu Huanghua (?--?)was the third empress of the emperor Gao Wei, the last emperor ofNorth Qi dynasty. Her mother was a maid in the family of somecourtier. Then she was raped by the coutier and bore the girl. Whenthe girl grew up, she went to the palace. At first she was the maidof the first empress of the emperor. Once the emperor saw her andliked her. She became his concubine. In 572 AD, she was made theempress when the original empress died. In 577 AD, another stateinvaded North Qi and took the capital. The emperor and Mu had toescape. But the emperor was captured, and Mu ran away to ChangAncity, where to make her living, she opened a brothel and became thebawd. Her brothel was at the time well-known on both sides of theYangtze River. This was a weird experience to her from an empress toa bawd.

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