THE FOUR MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMEN IN  
CHINESE HISTORY         

TOLD by Hani Law   Copyright © 2006     
All Rights Reserved

BEAUTY 1 - DIAO Chan 貂 婵
BEAUTY 2 - YANG Yu Huan 样玉缳
BEAUTY 3 - XI Shi  西 施
BEAUTY 4 - WANG Zhao Jun 王 昭 君

闭 月
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Link to:
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XI Shi 西 施                WANG Zhao Jun 王 昭 君        DIAO Chan 貂 婵    YANG Yu Huan 样玉缳


Link to YANG Yu Huan and the famous long poem, ODE OF EVERLASTING OWES
BEAUTY 1 - DIAO CHAN  貂 婵

Legend has it that DIAO Chan貂 婵, a beauty in China in the Han Dynasty (202
BC – 220 AD). She was so pretty that when she worshipped and prayed to the
moon, the moon was shamed by her beauty and hid itself behind the clouds.

DIAO Chan was one of the entertaining maids of a minister called WANG Yun王
允.  WANG Yun was aware that the Prime Minister DONG Zhuo董 卓 who was
shrewd and wicked, wished to usurp the throne. WANG Yun then had a plan to
assassinate DONG Zhuo in order to protect the Han Emperor who was
admittedly weak and ineffective in governing the country.

WANG Yun invited LU Bu吕布 who was the god son of DONG Zhuo, to his place
for dinner. LU Bu was a great warrior, and hardly could anyone defeat him in
battles.  WANG Wan asked DIAO Chan to serve wine to LU Bu. LU Bu was
immediately enchanted by DIAO Chan’s beauty.  ‘My friend, would I have the
honor of offering DIAO Chan to serve you?’ LU Bu was so so thrilled with joy that
he immediately accepted the offer. WANG Yun told LU Bu that he would arrange
for DIAO Chan to be sent to LU Bu’s residence in a few days’ time.

The next day, WANG Yun invited DONG Zhuo to go over to his place for dinner.
During the dinner, WANG Wan again asked DIAO Chan to serve wine to DONG
Zhuo.  DONG Zhuo was of course deeply attracted by DIAO Chan who was also
asked to sing and dance in front of DONG Zhuo. ‘Would your Highness be
pleased if I offer DIAO Chan to you as your concubine’, asked WANG Yun.  
DONG Zhuo immediately accepted the offer, and took DIAO Chan home the
same evening.

The next day, when LU Bu saw what had happened, he quickly ran to see
WANG Yun and confronted him why he had broken his promise. WANG Yun
calmed him down and explained to him that his god father came to dinner in the
previous evening and said that he would bring DIAO Chan back to his residence
so that LU Bu could marry DIAO Chan. WANG Yun went on to say that he had
been cheated by DONG Zhuo who, he emphasized to LU Bu, had plans to
overthrow the Emperor. WANG Yun then persuaded LU Bu to help the ministers
in the court to kill his god father so that he could not overthrow the Emperor and
at the same time get back his bride. What WANG Yun was doing was to alienate
LU Bu from DONG Zhuo.

WANG Yun issued a decree on behalf of the Emperor extending an invitation to
DONG Zhuo to the Royal Palace, saying that the Emperor would abdicate and
let him take over the entire Empire. Being as powerful as he was at that time,
DONG Zhuo did not have any suspicion at all and went to the Palace with his
large entourage as scheduled in the royal decree. When DONG Zhuo arrived at
the Palace, he saw nobody welcoming him and immediately knew that it was a
plot. Before he could call for his guards, LU Bu struck him with a spear right into
his throat, because DONG Zhou always wore an amour.

DIAO Chan was finally married to LU Bu.


BEAUTY 2 - YANG Yu Huan 样玉缳

Yang was a concubine of the Ming Emperor of the Tang Dynasty in China (712-
756 AD).  She was so beautiful that when she went with the Emperor to the
Imperial Garden to appreciate the flowers which were in blossom, all the flowers
were shamed by her beauty that they all hid themselves behind the leaves and
some even failed to blossom. The Emperor had to get his men to beat the drums
so as to persuade the flowers to blossom.  

The Emperor was so indulged with the beauty of YANG Yu Huan that he did not
attend to his court duties, and spent all his time in entertainment with YANG Yu
Huan.  A senior minister saw the opportunity and amassed a substantial army to
start a coup d'etat.  The royal guards believed that YANG Yu Huan was guilty of
getting the Emperor to indulge in singing, dancing and drinking all the time, thus
overlooking his imperial duties. They refused to fight and defend the throne, and
demanded that unless YANG Yu Huan was ordered to die, they would surrender
to the rebels. As the Emperor had to keep the throne, he had no choice but to
order that a piece of white silk be presented to YANG Yu Huan, so that she
could hang herself.  The Emperor was so upset that he abdicated and was
succeeded by his son.


BEAUTY 3 - Xi Shi 西 施

During the Warring States period in China (403BC-221BC), the Kingdom of Yue
was invaded by the Kingdom of Wu, which was led its King, FU Chai. FU Chai
overran Yue and took the King of Yue, GOU Qian, and his wife prisoners.

While GOU Qian was in the royal prison in the Kingdom of Wu, he and his wife
pretended that they had lost all will power to become a ruler again. In reality,
GOU Qian was plotting with two of his loyal ministers, FAN Li and WEN Zhong,
to overthrow FU Chai so that not only could he return to his own Kingdom again,
but he could also conquer and annex the Kingdom of Wu. Their plan was to find
a beauty and offered her to FU Chai who was known to be fond of women and
wine. GOU Qian therefore ordered FAN Li to look for such a beauty and train her
to be a skilful entertainer.

FAN Li went back to the Kingdom of Yue and secretly scouted beautiful girls.
One day, he passed a river and was suddenly stunned by the look of  a young  
woman who was washing clothes by the river side.  He stared at her and
immediately knew that she was the person he was looking for.  This young
woman was called XI Shi.  She was so beautiful that whenever she washed her
clothes by the river, all the fish would hide from her and sank to the bottom of the
river.

It was extremely awkward for FAN Li to approach her and explain to her his
plans. However, as soon as he told XI Shi who he was, he got the immediate
respect from XI Shi, as everyone in the country knew that FAN Li was a great
minister.

XI Shi was then invited to FAN Li's residence where she was trained in dancing
and singing. She was also secretly coached how to seduce men. During this
period of training, both XI Shi and FAN Li secretly fell in love with each other.

The day came for XI Shi to be presented to FU Chai. Of course, FAN Li found it
most painful to have to present his lover to his enemy. It  was even more hurting
to XI Shi because she did not know whether she would see FAN Li again and
she had to pretend that she would be a loving concubine to FU Chai. However,
in the interest of the future of the Kingdom of Yue and to comply with their loyal
duty, they had no alternative but to part for the time being, with the thin hope that
the plan would work and they could be united again.

When XI Shi was presented to FU Chai, he was as expected attracted by Xi Shi's
beauty and fell into the trap. FU Chai adorerd XI Shi so much that in no time was
XI Shi to gain FU Chai's confidence. XI Shi managed to persuade FU Chai to
release GOU Qian adn his wife back to the Kingdom of Yue as she made FU
Chai firmly believe that GOU Qian was his loyal servant and would not pose a
threat to him.  

After his return to the Kingdom of Yue, GOU Qian immediately inspected the
strong army which his loyal ministers had built up secretly. GOU Qian believed
that his army was ready to take revenge and attacked the Kingdom of Wu. As
FU Chai had been neglecting his court duties for such a long time, his army was
disorganised and suffering from low morale. GOU Qian was able to conquer Wu
in a very brief encounter.

After the was, Fan Li was reunited with XI Shi as good lovers would and then got
married. Fan Li knew that GOU Qian was a king with a shallow view who could
not share his fortune and power with someone who had helped him regain his
Kingdom. Realising this, FAN Li asked for permission to retire early. He married
XI Shi and they both went to live in the country. Fan Li  became a very wealthy
businessman, and he and XI Shi donated a lot of their wealth to the poor.


BEAUTY 4 - WANG Zhao Jun 王 昭 君

An emperor in the Han Dynasty in China, Emperor Yuan (48BC-33BC), indulged
himself in wine, music and women.  Periodically, he sent his ministers to search
for beautiful women throughout the country to be his concubines.  His ministers
would bring in as many women as possible and let the Emperor choose.  Those
who were not chosen would be kept as maids in the Imperial Palace for life.

During one of those recruitment exercises, a young woman from a humble family
was chosen together with several hundred other girls to be sent to the Imperial
Palace for further shortlisting and then interviewed by the Emperor. She was
called WANG Zhao Jun.  As soon as the girls reached the Palace, each of them
had  their portraits painted by the Court Painter. Their portraits were then
presented to the Emperor for screening.  It had been a tradition that the girls had
to pay the Court Painter so that they would be shown to be very pretty and
attractive in their portraits. WANG Zhao Jun could not afford to bribe the Count
Painter, and therefore as a punishment, the Court Painter omitted all of WANG
Zhao Jun's charm and beauty in  her portrait.  As a consequence, WANG Zhao
Jun was not selected by the Emperor as a concubine. Instead she was kept as
an Imperial maid, separated for life from her parents and all her relatives, who
were not allowed to visit her.

Months passed, and one day when the Emperor was enjoying his leisure
afternoon in the Imperial Garden, he heard somebody playing pipa. It was such a
beautify melody that he walked towards the direction where the music came
from.  He saw WANG Zhao Jun and was immediately stunned by her beauty. He
asked for her name and returned to his palace. The next day he ordered to see
WANG Zhao Jun's portrait, as he could not believe that he could have
overlooked this beautiful girl in the selection. When he saw WANG Zhao Jun's
portrait which did not reflect her true beauty, he immediately sent for WANG
Zhao Jun and asked her to explain the difference between her genuine
appearance and her image in the portrait. WANG Zhao Jun told the Emperor that
because she did not give a bribe to the Court Painter despite his demand, the
Court Painter deliberately painted an unfavourable image of her in her portrait.  
By this time, the Court Painter had heard that the Emperor had already met
WANG Zhao Jun, so he fled the Palace and submitted himself to serve the King
in Mongolia.

The Court Painter was very angry with WANG Zhao Jun as not had he now lost
his important official position, but his asset had been confiscated by the state.
He decided to take revenge.  He drew a true picture of WANG Zao Jun and
offered it to the Mongolian King. Not surprisingly, no sooner had the Mongolian
King seen WANG Zhao Jun than he wanted her to be his mistress. The Court  
Painter suggested that the King could dispatch a request to the Han Emperor
that WANG Zhao Jun be sent to Mongolia as a gift to him, failing that he would
invade the Middle Kingdom.

When the Han Emperor received the message from the Mongolian King, he was
utterly infuriated and refused the request. Within days, the strong army from
Mongolia crossed the border and fought its way easily towards the capital of the
Middle Kingdom. As Emperor Yuan had been indulging himself in leisure all the
time and neglected his court duties, the Han army was weak and disorganised.
When the Mongolian army was just 200 miles from the Imperial Palace, his
ministers urged Emperor Yuan to surrender WANG Zhao Jun to the Mongolian
King in exchange for peace between the Middle Kingdom and Mondgolia. Even
at this critical moment, Emperor Yuan refused to let WANG Zhao Jun go as he
was deeply in love with her. However, seeing that her country was in great
danger of being overrun by the Mongolians, WANG  Zhao Jun offered to
surrender herself to the enemy in order to save her country.  

On the day of her departure, she brought with her her pipa, and the Imperial
guards accompanied her to the border with Mongolia.  When she passed
through a desert, legend had it that she was so beautiful that the wild goose in
the sky dived down in order to have a glimpse of her beauty.

When WANG Zhao Jun reached the border which was a cliff separating the two
country, a peace agreement which had been signed by the King of the Mongolia
was delivered to the representative of the Han Emperor.  WANG Zhao Jun was
happy that she had not only saved her country from being conquered but also
achieved the mission of bringing peace to the country, she suddenly jumped
from the cliff and ended her life, so as to maintain her chastity and loyalty to the
Han Emperor.