Love Tales of Ancient China

Love Tales of Ancient China

Love Tales of Ancient China

Love Tales of Ancient China

Synopsis

Digging into Chinese folktales, Mr. Woo tells us stories about falling in love in a world that is distant in time and place, distinct in culture and expectations, each with a touch of the exotic. In these tales dating from the Han Dynasty to the Ming Dynasty, dramas unfold in the Imperial palace, along the back roads, and in gardens perfumed with the scent of peony blossoms in the moonlight.

Excerpt

Chinese history speaks of four legendary beauties who caught the eye of the ruling emperor in their respective eras. However, like Helen of Troy, despite all their charms, they were likely to bring trouble as well as delight.

The earliest of the four beauties was Xi Shi (d. 448 BC). Legend says that when she went to wash her fine clothes in a nearby stream, the fish in there, stunned by her beauty, simply sank to the bottom of the stream.

Xi Shi lived in a village in the present Zhejiang province, in an area belonging to the State of Yue in the earliest Warring States Period (472 BC-221 BC). As a result of one of the wars, the State of Yue was defeated by the State of Wu and the king of the State of Yue wanted to take revenge. His famous courtier Fan Li had a plan and he went around to round up beautiful girls. One day he came across Si Shi, by the water’s edge. Her beauty struck the courtier. He took her to the palace, and she was trained to sing and dance. Then she was sent to the palace of the State of Wu. the king of the State of Wu liked the girl very much, and was so enchanted that he made her his queen and watched her sing and dance every day.

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