Monday, 10 September 2012

Golden Girl Project - Xi Shi

The "Golden Girl Project" is my research and topics about the various women in history and stories, who were both powerful and beautiful. So far I've been focusing this project on the Four Beauties of China.

Xi Shi, as she is known, although her name was Shi Yiguang. It's said Xi Shi was so beautiful that even the fish in the pond swam to look at her but soon they forgot how to swim. She lived in the Spring and Autumn period at the city of Zhuji, belonging to State of Yue, now Zhejiang province in China.

She lived during 770 - 497 B.C.E. Now of her beauty, this quote from this page:

She has been described as "equally charming in both heavy and light makeup", "as appealing when she frowns as when she smiles". Of her figure it has been said that "were she plump, you would admire her plumpness, were she thin you would admire her for being slender". She is celebrated as a woman of extraordinary natural beauty with a universal appeal.
Also there is a temple dedicated to her, the Xishi Temple. In poems she is associated with lakes and ponds. Another quote from here:
Many famous poems are made for her and buildings set for her memorization. Even the stream where she once washed silks enjoys a fine name as Huan Sha Xi (Silk Washing Stream), which has become a reminder of the great woman and her moving stories.

Her father was a tea trader who was from the Ninglou Mountain of the Zhejiang Province. This region had been part of the earlier State of Yue that was overtaken by the State of Wu. The king of Yue, Gou Jian, was overthrown, imprisoned, released, humilated and ruled by the victors and monarch of Wu, Prince Fuchai. Reduced to poverty and treated as a slave, Gou Jian wanted revenge. He sought out his advisor Wen Zhong, and told him to locate beautiful women, for the purpose of deceit. They would become a "gift" to Prince Fechai who had a softness for women.

Fan Li, the minister of Gou Jian, discovered the beautiful Xi Shi. Shi and another maiden, Zheng Dan, were sent to Prince Fuchai as presents. The prince was enchanted by both women and he lost interest in everything else, including running the state!

He built a palace dedicated to beautiful women, Guanwa Palace, on the Lingyan Mountain. After a time, besotted by Xi Shi, the country turned defenseless and chaotic. Here is where Gou Jian was able to attack the new state. The public lost faith in the prince, and Gou Jian invaded. Prince Fuchai took his own life. The State of Wu collapsed.      

The power of this woman's beauty was so stunning that she captured the heart of a conqueror, making him forget about his royal duties. This weakened him and the State of Wu, followed by the failure, his death and a change in the country again. The former monarch got his revenge by using the most powerful weapon: A woman. This woman helped to bring about the collapse of Wu.

Afterwards, nothing else is really recorded about Xi Shi. Some say that she went into obscurity and lived a quiet life. Other sources hint that she died aged forty four, possibly by drowning. She is one of the Four Beauties of ancient China.

Xi Shi along with Diao Chan, Wang Zhaojun and Yang Guifei.

Location of the Guanwa Palace or "Palace of Beautiful Women".
Xishi Temple
Xi Shi

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