Friday, 19 October 2012

Golden Girl Project - Yang Guifei

So far I've been focusing on The Four Beauties of ancient China in this "Golden Girl Project" series. I've done posts on Diao Chan and Xi Shi. I have two more of those Four Beauties to post about. This third post on that subject will be on the legendary Yang Guifei.

Yang Guifei lived during the Tang dynasty. Her life was during the years 719 and 756. A princess and nun whose lovely "face put flowers to shame".

Her family came from a background of wealthy officials to the Tang Emperor. They were from a place called Shu Prefecture, which is now Chengdu, Sichuan. Yang Guifei was married off to a prince, son of emperor Xuanzong. The emperor wanted to make her his mistress but to avoid any backlash, sent her away to become a Taoist nun. Then the emperor gave his son another wife, and made Yang Guifei his consort. 

It's said that over 700 people were made to sew garments for Yang. Her favourite fruit was lychee, or genus of soapberry. This was only found in south Asia and the emperor had employed men with horses to deliver the fruits to Yang. She was allowed use of the Huaquing Pool (hot spring).

This poem called "Song of Everlasting Regret"by Bai Juyi covers it:

On a cold spring day, he bestowed upon her the honor of bathing with him at the Huaqing pools,
According to legend, this is the pool that was used by Yang Guifei and the emperor.
The waters of the hot springs were smooth, and washed over her pale white skin.
The palace maids helped her to leave the pool, because she was too delicate and lacked strength.
This was when she began to receive the emperor's advances.

There is a voluptuous statue of Yang Guifei standing there, immortalising her beauty in stone at this location today. Figure of Yang Guifei's statue

She's almost a fairytale like princess to modern kids in China and Japan. In Japan she's called Yokihi. The Japanese novel "The Tale of Genji" bases the story on Yang Guifei. Many operas and plays are performed of Yang's life and death.  

Sadly the possession of this woman and obsession even by the emperor caused him to forget his duties, making the society deteriorate. Many blamed Yang Guifei for the collapse of the once glittering realm, causing anger. She was executed by strangling to death in a temple. The Tang dynasty was never the same again.  

Links on Yang Guifei:

Yang Guifei
Yang Guifei - Bittanica
Tale of Genji - Yang Guifei

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