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100 Famous Women in China
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文章时间: 2018-10-21 周日, 下午11:11    标题: 引用回复

59. 董小宛 Dong Xiaowan (one of eight famous singsong girls)

Dong Xiaowan (1623—1651 AD) was one of the eight well-known singsong girls in the Qinhuai river area, i.e., Nanking city and its vicinity. She was born in an embroidery family in Suzhou city. Dong family was famous for its embroidery. They had a workshop to make and sell products of embroidery. This trade had lasted for more than two hundred years till her time. Her father was a scholar and so she had good education. When she was thirteen, her father died of diarrhea. She and her mother would not continue to live in this old house, because there were too many things to remind them of the diseased. Therefore, they had another house built at a riverside and moved to live there like a recluse. They entrusted the family business to some old employee to manage.
Then chaos arose with the aggression of the Manchurian. When she and mother went to their workshop with the intention to sell it, they found that it was already bankrupt. They were penniless now. And her mother was seriously sick. She needed money to pay doctors and buy drugs. So she had to become a singsong girl in the famous Qinhuai river area. Owing to her great knowledge and ability, she was soon known to those merry-making young men, who flocked to her like bees to the flower. She could sing for them and accompany them on tours. She liked tours with any visitors that she could appreciate the beautiful scenes.
There was a famous learned man by name of Mao Pijiang, who, having heard of her name, came to seek for her several times in her absence as she went out to accompany visitors on tours. Once he came late in the evening and she was already back from tours. They got acquainted with each other. As she already knew the name of the young scholar, they immediately liked each other. But Mao wanted to go back to his home town to take government tests. But he failed. After half a year, he came to seek Dong again.
After the death of her mother, she wanted to marry Mao. Only Mao must redeem her from the whorehouse first. However, as she was so renowned in the area, the bawd would not let her go, no matter how much money Mao would pay. Just at that time, Liu and her husband Qian came to see Mao. As Qian had been an official, through his mediation, the bawd let her go at last. Then they got married. She began to practice calligraphy and continued to paint. Her painting of “Colorful Butterflies” is now stored in the museum of Wuxi city. This painting was painted when she was only fifteen. Their comfortable life lasted only for more than a year. Then Manchurian army came and their valuables were lost when they escaped south.
After chaos, they went back to their homeland, and found that their house still stood. They lost all the valuables and had to live in hardship. Then Mao was taken ill and she had to wait on him hand and foot, day and night. Several months afterwards, Mao was gradually recovered, but she fell sick, severely. There was no curing for her and she died in peace in the first moon of 1651 AD.
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文章时间: 2018-10-28 周日, 下午9:08    标题: 引用回复

60. 李香君 Li Xiangjun (one of eight famous singsong girls)

Li Xiangjun (1624—1653 AD) was also one of the eight well-known singsong girls in the Qinhuai river area, i.e., Nanking city and its vicinity. She was born in Suzhou city and her father was an officer. She had two elder brothers. When her father died, her family turned out destitute. Therefore, when she was only eight, she was adopted by a bawd. She was trained to sing, to play lute, to write poems and knew music. She had a good voice, but seldom sang, unless the visitor was the one she liked.
When she reached the age of sixteen, she must have her maidenhood done away. She could find a visitor she liked. But the bawd would charge him highly. Then she met a man called Hou Fangyu (1618—1655 AD), a famous scholar at the time. As he did not have so much money to pay the fee, a friend Yuan Dacheng (1587—1646 AD) loaned him the amount. Yuan was a literary man and a dramatist, but he had a low character. He was always ambitious while Hou was not. Afterwards, they quarreled and were no longer friends. It was because Yuan made friends with anyone in hopes that that friend could help him to step up in his official career. However, Hou could not help him there. After their breach, Yuan wanted Hou to pay back the loan. Hou, with the help of the girl, repaid all his debt, by selling her jewels and his borrowing money from other friends and relatives.
There was a little, but important detail I must mention. On the night when Hou did the girl, he gave her a precious gift, which was a round fan of white gauze with an ivory carved frame, which was his family heirloom.
At that time when Manchurian occupied the capital of Ming dynasty, a Ming emperor fled to the south of the Yangtze river and made Ninking city as his temporary capital. Yuan then became a high official in the court of the emperor. As Yuan hated Hou, he wanted to frame Hou, who learned it and escaped to somewhere. And Li Xiangjun shut herself up and never received any visitors. But Yuan told the emperor about the famous girl. So the emperor ordered the girl to be fetched to his presence. The girl could not reject the order of the emperor directly. So she knocked her head against a pillar and her blood splashed on the fan. Another friend of Hou's, who could paint, got the fan and painted, based on the blood specks, some red peach blossoms. Hence, the fan was called Peach Fan.
Yuan, as a dramatist, wrote a drama named Peach Fan. He urged the emperor to send for the girl by force. She had to enter the palace as a singsong girl. In 1644 AD, the Manchurian army approached Nanking city, the emperor ran away further south. The girl stole out of the palace. She did not know where she could go and sat down on a small bridge. Just then a master, who had taught her to sing, came across her by accident on the bridge. As he knew that the girl had nowhere to go, he took her to Suzhou city, where he lived.
At this moment when the girl was on this bridge, Hou, her man, was not far from her. He came back to look for her. But fate made a joke on them. They missed each other. In 1645 AD, the girl Li went to see Bian Yujing (one of eight singsong girls and they knew each other) in her temple and stayed there for a while. In the autumn this year, Hou found her in the temple and took to his hometown, where his parents and his wife lived. In introduction, he concealed her singsong status, just saying that she was his concubine. As she was nice to everyone in the family, she was welcome and treated well. Therefore, from 1645 to 1652 AD, she led a peaceful and comfortable life.
Then her husband took a trip to somewhere. Somehow, unfortunately, her singsong status was found out by the family. Especially her father-in-law was furious and drove her out of the family to live in a bleak village fifteen li (half a kilometer) away. At the time, Li was pregnant. So the mother-in-law and the wife were sympathetic with her and with the ascent of the father-in-law, sent a maid there to look after her. When the husband returned, he took her back to live in the family house. But she was feeling unhappy for the discrimination. After she gave birth to the baby, she was suffering from TB—Tuberculosis, and died at the age of thirty.
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文章时间: 2018-11-04 周日, 下午9:21    标题: 引用回复

61. 寇白門 Kou Baimen (one of eight famous singsong girls)

Kou Baimen (1624--? AD) was also one of the eight well-known singsong girls in the Qinhuai river area, i.e., Nanking city and its vicinity. She was born in a strange family, who ran the prostitute business. She was demure and beautiful. In the late spring of 1642 AD, at the age of seventeen, she married the powerful Duke Baoguo of Ming dynasty.
In 1645 AD, the Manchurian army overthrew the Ming dynasty and Duke Baoguo surrendered. Not long after, his family was taken to Peking, which was then the capital of Qing dynasty, founded by the Manchurian (1644—1911 AD). The duke was confined. He wanted to sell all his dancers and maids and singsong girls, including Kou, who was his concubine. But a man could sell his concubine in the feudal China. Kou said to him that if he sold her, he would get at most some hundred taels of silver, but if he could let her go, she would go back to the south and make thousands of taels of silver for him. Therefore, he let her go. She went back to Nanking city. She married a scholar in Yangzhou city, but she felt unhappy with the marriage. So she returned to Nanking city again. Then she liked a scholar Han, who liked her at the first sight and supported her. Then she got sick. One day she still wanted to make love with him, though sick, but he would not allow and leave her room. Later she heard some merry noise next room. When she entered the next room, she found that Han was making love to her maid, who was younger, and beautiful, too, only without fame. She was enraged and her sickness got worse. She died soon.
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文章时间: 2018-11-11 周日, 下午8:47    标题: 引用回复

62. 陳圓圓 Chen Yuanyuan (one of eight famous singsong girls)

Chen Yuanyuan (1624—1681 AD) was one of the eight well-known singsong girls in the Qinhuai river area, i.e., Nanking city and its vicinity, too. It was round the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD—1644 AD). Emperor Chongzhen was on the throne. When he first became the emperor, he had the ambition to make his empire strong, but he was not a man of talent, and the empire remained weak. In the northeastern China, there was the Mandarin who got stronger and stronger, especially when they united the Mongolians in the west. Now they intended to invade and occupied the territory of the Ming Dynasty. The only blockade to them was the Great Wall. They must enter through Shanhai Pass at the eastern end of the Great Wall. The Ming Dynasty stationed great forces to defend it. But the stupid emperor often changed the commander, which was a disadvantage to the defending army. Supposing when a commander just got familiar with the situation and the move of the enemy, on which he would make his strategy, then he was removed and a new commander came. The new commander must get familiar with everything over again.
First the emperor appointed the famous general Yuan Chonghuan (1584 AD—1630 AD) as the commander. He defeated Mandarin army a few times. They had to retreat. Then the mandarin sent some spies to the capital of the Ming Dynasty to spread rumor that Yuan Chonghuan was having a peace talk with the Mandarin. The desire of the emperor was to drive the Mandarin back to where they came. So peace negotiation was against the wish of the emperor. Therefore, the emperor summoned Yuan Chonghuan back and put him to death sentence as betrayal.
Then he appointed Hong Chengchou (1593 AD—1665 AD) as the commander. He was a wise courtier and was the minister of the Military Ministry. When the Mandarin heard the removal of Yuan Chonghuan, they marched their army towards Shanhai Pass again. Hong Chengchou wanted to show that he was an able commander, but in the first battle, he was captured by the Mandarin army. He was brought to the presence of the Mandarin emperor Huangtaiji (1592 AD—1643 AD), who tried to persuade Hong to turn over to the Mandarin. However, at first, Hong Chengchou refused to betray his emperor. According to the history record, one night when Hong Chengchou was sleeping and woke up at midnight, he found a woman lying beside him. He sat up in astonishment and asked who she was. The woman said that she was the empress of Huangtaiji. The empress came to sleep with him. This was a great honor to him. He was moved and surrendered. It was said that he kowtowed only to the empress, not to the emperor, saying that he was the slave to her. The emperor did not care as long as he had surrendered to the Mandarin. Hong Chengchou offered then quite a few ideas how to conquer Ming Dynasty. After Hong Chengchou was captured, Emperor Chongzhen appointed Wu SanGui as the next commander.
Chen Yuanyuan lived in Kunshan town in Jiangsu province to the south of the Yangtze river. She was very beautiful and could sing and dance. She was a famous prostitute in that area. Many patrons came to hear her sing and watch her dance.
There at that time gathered large rebels, all of them were peasants, who were under the oppression of the corrupt officials. Their leader was Li Zicheng (1606 Ad—1645 AD). Li Zicheng led his huge army of rebels marching towards the capital Peking. Facing such situation of both threat from the Mandarin and from the rebels, the emperor felt so heavyhearted and melancholy that one of his imperial concubines Tian wanted to make him happy. She asked her father Tian Hong to find some beautiful girls. People thought at that time that all the beautiful girls were in the southern region to the Yangtze river. Tian Hong thereby traveled to the south. He visited brothel after brothel, and at last found Chen Yuanyuan in Kunshan town. He was struck by her beauty and took her back to the capital. He spent two hundred thousand taels of silver to get her. He presented the girl to the emperor, but the emperor was not in the mood to hear her sing and watch her dance. Tian Hong had to take the girl back to his own residence.
Commander Wu SanGui went with his army to Shanhai Pass to resist the invasion of the Mandarin. He went through the capital and Tian Hong entertained him with the intention that Wu would specially protect his family and his fortune. He let the girl out to dance for Wu SanGui, who, at the first sight, loved the girl very much. He said to Tian Hong that he would try his best to protect him if he gave the girl to him. Of course, Tian Hong complied. Wu SanGui took the girl to his residence in the capital. When he left the capital for the frontier, he had to leave the girl in the capital.
The rebellious army led by Li Zicheng approached the capital. The emperor did not have enough troops to defend the city, and soon the rebels entered it. The emperor had to hang himself. That was the end of the Ming Dynasty. Li Zicheng occupied the palace and declare himself the emperor of the Dashun empire. One of his generals Liu Zongming killed all the family members of Wu SanGui and took the girl with him.
When Wu SanGui heard the news, he was greatly infuriated and vowed to revenge on the rebels. He knew that the forces he commanded was still no match to the great number of the rebellious army. So he wanted to ally with the Mandarin and used the allied force to fight the rebels. Thus, the Mandarin army entered the Shanhai Pass and then occupied the territory of Ming Dynasty. They founded their Qing Dynasty till overthrown by the Republic of China in 1911 AD.
The rebels escaped from the capital Peking. Wu SanGui chased them till he wiped out all the rebels. In pursuit of the beaten rebels, Wu SanGui came across Chen Yuanyuan. When Wu got back his girl, he marched into Yunnan province, which is in the far southwest corner of China. He made it his own territory. He was given the title of king and Yunan province as his fief by the emperor of Qing Dynasty. He accepted the title.
As time proceeded, Chen Yuanyuan grew old and Wu SanGui got some girls younger. Chen Yuanyuan went to live in a Buddhist nunnery for a quiet life.
Although We SanGui let in the Mandarin army, He did that just for his own purpose. He really did not like the Mandarin. He wished to be independent. So he declared that his fief in Yunnan province was an independent empire and did not obey the Qing Dynasty any more. He set Kunming city as his capital. The Qing government dispatched troops into Yunnan province to attack Wu SanGui and took the Kunming city. Wu SanGui was killed. Chen Yuanyuan was afraid to be captured by the Qing army and insulted. She drowned herself in the lotus pond outside the nunnery. She was buried by the side of the pond. In the nunnery there displayed two pictures of Chen Yuanyuan.
If Chen Yuanyuan never lived, or if Wu SanGui never knew her, Wu SanGui would not let in the Mandarin and Ming Dynasty might continue for longer time. Even if the rebels occupied the capital, the deceased emperor had some sons and one of the sons could gather troops from provinces and drove away the rebels from the capital and restore the Ming Dynasty. That's why people said that a whore changed the history of Ming Dynasty.
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