goddess | Ancient Chinese Culture - Part 2

Posts Tagged goddess

Goddess of Hollyhock Blossom – Lady Li

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Lady Li, the favorite concubine of Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty, was a dazzling beauty. There was a song as the witness of her extraordinary beauty,

In the North there is a beautiful woman,
Unique, Unequal in the world.
With one glance she conquers a city of men,
With another glance a country of men.
Don’t you know? A city and a country conquering
Beauty cannot be found again. (Hans H. Frankel)

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However, Lady Li’s physical condition was not so good and she died several years later after she was chosen as a concubine. Her life was just the same as the hollyhock blossom, short but flowery. Therefore, she was regarded as the Goddess of Hollyhock Blossom.

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God of Pomegranate Blossom – Zhong Kui

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In Chinese folklore, Zhong Kui is a deity who can drive away ghosts and evil beings. It is said that he commands 80,000 demons.

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Based on Chinese lunar calendar, the month of May also means that midsummer is just around the corner. The hot weather used to bring various diseases, which would spread rampantly. Therefore, ancient Chinese always hung the pictures of Zhong Kui on their gates to drive out the evils.

May is also the time when pomegranate blossoms. Its flame-like color is always compared with Zhong’s upright character. Hence, Zhong Kui became the representative for pomegranate blossom.

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God of Tree Peony – Li Bai

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Known as “the King of the Flower Kingdom” for its national beauty and heavenly fragrance, tree peony is one of the favorite flowers through Chinese history. It is also regarded as the flower of “riches and honor”.

Li Bai, also known as Tai Bai and Qing Lian Ju Shi, is one of the most renowned and greatest poets in China’s literary history.

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He always asked by the Emperor Tang Xuanzong to write lyrics when the emperor and Yang Guifei, his favorite imperial concubine, were feasting themselves. Once, he was asked to write poems at the Imperial Feast of the Tree Peony. He praised Yang as the precious flower tree peony in his poem and here is the English version:

She stands, leaning against the balustrade
Of Chen-hsiang Ting, the Pavilion of Aloes.
Vanquished are the endless longings of Love
Borne into the heart on the wind of spring.
The radiant flower and the flowery queen rejoice together,
For the emperor deigns to watch them ever with a smile.

—translated by Shigeyoshi Obata

The emperor was so satisfied with the poem that he rewarded him with a tree peony and asked him to protect the precious flower Tree peony in all his life. Hence, Li is regarded as the God of the Tree Peony.

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Goddess of Peach Blossom – Lady Xi

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Lady Xi, renowned for her beauty, was the wife of the ruler for the State of Xi during the Spring and Autumn Period in ancient China. Salivated over her beauty, the King of Chu defeated the ruler of Xi and took lady Xi.

Lady Xi had children with him but never spoke a word to him any more. She killed herself later when she heard the death of her ex-husband.

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She died in March, when all the peach trees are in blossom. Moved by her firmness, people called her the goddess of peach blossom to show their respect.

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Apricot Blossom – Yang Guifei

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Yang Yuhuan, also called Yang Guifei by most Chinese (Guifei was the highest-ranking imperial concubine at her time), was one of the Four Beauties in ancient China.

During the Anshi Rebellion, she was forced to hang herself. Legend said that after the rebellion, the emperor wanted to locate Yang’s body and rebury her with honor. However, they could not find her body but apricot blossoms. People believed that she was ascended to the heaven and became the Goddess of Apricot Blossom.

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More about Yang…

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