Xishi - One of the Four Beauties in Ancient China
Xishi lived in the Yue Kingdom in the late Spring and Autumn Period. She is, together with Wang Zhaojun and Diaochan in the Han Dynasty and Yang Yuhuan in the Tang Dynasty, remembered as one of the Four Beauties in ancient China.
Xishi was born in a small village in Zhuji, Zhejiang Province. She used to wash silks by a stream when she was still a little girl. It’s said that she was so beautiful that the fish may feel ashamed and hide at the bottom of the stream; that passers-by may gasp in admiration and extend heartfelt appreciation. At that time, the Yue Kingdom was defeated by the powerful neighbor Wu and forced to declare itself a vassal to Wu. Goujian, the King of Yue, in the hope of resuming power and taking revenge on the Wu Kingdom, offered Xishi the beauty as a tribute to lustful Fucai, the King of Wu so as to get him to indulge in sensuality. Xishi, the beauty of justice and righteousness, successfully made it and helped Yue win a breathing chance to get stronger and the Kingdom of Wu was ultimately wiped out. It’s said that Xishi, after the destruction of Wu, went away with Fan Li, a minister of the Yue Kingdom who introduced Xishi to Goujian the King, on a boat and has never been seen again, which reflects people’s pity on the innocent beauty.
In the subsequent ages, Xishi is praised for her patriotism and sighed for her parting youth. 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.
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