Chinese Lore- A Selection of Mythical Fauna (4)

Blue Snake (aka Southern Snake)

Physical Description:

A fairly normal snake (further details unknown)

Special Properties:

Its head contains a strong poison but its tail can serve as a poison antidote.

Lore:

It was said that people living south of ancient China* has managed to create a very strong poison known as the Blue Poison made from the head of the Blue Snake and other ingredients that is fatal minutes after ingestion. The only antidote for this poison is the tail of the Blue Snake.

*Possibly, the reference is to the area now known as the Yuan Nan province where reputedly a minority tribal society of people known as the Miao specialises in creating poisons and worms that allow them to control other people. Note that this is the author’s own speculation, the online Wiki did not specifically mention this point.

Translation Quirk:

The characters for ‘blue’ and ‘south’ are quite similar in pronunciation, whether in Mandarin or Cantonese.


Pillage Ape (aka Jia Guo or Horse Deriative)

Physical Description:

A monkey-like creature, about 170cm in height, that can walk upright like humans

Special Properties:

Said to be able to distinguish human genders through their body smells and be capable of stealing beautiful women without people noticing. Since there are no Pillage Apes of the female gender, these stolen women became the spouses of these apes and were held hostage until they borne it a son at which point these women would be returned back to the woman’s family to raise up its off-spring. When born, these off-springs look no different from normal humans and remain so when grown up. If such off-springs are abandoned, then the woman will die so all ‘returned’ women raise their children with the Pillage Apes dutifully out of fear for their own lives. It was said that all such off-springs have taken the surname Yang*. For childless women who are never returned to human society, they become lost forever in ten years’ time. It is said that by then, they will have not only become similar in physical form to these Apes, but also fallen in mind and would no longer have the desire to go back to human society.

* This is not the Chinese character in the term Yin-Yang. This surname is the name of a deciduous (meaning leaves fall off at maturity) flowering plant genus- Populus that includes poplar, aspen and cottonwood etc.

Lore:

Said to be dwelling in mountains of high altitude in the Sichuan area in China.

Translation Quirk:

A more literal translation of its name is ‘Grab Ape’ (the actual character describes an action of grabbing and holding onto to it). I discarded this literal translation because well, it just sounds too ‘translated’.


Shen (pronounced shun)

Physical Description:

A massive clam although there is also an alternative version in which it is said to be a water Dragon

Special Properties:

Its breath is said to be able to spawn mirages

Lore:

The Chinese term for ‘mirage’ can be literally translated as ‘The marketplace at sea and the structure spawned by the Shen’


Nine-tailed Fox

Physical Description:

A golden fox with a white face and nine tails (in its nine-tailed form), otherwise much pretty a normal fox

Special Properties:

It was said that once a particular member of this species has developed nine tails, it becomes immortal and can spit out fire.

Lore:

It was said the tail is where this species of foxes store spiritual energies and that once it has attained a certain amount of such energies, its tail will split in two and this process goes on until it has developed nine tails.

In addition, folklore and novels often detail Nine-tailed Foxes as being able to shape-shift into beautiful women who seduce human men in order to suck their life-forces to quicken their own evolutions.

Moonlake’s Book Discoveries- June 2021

I’m really going well with reading this year thanks to COVID and I’ve updated my goodreads goal to 20. Opening up 8 more slots. Anyway, below is my summary of reading done since March, by rough genre as defined by me. 

Literary fiction:
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
This is a bit different from my usual genre but I like it okay despite that and it’s actually closer to a collection of short stories as opposed to a novel. But actually, it does read to me almost as if it’s a novel. So it’s basically six short stories nestled within one another and it’s not a gimmick, there is really a meaning as to why it’s put together like that that came together for me in the ending.

As for the individual stories, well, I do kind of pulled out a bit with the last 2 stories that are more futuristic settings and not my usual cup of tea in terms of genre (but to be honest, I first thought this was literary fiction when I heard about it and then I saw it listed under sci-fi. Having read it, this felt more like literary fiction to me. The last 2 stories arguably can be sci-fi but it’s like soft sci-fi).

I recommend this for those who enjoy short stories, or those who normally enjoy novels and suffer from ‘short story disconnection’ due to its limited scope, or those who just enjoy a single meaningful story told via an interconnected series of mini-stories presented in an interesting way.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
So for one of my Broadening Horizon reads, I like this quite well. The three separate first-person accounts that together form the story work really well together, to deliver the topic-black women working as domestic helps in white households, in a way that is easy for readers to access. I also think the author does a solid job of showing both sides of the story- that there were kindness and love between the two sides as well as incredible cruelty and horror.

Mystery:
The Wych Elm by Tana French
This is the first novel I had read of her and I liked it. Instead of short chapters, the author does a good job of holding my interest with tension in the story. I liked how there naturally seems to be a new turn in the story from one chapter to the next but it’s not forced on you. I will definitely tune into more of her work.
The ending makes me think a little but I’m not sure what I’m meaning to take away from it. Still, it’s a satisfying read overall for a long time mystery reader like me as a pure plot-driven mystery.

A letter of Mary by Laurie R. King
To be honest, I was really engaged by this book at the start. I guess as a long-time fan of detective fiction, I invariably am more drawn to those featuring murders which some of the books in this series turned away from. So I was quite excited by this. But then I was a bit bummed out as Mary was herself in the book due to a reason I won’t divulge for fear it would be a spoiler. But funny thing was I like the postscript a fair bit because it speaks to me as a writer.

The Moor by Laurie R. King
As an original fan of Sherlock Holmes, I was of course intrigued by the premise of this book and I was thankful of the allusion to that case in the book because I realised that I had forgotten most of the fine details of the Hound of the Baskervilles except that it involved a supposedly spectral hound. I also quite like the flavour text at the start of each chapter about the Moor and Devonshire in general.

Now, preamble aside, I like this book all right. It’s got quite a pleasingly clipping pace compared to some of the later book of this series (I was reading them in random order for a while before I went back to reading them in order again from book 3, since I had read the first two 20+ years ago and wasn’t in the mood to start from scratch so to speak), with one or two requisite twists.

Fantasy:
Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
For some reason I kept comparing this book to River of Stars even though the two books are standalone from each other but they really mirror each other and I don’t mean this in a bad way, just that I feel like both are set around a significant historical event that marks the downfall of ancient China in a given dynasty (I belatedly i.e. just found out when I’m writing this that actually the two books belong to the same series.

So I think the start of this book is good- it allows you to get invested in the characters very quickly but towards the end I felt like it gets diffused because it feels like the author just wants to tell a bigger story. I’m not saying the author’s execution is subpar for that but somehow compared to River of Stars, I felt like it wasn’t done as well. Like with River of Stars, I really got the sense that it was meant to be an epic story and I really bought into that intention or choice of the author. But here with Under Heaven, I feel like I’m getting a kind of camera zooming out effect. So overall I still like the story but the effect of this book on me in terms of character investment is that its gets less for me as the story progresses so I read on to find out about the story but less about what happens to the characters.

Overall, still good writing but perhaps not so much my cup of tea as River of Stars.

Legion of the Occult by Roberto Genovesi
Overall, I’m satisfied with this book and it delivers what it promises: a fast-paced, action-packed read. I’m slightly bothered by the number of typos that appear to me to be more than the norm for traditionally published books- I’m not sure whether I should really attribute this to it being a translated work over and beyond just sloppiness in editing in general.
Another noteworthy aspect is that it might appear to be kind of episodic in nature as the chapters jump across the timelines and characters but if you stick with it, there is a definite overall plot that ties it together. But I think it will appeal more to connoisseurs of epic fantasy possibly, who are more used to the omniscient POV and the usage of multiple characters that blend in to form a single narrative.

Blue Moon Rising by Simon R. Green
I had previously read book 2 of this series without realising that this was a series- I thought that one was just a standalone, which it was (standalone series is not my usual thing, so it catches me out every time). Anyway, I liked that a lot because it played to my wish to be indulged in more than one of my usual genres in one go.

So I’ve just finished the first chapter as I write this. It’s got a quick pace that makes the chapter an easy read. Also, I like how it bucks the stereotype of the hero slaying a dragon and rescuing the princess. I get the feeling that I will be enjoying this as a light read. More to report on this in September…

Adventures Aboard the Chen Xing- Chapter 5

I checked in at the lounge and seeing no one, visited Estella on the bridge. She greeted me enthusiastically and tossed me a pouch of crushed flowers for the smell. 

I asked her how long it would be until arrival and she gestured ahead to a moon-sized asteroid. “The ship seems set to land on that rock, probably in a day, maybe a little more.” She shrugged. “I could try to force her to take us back to Roland for our pay, but….” She let her voice drift off, eying the asteroid curiously. “It’s taking us here for a reason, be almost a pity to leave before we find out why.”

I nodded. “We’ve never yet managed to persuade the Xing to change its mind.”

H squared wandered onto the bridge and mumbled about something in the shaft. His expression proclaimed “I just said something profound”. 

I looked across at Estella. “Should we be worried about this?”

“Yeah, and we don’t want her acting temperamental on us if we can avoid it. So you’re saying you’ve got the situation under control?” The latter bit to H squared. 

He looked annoyed. “Plant in the shaft.” 

“Can you show us? We’ll have a better idea about the situation if we can see for ourselves.” I gave her a thumbs up.

He turned and started walking out of the bridge, just as Aurora and Guppy came in. “Hue has something to show us.” Estella informed Aurora, passing her a pouch of flowers as she went past. “Use this for the smell.”

Guppy looked at everyone and announced, “I’m allowed to be here, ya know. Imma crew and everythin. She said so.” She pointed at Aurora. 

“Right, kiddo, you are crew.” I gave Guppy a nod.

“A pleasure to have you onboard as one of us then.” Estella glanced at Aurora with a slightly amused smile, before giving Guppy a sincere smile. “Welcome to the family.” Guppy looked mightily proud at that, jutting out her chin and all that. 

We all followed H squared back to Engineering, where he walked right up  to a dismantled panel. “So what have we got here?” I asked from behind Estella, the first to venture up next to H squared. I was momentarily distracted by the dialogue exchange between Aurora and Guppy, the kiddo had some fun remarks to make. 

“The fuel shaft, looks like the plant used it for spare parts.” Aurora sighed. “How much fuel we got left, Hue?”

He wrote out some quick calculations, working out the answer to be about one day and a half.  

“We have enough fuel to make it to the asteroid, and then we’re stuck there, or I can try to turn us around back to the port, we should be able to resupply and repair with the rest of the money Roland’s boss owes us.” Estella summed up the situation. 

“Well, perhaps the Xing knows what it’s doing when it wants us to land on the asteroid, perhaps we can forage for fuel there.” I figured we might as well explore the place since we were already there. 

“It’s pretty close to the colony so there might even be an outpost there, or refueling station.” Aurora pointed out. 

“The Xing depends on us as much as we do on her, so I doubt she’d strand us deliberately. After the recent mess back there, putting some distance between us and the colony for a few days might not be a bad idea, especially if there’s more of those plant things back at the colony in bloom right now.” That was Estella. We all think alike. 

“True, and we’re close enough we can set up a signal fire and hail a passing ship if we have to, and get them to make a fuel run for us, but a moon that big should have resources we can scavenge for.” Aurora continued rounding out the plan. 

We then put the plan up for voting- if it was up to me, I would just get on with it but the other two gals insisted on doing this every time for the team spirit. It seemed to work though, going by the way H squared was caressing the paneling and trying to man up with not letting the tears in his eyes drop. Guppy looked around at everyone and uttered her usual warcry, “Let’s go gut something!” Then she got on her tiptoes to whisper to Aurora in a voice that we could all hear, “was that right?”

Aurora chuckled. “Close enough, close enough.” I went over and tousled her hair. “I might grow fond of you yet.”

The kid tried to keep a serious expression but with eyes shining like tiny beacons, it made for an odd match. Estella suppressed a giggle, shaking her head with a grin. “You’re going to fit in just fine around here.”

“Once we land, Hue, you can get to work on the repairs,” Aurora assured him. “You can cannibalize spare parts from one of the guest quarters for the raw materials, a moon this close to the colony probably has a few derelicts crashed there over the years we can salvage too.” He nodded and pulled out a pad to start drawing sketches and doing calculations. 

“We can do a little foraging to restock the pantry too, moon that big should have some wildlife on it.” Estella suggested. 

“So long as it’s not a salad I’m all for it.” Aurora winked at Estella. 

“I can use some meat.” I agreed. 

***

“Looks like it’s pretty lush down there.” Estealla told us cheerfully over the intercom as we were about to land. “Should be a comfortable stop over.”

“I’m making sure the external vent filters are firmly in place, just in case, we don’t want another uninvited plant hitchhiking onboard.” Aurora, ever the cautious one. 

“To be fair, we still don’t know if it’s something that got on board, or something in the garden that went to seed and started another part of its life cycle.” Estella admitted. “When we get back to the colony we can ask around, see if anyone else has heard of smart plants. Until then though, we should be okay.”

“Looks like you were right about people trying to get on board back there.” Aurora told Guppy, pointing to the markings. “We took off before they managed to at least.”

Guppy gulped. “I toldya”

Aurora gave her a reassuring smile.”Don’t worry, you’re one of us now, if they try to come for you we’ll all fight to keep you safe.”

The asteroid looked barren and rocky except for various craters teeming with plant life. Aurora observed that these would make for good spots for repair and lying low, if the need arose. 

The Xing pivoted around on its own- that was easy to tell, not really Estella’s style- to land in the square middle of a crater, where there appeared to be an open space unoccupied by the plants surrounding it. 

“Like the crater knew we were coming.” Estella commented over the intercom.

The ship shuddered a little just before landing, as though using up the last of its fuel doing so. 

“Probably an old landing site from other visitors,” Aurora said, “Doesn’t look like it’s been used for a long time.”

One of the vent alarms went off. 

“I’m still in landing procedures, that’s all you and Sam.” Estella said. 

“Could be a false alarm from the landing winds,” Aurora noted. Nevertheless, the two of us went off to check it out, and Guppy tailed behind us. 

It was one so high over our heads that we had to climb into the ventilation shaft or take a detour outside the ship. We took the inside approach, with me leading. I was almost to the external vents when Guppy’s voice yelled something from behind. It was muffled by the sudden “Clunk!” as the Xing landed with a plop. Even in the cramped space of the shaft, I could feel the drop. 

A gust of cold air blew in from outside. The vent was broken, with metal bars protruding outwards. I turned back and climbed out of the shaft. I saw Aurora playing tug-of-war with the vines, with Guppy being the prize. I joined her and between the two of us, we managed to wrest Guppy from the plant’s grip. The plant retreated. 

“Phew, you and Guppy go and find H squared, I go and deal with that other thing that busted open the vent.” 

“Good plan.” Aurora passed me a glow vial. “Guppy, you and me are going to find Hue, and get ourselves some cutting saws from the engine room.”

I took the vial and hoisted myself back up to the broken vent. Once I poked my head out through the gap, I could see a massive plant monster climbing up the side of the Xing, straight for me or the vent. I shot it with my bow-gun. The shot hit but only clipped off some side vines. The thing looked annoyed. I stepped outside the Xing to get closer to it. No point leaving a job half done. 

The immediate greeting I got from the thing was a lash from one of its vines as tall as me, maybe even a bit longer. My ears rang so much from the smack that I reeled back. When I lifted up my head again, I saw more viney visitors. 

Chinese Lore- A Selection of Mythical Flora (4)

Tiao Grass

Physical Description:

A plant that looks like sunflower with red flowers and yellow fruits. Its fruits look like babies’ tongues.

Special Properties:

Consuming its fruits can make increase your willpower, making you less susceptible to deceit and temptations.


Ghost Grass

Physical Description:

A grass that looks like the oil sunflower, with a red stem that stands tall and straight.

Special Properties:

Consuming this grass will make you forget all your worries and anxieties.


Gang Grass

Physical Description:

A plant shaped like sunflowers with red stems, white flowers and grape-like fruits.

Special Properties:

Consuming the fruits will improve your intelligence.


Di Xiu

Physical Description:

A tree shaped like populus whose branches fork into five splits, bears yellow flowers and black fruits.

Special Properties:

Consuming it will prevent you from getting angry.

Moonlake’s Writing Updates- June 2021

From the second last week of May, I had actually moved into new territory. That is, I had put aside my WIP and gone into outlining my tentative next project. So I’m currently outlining book 1 or the grandma’s story. 

I think I mentioned it before but somehow I decided that it will fit right into a particular reign of a Han dynasty Emperor with all of the associated background. So this is a research intensive writing project which I haven’t attempted for a while (I did loads of Mongolian research for the novel series-would-be starring Genghis Khan and his first wife). And this time around, I quite like it, especially when after research, historical events turned out to fall so nicely within the space of my story. 

So, while I would never put my work under Historical Fantasy, I don’t think, I think this series would be somewhat in the spirit of Guy Kavriel’s Under Heaven and River of Stars, which are based on the Tang and Song dynasties but starring completely fictional or inspired-by-historical-figures-but-adapted-as-I-saw-fit protagonists. Also in that it would feature a single historical event in a broad sketch way but not necessarily down to the actual details (actually, I could not really say to the extent to which Under Heaven/River of Stars stay true to the important historical event that it fictionalised but as an ethnic Chinese, I can attest to the big gist of it staying the same, I get the feel that parts of it were being revised to fit the stories). At least that’s how I envision it for book 1. For book 2, I expect I might move back out to even less historical realms. But then, I don’t really know since I haven’t outlined it yet. And no, I’m not going to outline book 2 and 3 while book 1 is still to be written. That was the hard lesson I learnt through the Mongolian project- never take on multiple books at the same time even if they are for the same series. It’s a fast road to schizophrenia and project burnout. 

I’m giving this project the whole of June and then in July, it’s back to my WIP with fresh eyes. 

Outside the Starfish drift through the channel

Yet another Wild Writing piece based on a jump-off line from the poem Starfish, actually part of a line. I personally like it, because it pushed me into the lyrical realm, which is a realm that I like to visit but I’m not convinced is my natural place. But there is this central imagery that I keep coming back and around that really anchors this piece and then it goes off to something else, somewhere else. Actually, the whole piece reads like a poem, see for yourselves: 

Outside the starfish drift through the channel. The channel? Where am I? 

Outside the starfish drift through the channel. Where are they going? 

Outside the starfish drift through the channel? Where to? Where from? Where?

Outside the starfish drift through the channel! How do I know? How do you know? 

Outside the starfish drift through the channel. Drift through the channel. Drift. Drifting. Drift away. 

Outside the starfish drift through the channel and away, away to dreams, away to far, far away. 

Outside the starfish drift through the channel. Through the channel, the channel of light, the channel of phosphorescence. 

Outside the starfish drift through the channel, leisurely swimming, swimming out to sea. 

Outside the starfish drift, drift through the channel. Buoyed by nothing. Nothing. Just drifting. Drift. 

Drift. Outside the starfish drift.  Outside the starfish drift out to sea. 

Drift. Life is a drift. We all drift. We all drift in life. 

Drift. Where are you drifting to next? Where am I drifting to? Will we see each other again? Will we see starfish outside again? 

Drift. Starfish drift. So do we. Does that make us the same? The saem as starfish? Will I like being a starfish? Will you?

Drift. Outside the starfish drift through the channel, just drift, is there ever an end to its drifting? Is there ever an end to ours?

Subgenres of Fantasy

If you thought from the title that this is going to be a Wikipedia-like post on the different sub-genres of fantasy, then unfortunately, that’s not what I’m going to write about today. Instead, I’m going to write about a potentially unpopular opinion I have about the sub-genres of fantasy. Which is that I’m not quite keen on it, as a reader. Actually, I’m not keen on subgenres. Full stop. But I’m not especially not keen on subgenres of fantasy, being that it’s my main staple. 

Now let me qualify this opinion a little bit, by saying that I fully see why sub-genres are useful on Amazon and such. I see that. It just doesn’t have much application for me, who predominantly reads borrowed books, which doesn’t go by sub-genres anyway. 

So, the reasons why I’m not keen on subgenres of fantasy:

  • I came from the old days where I can still tell people I read fantasy and stop at that. And I just miss the old days. 
  • Despite all my broadening horizon and curiousity/craft reads, let’s face it, I tend to have fairly fixated taste in reading anyway. My subgenres have remained epic fantasy, followed by sword&sorcery/high magic fantasy, with the occasional dabble in YA fantasy, historical fantasy and fantasy mystery (which, as far as I know, is not even an actual sub-genre. It’s something I made up to group a particular type of books that span over the two genres). 
  • This is a lesser reason but most of the time I have my own classification of books into sub-genres that might or might not coincide with the actual official definition. To be very honest, except for epic fantasy which I have a very clear concept in my head, what I group into the other sub-genres are basically my system of classification, not what the publishers or author put their book under on Amazon and other places. And sue me, but that’s how I remember a particular book by and refer to it if ever I talked about it with friends and other people I know about that book. 

Ta-ta for now and I hope I don’t get too much hate-mail in comments 😛

Self-Learning Updates

I’m still taking a two-pronged approach to this via reading and writing exercises. In terms of reading, I’m still taking down notes about my feelings to selected novels that I knew had made me feel something and I’m essentially typing up bullet point lists of where I’ve felt anything, what did I feel and what prompted the emotion. At first, I was only focusing on all the bits where I was moved to tears or slighter degrees of such but now I’m broadening to include smiles because else it becomes just a documentary of what touches me or saddens me and is a lop-sided exploration of my emotional reactions as a reader. The new update, however, is that I’m writing the Help by Kathryn Stockett now. Larry Brooks has devoted a whole chapter to analysing it in terms of the Three Act structure in his book Story Physics which I read last year. So the aim is to do my own analysis of the Help myself and then read Larry Brooks’ analysis. Btw, I’m not sure whether I should recommend his two non-fictions. I think he’s got some valid things to say but I’m hard-pressed to find what he talks about really that enlightening (I mean, I kinda like his conception of the story of six buckets of factors and his other model of the six core writing competencies and the criteria based approach he comes up to assess a story in execution). But he has this really preachy tone that annoys me so in retrospect, I’m not sure if it’s really worth it except that it fills up slots of time that I can categorise under writing-related. Not sure I’ve talked about this on the blog before but since end of last year or early this year, I started aiming for 6 hour writing-related days 5 times a week when I don’t have work at all or 4 hours on a part time work schedule. I got an unexpected long holiday break this year (only did some brief work in Jan and then end of April but I think pending a data request that will be fulfilled next week latest, I think I’m going back to a Mon-Fri part-time schedule) so that was my way of trying to capitalise on this unexpected bonus of free time available. 

On writing type of self-learning, there’s the novella to help me get into first-person and I’ve been supplementing it with another writing exercise which was focused on writing action scenes (which is another of my weak points). I’ve talked about Disney movie consumption binge, right? So basically I was just taking action scenes from these movies I watch every week (now I watch about 6 movies per week) and trying to write them up and I’ve mostly used first-person for these as well (except where the scene I was trying to capture involves too many character and then I’ve switched to omniscient). Now, meaning two days ago, I started a new writing exercise that I call empathy (I actually got the idea from Toni Morrison) where I ground the setting time to be ancient China (since I’m writing Chinese fantasy) and then I’m randomly coming up with a character daily based on 3 traits: gender, occupation and a single descriptor. The first day I did a decadent Emperor and then yesterday I did a sensitive female prostitute. 

So just on the topic of self-learning, what are everyone else doing? Let me know in comments. 

Maybe there is nothing going on

This piece below is still prompted by a line in the poem Starfish: Maybe there is nothing going on. 

Maybe there is nothing going on. Nothing. Nothing at all. Nothing except my imagination. Oh, I’ve always had imagination. When clouds flowed by in the sky, I could see shapes in them. I could conjure stories sometimes based on the cloud shapes. I loved stories. I devoured TV. Anything, not just cartoons. As a child, I had this hunger, to devour stories of any kind. But I thought in surprisingly black and white. No greys for me. No middle grounds. I knew what I didn’t want and I didn’t want these with determination. With stubbornness. With defiance. Still like that now. 

Maybe there is nothing going on. Is there? Is there anything going on with my life? Well, I hope there is. Don’t you? If nothing is going on, what are you doing? How are you living? Are you living or are you just existing? Sometimes I think that’s just semantics. Sometimes I think no, the two two are distinct. Like the sun and the moon. Like day and night. Are they distinct or two sides of the same coin? There I go again, I have a philosophical streak if you can’t tell already. 

Maybe there is nothing going on. Nothing going on.  Nothing going on.  Nothing going on. Wow, now you think I’m hiding something, don’t you? Am I? Now, I’m just being coy. Raising an eyebrow and saying, well? Now you tell what you think of that. What you think of me. Go on. Judge me. I give you full permission to. You know you want to. 

Typing this up and inadvertently re-reading this now, I only realised the end of this piece was quite passive aggressive. And the start of the third paragraph, that was just my mind going blank for a second and perhaps the frustration of that permeated the piece thereafter? Anyway, that’s the original raw piece. I did trim the first paragraph because that was basically from my WIP but the rest was all me or my subconscious mind.

Remarkable Women in Ancient China (9)- Li Qing Zhao

Who is she:

  • Probably the most famous female poet across ancient Chinese history (there had been a number of other women known for poetry such as Ban Zhao but they were all way before her times. I’m not sure but I think her poetry work survived the most).  

Notable Life Events:

  • Born in 1084 during the Song dynasty, to a family of scholar-officials i.e. high born
  • Married Zhao Ming Cheng at the age of 17 and had a happy relationship with him for the majority of the time (she had apparently written a poem to mock his cowardice when he fled a city that he was governing upon its being invaded by nomads) until his death in 1129
  • Briefly married for a second time but quickly divorced the second husband despite that meant she had to be jailed for two years in order to get the divorce (she was released after nine days because she was personally pardoned by the Emperor) 

Why is she remarkable:

  • The fact that her poetry stands out does speak a lot for her work since it was a very male-dominated field, needless to say. I mean, this was ancient China. Except for perhaps cloth-weaving and embroidery, every field was probably male-dominated. 
  • She was considered quite rebellious and not upholding the conventional conception of how a proper high-born woman should behave (by the Song dynasty, female repression was getting under way and being uneducated was being viewed as a virtue for women), given to enjoying wine (which tends to be a trait for Chinese poets), gambling and spending large amount of money on the hobbies of epigraphy and literature (which are shared hobbies with her first husband and might be why they had such cordial relationships) 

Moonlake’s thoughts on her: 

Li Qing Zhao strikes me as very modern actually. Or maybe she is just very well-born and knows what she wants and has all the resources at hand to achieve that exactly. I think I quite like her, actually. I get the sense that she is immensely proud and since I’m also immensely proud, I tend to appreciate that in a woman. 

English reference on her: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Qingzhao