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Persons in Chinese History - Diao Chan 貂蟬

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Diao Chan 貂蟬 was a beautiful woman that contributed to the downfall of the tyrannic warlord Dong Zhuo 董卓 at the very end of the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE). She is probably not a historical person but only figures in literature, where she is especially famous in the romance Sanguo yanyi 三國演義 "The Three Kingdoms". Diao is not a family name, so her identity remains unclear, and her name could also be written in one word, Diaochan.
She was a beautiful singer and dancer belonging to the entourage of Wang Yun 王允, Minister of Education (situ 司徒). Wang Chong highly esteemed her and treated her like his own daughter. In order to lure the mighty warlord Dong Zhuo into a trap, he sent her to Dong Zhuo a spart of the "Plan of the Ring" (lianhuan ji 連環計). The charms of Diao Chan were intended to enflame both Dong Zhuo and his ally Lü Bu 呂布 for her, with the objective to open a rift between the two warriors. She was first given Lü Bu as a concubine and at the same time given as a present to Dong Zhuo. Towards Lü Bu, Diao Chan expressed the affliction imposed on her as a concubine of Dong Zhuo, while she told the latter that Lü Bu was chasing her against her will. In the end, she met with Lü Bu in the Fengyi Pavillion 鳳儀亭 where Lü killed Dong Zhuo. In literature she is known as a woman that was both beautiful and at the same time courageous enough to challenge the most powerful men of the empire.


Source: Han Zhaoji 韓兆琦 (ed. 2000), Zhongguo gudai wenxue zhuming renwu xingxiang cidian 中國古代文學名著人物形象辭典 (Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe), p. 35.

December 30, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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