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Expressing My Feelings About Historic Sites Through Five Verses (III)

Du, Fu (712-770 CE)
Thousands of mountain and valley gods went to Jing-men Mountain Range 1
To celebrate the birth of a beauty queen.
Eight hundred years later
Zhao-jun Village 2 remains named after this radiant imperial concubine.
She left the Han palace and married the King of the Huns in a northern desert.
Now only her green tomb 3 remains to face the setting sun.
Emperor Yuan-di only saw her picture rather than her beautiful face.
On moonlit nights her soul returned home in vain with jingling jade ornaments.
Her story has inspired the composition of lute music for almost a thousand years 4.
The lingering melodies are imbued with her sorrow and bitterness 5.


1 Jing-men Mountain Range is located northwest of present day Zhi-cheng-shi City in Hubei Province. The mountain range is along the southern shore of the Yangtze River. On the opposite side of the river stands Hu-ya (tiger's fangs) Mountain.

2 Qiang was Zhao-jun Wang's alternate first name. She was one of Emperor Yuan-di's concubines during the Han dynasty. As a peace agreement between China and the Huns, she was given in marriage to Hu-han-xie, the King of the Huns.
    Chapter two of Miscellanies of the Western Capital says, "Emperor Yuan-di had many concubines. He ordered Yan-shou Mao, a painter, to paint the portraits of his concubines. Then the emperor used these portraits to choose the concubine he wanted to see. All the concubines bribed Mao except for Zhao-jun Wang. Some paid him $100,000. The least amount paid was not less than $50,000. Because Zhao-jun Wang refused to bribe Mao, he painted her as an ugly woman. Therefore, she never had the chance to meet the emperor. Before she left the Han Palace to marry the King of the Huns, Emperor Yuan-di summoned her to an interview. He discovered that she was the most beautiful concubine in the palace."

3 The tomb of Zhao-jun Wang is located on the southern shore of the Da-hei River, six miles south of present day Hohhot City in Neimenggu Autonomous Region. The grass on her tomb was evergreen, so her tomb was called a green tomb.

4 The Lament of Lady Zhao-jun is one of the melodies that honor Zhao-jun Wang. One may listen to this piece of music by visit

5 Here Fu Du lamented that Zhao-jun Wang failed to gain the recognition of Emperor Yuan-di despite her beauty and integrity just like Du failed to gain the trust of his emperor despite his loyalty, integrity, and devotion.