Four Beauties of Ancient China, Xi Shi, Wang Zhaojun, Diao Chan and Yang Yuhuan

Four Beauties of Ancient China, Xi Shi, Wang Zhaojun, Diao Chan and Yang Yuhuan

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The Four Beauties are four ancient Chinese women, renowned for their beauty. Though actual historical figures, their stories have been greatly embellished by legend. According to legend, they are the most beautiful women of ancient China. They have remained famous because of their effect on the emperors and kings with whom they were involved. Some brought kingdoms or dynasties to their knees. Most ended their lives in tragedy or mystery.

Xi Shi

Xi Shi, whose real name is Shi Yiguang and who was born in the State of Yue during the Spring and Autumn Period of China (770 BC – 403 BC or so). Her birthplace is a small village of today’s Zhejiang Province. One day when she went to a stream to wash clothes and the fish in the water saw her and fell down from the surface of the water after being astonished by her beauty. This is the legend, but the fact is Xi Shi was sent to the State of Wu to seduce the ruler for her own state. Finally, the ruler of the State of Wu was defeated by the State of Yue.

Xi Shi, being a sickly girl, often had chest pains. It was said that her beauty was most attractive whenever she had her hand on her chest, wincing from the pain. As Dong Shi saw Xi Shi win the admiration of others while she was walking with her hand on the chest and brows furrowed, she imitated Xi Shi. But this only increased her ugliness. This in turn has created the saying “Dong Shi imitates a frown” meaning to attempt imitating another only to emphasize one’s own weaknesses.

Wang Zhaojun


Wang Zhaojun, whose real name is Wang Qiang and who was born in today’s Xingshan County, Yichang, Hubei Province. She was once a maid in the imperial palace of the Western Han Dynasty .  It is said that when she was sent to marry the ruler of Xiongnu, one of the ancient nationalities in China, whose headquarters was located beyond the Great Wall, and a wild goose saw her and forgot to fly and fell to ground because it saw the beauty of the beauty.

Since the 3rd century the story of Zhaojun had been elaborated upon and she had been touted as a tragic heroine. The Communist government of the People’s Republic of China uses her as a symbol of the integration of Han Chinese and ethnic minorities of China. Zhaojun Tomb still exists today in Inner Mongolia.

Diao Chan

Diao Chan was born in the Three Kingdoms period  and was the adopted daughter of a senior official Wang Yun of the imperial court of that time. One night when the shining moon in the sky met her, the moon hid itself behind the clouds. The fact is one night when the shining moon appeared and a gust of wind suddenly came, some clouds covered the moon. But this surprising moment was seen by Wang Yun, who later spoke that when the moon saw his adopted daughter, the moon hid itself behind the clouds.

Diao Chan was certainly the most charming one. As she was so fascinating that she has made many outstanding heroes obsessed with her.And she was the most elusive woman in that fiction,so there are four identities of her in record.

Yang Yuhuan

Yang Yuhuan was born in Henan. One day when she was strolling in the imperial palace of the Tang Dynasty  and saw the Chinese rose and peony, she began crying because she was forbidden to leave the palace and caged like a bird. As soon as her tears fell on the petals of the flowers, these petal shrank, which means the flowers were surprised by her beauty and hid themselves.

She was a beautiful concubine of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty. Yang was originally wife of one of the emperor’s sons and later the emperor Xuanzong made Yang Guif his own consort. Yang was so charming that the emperor was infatuated with her beauty and neglected affairs of state.  She was finally forced to death by the emperor’s guards as she was blamed to cause the An Lushan Rebellion.

The stories of the four beautiful ladies have been widely known by all Chinese people. Now when people compliment you by mentioning their names, it means you are really amazingly beautiful.


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