Crimson Cloud and Misty Rain


Caroline Young, artwork and text

Yaoji was the beautiful daughter of Chidi, a minor god in the southern provinces of China. She died when she was young, and was buried on Wushan mountain.

Crimson Cloud and Misty Rain

Once while on a pleasure trip, the king of Chu decided to camp overnight alongside a river. As he nodded off to sleep, a beautiful maiden, Yaoji, appeared in his dream.
Taking pity on his loneliness, she lay down and shared his mat with him. Toward dawn, she readied to take her leave of him.

The king, who was totally enamored with her by this point asked where she lived. She replied:

“My home is on the precipice of the Wushan mountain. There you will find me. I am the crimson cloud in the morning, and the misty rain at twilight.”

The king awoke with a start. Overwhelmed with love for his beautiful Yaoji, he had a temple erected on that very spot, in honor of the night he spent with her.

Centuries later, poets still celebrate the story of the king and the maiden with their loving praise. It is from this tale that the Chinese euphemism “cloud and rain” is derived, which denotes the intimate encounter between two lovers.

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As an adopted child of Chinese-American expatriates, I have always been intrigued by how the Chinese culture explained the mysteries of the universe.