Mei Fei ― blossoms in the snow


Caroline Young, artwork and text

QFWF, August 19th 2020
Blossoms in the snow

Mei Fei (✞ 755) was the daughter of a physician and her exquisite beauty made her one of the Tang emperor’s favorite concubines.

She was so named because of her love of plum blossoms.
Mei Fei means “Plum Consort”.

Emperor Xuanzong of Tang absolutely adored her, and had many plum trees planted around the palace gardens in order to please her.

Mei Fei

Xuanzong even lovingly complimented her beauty as more adorable than Zhao Feiyan[1], and swore that he would never change his heart for her.

Delicate and gentle, Mei Fei was not given to jealous bickering or participating in Palace intrigues, and so she was popular with all the other ladies of the emperor’s harem.

However, when Yang Guifei entered the imperial household, Mei Fei quickly lost favor with the emperor. He only had eyes for the beautiful newcomer.

Soon after, she was unceremoniously banished to the southern palace, where she spent her days in solitude, with only her music and poetry to fill her now lonely life.

When Emperor Xuanzong arch rival, An Lushan, staged his violent rebellion, the emperor fled the imperial city with Yang Guifei, leaving Mei Fei behind.

Mei Fei

After it was too late, he remembered her, and sent servants to search for his former favorite.
But they found no trace of her; Mei Fei was murdered during the rebellion.

All that was left was the priceless memory of her lovely face and gentle spirit.

[1] Zhao Feiyan (Han dynasty) was known in the Chinese popular mindset more for her beauty. She was often compared and contrasted with Yang Guifei because she was known for her slender build while Yang Guifei was known for her full build. Source: Zhao-Feiyan


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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.