Mei Fei — the Favorite


Caroline Young, artwork and text

Mei Fei, better known as the Plum Consort, was a contemporary of Empress Yang Kuei-Fei.
She was the favorite concubine of the Tang emperor before the latter supplanted her in his affections.

Unlike the bawdy sexuality of Yang Kuei-Fei, Mei-Fei possessed an elegant beauty and a poet’s soul. Her verses are considered superior to the writings of her contemporaries and are preserved till today.

She eschewed palace intrigue and gossip, and so was well-loved by all but her jealous successor. After her fall from the emperor’s favor, she spent her days in isolation.

When the Tang emperor fled south with his court, he wanted to take Mei-Fei along. However, Yang Kuei-Fei flew into a jealous rage, and to placate her, the emperor was forced to abandon his former love.

Nothing is known of her fate after the fall of the capital.

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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.