Thursday, July 29, 2010

Su Xiao Xiao

Found her tomb next to the West Lake in Hangzhou. Couldn't help but to question why this woman, (479-502), a famous courtesan of her time and a poet too (though I wouldn't say that her poetry would be in the same calibre of those masters in Chinese poetry), could leave her name behind for more than a millenium years and to have her tomb rebuilt in the 21st century after it was destroyed during Cultural Revolution (btw, nothing could be left intact after the sweep of the infamous revolution).

Her new rest place, next to Xilin Bridge in the West Lake, with 6 pillars inscribed with poetry written in reminiscence of her. For someone of her gender, her background in that era, who became a source of inspiration to many great poets, even a few hundred years after her death, is bizzare to me. Died at the age of 19, as an orphan and unmarried and therefore, had her beauty and youth being immortalized and romantized. Though a courtesan by circumstances and became an object of men's play, she became the player instead and bent neither to wealth nor power.

And maybe little did she expect herself to become the subject in the poems of many literati after her time. I am more curious about the literati who drew their inspiration from her than Su Xiao Xiao herself. Wonder what was in their minds and hearts?