A Chinese Fairytale: Lu Meiniang

Zhu Yueming, Editor

PureInsight | May 23, 2006

[PureInsight.org] Lu Meiniang was a fairy. She was born with long threadlike eyebrows. That's how she got her name (Meiniang means a lady with eyebrows in Chinese). She was a descendent of Lu Jingzuo, a teacher of Emperor Beizu in the Later Wei dynasty. During the latter part of the Han dynasty, Jingzuo and his three brothers, Jingyu, Jingfu, and Jingrong, all became the emperor's teachers. During the Dading period, Lu Jingzhuo suffered a reversal in fortune and settled in Lingnan region (in today's Guangdong and Guangsi).

On the first year of Yongzhen in the Tang dynasty, when Meiliang was fourteen, the head commander in the South China Sea sent her to the emperor because of her exquisite skills. Lu Meiniang was clever and had supremely exquisite skills since her childhood. She once embroidered the whole seven rolls of the Saddharma-pundarika sutra on a one foot long piece of silk. All the characters were the same size and each stroke and dot could be clearly seen. They were as fine as hair. Every sentence and phase was there without exception.

She was also good at making blankets embroidered with fairies. She separated silk yarn into three sections and dyed them five different colors to make five layers of gold cover. The final product contained embroideries of ten continents, three islands, and celestial beings and jade maidens. It also had embroidered portraits of the palace, rare treasures, and a thousand children holding pennants. The blanket was about ten feet in width and weighed only three ounces. To make the blanket durable, she used some medicine to make an ointment and applied it to the surface. Emperor Shunzong sighed with her ingeniousness and called her the Lady of God.

From the time she was sent to the royal palace when she was fourteen, she ate only sesame rice. Emperor Xianzong admired her intelligence and gave her a gold phoenix wristband. Later, she decided not to stay in the palace and wanted to be a Taoist. She returned to the South China Sea. The Emperor granted her the name "Unfettered."

For several years, she didn't eat any food. Gods often visited her. When she was to leave this earthly world, an aroma filled her room. When she was to be buried, her followers found the coffin was very light. When they opened the coffin, they found only a pair of old shoes inside. Later, people saw her riding on a purple cloud and wandering above the sea.

Li Xiangxian, a reclusive scholar from Luofu Mountain, wrote a biography about her. But because Li Xiangxian wasn't famous, the biography wasn’t well circulated at the time. Later, Su Er recorded her story in the Du-Yang-Bian.

Source: Yunjiqiqian, an encyclopedia of Taoism edited by Zhang Junfang during the Song dynasty

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2006/5/7/35307.html

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