Chinese Idioms: "Dragon Riding Son-in-Law"


PureInsight | February 3, 2008

[] According to
legend, during the Spring and Autumn period (777- 476 B.C.), the
youngest daughter of Lord Qi Mugong was very fond of an emerald that
had been given to him by the Xirong state. Lord Mugong thus named his
daughter Nongyu, meaning "playing with jade." When Princess Nongyu grew
up to be a teenager, her beauty and intelligence were unrivalled. But
she disliked the society and the unending minutiae of protocol in the
palace. She usually stayed in the forbidden palace and played her
flute. Seeing that his daughter being so fond of the flute, Lord Mugong
ordered an artisan to carve the emerald into a flute. The princess
played the flute for a long time each day and mastered playing the
flute superbly.

Lord Mugong thought of having a prince in the neighboring country to be
his son-in-law. But Nongyu had a different idea. She would not marry
anyone unless that person understood music and was good at playing the
flute. Lord Mugong could only yield to the wishes of his beloved

One night while admiring the full moon, Nongyu started to play her
flute. Then, she heard a heavenly sound lingering in harmony with the
sounds from her flute. As the princess listened attentively, she
realized it was the sound of a bamboo flute coming from far away. This
went on for several nights. She told her father about the accompanying
flute sound coming from far away. Lord Mugong sent a senior general,
Meng Ming, to locate the flute player. Meng Ming searched and searched
and then arrived at the Hua Mountain. Woodcutters told him: "There is a
young man named Xiaoshi who lives in seclusion at Mingxing Cliff. The
young man loves to play the flute and the sound of his flute spreads
over several hundred kilometers." Meng Ming found Xiaoshi at Mingxing
Cliff and brought him to the palace.

It was the Mid-Autumn Festival when Xiaoshi arrived at the palace. Lord
Mugong was very glad to see that Xiaoshi was handsome and had a natural
manner and asked him to play his flute right away. Before Xiaoshi
finished playing, a golden dragon and a colorful phoenix started to
dance gracefully. Everyone praised the heavenly music.

After Xiaoshi and Nongyu got married, Xiaoshi taught Nongyu to play the
flute to mimic the cry of the phoenix. After practicing for a decade,
Nongyu was able to play the flute to sound like a real phoenix and the
sound even attracted a phoenix from heaven to stop at the roof. Lord
Mugong built a phoenix palace for them and they lived there for several

One evening after they had finished playing their flutes, Xiaoshi told
the princess: "I keep thinking of my secluded and quiet days at Hua
Mountain." The princess said: "I am also fed up with imperial court
life. I will go with you to live the quiet life on a remote mountain."
They thus went to the Hua Mountain and lived in seclusion on the
mountain peak. One day, Nongyu rode a phoenix and Xiaoshi a golden
dragon and together they rose to the sky. Later, people called Xiaoshi
"dragon riding son-in-law."

From "The Legend of the Jade Maiden Peak"

Translated from:

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