When Red Fly Whisk Fell Head over Heels for the Scholar


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With strategic plans to restore the war-torn country back to order, the talented scholar Li Jing (李靖) was paying a visit to the powerful Lord Yang Su (杨素), who enjoyed luxurious ways of living and female company around him. To Li Jing’s disappointment, Lord Yang did not take his plans seriously. However, Red Fly Whisk (红拂女 hongfu nv as nickname, real name 张凌华), an exceptionally beautiful maid who was present at the meeting, immediately fell head over heels for Li Jing, while Li was passionately airing his ambitious views to Lord Yang.

Read more story of Li Jing and Red Fly Whisk with the other hero Zhang Zhongjian (张仲坚, nicknamed the Curly-Bearded Fellow 虬髯客), who left all his possessions to the couple and went overseas to start his new life.

Read Dr Yibin Ni‘s interesting analysis on How to depict the scene of falling-in-love on Chinese porcelain.


Fig 1: famille verte baluster jar with cover, Kangxi period (1662–1722), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Sotheby’s Auction House, New York, 17 March 2021, Lot 275.

Fig 2: porcelain vase, Kangxi period (1662–1722), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Palace Museum, Beijing

Fig 3: famille verte Yen-Yen vase, Kangxi period (1662–1722), Qing dynasty, courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Fig 4: blue-and-white porcelain jardiniere painted in underglaze blue, 1660–90, courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust, UK

Fig 5: blue-and-white porcelain vase (detail), Kangxi period (1662–1722), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Shanghai Museum

Fig 6-7: blue-and-white porcelain vase, Kangxi period (1662–1722), Qing dynasty, courtesy of National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Felton Bequest, 1947. Photo: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Fig 8: blue-and-white porcelain brushpot, Kangxi period (1662–1722), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Sotheby’s Auction House, New York, 15 March 2017, Lot 669.

Fig 9: tall jar with lid, Yongzheng period (1723–35), famille-rose ware, H: 85 cm, Nationalmuseet, Department of Ethnography, Copenhagen (EBc 183), in Qing Porcelain: famille verte, famille rose 1644–1912, Michel Beurdeley & Guy Raindre, New York: Rizzoli, 1986, Cat. 132.

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