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A remote Chinese village A courtesan’s secret was kept by for centuries

Majia Zhai is a remote town in the upper east of China's Guizhou territory, up close to the fringe with Hunan. Home to around 1,000 individuals, it's named after the Ming-tradition general Ma Bao, and in these conditions, it would be anticipated that being populated by his descen­dants, every one of them should additionally surname Ma. But then everybody in the town is named Wu. It's a secret wrapped up with stories of resistance, the fall of a supreme dynasty and the destiny of Chen Yuanyuan, one of China's popular beauties.



About one of the most acclaimed beauties


Born around 1623 to a laborer family and stranded at an early age, as indicated by biographers, Chen grew up with relatives in Suzhou, a town alongside a canal in eastern Jiangsu region prestigious for its exquisite botanicals and wonderful ladies. As of now a practiced performer, at 14 years old she was sold as a courtesan – a sophisticated escort for the well off patrons as much as a whore – and soon turned into the dear of Suzhou's affluent community.


Trespassing into Royalty


In 1641, she had a brief connection with the poet and calligrapher Mao Xiang but in mere age of 21, Chen was bought by a new adorer, general Wu Sangui.


It was mid-1644 and the Ming dynasty was declining. The magnificent capital, Beijing, was under attack from the renegade warlord Li Zicheng, while 200km toward the north, attacking Manchu armed forces were lapping at the Great Wall, kept under control just by Wu's army.

After the suicide of last Ming Emperor Chongzhen, Li’s rebels won Beijing and, to control Wu, made his father and Chen as hostages. Being extorted, Wu backed the Manchus, help them to come through the Great Wall. The Manchu soldiers invaded in, charged and defeated Li, took Beijing as their capital in order to found the Qing dynasty.


While the Qing combined their hang on eastern China. Wu was journeyed to pacify the remote southwestern frontier provinces. After a peaceful 30 years, Manchus worried at Wu's developing force – reviewed him for retirement. Wu announced himself, emperor, however, passed on of diarrhea.



So much to tell about Wu Sangui. In any case, what was the fate of Chen Yuanyuan, romanticized right up 'til today as China's Helen of Troy, the magnificence for whom Wu deserted his kindred Chinese and favored the Manchu intruders?


Later in life


Some have the opinion about the Chen that she kicked the bucket at an opportune time, executed alongside the remainder of Wu's family amid Li's retreat from Beijing in 1644. However, well-known legend has to say that she endured and pursued Wu to Yunnan, where their relationship soured after Chen dropped out with Wu's envious spouse, Lady Zhang. As per different theories, after Wu's demise and the Qing victory of Yunnan, Chen ended it all, either by hanging, suffocating or starving herself; or she changed her name, turned into a religious hermit, and later at 80 years old.


But there is a third and most promising version, not only Chen traveled with Wu to Yunnan, but she also escaped the massacre of his failed rebellion and left with at least one of their children to an unknown corner of Guizhou – thereby preserving and allowing his descendants to hide out for future.



Chen’s association with this unlikely background was uncovered by the late writer and historian Huang Housing.

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