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Friday, June 10, 2005

Look what I found!

There is a lot of good stuff out there :)

Greg Rivers blog:
http://www.hokwokwing.hk/

He is the tall gwailo actor in a lot of TVB series (Training instructor in AOM) who can speak cantonese fluently. He writes his own blog above.


*New series*
Sonija Kwok will be filming a new series in Mainland China. She looks beautiful in the pics, though I personally feel that she was too mature looking for the role of legendary beauty Sai Sze. Another good news is cute actor Chen Kun will take the role as Fan Li. I have no comment on Joe Ma role as Prince Fuchai though...

Warring States Battling Heroes

Joe Ma as Prince of Wu (Fuchai)
Sonija Kwok as Sai Si
Damien Lau
Chen Kun as Fan Li
Power Chan
Si See Li as Pang Yuk (Viet Princess)


[The History For Say Sze]
originally sourced from
http://www.chinatown-online.com/cultureeye/common/four.htm

In Mandarin, she is called Xishi, one of the four most beautiful women in the ancient China.

Xishi (497 BC) was a legendary beauty of ancient China. She has been described as "equally charming in both heavy and light makeup", "as appealing when she frowns as when she smiles". Of her figure it has been said that "were she plump, you would admire her plumpness, were she thin you would admire her for being slender". She is celebrated as a woman of extraordinary natural beauty with a universal appeal. Although many have praised Xishi's looks, there is but little mention of her notable virtue - she had a great love for her country and her people.

Xishi was the daughter of a tea trader from Ningluo Mountain village in the Zhuji county in Zhejiang Province. This comprised a part of the ancient state of Yue.

When the state of Yue was vanquished by the state of Wu, the King of Yue, Gou Jian was forced to serve the Prince of Wu for three years. On his release, King Gou Jian slept on brushwood and drank gall before each meal to remind himself of the humiliation his country had suffered. He commissioned men to search far and wide for a woman whom he could send as a tribute to Prince Fuchai of Wu. Xishi, whose beauty was much talked of even from early childhood, was selected for this task and sent to the capital.

King Gou Jian approved of the choice and had Xishi dressed in fine robes. He had her trained in royal court etiquette. Gou Jian ordered his minister Fan Li to take Xishi to the Prince of Wu as a tribute gift from Yue. During the journey, Xishi fell deeply in love with the wise minister. Fan Li also grew to admire this courageous lady who was willing to give her life for her country. Consequently, before they parted, they made a secret pledge of undying love.

They arrived at the capital of Wu and the prince welcomed Xishi with open arms. He was enchanted by her appearance and doted on her. Gradually he began to neglect his political duties, preferring to idle away his time with Xishi. He frequently took her out on carriage rides to the noisy and prosperous sections of the city. On these rides, he liked to boast to those around him that he had won the heart of the most beautiful woman in the world. He would add: "If you want to look at her, you'll have to present me with some gold coins!" In this way, he also managed to enrich his coffers.

Xishi, however, never lost sight of her mission. Her aim was to bewitch the Prince of Wu so that his subjects would grow restless and his friends would desert him. The political chaos that ensued would enable the King of Yue to invade the state of Wu, recompensing him for his former humiliation.

Heaven grants the wishes of men. The King of Yue finally annexed the state of Wu. Following the death of Prince Fuchai of Wu, Xishi disappeared from public life. She lived in relative obscurity with Fan Li who became a successful trader.

This story is unique in the history of feudal China as no one has ever found fault with Xishi, even though she had caused the downfall of the state of Wu.


More stories from
http://www.britishbornchinese.org.uk/pages/culture/legends/yue.html

The King of Yue's Revenge
Gou Jian, the King of Yue, and his wife were made to work as slaves for three years in the State of Wu which had defeated the State of Yue in a battle in 494 BC.

Fu Chai, the king of Wu, did everything he could to insult the Yue couple. Gou Jian, the King of Yue, was forced to live in a small stone hut beside the tomb of Fu Chai's father who had died fighting Yue. Every time the King of Wu went on tour, he made the King of Yue lead his horse, subjecting him to derisive comments from the populace about "our king's groom". With rancour in his heart, the King of Yue accepted such treatment only because then his state would be allowed to exist. his people would not be bothered, and he might find an opportunity to make a comeback - he hoped.

During his time in Wu, the King of Yue forced himself to always appear humble and respectful. Dressed in a tattered sacking and a battered hat, he industriously cared for the horses. His wife, wearing shabby clothing, fetched water, did the cooking and swept the stables and courtyard.

Fan Li, one of his officials, had come with them, and he too assumed such a mien, never uttering a word of complaint. Those sent by the King of Wu to spy on them found nothing suspicious to report, so gradually the King of Wu began to relax his vigilance.

One day the King of Wu fell ill. The king of Yue asked for permission to see the ailing king to show his loyalty. " I know a little a about medicine" he told Fu Chai, "and can judge a patient's condition from the flavor of his stool". He tasted the ailing man's stool and announced that he would soon recover. This act made a big impression on the King of Wu. He had not originally intended to honour his word about keeping Gou Jian for only three years, but now, moved by the latter's seeming loyalty, he decided to release him and even gave him a big send-off with a banquet.

After Gou Jian returned to Yue, the humiliation that had been forced on him rankled within. Over his bed he hung a gall. Before every meal and at bedtime he would taste a bit of its bitter substance. To strengthen his resolve, he gave up his luxurious palace and slept on a pallet of brush wood in a thatched hut. (These two hardships he imposed on himself have brought into the Chinese language a four-word phrase wo xin chang dan, meaning hardships to strengthen resolve to wipe out national humiliation).

The king of Yue and his wife lived like common people, he working in the fields and she weaving and sewing clothes. He issued a decree exempting farmers from taxes for seven years. Historical writings credit him with helping the poor and recognizing the worth of talented people and scholars. He placed in important positions Fan Li, who had accompanied him, and General Wen Zhong, whom he had deputised to administer the state in his absence. Before long Yue began to recoup its strength.

Fan Li conceived a brilliant scheme. Knowing that the King of Wu had a tendency to dissipation and extravagance, Fan Li proposed to further undermine Wu rule with the gift of an enticing woman. Disguised as a merchant, he toured Yue, seeking the most beautiful maidens. He found Xi Shi, the loveliest and most graceful woman he had ever seen, washing silk in a stream in a remote village.

When the plan was explained to her father, he agreed that Xi Shi must do what was wanted. Thus Xi Shi became the most famous of the long line of beauties who traditional Chinese history writing holds responsible for the fall of states. Xi Shiwas presented to the King of Wu, who soon became completely infatuated with her. He spent all his days with her entertained her extravagantly. Xi Shi flattered him and encouraged him in this. She used her influence on him to undermine the position of the old minister Wu Zixu who opposed his relation with her, and to praise and promote Bo Pi, a minister who was sympathetic to the state of Yue.

For her the King built Guanwa Palace (Palace of Beautiful Women) in an imperial park on the slope of Lingyan Hill, about 15 kilometres west of Suzhou. So elaborate was it, the story goes, that it had strings of real pearls as window shades. Next to it he built the promenade of Musical Shoes. Under the marble floor were thousands of earthenware jars which rang like chimes when she walked or danced on it.

For her he dug a special river. Along its banks were many pavilions where musician and dancers would perform. Xi Shi found that long excursions on it were a good way to keep him from government affairs for days at a time. The cost of such extravagances left the people most dissatisfied.

Xi Shi sent a secret message to Fan Li that Wu was weakening, and received one back urging her to use her influence to get rid of the minister Wu Zixu. She waited her chance until one day in 484 BC, in disapproval Wu Zixu refused to attend the ceremony to receive another shipment of gifts from Yue. The King of Wu was incensed at this affront to himself, but feared to punish him lest it disaffected others. Xi Shi persuaded him that he should execute the minister as a warning to others. The king gave Wu Zixu a sword and told him to kill himself.

Despite the minister's warnings, Fu Chai still thought the King of Yue was loyal to him.

In 482 BC While the King of Wu was away at a conference of rulers to discuss control of the central plain, Yue launched a surprise attack on Wu, inflicting heavy casualties. Nine years later Yue won a decisive victory. When the King of Yue decreed that Fu Chai be sent to lifelong exile to an island in the sea. the latter in shame cut his own throat.


Sonija


Chen Kun (the pic doesn't do him justice - he's a real cutie ;) )

More pictures from http://www.lovetvb.com/bbs/read.php?tid=14463&fpage=1
Credit to 羡煞旁人

Regarding the fairytale ending of Xishi, there's actually some other version of her ending, mostly on tragic note.

1. Fuchai kingdom was ruined. Before escaping he kept making orders to his ministers and guard to bring Xishi along. The queen was infuriated and took Xishi along with her. In the middle on the journey, the queen forced Xishi to jump into the ocean. Fan Li came too late and Xishi drowned.

2. A source from TVSS said that Xishi later fell in love with Fuchai and commit suicide with him.


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