Du Lanxiang and Zhang Chuan: A Tale of Celestial Romance in the Han Dynasty

A story of Du Lanxiang's visits to Zhang Chuan, their poetic exchanges, and her mysterious gifts in the Han Dynasty.

In the Han Dynasty, there was a person named Du Lanxiang, who claimed to be from the Nan Kang region. In the spring of the fourth year of the Jianxing era during the reign of the later Han Emperor, she visited Zhang Chuan multiple times. At that time, Zhang Chuan was only seventeen years old. When he saw her carriage outside the main gate, a maidservant came to announce, “My mother gave birth to me and sent me here to marry you. How can I not obey her command?” Zhang Chuan, who had once changed his name to Zhang Shuo, called Du Lanxiang forward to look at her. She appeared to be around sixteen or seventeen years old, and the matters she spoke of seemed to be from a distant past. She had two maidservants, the older one named Xuanzhi and the younger one named Songzhi. They rode in a golden carriage pulled by a blue ox, and everything they needed for eating and drinking was prepared. She composed a poem, saying, “My mother resides on Ling Mountain, wandering among the clouds from time to time. Numerous maids hold feather banners, yet we haven’t reached the Immortal Palace outside. Drifting in a chariot, she sent me here. Could it be that she despises the impurities of the mortal world? Sharing a life of fortune and longevity with me, if she were to dislike misfortune befalling me.” One early morning in August of that year, she came again and composed a poem, saying, “Originally, I was carefree in the Milky Way, but I arrived at the Nine Mountain Peaks in the blink of an eye. You linger in the unpredictable mortal world, so why not cross the Weaker Water and become an immortal?” She took out three mountain yams, each the size of a chicken egg, and said, “Eating them will make you immune to storms and prevent cold and heat illnesses.” Zhang Shuo ate two of them and wanted to keep one, but she disagreed and made him eat all of them, saying, “I was originally meant to be your wife, and our feelings will not grow distant. However, due to our differing astrological destinies, I’m afraid of minor disharmonies. When the Year God is in the east during the Mao sign, I will definitely come back to find you.” When Du Lanxiang arrived, Zhang Shuo asked, “What about prayers and sacrifices?” Du Lanxiang said, “Exorcising demons can cure illnesses; too many sacrifices are of no benefit.” Du Lanxiang referred to the yams as exorcising demons.



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