Xian Chao and the Celestial Maiden: The Enchanting Tale of Xian Chao and the Heavenly Being

Experience the captivating story of Xian Chao, who encounters a celestial maiden and shares an otherworldly bond that transcends time.

During the Three Kingdoms period, there was a county magistrate named Xian Chao in the Jibei Commandery of the Wei Kingdom, with the courtesy name Yiqi. In the reign of King Jia of Wei Qi, one night while he was sleeping alone, he dreamt of a goddess who came to accompany him. She claimed to be a celestial Jade Maiden from the heavens, a person from the Dong Commandery, with the family name Chenggong and the courtesy name Zhiqiong. In her early years, she had lost her parents, and out of compassion, the Heavenly Emperor sent her to the mortal realm to marry and follow her husband. While Xian Chao dreamt, his spirit was refreshed, and he felt a clear presence. He praised Zhiqiong for her extraordinary beauty, unlike anyone he had ever seen before. When he woke up, he pondered whether it was real or just a dream. This continued for three or four nights. One day, Zhiqiong appeared in person to visit, riding in a carriage with eight maidservants. They were all dressed in luxurious silk and exquisite attire, with grace and beauty resembling celestial beings. She claimed to be seventy years old but appeared as if she were a fifteen or sixteen-year-old girl. The carriage was filled with jars, containers, and blue-and-white glassware, and the food and drink were exceedingly peculiar. She arranged a fine wine and shared it with Xian Chao. She said to him, “I am a Jade Maiden from the heavens, sent down by the Heavenly Emperor to marry and follow you. I didn’t expect you to possess such virtue; it must be a karmic connection from a previous life that we should be husband and wife. I cannot say there are any benefits, nor will there be any harm. We can frequently travel in a light carriage, ride fat horses, and enjoy exotic delicacies like mountain treasures and seafood. Silks and brocades will never be lacking. However, I am a divine being and will not bear you children, nor do I harbor jealousy to interfere with your marital affairs.” Thus, they became husband and wife. Zhiqiong composed a poem for Xian Chao, and the poem went: “I wander in the immortal realm of Penglai, where cloud boards and stone chimes play heavenly music. Lingzhi mushrooms do not require rain for nourishment; supreme virtue awaits the opportune moment. Immortals do not act on mere intuition but follow the will of heaven to come and assist you. Allow me to bring honor to your five generations, and I will not oppose or harm you.” This is the general idea of the poem, which had over two hundred characters and cannot be entirely reproduced here. She also provided commentary on the Book of Changes (Yijing) in seven volumes, including hexagram explanations, line explanations, and explanations using the trigrams. Thus, the text contains both philosophical meanings and can be used for divination of good and bad fortune, similar to Yang Xiong’s “Tai Xuan” and Xue’s “Zhongjing.” Xian Chao was able to understand the essence of these texts and use them for predicting outcomes and weather changes.

After being married for seven or eight years, Xian Chao’s parents, following his marriage to Zhiqiong, noticed that every other day, Zhiqiong and Xian Chao would eat together, and every other night, they would sleep together. Zhiqiong would come at night and leave in the morning, moving as fast as if she were flying. Only Xian Chao could see her; no one else could. Although she lived in a place where others couldn’t see her, her voice could always be heard, and her traces were often seen, but her appearance remained invisible. Later, someone became curious and questioned Xian Chao, who eventually revealed their secret. Zhiqiong then requested to leave, saying, “I am a divine being, and even though we have been together, I do not want others to know about it. But your character is rough, and now that my identity has been completely exposed, I can no longer be with you. After all these years of companionship, the bond is not light, and parting will be heartbreaking. The situation forces us to do so, so let us both do our best.” She instructed her maids to prepare a meal, opened a bamboo box, and took out two sets of colorful silk and golden-threaded clothing for Xian Chao. She also gifted him a poem, bid farewell with her arm linked with his, tears in her eyes, and a sorrowful expression, then boarded the carriage and left as if flying. Xian Chao was in deep sorrow for many days, almost reaching a state of despair.

Five years after Zhiqiong’s departure, Xian Chao was dispatched on a mission to Luoyang by the county magistrate. He arrived at a small road at the foot of Mount Yushan in Jibei. As he traveled west, he could see in the distance a curved road with a carriage at the end, resembling Zhiqiong. Xian Chao rode his horse quickly and indeed found it was her. They unveiled the curtains and reunited with a mixture of sorrow and joy. He held the reins of the left horse and climbed onto the carriage with her, traveling together to reach Luoyang. Once again, they became husband and wife and reconciled. During the reign of Emperor Wu of Jin, in the Taikang era, they continued to live together but did not meet every day. Instead, Zhiqiong would visit on special occasions like the third day of the third month, the fifth day of the fifth month, the seventh day of the seventh month, the ninth day of the ninth month, the first and fifteenth day of each month. She would stay for one night and then depart. Zhang Maoxian wrote a poem titled “Ode to the Divine Maiden” for her.





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