22. Liu Lanzhi (a woman of tragic death)
Liu Lanzhi (?--?) was the wife of a petty official, Jiao Chongqing (?--?), living in Lujiang town of present Anhui province, towards the end of East Han dynasty (25—220 AD). She was a nice girl from a well-to-do family. She could weave at thirteen, could make dress at fourteen, could play harp at fifteen, and could read classics at sixteen. She married her husband at seventeen.
Jiao family consisted of the old widow, his mother, her mother-in-law, and his young sister. At first the couple lived a harmonious life. But his mother was very picky and fastidious. She did not like her daughter-in-law for no reason at all. Perhaps, like other old widows, she depended on her son as her life company after the death of her husband. Now the daughter-in-law came and it seemed as if she took away her life company and left her alone. Therefore, she hated the wife of her son and tried to drive her away.
She often complained to her son that his wife was not nice to her and disobeyed her. In fact, the daughter-in-law was very nice and filial to her. She listened to her mother-in-law for whatever she said. Anyway, the mother decided to get rid of his wife. In old China, there were seven rules for a wife to be driven back to where she came from, i.e., the house of her parents. The seven rules were that she disobeyed her mother- or father-in-law; that she did not bear a son (a daughter did not count); that she was lewd; that she jealous if her husband had concubines; that she had severe diseases; that she liked to gossip; and that she stole from her husband''s house for the family of her parents. She did not bear any children for her son yet.
Jiao Chongqing was a filial son and under the pressure of his mother, who often threatened her son with suicide if he did not send his wife away. He had one day to harden up his heart and bid farewell to his wife. He promised her to get her back some day when he persuaded his mother to accept her. But Liu Lanzhi had no confidence about it. She went back to the home of her parents, to whom it was a disgrace that their daughter was sent back. So they had to marry their daughter to another man. The daughter could not disobey her parents and agreed to marry again. But in her mind, she determined to end her life to the rule that a woman should never remarry. The night before her wedding day to another man, she went out and threw herself in a pond near her home. When Jiao Chongqing heard of the death of his ex-wife, he hanged himself on the branch of a tree in the courtyard of his home. They were buried together at the foot of Huagai Mountain. Local people grew pine trees and cypresses around their grave. An anonymous poet wrote a long poem about their sad story.
A legend developed that there were a pair of mandarin ducks flying about the trees, crying bitterly. Young couples in the subsequent dynasties came to visit their tomb in hopes that the deceased couple would bless them to have a happy result for their love.