Wisdom or Beauty?

Zheng Jian, Contributor, Dora Li, Contributing Translator

Xuyun was an official of Wei State during the Three Kingdoms Period. He was born into a noble family. He was also well known for both his talent and handsome appearance.

The Head of Royal Security, Ruan Gong, arranged to have Xuyun marry his daughter. As was the custom, the young couple saw each other for the first time on their wedding day.Thus, on the wedding day, the bride and bridegroom knelt to their parents and then to Heaven and Earth, and then they went to their bedroom. 

At last, the bridegroom could remove the veil covering the bride’s head. As soon as he removed it, Xuyun saw that his bride was very ugly. He hurriedly left the bedroom.

At that moment, Xuyun’s best friend, Hengfan, came. The bride thought that her husband had returned, bringing Hengfan with him.

Hengfan was a minister for Wei State. He was very skilled at handling civil and military affairs, and he was also resourceful. He was General Cao Shuang’s strategist and his nickname was  “Think-tank.” 

When Xuyun expressed his concern over his bride’s appearance, Hengfan told Xuyun, “There must be some reason that Yuan’s family wanted you to marry this ugly girl. Think about it carefully and perhaps you’ll understand the significance.”

After his friend said this, Xuyun returned. But as soon as he saw that unattractive face, he immediately turned away. His wife thought, “If he leaves again, he may never come back.”  So, she grabbed Xuyun’s clothes and stopped him from leaving.

Xuyun told his wife, “Women should have four virtues: High morals, gentleness in their manners and speech, graceful appearance, and skills in taking care of a home.  Which of these virtues do you have?”His wife answered, “I only lack a graceful appearance. But as a scholar, you should have a hundred good behaviors, which one do you have?”Xuyun said, “I have everything.” 

His wife said, “High morals should be the first. But you’ve placed more importance on appearance than morality. How can you say that you have them all?”

When Xuyun heard this, he felt ashamed and did not know what to say. Afterwards, he learned to appreciate his wife’s good qualities and they grew to love each other.

Xuyun was appointed head of the country’s Department of Human Resources, and he often helped promote people from his hometown. Later, someone reported this to Emperor Ming of Wei, and the Emperor sent the royal security guards to arrest him and place him on trial.

When her husband was being taken away, she told Xuyun one sentence, “You can use reason to convince the Emperor, but you can’t beg him.”

When Emperor Ming questioned him, Xunyun remembered what his wife had said, so he simply answered, “I just recommended the most qualified people.” 

Xuyun asked the Emperor to investigate all the officials that he had recommended, and if anyone was not qualified, he wished to be punished. 

After Emperor Ming concluded his investigation, he found that the officials Xuyun had recommended were indeed highly talented and knowledgeable. Based on their qualifications, they should have been appointed to those positions. Thus, Emperor Ming released Xuyun and rewarded him with a set of new robes.

When Xuyun was taken away, his family was frightened and began crying. Only his wife remained very calm and said,  “Do not worry, he will be back soon.” Sure enough, Xuyun returned home before his wife finished preparing dinner that night.



Très inspirant qui nous amène à réfléchir merci

Micheline Lussier March 25, 2023

very very nice story! I would love to see the show but will not go to Phila. please think of having it in lancaster at the American Music Theatre – many people go there. thank you

teresa March 25, 2023

I was sooo moved by this narrative, that all I could say at the end was one word… POWERFUL. Thus is the grace and wisdom of woman who knows herself.

Thank you, and I would love more narratives such as this, or at least where I can find them.

S T JACKSON March 25, 2023

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