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A new addition to the museum's Chinese exhibit is a small folding screen showing The Four Beauties or Four Great Beauties. These are four ancient Chinese women, renowned for their beauty. The scarcity of historical records concerning them meant that much of what is known of them today has been greatly embellished by legend. They gained their reputation from the influence they exercised over kings and emperors and consequently, the way their actions impacted Chinese history. Three of the Four Beauties brought kingdoms to their knees, and the lives of all four ended in tragedy or under mysterious circumstances. 

1. Xi Shi

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.

2. Diao Chan
Diaochan unlikes the other three beauties, records on Diao Chan are scarcely found historical sources and may possibly be a fictional character. Diao Chan’s role as a widely known character is attributed to the famous novel-Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Her story, which is still well-known today, tells how two allies were so blinded by a pretty woman that they became enemies, one intent on destroying the other.
Diaochan unlikes the other three beauties, records on Diao Chan are scarcely found historical sources and may possibly be a fictional character. Diao Chan’s role as a widely known character is attributed to the famous novel-Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Her story, which is still well-known today, tells how two allies were so blinded by a pretty woman that they became enemies, one intent on destroying the other.

3. Wang Zhaojun
Wang Zhaojun (52 B.C. Han Dynasty) is perhaps the best known of China's "political brides". She was a gorgeous lady and great at painting, Chinese calligraphy, playing chess and Zheng (a kind of musical instrument in ancient China).
Wang Zhaojun (52 B.C. Han Dynasty) is perhaps the best known of China's "political brides". She was a gorgeous lady and great at painting, Chinese calligraphy, playing chess and Zheng (a kind of musical instrument in ancient China).
In 36 B.C., Wang Zhaojun was selected as royal maid to serve the royal members. At that time, the relations between ancient China and Xiongnu (an ancient nationality in North China)was strained. One of the leaders of Xiongnu State visited Han emperors and expressed his wish to make peace with Han Dynasty by marriage. To cement relations with this barbarous nation, Emperor Yuan agreed to the request. However, no princess or maids would like to marry a Xiongnu leader and live a distant place. Then Wang Zhaojun stood out and agreed to go to Xiongnu area. Wang Zhaojun got well with Xiongnu people and made great contribution to maintain the peace and friendship between Hang Dynasty and Xiongnu State.
Yuhuan (AD 713-756, Tang Dynasty), an imperial concubine of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty, commonly called “Imperial Concubine Yang (Yang Guifei)“. Yang Yuhuan was born in an old, well-known official family. She was naturally beautiful with a docile character. She was gifted in music, singing, dancing and playing lute. These talents, together with her education, made her stand out among the imperial concubines and win the emperor‘s favor.
In 755 A.D when the military insurgence “Anshi Insurgence (Anshizhiluan)“ was launched by the local forces of the Tang Dynasty, Emperor Tang Xuanzong, together with Imperial Concubine Yang, fled from Chang’an. When they arrived at the Mawei Slope, the army refused to march, for the army thought that the reason of this rebellion by An Lushan was that Imperial Concubine Yang’s behavior of attracting emperor ruined the state and that her cousin Yang Guozong colluded with the enemy. To appease the army, Emperor Tang Xuanzong had no choice but to order Yang to commit suicide at the Mawei Slope.

4. Yang Yuhuan 

(AD 713-756, Tang Dynasty) Yang Yuhuan, an imperial concubine of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty, commonly called "Imperial Concubine Yang (Yang Guifei)". Yang Yuhuan was born in an old, well-known official family. She was naturally beautiful with a docile character. She was gifted in music, singing, dancing and playing lute. These talents, together with her education, made her stand out among the imperial concubines and win the emperor‘s favor.

Xi Shi was a patriotic, charming lady. In order to realize the national independence, Xi Shi was selected as a "gift" by Yue King who was the king of Yue State. She sacrificed her happiness and served Wu King who was the king of Wu State and strong opponent of Gou Jian. Wu King was so addicted to Xi Shi that he ignored all the national affairs. Day by day, Wu State gradually fell in decay. Yue King seizes the excellent chance and defeated Wu King, realizing the dream of national independence.

According to the novel, Diao Chan is a singing girl in the late Eastern Han Dynasty. In order to alienate Dong Zhuo (a tyrannical warlord) from Lu Bu (Dong Zhuo’s adopted son), Diao Chan took upon herself to implement interlinked badger games, regardless of her own happiness. Under her effort, Dong Zhuo was killed by Lu Bu, thus contributing to the emerging of the outstanding heroes: Cao Cao, Liu Bei and Sun Quan, etc. The story of Diao Chan’s circumventing Dong Zhuo and Lu Bu is narrated in Phoenix Pavilion, a play of Peking Opera.

Like the soldiers, the common people hated Yang Guifei, believing that she had brought harm to their country. In reality, she was no more than the plaything of a fatuous monarch, used as an excuse by treacherous subjects to justify sedition. Perhaps those who truly deserve to be despised are the self-indulgent emperor, his traitorous subjects, and fair-weather friends who used claims of kinship to gain power. Beyond that, the blame must lie with the backward system of feudal autocracy under which Yang Guifei lived.