Lady Bian’s Bad Goblin

These lines were found painted on indigo silk embroidered into the holes of a cattail-leaf fan dating from the three kingdoms period. Judging from the text it is likely to have belonged to Cao Cao’s consort (ronghua) Lady Jin and repaired for her by his second wife, Lady Bian:

“This fan was torn by my cat, Bad Goblin (坏妖 Huaiyao), in the year 198. With no remorse in his claws I present […] small […] to bring joy to the Lady Jin.”

It can be inferred that one of Huaiyao’s kittens was given to Lady Jin as an apology. It is unknown if this is the same Jin Yaoyu who avenged the death of Cao Cao’s father in 193. Presumably, the holes were made by the aforementioned cat.

Author: Laurie

Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and all-round swamp goblin.

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