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Wuling Chun
Proper name Qi Huizhen 1; also a qin melody 2
  Sketch of Wuling Chun by Wu Wei 3    
Little is known about the woman nicknamed "Wuling Chun" ("Spring in Wuling"). The word "Wuling" itself perhaps refers to the place in Hunan mentioned by Tao Yuanming in his famous Peach Blossom Spring Tale4 about a fisherman who found a hidden utopia up the river from his home. As an expression Wuling Chun also has a number of other uses,5 in particular as the name of a ci poetry structure.

As for the woman called Wuling Chun, about all we know about her comes from a 15th century essay by the famous contemporary Nanjing literatus and painter, Xu Lin.6 The essay begins as follows (see original):

The courtesan 齊慧真 Qi Huizhen was nicknamed Wuling Chun. From youth she enjoyed reading books, and was able to give "short intonations" of both 5 and 7 character jueju (regulated verse). From playing qin she was able to write down the melodies,7 and when meeting guests she would not use the guzheng or pipa to gain appreciation. Guests particularly acclaimed her singing. She could sing a great many stanzas of Song dynasty poems and be awarded.... (translation incomplete.)

Xu Lin's essay went on to say that Qi Huizhen, who lived in the Jiangnan area, had a love affair with a Mr. Fu for five years, but then he was exiled for some offense. She spent a great deal of money in an effort to save him, but when this failed she became depressed and died.

Wu Wei based the painting above on this essay. He reflected the praise for her artistic skills by depicting her with qin, books, calligraphy brush and ink stone.8

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Wuling Chun (武陵春)
武陵春 16623.255 mentions only the opera (which tells a story most famously associated with Tao Yuanming) and cipai of this name; as for the qin melody of that name see below. There seems to be no other information about a lady named either Wuling Chun or Qi Huizhen (齊慧真 49553.xxx), apparently her original name. There seems to be no surviving poetry or music attributed to her, and there is no further information about her lover, 傅生 Mr. Fu.

Essay about Wuling Chun written by Xu Lin:
The original essay is as follows:


The above was included in an online article in .pdf format found by searching for "武陵已矣". The same file also quoted another essay saying her name might actually have been 齊景雲 Qi Jingyun.

2. The qin melody 武陵春 Wuling Chun
Zha Guide (
37/---/533) lists two occurrences of this title:

  1. 武林春 Wulin Chun (16623.140 only 武林 wulin []).
    This is the name given to lyrics that accompany a melody said to be in the ci pattern 武陵春 Wuling Chun. It survives only from 1687 (XII/399)
  2. 武陵春 Wuling Chun (16623.255, as above)
    The name of an instrumental melody in a handbook attributed to the famous writer 劉鶚 Liu E (1907; XXIX/22; 3 sections; no commentary or lyrics).

The qin song 武陵春 Wuling Chun from 1687 Wuling Chun 1687 tablature   
This melody has lyrics titled "武林春 Wulin Chun" (雙壽 shuangshou [double long life?] is added in smaller print below); the tablature has the title "Zhi mode" (徵音 Zhi Yin), with the title Wuling Chun in smaller print below that. The melody is identified as by Cheng Xiong, while the lyrics are by 許田 Xu Tian (莘野錢塘人), as follows (not yet translated):


武陵春錄音 Wuling Chun of 1687: a recording with Li Qingzhao lyrics (compare 1687 lyrics)
As can be seen above, the 1687 Wuling Chun lyrics have the pattern (7+5) x 4. In contrast, the best known example of a Wuling Chun poem, by the famous lady poet 李清照 Li Qingzhao (1084 - ca.1151), adds an extra character at the end, making the last line 7+6. (The required extra note in the last phrase can be seen in red in the expanded image from at right.)

Here are the timings and 李清照 Li Qingzhao lyrics for my recording from 1687 (not sung)
聽錄音 listen; see transcription 看五線譜):

00.00 (closing harmonics 尾泛音)
Fēng zhù chén xiāng huā yǐ jìn, rì wǎn juàn shū tóu.
Breezes linger over the fragrant dust as flowers fade,
        day and night I tire of combing my hair.
Wù shì rén fēi shì shì xiū, yù yǔ lèi xiān liú.
Possessions remain but he is gone, so all activity comes to an end,
        though wanting to speak tears must first flow (blocking the words).
Wén shuō shuāng xī chūn shàng hǎo, yě nǐ fàn qīng zhōu.
I've heard it said of the Twin Brooks, in spring they are still lovely,
        and I long to float there on a light boat.
Zhǐ kǒng shuāng xī zé měng zhōu, zài bù dòng xǔ duō chóu.
I just fear that at Twin Brooks the skiff-type boats,
        will not be able to move with the (weight of) so much sorrow.
01.24 (end 曲終)

In spite of the similarity of names, there is no reason to think there is any connection between either of these melodies and the lady nicknamed Wuling Chun. On the other hand, one might speculate that perhaps she took, or was given, her nickname because of the association of Wuling Chun (as a ci pattern) with Li Qingzhao.

3. Sketch of Wuling Chun by Wu Wei (1459-1508) 吳偉武陵春圖
See whole image. The original is in the Palace Museum, Beijing; there are many online copies. The inscription on the full painting is as follows:


I do not know who was the Dong Jing Retired Scholar (洞涇居士 Dongjing Jushi 17777.xxx; likewise for 洞淫居士 Dongyin Jushi) who 頓書 dashed this off. This is followed by seals with the name of Wu Wei.

4. Peach Blossom Spring Tale 桃花源記 Taohua Yuan Ji
See under Spring Dawn at Peach Blossom Spring>.

5. Other meanings for "Wuling Chun"
For example, it was also the name of a type of wine.

6. Xu Lin 徐霖 (1462-1538)
Bio/1942 徐霖,字子仁,號九峰道人、髯仙,又稱徐山人。明蘇州府長州人,徙居金陵。戲曲家。

7. Was able to write down melodies (自能譜調 zi neng pu diao)
It is not clear from the essay above the actual meaning of 譜調 pu diao (36833.xxx; also see the definition of pu). Literally it seems to suggest that she could transcribe what she or others played on the qin, but it could also mean that she composed melodies (without necessarily writing them down), could write down her own original melodies, or perhaps even that she could play from tablature, without having a teacher.

8. 琴、書、筆、硯

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