Mao Nü
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Mao Nü
- Qin Shi #57
毛女 1
琴史 #57 2
Mao Nü and Gu Zhangfu3  
The Qin Shi account of Mao Nü is quoted directly from Liu Xiang's Han dynasty
Liexian Zhuan,4 which has the earliest known surviving account of her. Her name literally means "woman of hair" or "Hairy Maiden", while her nickname Yujiang means Jade Jiang. The Liexian Zhuan account had the additional information that she lived over 170 years in Huayin Shan,5 quite likely referring to the northern side of Hua Shan, a famous mountain range east of Xi'an. She had gone into the mountains after the fall of the Qin dynasty (206 BCE), which had Xi'an (Chang'an) as its capital. The account then states that she ate tree bark, didn't feel hunger or cold, and was so light she could fly.

The original biography in Qin Shi is as follows.6

Mao Nü had the style name Yu Jiang. Hunters in Huayin Mountain saw her for generations; hair grew all over her body. She herself claimed that she had been in the court of the emperor Qin Shi Huang.... On a clifftop where she lived there was often the sound of (her) playing the qin. Liu Xiang praised her saying,

"She attained the ideas of mountains and valleys, and conveyed her pleasure on the zither (qin and se).

There do not seem to be any qin melodies that mention the Hairy Maiden.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. References
17141.9 毛女 Mao Nü quotes Liexian Zhuan but also says this was also a popular expression for a 處女 virtuous woman. Her nickname 玉姜 Yu Jiang means Jade Jiang. The Jade Spring Temple at Huashan (which also has a 毛女洞 Maonü Grotto) has a stone illustration of her playing the qin (mentioned here together with Chen Tuan riding a crane).

2. 3 lines

3. Image
This image is from an illustrated Ming dynasty Liexian Quanzhuan, which developed out of the Han dynasty Liexian Zhuan. In Liexian Quanzhuan, Folio II, a biography of the man identified in the illustration as 古丈夫 Gu Zhangfu precedes that of Mao Nü (entries 16 and 17). That biography says that he, too, served in the Qin dynasty court, then came to live in these mountains.

4. Original Liexian Zhuan text
The original Chinese, which might best be translated in the present tense, is as follows:

毛女者,字玉姜,在華陰山中,獵師世世見之.形體生毛。自言秦始皇宮人也。秦壞, 流亡,入山避雞,遇道士谷春,教食松葉,遂不饑寒,身輕如飛。百七十餘年,所止巖中有鼓琴聲。


The Qin Shi text is extracted from this: it quotes the beginning then adds the last couplet in the poem.

5. 華陰山 Huayin Shan
31910.226 says Huayin can refer to the north side of Huashan, east of Xi'an (then the capital, Chang'an). However, it does not have a Huayin Shan, and it also identifies Huayin as the name of counties in several places, including Huashan Mountain in Shanxi province.

6. Original Chinese text
"毛女者,字玉姜,在華陰山中,獵師世世見之.形體生毛。自言秦始皇宮人也....所止巖中有鼓琴聲。" 流向贊之云: "得意巖岫,寄歡琴瑟。"

Thanks to Max L. Bohnenkamp for correcting my original translation. He added (personal communication), "it is quite specific to the Hairy Maiden's story that she lives on sparse mountain flora and medicinal herbs, hence her achievement of long life."


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