Friday, July 22, 2011

"The Jade Goddess."

12th century. Author Unknown.

Summary: Chang Po was an artist in jade. He lived with the Commissioner and his wife and the Commissioner’s daughter, Meilan. Chang Po was Meilan’s cousin. Meilan and Chang Po grew to love each other, but because of the father’s objections, they could never be married. So they eloped. In the process, they were responsible for the death of an aged servant who hit his head on a jagged rock while trying to restrain the two from achieving their purposes. Now Chang Po was accused of murder and the manhunt was on.

With each shop he set up, Chang Po’s work in jade revealed who he was and the couple had to move on again. Finally, three soldiers came to return the couple, who now had a son, to the Commissioner many miles away. Meilan urged Chang Po to leave and she arranged it. His last look at Meilan waving goodbye remained with him in his memory. He disappeared and Meilan and their son were returned to her father.

One day the Governor told the Commissioner at dinner that he had secured a marvelous Goddess of Mercy, carved in Jade. When Meilan saw it, she recognized her gesture of final farewell and knew it had been carved by Chang Po—who, after he had created it for the Governor, again disappeared.

On hearing Meilan’s story, the Governor gave the jade statue to Meilan, who, after her son had died, took it to a convent, where she wrote prayers on paper and burned them before the jade Goddess of Mercy.

“Some twenty years after she joined the convent, Meilan died. And so the perishable Goddess of Mercy passed away and the jade Goddess remained.”

Famous Chinese Short Stories. Re-told by Lin Yutang. New York: The Pocket Library. 1954.

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