WEi dynasty

Empress Luo Shen

“The Goddess of the Luo River”

The Goddess of the Luo River, also known as “Luo Shen” or “Luo Shen Fu” in Chinese, is a well-known figure in Chinese literature and folklore. She is the central character in the famous poem “The Goddess of the Luo River” (《洛神赋》) written by Cao Zhi, a poet from the Three Kingdoms period in ancient China. Cao Zhi was Luo Shen’s husband Cao Pi’s younger brother. Cao Zhi had always loved Luo Shen.

Her Story

A symbol of beauty, grace, and unattainable love in Chinese culture.

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The Goddess of the Luo River, also known as “Luo Shen” or “Luo Shen Fu” in Chinese, is a well-known figure in Chinese literature and folklore. She is the central character in the famous poem “The Goddess of the Luo River” (《洛神赋》) written by Cao Zhi, a poet from the Three Kingdoms period in ancient China.

In the poem, the Goddess of the Luo River is depicted as a beautiful and enchanting woman who dances along the riverbanks. Cao Zhi, the younger brother of Luo Shen’s husband, was said to have fallen in love with the goddess and wrote the poem as an expression of his admiration and longing for her.

It was not ordinary love. As a poet, Cao Zhi processed the quality and spirituality Luo Shen was looking for. He was kind and artistic, unlike his brother Cao Pi (Luo Shen’s husband) who only cared about his political power and was quite cruel.

When Luo Shen died, Cao Zhi wrote a poem to remember her. He went to the river and imagined her still there with him. There were a lot of mystical characters associated with the poem and how the story was shared. Therefore Li painted many creatures as seen in the complete portrait below. Please explore!

The story of the Goddess of the Luo River has been adapted and reimagined in various forms of Chinese art and literature throughout history, and she has become a symbol of beauty, grace, and unattainable love in Chinese culture.

Her Spouse

Cao Pi (c.late 187 – 29 June 226), courtesy name Zihuan, was the first emperor of the state of Cao Wei in the Three Kingdoms period of China. He was the second son of Cao Cao, a warlord who lived in the late Eastern Han dynasty, but the eldest son among all the children born to Cao Cao by his concubine (later wife), Lady Bian. According to some historical records, he was often in the presence of court officials in order to gain their support. He was mostly in charge of defense at the start of his career. After the defeat of Cao Cao’s rival Yuan Shao at the Battle of Guandu, he took Yuan Xi’s widow, Luo Shen (also known as Lady Zhen), as a concubine, but Empress Luo Shen died and Guo Nüwang became empress.

About this Portrait

Chinese watercolor, on silk. The Chinese Empresses Collection
Painted by Xiang Li
75 x 36 inches

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