The Wu Shan Fairy Series Red Cranes on river ice, original art work by Zhao, Ze.
The Wu Shen Fairy Series is based on a famous Chinese legend about Wu Shan (Wu Mountain), located at the traditional eastern border of China’s Sichuan Provence on the Yangtze river. This area is popularly known today as the “Three Georges” and is the site of the world’s largest dam for flood control and power generation. As with many legends and fables a number of variations exist. Only a brief summary of the fairy story is described here. Since humans dwelled in China rivers and floods carved history into the mountains, shaped the lives of humans and affected the course of human events. Farmers need rivers to nourish their crops for bountiful yields but nature also wrecks havoc with floods. The struggle with the river that ancient Chinese faced continues in the modern era with the new Three Gorges Dam as the world’s largest construction project. The Chinese poet Lu You also wrote about this area and its fairy stories.
In this context, thousands of years ago the Queen of the West sent her beautiful young daughter Wao Ji and 11 hand maidens to watch over the Jade Pool. These 12 fairies are symbolized by the 12 peaks of the gorge. The lovely Wao Ji wandered and lived among the animals. Eventually she settled in the magnificent beauty of Wu Shan. She observed the suffering of humans caused by the river floods and took pity. Ultimately, she had a rendezvous with Prince Chu and gave him a book describing how to control the river and its floods.
There are many additional details to this epoch not retold here. You can search under “Three Gorges History”, “Wu Shan Mountain” or “Wu Shan Fairy” for the rest of the story. The paintings are the artist’s image of the beautiful fairy goddess and her surroundings.