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Bai Mudan (mythology)

Bai Mudan (白牡丹; literally White Peony), also romanized as Pai Mu-tan, is a character from Chinese mythology. She is described as the most beautiful courtesan in the city of Luoyang and a reincarnation of Peony fairy.


White Peony's most popular legend comes from the novel Journey to the East.[1] It is said that one day, the immortal Lü Dongbin took a walk in Luoyang spotted White Peony, and was heavily attracted by her beauty. Lü Dongbin then transformed himself into a handsome scholar and slept with her many times. However, in accordance with Taoist alchemy, he never ejaculated, in order to preserve his Yang essence. Unfortunately, Lu’s immortal colleague Iron-Crutch Li and He Xiangu taught Mudan how to make him ejaculate by tickling his groin. Finally, White Peony successfully made Lü Dongbin ejaculate and absorbed his Yang essence. Later she cultivated herself and became immortal as well.[2]

Feijianji, another novel from the Ming Dynasty [3] had a slightly different version of this legend. According to Feijianji, Bai Mudan was a common girl (not a prostitute) who was seduced by Lü Dongbin. Later she became very weak since Lu practiced "cai yin bu yang" [4] on her. Meaning he absorbed her yin (female) essence, without losing his own yang (male) essence. When her mother consulted with Buddhist Monk Huanglong (Yellow Dragon), he taught her how to make Lü Dongbin ejaculate and thus restore her yin essence. This event enraged Lü Dongbin, he tried to decapitate Huanglong using his flying sword but failed. In the end Lu admitted his mistakes and acknowledged Huang Long as his teacher.

In another story White Peony was ordered by the minister Su Dongpo (Su Shi), to tempt his friend, monk Fo Yin. Actually Su Shi hated Buddhist practitioners because he thought of unmarried monks as not sufficiently devoted to their ancestors.[5]

There is also a folktale from Song Dynasty which describes her as a haughty courtesan,[6] who liked to humiliate her wealthy clients. Stories include asking them to kiss her butt. When a greedy merchant named Chen Hua was licking her anus, she even farted in his face[7] Actually this is an allusion for Chen Hua's "duo tun peng pi" (掇臀捧屁)[8] behavior. Duo tun peng pi is a Chinese idiom for flattering.

As goddessEdit

Her reputation as seducer makes White Peony aka Bai Mudan deified as goddess who tempts men or more specifically an ascetic.[9]

In popular cultureEdit

  • White Peony appeared in many classic novels such as Journey to the East (东游记), Ba Xian Dedao (八仙得道),[10] Fei Jian Ji,[11] Han Xiangzi Quanzhuan-The Story of Han Xiangzi: The Alchemical Adventures of a Daoist Immortal (韓湘子全傳)[12] and others.
  • She is also a protagonist in a famous opera title; Lü Dongbin san xi Bai Mudan (Lü Dongbin three trick on White Peony).[13] However, in some opera versions White Peony is depicted as druggist/apothecary's daughter instead of prostitute.
  • There also many movies based on that opera above.[14][15][16]
  • White Peony appeared in many television series such as Dong You Ji (portrayed by Phyllis Quek),[17] Eight Avatar (portrayed by Sonija Kwok),[18] Baxian Guohai (ATV-1985) portrayed by Ban Ban, and Ghost Catcher Legend of Beauties (portrayed by Liu Yihan).[19] She also appeared in 1971 Eight Immortals movie, portrayed by Chang Chi-Yu [20]


  1. ^ Wu Yuantai. Journey to the East (Dong You Ji)-Chinese text Archived 2010-11-28 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Chinese Mythology by Owen Giddens, and Sandra Giddens
  3. ^ "第五回 吕纯阳宿白牡丹 纯阳飞剑斩黄龙" [The fifth time Lu Chunyang Su Bai Peony Pure Yang Feijian Huang Long].
  4. ^ "Taoism And Sex". Archived from the original on 2002-12-16. Retrieved 2014-09-11.
  5. ^ Anning Jing (2002.) The Water God's Temple of the Guangsheng Monastery: Cosmic Function of Art, Ritual and Theater Brill
  6. ^ Li Guolin. Encyclopedia of Chinese Pantheon p.6
  7. ^ "A Prostitute Who Became a Deity - Odor - Perfume". Scribd.
  8. ^ "duo tun peng pi - Definition - Mandarin Chinese Pinyin English Dictionary - Yabla Chinese".
  9. ^ Janet and Stewart Farrar.The Witches' Goddess. F+W Media International Ltd
  10. ^ "八仙得道 - 第九十三回 叶法善虔谒张果老 吕纯阳三试白牡丹 - 无垢道人著 - - 中国古籍全录" [The 93rd verse, Ye Fashan, Zhang Guo, Lu Chunyang, three trials of white peony].
  11. ^ Causality and Containment in Seventeenth-Century Chinese Fiction by Keith McMahon
  12. ^ The Story of Han Xiangzi: The Alchemical Adventures of a Daoist Immortal Translated by Philip Clart
  13. ^ 李思慧 (18 July 2008). "思慧: Tampines East CC - Part 2".
  14. ^ "Lu Dong Bin san xi Bai Mu Dan (1949)". (in Polish). Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  15. ^ "Lu Dong Bin san xi Bai Mu Dan (1956)". (in Polish).
  16. ^ III, Harris M. Lentz (2016). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2010. McFarland. p. 231. ISBN 9780786486496.
  17. ^ "Legend of the Eight immortals (1998) Review by sukting - Singapore TV Series -".
  18. ^ "8 Avatar (Chinese) 2009". Archived from the original on 19 August 2013.
  19. ^ "Legend Of Beauty".
  20. ^ "The Eight Immortals (1971)".

External linksEdit