The legendary four beauties of ancient China. They have a very rich history and legend behind them, which I try to honor while giving them my own take.
Xi Shi | The king of Yue searched his lands for a beauty, and Xi Shi, the extraordinarily beautiful daughter of a humble tea trader was favored. The king trained her in espionage and court etiquette and sent her, richly dressed, to the prince of the Kingdom of Wu as a tribute gift. The prince was so charmed by her bewitching that he neglected his kingdom. Easily, the King of Yue invaded during the political chaos and overtook the kingdom of Wu. The prince committed suicide and Xi Shi lived happily ever after with her lover, the minister Fan Li.
She's said to be so beautiful that when she was washing silk by the river, the fish was so entranced by her beauty that they forgot to swim and drowned.
Wang Zhaojun | Emperor Yuan used painted portraits to choose his concubines, so naturally, the ladies bribed the court painter to make each of their portraits more flattering. Wang Zhaojun was confident in her beauty and refused to bribe him, and in anger, the artist painted her terribly. One day, the emperor wanted to send one of his court ladies to the Huns as a political bride, and based on her misleading portrait, Wang Zhaojun was chosen. When she sadly turned to go, Emperor Yuan saw her face and realized that she's actually the most beautiful in his court. But it's too late.. as the luckless beauty walked out of the palace into the winter day, a flock of birds flying overhead was so struck by her selflessness and gorgeousness that they forgot to fly and fell to their deaths. Emperor Yuan put the dishonest court painter to death, but Wang Zhaojun never returned to her homeland.
Diaochan | Diaochan, a gentle, loyal maid, helped orchestrate a war between two warlords and ended the rule of a tyrant using her charm. Unfortunately, she was eventually put to death by the tyrant's cronies. The legend goes that one autumn night as she was worshiping the moon, the moon was so awed by her beauty that it hid behind some clouds out of shame.
Yang Guifei | Yang Guifei was a high ranking, privileged beauty, and the Emperor Xuanzong was so in love with her that he neglected his state affairs and indulged in their pleasures, feasting and drinking all day long. The legend goes that she's so beautiful, the spring flowers would refuse to bloom out of embarrassment. Yang Guifei also loves to take baths, and the Emperor built lavish, splendid lakes and baths for her. One day, a rebellion was staged and the Emperor fled the palace with Yang Guifei, but his soldiers refused to go on and demanded the death of the beauty, whom they believe had ruined the country. Towards the end, Yang Guifei killed herself to save the king.