Yu Ji was a concubine of Xiang Yu, a prominent general during the fall of the Qin Dynasty. Yu always accompanied Xiang on his battles.
During a five-year war known as the Chu Han Contention, Xiang gradually lost his power to Liu Bang. In 202 BC, Xiang was trapped at the Battle of Gaixia. Liu ordered his army to sing songs from Xiang's native country of Chu to demoralize Xiang's army. Xiang lost his morale and was in his camp with his beloved concubine Yu Ji when he sang his famous song of Gaixia.
Yu Ji replied to the song after performing a final dance in front of him:
"The Han has invaded us.
Chu's songs surround us.
My lord's spirit is depleted.
Why then should I still live?"
After the dance, Yu Ji attempted suicide to alert Xiang. Yu hoped Xiang could break out of the Gaixia pocket, for he still enjoyed support in his homeland in the Wu region, south of the Yangtze River. Yu's devotion to her lover was admired by later generations.
With Yu's encouragement, Xiang later broke out of the Gaixia pocket and headed for the river, intending to cross it at Wujiang. The fordsman at the river encouraged him to cross, telling him that the people of Wu were still intent on supporting him as their prince. Xiang laughed and said "Heaven wants me dead, why should I go back?" He then killed himself. According to legend, he cut his throat open with his sword.
Size: painting 22-1/2" x 35-1/2", framed 33-1/4" x 45-1/4"
Media: Watercolor on paper
This work of art is currently framed
Price: $8,500.00 USD