An Ho: Qin Keqing

QinKeqingQin Keqing
An Ho
1993
Watercolor on silk mounted on rice paper using traditional Chinese technique
54″ x 88″

Married into the Ning branch of the Jia house, Qin Keqing is generally known as Qin Shi (Lady Qin). She was adopted from an orphanage and grew up to be an extremely attractive woman. Early in the novel, she contracts an incurable disease and dies when she is in her twenties. The mysterious manner in which she dies and the excessive emotional reaction of her father-in-law to her death tell a different story, however. On the basis of information provided in the Main Register, the commentaries, and clues the author has planted in the text, scholars have suggested that Qin Keqing had actually hanged herself when the adultery she had committed with her father-in-law was discovered. But in deference to Red Inkstone’s sympathy for her, the author had revised his treatment of her death and entrusted her with two important tasks: 1. She offered Baoyu her bedroom when he wanted to take a nap. It was there that Baoyu had the dream in which he met the Goddess of Disillusionment, looked at the Registers, and listened to the “Dream of Red Chamber” Song-cycle. When Baoyu woke from this dream, he called the fairy he had made love to in his dream “Keqing” without knowing that it was Qinshi’s childhood name. 2. When she died she appeared in a dream to Wang Xifeng, warned her of the inevitable fall of the Jia house, and outlined measures for Xifeng to take to protect the Jias from irrecoverable ruin.

QinKeqing-CutawayARTIST’S COMMENTARY

Beauty and elegant style. Very flirtatious. Looking back over her shoulder with a thousand charms. Her long shawl fully embroidered in a peony motif shows her wealth, while its dragging along the floor gives her a swaying movement to bring out her seductive charms.