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Literature / Jin Ping Mei

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Jin Ping Mei, also known as The Golden Lotus or The Plum in the Golden Vase is a classic Chinese novel by an anonymous author who used the pseudonym Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng, or "The Scoffing Scholar of Lanling." It follows the fortunes of Gold Lotus (Jin Lian), a beautiful but sociopathic woman, and the family of the lascivious Ximen Qing, her lover.

The name of the novel itself is taken from a character each from the names of three women who appeared in the story: Pan Jinlian, Li Pinger, and Pang Chun Mei. Also, "Jin" ("gold") can be taken to mean money, "Ping" ("bottle") to be wine, and "Mei" ("plum blossom") to be feminine beauty.

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Notorious for its graphic sexual content, the book was often censored and bowdlerized since its original publication in the late sixteenth century.


This work contains examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Chen escapes a well-deserved thrashing administered by Moon Lady's strongest maids by taking his pants off, which scares them away. Although Moon Lady is furious with him and had arranged the beating, she has trouble keeping a straight face.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Quite a bit, but one of the most bizarre incidents is when Ximen Qing and Gold Lotus get drunk, whereupon he ties her feet up, has sex with her, and then starts to throw plums at her with the help of a maid.
  • Arbitrarily Large Bank Account: Ximen Qing is incredibly rich.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Doled out like candy, both by the official courts and by the upper classes to their servants.
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  • Best Served Cold: Gold Lotus' brother-in-law from her first husband eventually does get his revenge, years later.
  • Big Fancy House: Not just a house—it's an estate, with a huge park and separate houses for several of the wives, as well as the main house.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Not a lot of children, but the wives make up the numbers.
  • Black Widow: Gold Lotus, who murdered her first husband.
  • The Bus Came Back: Wu Sung.
  • Domestic Abuse: Ximen Qing is proud of his willingness to beat his wives.
  • Driven to Suicide: A few minor female characters, and attempted by Mistress Ping, the Sixth Wife, although she survives.
  • Dirty Old Monk: All of the monks portrayed except the Indian Monk (who still hands out powerful aphrodisiacs like candy) and the one who takes Moon Lady's son. Special mention, of course, goes to Chen during his religious stint, who womanizes so shamelessly that he gets arrested for it.
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  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex/All Men Are Perverts/All Women Are Lustful: And how. Basically, everyone is a pervert.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Ximen Qing escapes punishment for his misdeeds for most of the book by handing out huge sums of cash to the appropriate officials.
  • Eye of Newt: The placenta of a first-born son.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": The Dirty Old Monks are so busy perving on Gold Lotus that they stand around beating drums long after the actual funeral is over in order to listen to her having sex in the next room.
  • Gainax Ending: Not too over the top, but lots of supernatural elements emerge, out of the blue. And it turns out that Ximen Qing's son was a reincarnation of him somehow.
  • Jerkass: Everyone except Moon Lady. Special mention goes to the patriarch Ximen Qing, who beats his wives and cheats on all six with prostitutes and the servants most of the time—and that isn't even starting on the emotional abuse.
  • Love Potion: The Indian Monk gives Ximen Qing some magical Viagra, which delights him. He eventually dies from an overdose administered by Gold Lotus.
  • Mooning: Chen uses this tactic to escape a beating. It works.
  • My Girl Is a Slut: Sixth Wang's husband is delighted to hear that she is having an affair with Ximen Qing, as it means they will get money. He then encourages her to become the mistress of wealthy men, and lives together with her and her paramours quite happily. Averted with all the other men, who hypocritically demand fidelity.
  • Nun Too Holy: They aren't as bad as the monks, but they are mooching, sketchy Snake Oil Saleswomen whose All-Natural Snake Oil works like a charm.
  • Perspective Flip: An Adaptation Expansion of a single arc (namely, Wu Song's investigation of his brother's death) in the Water Margin novel, focusing on the villains of said arc.
  • Pedophile Priest: A Taoist version.
  • One Drink Will Kill the Baby: Averted, as all the pregnant women are shown drinking.
  • Put on a Bus: Wu Sung.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Wu Sung.
  • Situational Sexuality: Chen is straight in general, but is perfectly willing to have sex with men if he can get something out of it.
  • The Sociopath: Gold Lotus cares about nothing except for money and sex, mostly the later. She kills her first husband, beats and punishes her maids for no reason, tries to undermine her husband's relationships with everyone else, murders a baby to ruin her husband's love for his mother, and eventually kills Ximen Qing with an overdose of aphrodisiacs.
  • STD Immunity: Not discussed, but possibly averted—Ximen Qing has six wives and sleeps with countless servants and prostitutes, but has a great deal of trouble getting any of them pregnant. This is quite likely because all of them are infected with STDs, which often compromise fertility. Notably, the only ones who get pregnant are Moon Lady and Mistress Ping, who are also the only ones who are faithful to Qing.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: How Gold Lotus kills Wu Ta.
  • Unproblematic Prostitution: Being a high-class courtesan carried no stigma, although Gold Lotus mocks them for being Gold Diggers.
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