Character Profile: Diao Chan 貂嬋
|Pinyin Name:||Diāo Chán / Diao1 Chan2|
|Wade-Giles Name:||Tiao Ch'an|
|Pronunciation (Yale):||Dyau Chan|
|Lifespan:||174?-198? A.D. (estimated)|
|Allegiance:||Dong Zhuo/Lu Bu|
|First appeared in:||Dynasty Warriors|
Biography based on the novel
Diao Chan was a servant in Wang Yun's household. She was said to be extremely beautiful, and clever as well, talented at singing and dancing.
Diao Chan seduces Lu Bu and Dong Zhuo
By the time Diao Chan was sixteen 1, Dong Zhuo had forced Emperor Xian onto the throne, burned the old capital Luo Yang, and had complete control over the government. The anti-Dong coalition of 18 Lords had failed to destroy him, and it seemed that no one could bring down Dong Zhuo and his adopted son, the legendary warrior Lu Bu. One evening, Wang Yun was at home in his garden, despairing over the situation, when he heard Diao Chan sigh. He asked her what was troubling her, and she told him she was distressed because he had been so melancholy lately. She placed herself at his disposal, if there was anything she could do to help him. Suddenly, Wang Yun had an idea — to have Diao Chan come between Dong Zhuo and Lu Bu, and force them to turn on each other. He told her his plan, and she vowed to do her best.
First, Wang Yun gave Lu Bu a golden headdress as a present. When Bu visited to pay thanks, he met Diao Chan, and was startled by her beauty. Wang Yun offered her to him as a concubine; Bu accepted, and Wang Yun promised to send her to him soon. Lu Bu left in a daze. Next, Wang Yun invited Dong Zhuo to his house for dinner. After the meal, Diao Chan sang and danced for Dong Zhuo, and Zhuo was enchanted. Wang Yun offered her to Dong Zhuo (never mentioning he had already promised her to Lu Bu). Dong Zhuo gladly accepted and brought her home with him.
When Lu Bu found out, he angrily confronted Wang Yun, who lied, saying that Dong Zhuo had claimed her. Back at the palace, Lu Bu tried to see Diao Chan; in front of Lu Bu she pretended to be extremely depressed, which made Lu Bu even more furious with his adoptive father. Dong Zhuo became jealous, and the two of them quarreled. Diao Chan and Lu Bu met secretly at the Phoenix Pavillion, and she threatened to commit suicide, declaring she could not bear to live serving Dong Zhuo instead of Lu Bu. Appealing to Lu Bu's pride, she asked him to kill Dong Zhuo — Dong Zhuo spotted them and chased Lu Bu away.
Dong Zhuo, on advice from Li Ru, considered giving Diao Chan up to get back on good terms with Lu Bu, but Diao Chan claimed Lu Bu menaced her. She pretended to be so frightened of Bu that she would kill herself if given to him. Dong Zhuo decided he could not give her up after all.
Meanwhile, Wang Yun and Lu Bu plotted Dong Zhuo's death. Telling him Emperor Xian would abdicate in favor of him, Dong Zhuo was lured to court. There, Lu Bu slew him, and he claimed Diao Chan.
After Dong Zhuo
Following this, Diao Chan appears only once more in the novel, in the same chapter Lu Bu dies. Cao Cao had surrounded Lu Bu at Xia Pi, and Chen Gong advised Lu Bu to take the field and lead the army — however, Lady Yan (Lu Bu's wife) and Diao Chan pleaded with Lu Bu to stay with them and keep them safe. So Lu Bu holed up in Xia Pi, spending all his time drinking with his wife and concubine. Eventually, realizing alcohol was making him slovenly and weak, he banned alcohol and punished a general for giving a feast with wine. This general and others turned on Lu Bu and betrayed him to Cao Cao, who captured and executed him.
Diao Chan's fate is unknown2. There are, of course, many stories concerning her end. In one, Cao Cao claimed her and added her to his harem. In another, Cao Cao gave her to Guan Yu, enticing him to join Wei, but Guan Yu slew her. In yet another, the Three Brothers (Liu Bei, Zhang Fei, and Guan Yu) fought over over who would take Diao Chan — Guan Yu ended the quarrel by cutting her in half.
The San Guo Zhi mentions in passing a love rivalry between Lu Bu and Dong Zhuo over a maid, but she is not named and the incident is not explained; it is probably not the primary cause for the split between Lu Bu and Dong Zhuo. The character of Diao Chan was based on this unnamed maid. Note that the novel's author did not make up Diao Chan: she appeared in folktales and dramas long before the novel was written.
1 Diao Chan's age: If Diao Chan was 16 years old when given to Dong Zhuo, and assuming she was given to him after the Anti-Dong coalition (in 190 A.D.), then her year of birth is between 173-176 A.D. Back to bio
2 Lu Bu's family: Chapter 21 mentions that Lu Bu's family was sent to the capital after Lu Bu's execution (in the Moss Roberts translation, he says "wives and daughters"). Diao Chan is not mentioned specifically. Lu Bu only had one 'official' wife at this point (Diao Chan is merely a concubine), and Chapter 16 specifically states that Lu Bu had only one child, a daughter. This line is puzzling. Back to bio
- First appearance; Diao Chan seduces Dong Zhuo & Lu Bu
- Lu Bu kills Dong Zhuo
- Final appearance; Lu Bu dies
Last updated: 17 April 2008.