Two Qiaos

The Two Qiaos refer to two sisters who lived during the late han dynasty period of Chinese history. Their names were not recorded, so in later times they are referred to simply as Daqiao (literally: "older Qiao") and Xiaoqiao (literally: "younger Qiao"). They were from Wan County, Lujiang Commandery (present-day Qianshan County, Anhui ). Daqiao married the warlord Sun Ce, who established the foundation of the state of Eastern Wu; while Xiaoqiao was married to the general Zhou Yu, who served Sun Ce and his successor Sun Quan.

In fiction

In Luo Guanzhong's historical novel Romance of the three kingdoms, the two Qiaos were said to be the daughters of Qiao Xuan. They were described to be famous beauties in the region south of the Yangtze River. They were said to be one of the causes of the Battle of Red Cliffs, because Cao Cao attacked Sun Quan's lands to take the sisters for himself. In chapter 44, in a conversation between Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu, Zhuge said that he had a plan to cause Cao Cao's forces to retreat, by sending Cao the Two Qiaos. Zhuge pretended that he did not know who the Two Qiaos were married to. When Zhou asked Zhuge for evidence that Cao was after the Two Qiaos, Zhuge mentioned that he heard that Cao Cao asked his son Cao Zhi to write a poem titled Ode to the Bronze Sparrow Platform (銅雀臺賦). Zhuge recited the poem and pointed out that Cao Cao's desire to take the Two Qiaos for himself was evident in the poem. The enraged Zhou hardened his decision to ally with Liu Bei and fight Cao Cao.

Historical inaccuracy

Qiao Xuan died in 183 while the Qiao sisters married Sun Ce and Zhou Yu in 200, so Qiao Xuan could not have possibly been present at the time of the marriages. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the Qiao sisters were the daughters of Qiao Xuan. Besides, if the Qiao sisters were indeed the daughters of Qiao Xuan, the Chinese character for "Qiao" in their names should be "橋" instead of "喬".

The Bronze Sparrow Platform (銅雀臺) was built in the winter of 210, nearly three years after the end of the Battle of Red Cliffs. Cao Zhi's poem Ode to the Bronze Sparrow Platform was written in 212, two years after the platform was constructed. Besides, the poem in Romance of the three kingdoms contains seven additional lines that were not present in the original version recorded in Cao Zhi's biography in Records of three kingdoms. Therefore, the story in Romance of the three kingdoms about Zhuge Liang using the poem to incite Zhou Yu's anger towards Cao Cao is purely fiction.

Last update 30-05-2012

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