Memories of Cina
Cai Wenji, daughter of noted historian, musician
and poet Cai Yong, lived during the late Han period. She followed in
her father's footsteps, even mastering the playing of the guqin, the
Chinese zither. In 195 A.D., amid the turmoil of weakening Han dynasty,
she was kidnapped by the Xiongnu and held for ransom. For twelve years,
she languished in barbarian territory and bore Xiongnu chieftain two
sons. Yet she never stopped yearning for her beloved China. Finally,
in 207 AD, Cao Cao, who was a great friend of Cai Yong, became prime
minister of China. He negotiated the ransom and release of Wenji, but
she had to leave her sons behind.
Upon her return, she found that her late father's essays on the history of the Eastern Han period had been lost due to the ravages of war. From memory, she compiled four hundred volumes of her father's writing, to produce the Dongguan Hanji, the most comprehensive history of China up to that period.