A beautiful courtesan became mixed up in the politics that ended and started a dynasty in China. Today it is said she is haunting the Songpo Library in Beijing where she took her own life.

Once upon a time, a girl followed the love of her life to be with him, but it ended in tragedy. He gave up his country to save her, but also gave up on her in the end. A tale as old as time and the perfect setup for a ghost story. 

In the former library known as Songpo Library in the Xicheng district in Beijing, China, it is said that a woman haunted the book aisles in the old Hutong. And according to reports, perhaps she is not the only ghost that are haunting the place. 

The General’s Mistress

The story starts out with a famous general known as Wu Sangui (吳三桂) that lived from 1612-1678. He was originally a Ming Dynasty military officer that played a key part in bringing the Dynasty down and giving rise to the Qing Dynasty. 

When the great general Wu made this place his home he brought his lover with him, a courtesan named Chen Yuanyuan. Different accounts gives different tales about if Chen Yuanyuan really did live in this place, as it is also said it was to Kunming General Wu brought her, not Beijing. 

General Wu Sangui is today known as a big traitor and is said to have betrayed the Ming Dynasty by allowing the Manchu army through the Great Wall he was put to guard, for a position in the Qing Dynasty.

It is also said that he betrayed the country for the love of his life, Chen Yuanyuan. A story tells that the Bandit King Li Zicheng kidnapped Chen Yuanyuan and for her freedom, General Wu had to betray his country.

Love Turned Sour

Perhaps the demands of the court Chen Yuanyuan suddenly became a part of were too much or perhaps the price of their love turned too heavy. Perhaps it even was as simple as he got tired of her, but their love soon started to dwindle. 

It is also said that Chen Yuanyuan had troubles with General Wu’s other wives, especially the one named Lady Zheng who was jealous of her. What happened to her is up for debate, many says that they lived in Kunming and she ran off to become a nun in a temple there. Another side of the story gave rise to the haunted rumors. 

She is said to have hanged herself in shame and because of her misfortune. The heartbreak of losing her love caused her to take her life by hanging in their home. It is said that the girl still haunts this library in the Shihu Hutong, where Wu once resided.

The Haunting of the Hutong

Today the library grounds are open to tourists but the building no longer functions as a library. Observers swear they can feel her presence as she moves amongst the aisles of books today. Local residents have also reported hearing sounds of music and the unmistakable sound of a woman chanting. Could it be the ghost of Chen Yuanyuan, chanting scripture or something she sang on stage once upon a time? 

There is also a story about a rickshaw driver that once brought a group of passengers to the  Songpo Library on Shihu Hutong, or the Stone Tiger Hutong in the Western City. They paid their driver and suddenly vanished, leaving only a single peacock feather floating in the air. Like those that Qing officials wore in their hats. And the money he had gotten was not the Yuan Shikai coin, but an old copper coin with the name of the Shunzhi Emperor from the 17th century.

Perhaps it’s not only the ghost of Chen Yuanyuan that haunts the former library, but the General himself as well?

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