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Ts'ai Yen and her Poem of afflication

Ts'ai Yen (蔡文姬, late second -early third century), also known as Ts'ai Wen-chi, was a poet and composer. Ts'ai Yen was the daughter of the eminent poet and statesman Ts'ai Yung(133-192), who died in prison after his associate, the frontier general Tung Cho (d.192), rebelled against the central government.

Ts'ai Yen was born shortly before 178 CE, and was married at the age of sixteen according to the East Asian age reckoning (corresponding to the age of 15 in Western reckoning) to Wei Tsongdao in 192 CE. Tsongdao died soon after the wedding, without any offspring.

After the deaths of her father and her first husband, Ts'ai Yen was caught in the upheavals of the Tung Cho Rebellion; in 192 she was captured by a raiding party of barbarian mercenaries, who carried her off to become the wife of a chieftain of the Southern Hsiung-nu. When this chieftain died she was married again, to his son by a previous marriage. Ts'ai Yen bore her husband-in-exile two sons and…