Amazing Kids! Magazine

The Best Qipao

By Audrey Chen, age 12, China


White, fluffy clouds stretched across the aqua blue sky as refreshing breezes blew. Sparkling in the morning sun, the Golden Gate of Heaven illuminated the firmament.

In the middle of the throne room of the Heavenly Golden Palace, the Jade Emperor was sitting on his magnificent throne, running his hands over his shiny robe when the Silkworm Goddess, his secondary wife, walked in with a golden box in her hands.

“My dear husband,” she exclaimed, “I have spent countless moons weaving a new robe for your visit to the Yellow Emperor in the land of the humans today. Behold, the most exquisite of all robes ever made.”

The Silkworm Goddess presented him an intricately woven robe with embroidered dragons flying among silver clouds in the sapphire blue sky. Jewels of coral pink, amber, and lime green decorated the hem, sparkling and casting fluorescent shadows onto the walls. The Jade Emperor donned his lovely new cloak. Then, he and the Silkworm Goddess climbed upon a fluffy cloud and began their journey down to Earth.

When they arrived at the Yellow Emperor’s palace, the Yellow Emperor met them at the front gate. His wife, Leizu, followed closely behind.

“Welcome to my palace,” he exclaimed. “I must say, your robe is the most dazzling I have ever seen.”

He gestured towards the robe.

“The silk must be the finest in the world, and the way it shimmers makes it seem as if the dragons and clouds on your robe are moving!”

The Jade Emperor beamed after receiving the praise.

“This fabulous robe is woven by one of my wives, the Silkworm Goddess,” he responded, glancing at her. “She is the best weaver I have ever met.”

The Silkworm Goddess smiled.

“Thank you,” she replied. “I used the finest silk from my collection of the best silkworms on Earth. The robe was woven with a needle as thin as a scale of a koi to make the tiny stitches and intricate design. All the gods and goddesses say I am the best weaver in the whole universe!”

“That’s not true,” Leizu retorted, breaking her silence.

“What do you mean it’s not true?” the Silkworm Goddess fired back, aghast. “Everyone knows that gods and goddesses are honest, so if they say I am the best weaver, then I am the best weaver!”

“How about this,” the Yellow Emperor interrupted. “We’ll hold a competition to see who will weave the most beautiful silk gown. Since the gods are true to their word, the Jade Emperor will be the judge.”

The two women sullenly agreed. They went into separate rooms in the Yellow Emperor’s grand palace, where they each were handed a loom and countless rolls of silk.

Both women worked furiously, finishing roll after roll of silk. In a few hours, they were both done.

The Silkworm Goddess and Leizu presented their gowns to the Jade Emperor. Leizu wove a gradient qipao with a golden neckline lined with pearls. The color of the slim-fitting gown changed throughout the dress, starting with cherry red at the top, fading to tangerine orange, and ending in canary yellow. It was a simple yet beautiful gown.

The Silk Goddess, on the other hand, wove a dark blue qipao with flaming red phoenixes flying through the sky. The contrast between the sapphire blue of the sky and the crimson red phoenixes made the gown eye-blindingly bright under the sun. Rubies were sewn onto the phoenixes’ tails, and a star-shaped topaz was nestled in the middle of every phoenix’s crown.

The Jade Emperor had a hard time deciding who should be the winner. Should he be truthful and choose Leizu’s qipao, or should he stay loyal to his wife and pronounce her qipao as the winner?

“My wife’s gown is beautiful, but it is eye-blindingly bright, and there are too many gems, making it hard to wear,” he thought. “I am a god, and gods are always truthful.”

Finally, the Jade Emperor made up his mind.

“I am pleased to announce that the winner of this competition is…” the Jade Emperor paused to create suspense. “Leizu! Your gown is simple yet beautiful at the same time. It reflects how life doesn’t have to be full of riches and fortune in order for people to find happiness. The most beautiful sometimes may be the most simple. Therefore, I believe you are the winner.”

The Jade Emperor turned to the Silkworm Goddess.

“My dear wife,” he said, “your robe is stunningly beautiful. I find the design interesting and eye-catching. However, when you combine the gems with the bright colors you used for your robe and put it under the sun, it will be eye-blinding. I doubt people can even look at it!”

The Silkworm Goddess’s face grew redder and redder.

“Don’t you dare lie to me,” she growled. “I know you chose Leizu’s gown because it would seem like you were being biased if you chose me. Admit it! I am the best weaver, not this worthless mortal girl.”

Leizu was horrified by what the Silkworm Goddess had just said. She started to cut in, but that just made the Silkworm Goddess even angrier.

In her fury, the Silkworm Goddess banished Leizu to the peak of Mount Kunlun, where she is destined to stay for eternity. Every day, Leizu sits down to weave a new gown. When the sun starts setting, Leizu flings the gown into the sky to prove to the Silkworm Goddess that she is and will always be the better weaver. Flashes of scarlet, tangerine, and amber light up the firmament with splendid iridescence. When mortals look up into the sky, they see the ever-changing colors of Leizu’s qipao illuminating the horizon and call it a “sunset.” Even today Kunlun Mountain is known to have some of the most beautiful sunsets in China.

Koi: A type of ornamental fish

Qipao: A tight-fitting traditional Chinese dress