Wang Yun’s adopted daughter. Helped to kill Dong Zhuo. Fictional.
Wade-Giles: Tiaoch‘an [Sable Cicada]
Simplified Chinese: 貂婵
Pronunciation: Diao1 Chan2
Other Names: Sable Cicada
Name Notes: Also known as Sable Cicada.
Family and Relationships
Wang Yun ƒ (Adoptive Father)
Fact vs. Fiction
Differences Between Fact and Common Fiction
- Diaochan, as portrayed in the novel, is fictional. History only mentions a maid over which Dong Zhuo and Lü Bu quarreled. Wang Yun took advantage of this to play Lü Bu against Dong Zhuo, but he did not plan it.
- The stories in which Lü Bu kills Diaochan for betraying him, Guan Yu beheads her to preserve unity with his brothers (or marries her), and the one in which Cao Cao marries her are all based on Chinese opera.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms:
Raised as a handmaiden, singer and dancer by Wang Yun who she looked upon as a father, she was concerned when she saw he was upset with Dong Zhuo’s tyranny and offered her services. When Lü Bu came to visit, Wang Yun offered Diaochan as a wife, and Lü Bu, having become infatuated with her, accepted.
A few days later, Dong Zhuo came with Diaochan as the entertainment and Wang Yun offered her to him as a concubine. Word of Dong Zhuo’s new girl got out and Wang Yun was able to start turning Lü Bu against Lü Bu, helped by Diaochan feigning heart break and begged Lü Bu to rescue her. Lü Bu turned on his adopted father with Wang Yun’s help and killed him.
Diaochan would be with Lü Bu until his surrender and execution by Cao Cao, from that point Diaochan’s fate is unknown.
Historically, Diaochan’s existence is debatable and quite unlikely. Her story comes down to an unnamed maid over which Lü Bu and Dong Zhuo had a conflict, as translated here by Dr. Rafe de Crespigny from the Zizhi Tongjian: “Moreover, Dong Zhuo had ordered [Lü Bu] to guard the palace doors, and he took the opportunity to seduce one of the maid-servants. So now Bu also had a guilty conscience. Wang Yun had always behaved very well towards Bu, and Bu told Yun how Zhuo had nearly killed him. Then Yun told him about the plan against Zhuo and asked him to act as the agent from within.”