Jin Ping Mei or The Plum in the Golden Vase (Chinese: 金瓶梅; pinyin: Jīn Píng Méi) (also The Golden Lotus) is a Chinese naturalistic novel composed in the vernacular (baihua) during the late Ming Dynasty. The author was Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng (兰陵笑笑生), a clear pseudonym. Earliest versions of the novel exist only in handwritten scripts; the first block-printed book was released only in 1610. The more complete version today comprises one hundred chapters.
Jin Ping Mei is sometimes considered to be the fifth classical novel after the Four Great Classical Novels. It is the first full-length Chinese fictional work to depict sexuality in a graphically explicit manner, and as such has a notoriety in China akin to Fanny Hill or Lady Chatterley's Lover in English.
Jin Ping Mei takes its name from the three central female characters — Pan Jinlian (潘金蓮, whose name means "Golden Lotus"); Li Ping'er (李瓶兒, literally, "Little Vase"), a concubine of Ximen Qing; and Pang Chunmei (龐春梅, "Spring plum blossoms"), a young maid who rose to power within the family.
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