Who is the More Tragic Lan Wangji, The Book One or The Drama One?

Check out my video on this topic HERE

lang wangji.jpg

The Untamed has finished airing for over a month, though I feel for many lovers of this show, the story is long from being over.

On the internet in China, there’s a sentence that pops up all the time when it comes to Mo Dao Zu Shi or The Untamed,


meaning “asking the spirit for 13 years, waiting for a person who would not return”. As Lan Wangji can communicate with spirits with his Qin, for the years between Wei Wuxian’s death and his re-birth, it’s not hard to imagine Lan would most likely have played his qin many times in an attempt to talk to Wei’s spirit. Although this “playing qin to talk to your dead lover” plot never took place in the book,  this line becomes a fan favourite “summary line” of the relationship between these two lead characters.

Though The Untamed followed very closely to the novel, one major difference between them lies in the sequences of events , creating the 13 years gap in the novel, and the 16 years gap in the drama.

Snapshot-2019-10-01 at 04_34_07 PM-1580973982.jpg

In the drama, Lan Wangji was present at Wei Wuxian’s demise. He took part in the big battle and watches Wei Wuxian fell to his death. It is afterwards that the 33 whips on his back took place which incapacitated him for 3 years.

Snapshot-2019-10-01 at 04_38_41 PM-1513119032.jpg

In the book, Lan Wanji got his whipping after the battle of Nightless City. He saved Wei Wuxian by injuring 33 elders of the Lan clan, resulting in him getting 33 whips as his punishment. It took him 3 years to recover from the injury, during which time he overheard that Wei Wuxian had died at the Burial Mounds.

So for the book Lan Wangji, techinically, he suffered three years less pain of “losing” his love, whereas the drama Lan Wangji had the full 16 years torture of knowing that his true love is dead and gone.

But then, who would be the sadder Lan Wangji. I try to slip into his shoes and imagine if both versions took place in my life, how I might have felt for each one. 

And my conclusion is, probably, the book Wangji.

Snapshot-2019-10-01 at 04_19_36 PM-29165320.jpg

Although the drama Wangji had three years more to suffer, at least he was there in Wei Wuxian’s last moments. He held his hand and tried to rescue him, he heard him saying “let me go” and he knew at least Wei Wuxian died knowing Lan Wangji truly cared about him.

When you know someone is dead and gone, no matter how painful it might be, death is merciful in the way that it is final, assured, leaves no room for argument or false hope. When Lan Wangji got whipped to a human pâté, he could at least take his physical wounds together with his mental wounds into his long period of seclusion, which essentially gave him all the privacy he needed to grieve on his own.

But for the book Lan Wangji, it’s not hard to imagine during however much time of not being able to get out of Cloud Recesses, he must be dying to see Wei Wuxian. While lying there in excruciating pain, he must have also been tortured mentally by the sense of longing. Yet eventually the reality that greeted him was such a cruel one. All those accumulated emotions were rendered irrelevant, never to be expressed to their intended receiver. Lan Wangji didn’t even get to say goodbye, didn’t know what exactly took place on the day Wei Wuxian died. He only needed to think about any one of those past days, remembering at that moment Wei Wuxian was still very much alive, if only he could be by his side.

That, must be a total nightmare to go through, and upon hearing the news of Wei Wuxian’s death, the world around Lan Wangji at the were all cheering for the death of YiLing Patriarch, as the second young lord of the Lan Clan, a perfect role model for all the cultivation clans to follow, he literally just got the worst blow in his life and he couldn’t even show it.

Life is very unkind to the book Lan Wangji indeed.

Snapshot-2019-10-01 at 04_27_02 PM-1858839541.jpg

I want to give the book Wangji a big hug just by thinking through all this, although he’d probably kick me through a wall before I could even stick my arms out.

In life, perhaps many things are better left “un-thought-through”, just to avoid the amount of pain a careful analysis could have caused.

Today, is another day to sigh for Lan Wangji.

The Names of Their Weapons

This time let’s take a look at the main characters’s weapons in The Untamed, you might have noticed they all have unique names. Naming your weapon is not a rare practice across many cultures, the most famous weapons recorded in history are known to us today mostly due to the fact that like people, they had names.

In The Untamed, the author didn’t forget to give unique names to the main characters’ weapons. Let’s begin with our two leads Wei Wuxian and Lan Zhan.

Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_02_55 PM-310191417.png

Wei Wuxian’s sword is named 随便,the word means “whatever”, the “I don’t really care” “this is ok that is good too” type of “whatever”. It could also mean being careless, willful or casual. In Chinese you often hear this word used in sentences such as “what do you want for dinner?“ ”随便“, which means I have no preference, anything would do.

This name is a quite perfect reflection of Wei Wuxian’s personality, who is quite carefree, spontaneous and rebelious.

Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_03_51 PM-584711204.png
Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_03_43 PM-652955682.png

Later when he can no longer use his sword as the main weapon, he uses a bamboo flute called 陈情, which is also what the title of the drama is based on. 陈, means state or declare, 情 means circumstances, situations, it could also mean emotions. To talk about the situation, to express emotion would be the meaning of this flute’s name. This is also a very carefully designed name as a sort of comment on how he is unable to fully disclose his sufferings and reasons for giving up his sword.

Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_09_09 PM-356036956.png
Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_09_17 PM-1023678950.png

Lan Wangji’s sword is called 避尘, 避means avoid, 尘means dust, so the meaning here is pretty straightforward, avoid dust. Obviously this is not to be understood in a literal sense, 避尘 is the good will and hope for the owner of the sword to stay away from the corruptive forces of the world and always keeps his integrity.

Lan Wangji’s Qin is also name Wangji, as I’ve explained in a previous video/blog post, it means forgetting trickery and manipulation.

Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_09_36 PM-1480616533.png
Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_09_50 PM-1801788836.png

Jiang cheng’s sword is named 三毒, three posions. I know it sounds pretty scary but this is based in buddhism, where the three poison 贪嗔痴, greed, aversion and ignorance keep you trapped in samsara. His parents gave the name to his sword, hoping he’d be able to cut through the three poisons with his sword, and we all know how well that worked.

Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_10_00 PM-998060305.png

He also owns his mothers’s lightening whip, which is named 紫电, meaning purple lightening.

Lan Xichen, the brother of Lan Wangji, owns a sword named 朔月, which is an ancient term for new moon. His 箫, the vertically played flute, is named 裂冰, meaning cracking/cracked ice.

Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_10_08 PM-404779418.png
Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_10_28 PM-707806599.png
Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_10_23 PM-2046968277.png
Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_10_34 PM-1193588660.png

As for Jin Ling, Jiang Cheng’s nephew, his sword is inherited from his father, which is named 岁华. 岁 means age, 华 here would mean time. In literature and poetic writings, the word means the time, often in a sense of lamenting its passage. Somehow this really remains me of a line from Thomas Hardy’s poem During Wind and Rain:

Ah, no; the years, the years;

Down their carved names the rain-drop ploughs.

Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_10_55 PM-999861993.png
Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_11_02 PM-620978576.png

Another pair of male roles in this drama is Xiao Xingchen and Song Lan. Xiao Xingchen’s sword is called 霜华. 霜 means frost, 华, as a character with multiple accents as well as meanings, can mean both flower and glowing light. 霜华 as a word can mean both frost crystals or the cold and brilliant shine coming from a sharp blade. 

Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_11_11 PM-16402412.png
Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_11_20 PM-797431668.png

Song Lan’s sword is call 拂雪, meaning brushing snow. Clearly these two names are designed as a pair with the relationship of their owners in mind.

Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_11_28 PM-1726653473.png

Xue Yang, the trouble maker to mess up this relationship, what about his really cool two parted sword? The nameof this weapon is 降灾. Interestingly enough, 降 has multiple pronunciations, making this word reasonable for being jiang zai as well as xiang zai. 灾 means disaster, jiang means descend, xiang means make something yield. So the word can mean either causing disaster, or forcing disasters to yield, the two different meanings happen to be the opposite of each other. We can look at this clever naming as a metaphor for the twisted personality and great inner conflict of Xue Yang.

Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_11_49 PM-1686500738.png

Jin Guangyao’s sword, is named 恨生, hating to be born, I guess that really can’t be more explicit as a representation of the character’s life story.

Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_12_09 PM-1671467090.png

Finally, for Nie Mingjue,the elder brother of Nie Huaisang, his sabre is called 霸下. This is one of many names of a mythological creature that is said to be one of the nine sons of dragon. It looks like a giant tortoise, and you can see its sculpture in many ancient historical sites as the creature carrying a stone tablet on its back.

In this contemporary existence, we don’t seem to care that much about naming the things we own anymore, but just like I’ve said in my ming, zi hao video, there’s nothing stopping us from adding a bit imagination and romanticism to our life, starting with naming the things that we love most or use most often. I mean I do have a hard drive called pumpkin… if that counts.

Snapshot-2019-09-22 at 12_12_22 PM-2088845709.png