Love and Destiny - Meaning of Characters' Names

Click HERE for the video

In this blog, let’s explore the names of the characters in the drama Love and Destiny, if you’ve watched my videos on ten miles of peach blossoms, you’d know chinese names often contain a lot meanings and references to a wide array of things.

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Let’s begin with our two lead characters, Ling Xi and Jiu Chen. As most of the characters in this drama, neither of them has a surname.

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Ling Xi has explained her name’s meaning to Jiu Chen in the drama, as a kind of proof of her intelligence, which is cute but not really logical at all. “Ling” 灵 as she said, can be interpreted as the second character in the word “ji ling”机灵, which means being quick witted, clever or smart, “ling” can also mean spirit, such as in the word “shan ling zu”山灵族, the mountain spirit tribe, which Ling Xi’s maternal line belongs to. “Xi”汐 as she said, means tide, so a tide of cleverness, no wonder the stone-hearted 100,000 years old virgin God of War ended up being completely swept away.

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Jiu Chen, “Jiu”九 means nine, “Chen”宸 is character that originally meant the northern star, but throughout the years it gradually took on the meaning of being celestial or the celestial palace in the mythological sense. You might wonder why number nine would be used in a name. If you dabble in Yi Jing 易经, or the more western and butchering way of pronouncing the word, I-Ching, you would be familiar with the concept that traditionally in china, odd numbers are considered male whereas even number female. As the highest single digit male number, nine often symbolizes the highest form masculinity, such as the emperor. For example, the word “jiu wu zhi zun” 九五之尊, literally meaning the revered nine five, is exclusively used to describe the emperor.  Five in this case, can symbolize both as being in the center on the Luo Shu 9 number grid 洛书(horizontal, diagonal, vertical 3x3 grid that all add up to 15) , or being the last but one stroke I -Ching’s graph of “qian” 乾, which represents the heaven, and in I-ching, this stroke is also considered to be the best position of the six strokes of “qian”.

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So by all meaning, Jiu Chen’s name is filled with reference of being high and mighty and all powerful.


Then let’s look at our two main villains of the drama, Jing Xiu and Yuan Tong. “Jing”景 means view, as a kind of landscape, but it could also be interpreted as an adjective that means grand or big, or a verb that means admire, so, all very positive and good. “Xiu” 休 on the other hand, means rest or stop. It’s kind of ironic that the good and grand things ended up being stopped, pretty much the story of his life.

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Yuan Tong is one of few characters who has a surname in this world, which is Yuan 元. The reason for that is never explained, to be honest I don’t think the writer really has an explanation for it either. “Tong” 瞳, being her given name, means iris, the circular structure in eyes.

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As for our second lead couple, Yun Feng and Qing Yao. “Yun”云 means cloud, “Feng”风 means wind, if you reverse the order, the word Feng Yun 风云 actually means a kind of unrest and unstable situation, often used to describe a period of a lot of political turmoil. But in the order Yun Feng, it would not take on that layer of meaning.

“Qing” 青 means blue, “Yao” 瑶 is one of at least a dozen Chinese characters meaning jade.  Our only nine tailed white fox in this drama’s name means blue jade, I guess it does reflect her eye colour.

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We have another character in the drama who’s got jade in her name, Yu Li, the daughter of the medicine god, “Yu” means jade, the quintessential  “jade”, as other jade characters are different types of jade. “Li” means pear, a jade pear, how cute and expensive! Come to think of it, her personality probably resembles a jade pepper much more.

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Another really interesting name is Hua Yan, when you reverse the characters, it becomes Yan Hua烟花, the word meaning fireworks, but when written as Hua Yan, “Hua”花 means flower, and “Yan” 烟 means smoke, again, it’s like a play on existing Chinese vocabulary and turn it into something new and fresh by simply reverse the character order.

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As for the comic relief couple Si Ming and Shi San. Si Ming 司命 is not his name but his title, meaning in charge of fate, as he basically decides the fate of all mortal beings. I hope he’s not overworked these days, 7 billion life story is a bit intense even for a god. His human name before he became a god is Han Yuanxin, "Han“ 韩 is his surname, ”Yuan“ 元, meaning first, or the beginning of something, ”Xin“信 means trust or believe, it can also mean letter when working as a noun.

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Shi San is literally the number 13 in Chinese, which is a slight pronunciation variation from her original name Shi Shan when she was a he, the name means 石 Stone 山 Mountain.

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Here are the meanings of some other characters in Love and Destiny

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As an original script that kind of acts as the successor to Ten Mile of Peach Blossoms, Love and Destiny did a good job in terms of keeping the world setting consistent through out this franchise. The names are perhaps not as intentionally set up as pairs and opposites as you find in Ten Miles, but still, they reflect a reasonable level of understanding of the culture the story is rooted in.

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

Check out my video on this topic HERE

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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,


“问灵十三载,等一人不归人“


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.