The Jade Maidens (Yü Nü) are companions of the goddess on Kunlun. They are dancers and musicians who playchimes, flutes, mouth organ, and jade sounding stones. In medieval murals at Yongle temple, they bear magical ling zhifungi on platters. In the “Jade Girls’ Song,” poet Wei Ying-wu describes their flight: “Flocks of transcendents wing up to the divine Mother.” [Cahill, 99-100]
Jade Maidens appear as long-sleeved dancers in the shamanicSongs of Chu and some Han poems. The Shuo wen jie zi defines them as “invocators [zhu] …women who can perform services to the shapeless and make the spirits come down by dancing.” [Rawson, 427] Centuries later, a Qing dynasty painting shows a woman dancing before Xi Wang Mu and her court, moving vigorously and whirling her long sleeves. [Schipper, 2000: 36] Chinese art is full of these ecstatic dancing women.
The Jade Maidens act as messengers of the goddess and teachers of Taoist mystics. They impart mystic revelations and present divine foods to those blessed to attend the banquet of the goddess. But the Book of the Yellow Court warns spiritual seekers against “the temptation to make love to the Jade Maidens of Hidden Time.” [Schipper 1993:144]