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楼主: 海外逸士

100 Famous Women in China

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 楼主| 发表于 4/29/2018 07:48:10 | 显示全部楼层
As a rule, once a girl became an imperial concubine, all her family members would get titles. First,her deceased father was given a posthumous honor of the title of the duke of Qi, and her uncle, yang XuanGui, was made the head of the department in charge of feast. Her brother was promoted, too. Especially her male cousin, Yang Guozhong, a low cad before, got promotion after promotion, because he could please the flatter the emperor, till at last, he was made the premier after the death of Li Linfu, the former premier. Yang Guozhong did a lot of bad things like taking briberies and appointing those bribers to be high officials. His two sons married two princesses.
        Yang Guozhong was apt to play a kind of game called E-Pu. Each player had five chessmen and whoever moved the chessmen to the end line won the game. Luckily for him, the emperor also liked to play this kind of game. When he found that Yang Guozhong could play so well, he liked Yang so much that he made Yang his premier despite that Yang had no ability to run the country well.
        The emperor was so fond of Imperial Concubine Yang, who was like his inseparable shadow, he neglected his levees. He stopped receiving his courtiers and discussing with them the national affairs. He trusted everything to Yang Guozhong, who became the most powerful man of the time. No courtiers dared to offend him unless he didn't care misfortunes befalling him or even death. But Yang Guozhong had gradually and unawares made a lot of personal enemies. His greatest and decisive foe was the warlord An Lushan. In Tang Dynasty, a warlord had really the title of lord administered a certain area, but still obeyed the central government. Only he had his own army. He obeyed the central government solely in name.
        Back to the brief biography of Yang Guozhong. In 745, he was appointed a staff official, and  hen promoted to be a judge in a city to sentence criminals. In 747, he was summoned to the capital to be a secretarial clerk in the central government. In 748, he had fifteen titles, and four years later, in 752, he became the premier. He reached the peak of his life. His titles were almost as many as forty more. The comparatively important ones were: equivalent to the head of the prosecutor's department; equivalent to the minister of the fiscal ministry; equivalent to the general manager of central bank; equivalent to the head librarian of the national library; equivalent to the minister of the human resources ministry; equivalent to the minister of the labor ministry, etc. etc.
        In Tang Dynasty, female relatives of the imperial concubine would get honorary titles, generally Her Ladyship so-and-so. First, her mother was conferred the title of the Ladyship of Liang. Her eldest sister the ladyship of Han, her third sister the ladyship of Guo, and her eighth sister the ladyship of Qin. As Imperial Concubine Yang often thought of her sisters, the three sisters were allowed to move and live in the capital. But Imperial concubine Yang could not foresee that her third sister would give her trouble once she arrived in the capital. (9)
 楼主| 发表于 5/6/2018 08:33:59 | 显示全部楼层
Ladyship Guo (?--756) had the maiden name Yang Yuyao while other sisters' maiden names were unknown. Ladyship Guo was beautiful, but lewd. She had had affairs with Yang Guozhong, her distant cousin, before she was married. Then she was married to the Pei family and gave birth to a son Pei Hui and a daughter. When she became Ladyship Guo, her son married a princess and her daughter was the wife of a prince.
        As the three sisters moved into the capital, the emperor gave each a big residence and often summoned them to the palace. They feasted and made merry together. The three sisters, especially the Ladyship Guo, all got in the favor of the emperor. Before long, the lewd Ladyship Guo had affairs with the emperor, for which Imperial Concubine Yang had quarrels with this sister. Ladyship Guo could even directly go into the palace without waiting for the summon from the emperor. A famous poet Zhang Gu wrote a poem about her:
        Ladyship Guo enjoys the imperial favor,
        She often rides into the palace at dawn.
        She's afraid make-up will dirty her beauty,
        Only pencils eyebrows lightly to see the emperor.
She became another favorite of the emperor, and even the daughters of the emperor were afraid to offend her or the Yang family. Once two princesses did offend the Yang family, the emperor was angry and took back all the things that he had gifted to those two daughters, and as a result, their husbands were expelled from government offices.
        Now the end of the Ladyship Guo. In the rebellion of the warlord An Lushan and his successor (the events will be narrated in the later chapters), Imperial Concubine Yang and her cousin Premier Yang Guozhong both died. The other two sisters were also killed in the chaos. Ladyship Guo, her son and the wife of Premier Yang escaped from the capital to Chencang town. The mayor of the town hated the Yang family just like all people at large since the Yang family members did lots of bad things. When he was told that the three of the Yang family came to the town, he wanted to catch them and began to chase them. Ladyship Guo killed her son and the wife of her cousin. She wanted to kill herself too, but did not succeed. The mayor got her and put her in prison. Later she died in the prison and was buried in a suburb of the town. (10)
 楼主| 发表于 5/13/2018 08:54:07 | 显示全部楼层
An Lushan (703—01/29/757) was a man of minority in the north. He fought for Tang Dynasty and won great martial merits so that he became a lord ruling over three administrative districts. At first, he and Yang Guozhong had joint benefits, but later, when An became a lord, Yang was so jealous of him and started to hate him. Thus, yang laid the foundation of An's rebellion.
        As a lord, An must from time to time come to the capital to report to the emperor what had happened in his districts. Sometimes, he saw Imperial Concubine yang with the emperor. He was also struck with her beauty. On the side of Imperial Concubine Yang, she was fully aware of the great age difference between the emperor and  herself. Generally speaking, the old emperor must die before her and she knew that the successor, anyone of the emperor's sons, would do unfavorable things to her. She must have someone to back her up for her own safety. She thought that An was a man she could rely for the purpose. Therefore, she often sent for An to see her when the emperor was attending to national business.  Gradually, they made love to each other as An was much younger and stronger than the old emperor.
        A legend about their love affairs goes like that once during the love-making, An accidentally made a scratch on the skin of one of her breasts. Imperial Concubine Yang was afraid that the emperor would see it when they were together, and so she put a piece of brocade over the spot as a decoration. It was said that this was the origination of the bra nowadays. Believe it or not.
        An had a potbelly, and once the emperor asked him what was inside his big belly. An replied that inside was his loyalty to the emperor, who was very happy to hear it. Imperial Concubine Yang liked to take bath and often went alone to Huaqing Pond for it. On her way there, her bodyguards would hold up long pieces of cloth on both sides to form a lane so that no bystanders or passers-by could see her in a imperial coach.
        Sometimes she took An along with her to have bath there. Once after An finished his bath, yang ordered her palace maids to put big swaddling clothes on An as if he was a baby. To flatter Yang, An began to call Yang mom. When the emperor heard of it, he gave An baby bath gift. From then on, An openly called Yang mom, but he never called the emperor dad. When asked why, he said that the minority he belonged to only knew mothers, never knew fathers. The emperor laughed it off. (11)
 楼主| 发表于 5/20/2018 07:27:13 | 显示全部楼层
Li Bai (02/08701—12/762) was one of the best known poets in Chinese history. He was a poetic genius and people named him a deity of poetry. He also knew some foreign language. Historians think that he was born in the present Kyrgyzstan in Mid-Asia (At that time, it belonged to Tang Dynasty) and at the age of five, his family moved to Sichuan province in the west of China. Emperors of Tang Dynasty, their family name was also Li. Historians think that the imperial family and Li Bai's family came from the same ancestors.
        Li Ke, Li Bai's father, was an officer in Ren town. In 705, Li Bai began his education and in 710, he began to learn all the Chinese classics. In 715, he started to learn swordsmanship. He liked traveling and loved to drink wine, often until drunken. So in the olden time, almost every wine house had put up on the wall a placard, bearing these words, “Drink is the good habit of Li Bai.”
        In the eighth moon of 742, he went to the capital. As the emperor had long heard his fame, he summoned Li Bai to his presence. Then Li had the chance to know Imperial Concubine Yang, and whenever the emperor and Yang went to Huaqing Pond, they would take Li along and asked Li to write poems for the occasion. Li became the palace poet, if this could be his title. He was not a courtier, nor an official.
        A legend about Li Bai goes like this: there was Bohai State in the northeast of China, which was a vassal state to Tang Dynasty. However, any vassal state always wanted to be independent. So they sent a messenger carrying the Credentials in their own language, saying that if Tang Dynasty had such a talented man that could read their language and write a letter of reply to them, they would always obey Tang Dynasty, or they would be independent. At a levee, the emperor showed the Credentials to all the courtiers, but none of them could read the language. When Li Bai was told about it, Li offered to write the letter of reply. So he came to the levee and translated the Credentials to the emperor. Then he was asked to write a letter of reply, he put up some demands. Because he was eccentric, he had offended some courtiers, including premier Yang Guozhong, by looking down on them as no rivals to him in learning. The head eunuch Gao Lishi didn't like him, too. Now Li took this opportunity to avenge on them. When he sat down at a table, he wanted the head eunuch to take off his shoes so that he could sit cross-legged more comfortably. Then he wanted premier Yang to grind the ink bar in water on the ink slab of stone so that he could dip his brush in the inky water and write on paper. These were thought as insult. Anyway, Li wrote the letter of reply in the language of Bohai State. The messenger was subdued and got the letter back to his state. (12)
 楼主| 发表于 5/27/2018 08:00:18 | 显示全部楼层
Although Li Bai had offended some important persons, the emperor and Imperial Concubine Yang still liked him. One day in the late spring of 743, when the emperor and Imperial Concubine Yang were in the Eaglewood Pavilion and watched the peony in bloom. The emperor summoned palace musicians and wanted them to sing something new. But Li Guinian, the head musician and singer, had nothing new to provide. Therefore, the emperor sent him to find Li Bai so that he could compose new poems to the music. Li Guinian went to the wine house Li Bai frequented and saw Li Bai there, but drunk. Li Bai was carried to the palace. Imperial Concubine Yang bade a maid to sprinkle some cold water on his face, and presently, Li Bai came to like from a swoon. The emperor asked him to get some new poems. So Li Bai wrote three poems to sing the praise of Yang. They read respectively in the following:
The first one,
        Clouds think of dress while flowers think of visage,
        Spring winds brush the railing, and dews dense.
        If not seen on top of the Jade Mountain*,
        Will meet at Jade Terrace* under the moon.
        *Are places where goddesses dwell.
The second one,
        A red peony with dew spread fragrance,
        Goddess on Wu Hill heart-broken in vain*.
        If Ask who is like her in Han Palace,
        It's lovely Flying Swallow** wearing new dress.
        *meaning no need to meet goddess when he had his Yang.
        **Flying Swallow is the name of the queen in Han Dynasty.
The third one,
        Flowers and the Beauty are both happy,
        They have Emperor look at them smilingly.
        Spring breezes solace Emperor in his sorrow,
        As he leans on north railing of Eaglewood Pavilion.
Then someone who hated Li Bai complained to Imperial Concubine Yang that it was not a good comparison of Yang to Flying Swallow in Han palace, because Flying Swallow was not a good woman. So Imperial Concubine Yang began to dislike Li Bai.(13)
 楼主| 发表于 6/3/2018 07:33:52 | 显示全部楼层
本帖最后由 海外逸士 于 6/3/2018 07:57 编辑

Li Bai felt that it would not be good for him to stay longer in the palace. Next year, he left the capital forever. Then he started to travel again. He met Du Fu (712—770) and they turned to be best friends ever since. When An Lushan rebelled, wishing to help quench the rebellion, Li Bai accepted the invitation of Prince Yong in the twelfth moon of 756, to be his counselor. But before long, Prince Yong offended the emperor, and was executed. All his men were taken as prisoners. Li Bai was exiled to somewhere in the present Guizhou province in the southwest of China. On the way, he was pardoned. He was then fifty-nine. When he reached the age of sixty-one, he was told that General Li Guangbi was commanding a large army to attack the rebels, he wanted to join them, but he had to return halfway, because he fell sick. Next year he died of some kind of disease and was buried at Dangtu.
        A legend about his death goes like that he was watching the bright moon, as he had written a lot of poems about the moon, but he was then drunk. He wanted to pick up the moon in the water and fell in the river and was drowned. A romantic death.
        When Imperial Concubine Yang found the secret meeting of the emperor with Imperial Concubine Plum, she was unhappy. The emperor was so fond of Yang and did not want her to be unhappy. So on the Double Seventh Night (7th night of 7th moon every lunar year), the emperor met Yang in Longevity Hall in the palace. There is a legend about Double Seventh Night. The youngest daughter of the mother goddess, the girl weaver, stole from heaven to the human world to enjoy herself. Then she came across the cowboy, a mortal. She fell in love with him. The mother goddess learned it and got infuriated. She ordered the daughter to come back to heaven and her daughter had to obey. But the cowboy did not want to part with the beautiful girl and ran after her. The mother goddess used her hairpin and drew a line between her daughter and the cowboy. The line she drew became a celestial river (denoting the Milky Way in the sky). The cowboy could not cross it and cried himself to be sick. The daughter sympathized with the cowboy and begged her mother to have pity on the cowboy. Therefore, the mother goddess agreed for them to meet once a year on the Double Seventh Night. But the cowboy had no way to cross the celestial river. It was said that magpies formed a bridge, magpie bridge, to help the cowboy to go over the river. However, there is another end for the legend. The mother goddess changed her daughter, the girl weaver, to be Vega and the cowboy to be Altair so that they could only look at each other across the Milky Way.(14)
 楼主| 发表于 6/10/2018 07:42:47 | 显示全部楼层
On that night, the emperor and Yang made their love vow about their eternal love, not just in this life, but also in every next life, till eternity. Imperial Concubine Yang liked to eat litchi, which only grew in the south of China (at that time). To please the girl he deeply loved, the emperor ordered fresh litchi to be fetched to the capital by military dispatch on horseback. Du Mu, a famous poet of Tang Dynasty, had a couplet to describe this event:
        As a horse gallops through dusts, the imperial concubine smiles;
        And no one knows that it’s the litchi that is coming.
The poet's sarcasm lies there: military dispatch should be used for conveying urgent military messages, not for the purpose to satisfy the personal taste of an imperial concubine.
        Once Imperial Concubine Yang had a quarrel with the emperor. Generally no one dared to bicker with the emperor. Only Yang knew that the emperor loved her so much that he would not take it to heart if she quarreled with him. But this time, the emperor got furious and drove her away from the palace. Yang had to go back to her mother's residence. Anyway, after a while, the emperor thought of Yang and sent the eunuch Zhang Taoguang there to see how the imperial concubine passed her days. Seizing the opportunity, Yang cut a strand of her hair and let the eunuch take it to the emperor. Seeing this, the emperor was scared, because in old Chinese tradition, if a girl cut a strand of her hair and sent it to the boy, it meant that she would have nothing to do with the boy any more. Their relationship would thus end. That's why the emperor was afraid as he was so fond of Yang. Therefore, he sent his favorite eunuch Gao Lishi to fetch Yang back to the palace. Imperial Concubine Yang used it just as a method to go back to the side of the emperor. So when Gao Lishi came to take her back to the palace, she was delighted and immediately got into the coach. And the emperor and Yang reconciled.
        The second offense happened one morning in the seventh moon of 746. She made the emperor enraged, and the emperor drove her away again. But at lunch time, the emperor began to think of her and he refused to eat anything. His favorite eunuch wanted to assuage the emperor and mentioned that since the imperial concubine left in a hurry, she did not take all the stuff she needed. Could his slave gather all the things and take to her? The emperor gave his consent. Then her clothes, cosmetic things, her trinkets, and so on and so forth, loaded one hundred carts. The emperor also let the eunuch bring her the food she liked. In the afternoon, the emperor thought of Yang more and got restless. The eunuch implored the emperor by continuous kowtowing to let the imperial concubine back to the palace. So in the evening, Imperial Concubine Yang was permitted to come back. Yang also admitted her wrong doing and begged the pardon of the emperor. So the emperor and Yang made up again.
        The rebellion started on12/16/755 AD and ended on 02/07/763, almost seven years. (15)
 楼主| 发表于 6/17/2018 07:45:03 | 显示全部楼层
At the beginning of Tang Dynasty (618—907 AC), their military forces were almost centered round the capital for the purpose of strong defense. The farther from the capital, the weaker was the defense force. At the north frontier, the Tang government totally entrusted the defense on minorities. So the minorities had their own troops. Since Tang Dynasty enjoyed long-time peace till the present emperor, the army was not used to fighting and the whole forces became weak while the forces of the minorities became strong. The strongest army belonged to An Lushan, a minority nobility. He had an ambition to invade Tang Dynasty and rule over it. He just waited for a chance.
        The emperor Xuanzong, since he had Imperial Concubine Yang, had neglected the national affairs and let the premier Yang Guozhong, the cousin of the imperial concubine, decide on everything. Yang Guozhong, a low cad when young, had an ability to flatter, to please anyone he wanted to. As now he became the imperial brother-in-law, he did everything to please the emperor and so he got the entire trust from the emperor. Under his administration, the whole officialdom went corrupt. Common people led a bitter life and hated Yang family. They wished that some day someone would come to kill all the Yang family members.
        As An Lushan got stronger, Yang Guozhong felt a threat from An and was afraid that some day An would endanger his power and safety. Therefore, he always slandered An to the emperor. Then, An felt a threat from Yang, too. So An Lushan revolted using the excuse to expel Yang Guozhong from the government lest he should bring more harm to the nation and the people. At that time, Tang government had only 80,000 soldiers to defend the capital while An had 150,000 soldiers, as other minorities all obeyed and supported An.
        On the ninth day of the eleventh moon of lunar calendar (equivalent to 12/16 AD) in 755, in Fanyang city, An Lushan declared his mutiny against Tang government. Most towns and cities in the north were soon taken by An's troops. When the emperor was reported about the insurrection on the fourteenth day of the same moon, he ordered general Feng Changqing to defend Luoyang city, which was a strategic spot in battles. If An wanted to come to the capital, he must occupy Luoyang city first. Then the emperor appointed his sixth son Prince Rong to be the grand marshal and general Gao Xianzhi as the vice marshal. (16)


http://www.allbook-books.com/html/100_famous_women_in_china.htm
 楼主| 发表于 6/24/2018 09:59:01 | 显示全部楼层
Accordingly, An marched to attack Luoyang city and, on the twelfth day of the twelfth moon, he entered the city. Generals Feng and Gao had to escape to the city more important strategically, which was called Tong Pass. Later, the emperor executed both for failure of the defense of Luoyang city, and appointed another general Ge Shuhan as the vice marshal in charge of the defense of Tong Pass, which was easy to defend and hard to attack.
        On the first day of the first moon next year, An Lushan declared himself to be the emperor of Dahan Dynasty. As Tong Pass was difficult to take, General Ge adopted the tactic to void direct combat and only stayed in the city. In the first moon of 756, An Lushan sent his son An Qingxu to assault the city, but was defeated by general Ge. An's army was blocked and could not make any progress forward for several months. Then An Lushan got a stratagem and ordered his general Cui Qianyou to conceal the strong troopers somewhere,  and displayed his old, weak, or even sick soldiers to Tang's spy. When the  emperor got the false information, he issued an edict to general Ge to take the initiative to assail the rebellious army. Although Ge knew that it was a wrong decision, he had to obey, with sighs and tears for the predictable failure.  
        On the fourth day of the sixth moon, general Ge was forced to lead his army out from the city and marched to attack An's army. An's general Cui laid an ambush on the south ridge of the mountains, between which there was a narrow valley the Tang army must go through if they wanted to attack An's army. It means that Tang troops fell into the ambush unexpectedly. When arrows and stones came down from the mountains, Tang soldiers had to scatter for shelters and many were killed. When Ge wanted to defend the city, he had gathered 200,000 men. After the battle, he had only 8,000 left when he escaped to the city. On the ninth day, general Cui occupied the city and general Ge escaped again to a small town nearby. Finally he was captured by An's army. Then An's army marched toward ChangAn city, the capital of Tang Dynasty. (17)
 楼主| 发表于 7/1/2018 07:16:12 | 显示全部楼层
At the same time, a detachment of the revolting army was sent to attack Jiuyang town to the east of the capital. Zhang Xun, the general in charge to defend the town, had only 8,000 soldiers against 130,000 rebellious troops. For many times, he defeated the assault of the enemies. He and his soldiers held the town firmly for three hundred days, which gave time for the government to gather troops. But he ran short of provisions and other necessities until the day he had not but to kill his own wife as food to feed his soldiers. In China, in great famine, people would eat dead bodies. If they could not find dead bodies, they would exchange each other's babies. One family ate another family's baby. Such things did happen in the history of China. However, as the enemies outnumbered Zhang's troops, Zhang at lost fought to death and the town was occupied by the enemies. Thirteen days afterwards, the government army came and subdued the enemies. The revolt thus ended.
        When the emperor was reported of the approach of the rebellious army, he escaped south together with his imperial family members and also Imperial Concubine Yang and Yang family members, guarded all the way by his imperial bodyguards. One day when they reached the place called Makuipo, the soldiers killed Yang Guozhong, the premier and cousin of Imperial Concubine Yang, as they had long held a drudge against the Yang family. After they killed all Yang family members, they were not satisfied and demanded the emperor to let the imperial concubine die. They were afraid that if the imperial concubine was still alive when peace restored, she would surely revenge the death of her family members on the soldiers. Their leader General Chen put up the demand to the emperor, who, for his own safety, had to agree. So Imperial Concubine Yang hanged herself on a tree and was buried on the spot. But after the rebellious army was conquered and peace was restored, the emperor went back to the capital. Then he sent his favorite eunuch there for the purpose to carry the body of the imperial concubine Yang back to the capital and re-bury her among the imperial graves. When the temporary tomb was dug open, there was no corpse seen. It was empty.
        Therefore, the emperor thought that Yang was not dead and went to some islands to live with goddesses there. Chinese people in the ancient time believed that there were islands in the East Sea, on which dwelt goddesses. Then the emperor asked a taoist from Linqiong to search for the soul of the Imperial Concubine Yang from heaven to the nether world, including those islands on the sea.  Then the legend was continued in a poem by a famous poet at the end of this tale.
        Another legend about her end goes like that when the emperor ordered the death of Imperial Concubine Yang, someone in the bodyguards took Yang away for her beauty and they hid somewhere to lead a common life as an ordinary couple. That's why the temporary tomb was empty.
        And still another legend coming from Japan is like that the bodyguards leader General Chen could not harden his heart to kill such a beauty and used one of her maids to die instead of her. He secretly had someone to escort her to Japan. She was warmly welcomed in Japan as an imperial concubine from Tang Dynasty. She lived there for thirty years more and died at the age of sixth-eight. The famous Japanese movie star Momoe Yamaguchi declared that she was the descendant of the imperial concubine Yang. (18)
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