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100 Famous Women in China

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 楼主| 发表于 7/8/2018 07:33:10 | 显示全部楼层
本帖最后由 海外逸士 于 7/15/2018 07:06 编辑

44. 薛濤 Xue Tao (a famous poetess and a courtesan)
Xue Tao (768—832 AD) was a famous poetess in Tang dynasty. She was born in ChangAn city, the capital. Her father was a petty official and moved to Chengdu city. When her father died, she lived in this city ever since.
        She could write poems and knew music at the age of eight. Once her father composed a couplet, “There is an old tree in the courtyard, Its tall trunk rising into clouds.” He wanted his daughter to write another couplet so that the four lines could make a poem. She immediately wrote, “Its boughs welcome birds from north to sough, Its leaves send away winds coming and going.” Her father was glad and proud of her. But historians said that these two lines were the exact description of her own fate as she later became a courtesan that welcomed visitors coming and saw visitors going.
        After the death of her father, her family, mother and herself, fell into poverty. She had to become a singsong girl in a whorehouse at the age of sixteen. As a singsong girl did not have love-making with any visitors. She only entertained them with her song or music play, or wrote a poem or painted something for them. As she was beautiful and talented, she was well-known in the area. Her visitors were all local officials and men of letters. Her nickname was “Poetic whore.”
        The governor of that time liked her talent very much and often sent for her to his residence to entertain his guests by chanting poems of her own composition. Thus she made acquaintance with many famous poets and scholars at the time. She even fell in love with one of them, but their love had no result. The governor adored her poetic talent, and tried to get an official title for her from the central government, but of no avail. When this governor died, the next governor came. He liked her too, and canceled her registration in her prostitute record. She became a free ordinary woman. Then she always wore a Taoist costume. She seldom had visitors now. She lived a quiet life in old age. She made a kind of paper called Xue Tao paper, which was slightly pink. The paper was widely used at the time.
 楼主| 发表于 7/15/2018 07:06:45 | 显示全部楼层
45.  魚玄機 Yu Xuanji (a famous poetess and a female Taoist)
Yu Xuanji (844—871 AD) was a famous poetess in the late Tang dynasty. At first her name was Yu Youwei. In 894 AD when she was five, her family moved to another town and she started her study at a local school. In 854 AD when she was ten, the family moved back to her hometown, where she began to get acquainted with a famous poet at the time. They wrote poems to each other ever since.
        In 858 AD, she was fourteen. A scholar Li Yi (?--?) wrote a poem on the wall of Chongzhen Temple. It was traditional for ancient poets to write poems wherever they could, such as on the walls of a temple, of a wine house, or even  on a cliff wall of a scenic spot. When the girl read it, she liked it and then married Li Yi as a concubine through the introduction of her acquainted poet. As Li had a wife, Yu could only be a concubine. His wife was so jealous that Li did not dare to bring the girl home. He just let her stay in Xianyi Temple.  
        A few years later, her husband deserted her because he was a man liking new love partners, except his wife, whom he was afraid of. Yu began to travel east in the autumn of 861 AD. Next spring, she returned to where she started her trip, ChangAn city. In 866 AD when she turned twenty-two, she became a female Taoist in Yanyi Temple and changed her name to Yu Xuanji, which was better known to us. In that period of time, many men of letters came to seek her favor, but she favored none. She treated everyone coming to visit her equally as a friend. She did not remarry anyone. She kept writing poems, fifty-one in all that we know today.  Although she was a Taoist, she was a famous woman, and had a maid to wait on her. Once she was so angry with her maid that she beat her accidentally to death. For this crime, she was executed. A famous couplet from one of her poems is so written:
        It is easy to get a precious antique,
        But hard to have a boy of true love.
 楼主| 发表于 7/22/2018 07:45:28 | 显示全部楼层
46. 杜秋娘 Du Qiuniang (a famous poetess)

Du Qiiuniang (971--? AD) was a poetess. At the age of fifteen, she became a concubine of  Li Qi (741—807 AD), who was a relative of the imperial family. He was a corrupt official and once when the emperor wanted  him to go to the capital, he was afraid that he would be killed. Therefore, he rebelled, but failed and killed. Du Qiuniang was then taken to the palace. She became a concubine of the emperor, who died in 820 AD. Then the crown prince succeeded the throne and was Emperor Muzong (795—824 AD). Now Du Qiuniang was a middle-aged woman. The new emperor let her be the nanny of his son. When she grew too old, the emperor let her go back to her hometown, Nanking city, where she was born. She died naturally. Her famous poem is thus:
        I advise you not for gold-woven dress to care,
        But advise you for precious time of youth to care.
        If flowers are in full bloom and worth picking, just pick,
        Don't wait till no more flowers, then on empty boughs pick.
 楼主| 发表于 7/29/2018 07:02:13 | 显示全部楼层
47. 花蕊夫人 Ladyship Pistil (a humorous poetess)

Ladyship Pistil (?--976 AD) was her nickname. She was a favorite concubine of the king of the present Sichuan province. As she liked flowers, such as peony, the king gave her this nickname, which was known to us. She was pretty and clever, and could write poems. The king led a lewd dissipated life and his kingdom became weak. At that time, outside Sichuan province, the whole country was under the rule of Song dynasty. Therefore, in 965 AD, Song dynasty sent army to invade the kingdom. The king surrendered, and of course died later. The ladyship was captured. It was said that she became the concubine of the emperor of Song dynasty till her death. There was a famous and humorous poem we know till today, which is:

The king puts up the flag of surrender on battlements;
How can his lady know in the deep palace?
Forty myriad soldiers take off armors in unison;
No one of them is a man. (meaning no one fighting to death.)
 楼主| 发表于 8/5/2018 09:02:17 | 显示全部楼层
48. 穆桂英 Mu Guiying (the third of the four heroines)

Mu Guiying (982--?) was one of the four heroines. The other three were Hua Mulan, Fan Lihua, and Liang Hongyu. All are included in this book. There was a Yang family in Song dynasty. All the family members were fighters, including females, two daughters and seven daughters-in-law. Mu was married to the sixth son. Her fighting skills were the first among all the females. Her father was originally the chieftain of outlaws. They camped on a mountain, called Mu Camp. The government sent Yang family to conquer the Mu Camp, and the sixth son of the family came out to challenge. The daughter Mu Guiying galloped out to face the challenger, whom she captured after a few rounds. She wanted to marry the son and then surrendered to the government. It was thus settled. The heroine became a member of Yang family.
        Then Liao tribe in the north invaded Han dynasty, and Yang family was sent again to defend the territory. The heroine was the commander and by using some ruse, defeated the Liao tribe. They never dared to invade Song dynasty till later the tribe was conquered by Jin tribe. That was her great merit. Then when a revolt took place in Guangxi province in the south, she and her husband went there to subdue it. So she was conferred the title of Marquise Huntian. When a minority state called Xixia in the west invaded the country, she and all other female fighters went to resist the invasion. At the time, all males in the family died in different battles or occasions. The survivors were all widows. In one of the combats with Xixia, Mu was killed in an ambush of the enemy, but the remaining women vanquished the Xixia army.
 楼主| 发表于 8/12/2018 07:03:31 | 显示全部楼层
49. 李清照 Li Qingzhao (a very famous poetess)
Li Qingzhao (1084—1156 AD) was a famous poetess in Song dynasty ((960—1279 AD), born in Mingshui town of Shandong province. Her father was an official and a famous writer of the time as well. And her maternal grandfather had been a premier. When she was still a young girl, her well-written poems were known in the capital in the literary circle. In 1101 AD, she married Zhao Mingcheng (1081—1129 AD), who was also an official. In 1107 AD, the couple moved to Qingzhou town. They liked to buy books, especially books of old and precious editions. Every time when the husband bought a good edition from the market after work, the couple would enjoy reading it together after supper. Their life was simple and pleasant.
        At that time, there was a minority in the north, named Jin tribe, that often invaded into Song dynasty. In 1127 AD, when the poetess was forty-four, the army of Jin tribe marched south and attacked the town, they had to escape south across the Yangtze River, and next spring they arrived in Jiangning city. As they had to desert their belongings when they fled from the Jin tribe, now they lived in poverty.
        After the death of her husband, she moved to Shaoxing town in Zhejinag province, and lived alone in the house of a local family. In the third moon of 1131 AD, the only things, some old paintings, that left to her, were all stolen overnight. Next year, she went to Hangzhou city to marry another man, but was divorced a few months later, because she found that the man was a corrupt official, who was put in prison afterwards. Then she lived alone and always kept writing poems till the end of her life. But she had only forty-five poems handing down to us. All were well-known to us.
 楼主| 发表于 8/19/2018 07:25:28 | 显示全部楼层
50. 梁紅玉 Liang Hongyu (the fourth of the four heroines)
Liang Hongyu (1102—1135 AD) was famous to us as a fighter against the Jin tribe invading Song dynasty. Her family fled from north to south to avoid the slaughter and pillage of the Jin tribe. They came to where the general Han Shizhong camped his army. Somehow, she became a military singsong girl and came to know the general Han. She was a special girl, who knew how to use sword. Therefore, the general Han married her.
        She fought together with her husband Han (1089—1151 AD), the commander of an army. In the third moon of 1129 AD, the Jin tribe army took two towns and was about to invade the capital. The emperor and courtiers were in panic. A couple of courtiers wanted to betray the emperor, but were afraid of commander Han, who was then at the frontier defending the Song territory. So they took his wife Liang Hongyu as hostage. When Han marched his army towards the capital, they had to release Liang. When Liang joined Han, they came to the capital to kill the traitors. The emperor was ecstatic and gave Liang the title of Ladyship Yangguo. In addition, the emperor gave her monthly salary, which only male officials and officers could have. As a female she was the first one to have such a treatment.
        Then Liang and Han marched north to defend the border. The number of the enemy was double, even triple greater than theirs. However, they used a better strategy to defeat the enemy. For more than ten years, the Jin tribe did not even dare to advance facing such defenders. So there was temporary peace at the frontier till the death of the couple. The Jin tribe was later conquered by Mongolians, who afterwards marched south and annihilated Song dynasty and established their Yuan dynasty (1271—1368 AD), which was overthrown by Ming dynasty. (see next episode)
 楼主| 发表于 8/26/2018 07:25:29 | 显示全部楼层
51. 馬皇后 Empress Ma (a virtuous woman)

Empress Ma (1332—1382 AD) was the wife of Zhu Yuanzhang (10/21/1328—06/24/1398 AD), the first emperor of Ming dynasty (1368—1644 AD). She was nicknamed Big Feet, because at that time, women generally bound their feet small as a fashion, but women in the countryside still kept their natural size of feet. So did Ma.
        When Ma was a child, her parents died and she was adopted by a close friend of her father, Guo  Zixing (1312—1355 AD). It was then towards the end of Yuan dynasty. There were many groups of rebels against the Mongolians. Guo was one of them. At that time, Zhu Yuanzhang was only a poor vagabond. Once he became a monk for a living. When the rebellion rose, Zhu joined Guo's group and fought bravely and achieved great merits. Therefore, Guo married his adopted daughter, Ma, to him. Once at a time, food was scarce and everyone had a limited ration. In this period of time, Guo doubted that Zhu was not faithful to him, and so cut his ration. Ma had to share hers with Zhu furtively.
        After death of Guo in fight, Zhu became the leader of the group. With the elapse of time, he got many followers and finally wiped out other groups. At last he overthrew the Yuan dynasty and founded his Ming dynasty. He was Emperor Taizu of Ming dynasty. His wife was the empress. She had born five sons and two daughters for him.. Zhu was a cruel man and when his empire was steadfast, he began to kill the generals, who had helped him to conquer opponents, one after the other. When the empress learned it, she advised him not to do so. His reason to kill the generals was because he was afraid that these powerful generals might, just might, betray him and endanger his empire. The empress saved the rest of them. When the empress was seriously sick, he and his courtiers all wished to hold some ceremony in temples to pray for her longer life. But she opposed it, saying that birth and death were decided by destiny, what was the use of prayer. Her last will to her husband was to treat people and courtiers nicely and trust in them for the good of the country. She died at the age of fifty-one.
 楼主| 发表于 9/2/2018 07:38:43 | 显示全部楼层
52. 唐賽兒 Tang SaiEr (a female leader of rebellion)
Tang SaiEr (1399--? AD) was the leader of the up-rising peasants. She was not illiterate and learned fighting skills from her father. At fifteen she got married, but soon her husband died. Then she shaved her hair and became a Buddhist nun. The second emperor of Ming dynasty, Emperor Chengzu, used a lot of peasant labor to build palace and other constructions, etc., so that the peasants were all angry against the government. Tang then founded a religion called White Lotus and a lot of peasants believed it and joined it. Tang named herself Buddhist Mother. In 1420 AD, White Lotus took up arms and began to attack towns. The mayors of the towns either escaped or were killed. Other groups of up-rising peasants joined them.
        When the emperor was reported of it, he sent a messenger to negotiate with them, only wanted them to surrender. Of course, Tang refused. The emperor send army and his army was vanquished several times. The process of the battle was like this. The government army surrounded the mountain, on the top of which camped the rebels. Tang thought of a stratagem. She sent someone to the government army, saying that there was scarcity of water and most of the rebels wanted to surrender.   Only their leader Tang refused. She wanted to break through the line in the east that night. Therefore, the commander of the government army maneuvered most of his force to the east in hopes to wipe out the rebels. But at night, the rebels came down to assault the west side of the government army with not many soldiers there. These soldiers were defeated and the rebels went round to attack the back of the  most part of the government army and put them to rout.
        At last when the emperor sent armies that outnumbered peasant force, which was defeated and Tang escaped to no one knew where. No one knew the end of her either. The emperor ordered to arrest all the Buddhist nuns and checked them one by one to see if there mingled Tang, but in vain. Anyway, the believers of the White Lotus religion scattered all over the nation. Only they could not gather enough force to riot again.
 楼主| 发表于 9/9/2018 07:48:21 | 显示全部楼层
53. 万貴妃 Imperial Concubine Wan (a woman nineteen years older than emperor)
Imperial Concubine Wan (1428—1487 AD) was originally a maid in the palace in charge of apparels of the grandmother of emperor Xianzong of Ming dynasty, and then became his concubine when he took over the throne. When this emperor was still the crown prince, he often went to see his grandmother and saw the maid, who was nineteen years older than he. She joked with him and played with him. They got more and more familiar with each other. As time elapsed, they liked each other. When the grandmother died, he took the maid to his living quarters as his maid.
        When he became the emperor, the empress dowager wanted to choose an empress for him. It was surely done, but he did not like the empress whom the empress dowager selected for him. He liked Wan better and made her his concubine. No one understood why he preferred a woman nineteen years older than he, but not the young empress and other concubines of his age or even younger. Of course, though she was much older than he, she was still a virgin when the emperor married her.
        As a favorite concubine, she did not respect the empress. Once she offended the empress, who ordered her to be beaten by her maids. Wan went to the emperor and complained bitterly. So the emperor deposed the empress and confined her in a separate room of the palace. He wanted to make Wan as the empress, but the empress dowager opposed it because she was too old and had been only a maid. Generally an empress must come from the family of a courtier of high rank. The empress dowager appointed another concubine as the empress. This empress was afraid of concubine Wan and often exercised forbearance and let Wan do whatever she liked. In the feudal China, a husband and a wife should come from the families of almost the equal social status. But a concubine did not matter.  Some wealthy families had concubines often coming from poor families, or even from whorehouses. Girls from rich families were not willing to be concubines, who were only a step-up better than maids. Even the parents would not allow that.
        Although Wan was not the empress, she was powerful and acted as an empress. She bore a son for the emperor, who was happy to have an heir. However, the baby died within the month. Then she was jealous of other concubines who were with child. She would let them drink some drugs to abort the child. No one in the palace dared to say anything about it. So the emperor did not know of it. Nor did the empress dowager.
        Once the emperor sighed and regretted that he did not have a successor yet. A eunuch secretly told him that he did have a successor, secretly kept somewhere lest the boy be killed or poisoned. As the emperor often had sex with any concubine or even any maid, he could not know which one was pregnant. Once he had sex with a petty female palace official, who became pregnant soon. There were some female officials in the palace just like male officials in the government, to be in charge of some special departments in the palace. As the emperor never saw this female official again, he did not know that she was with child. But Wan learned it and sent someone to watch over her. If this woman bore a daughter, it was okay and she was safe. If this woman bore a son, she and her son would lose both lives. Then the woman bore a boy and told a eunuch to throw the baby outside the palace and leave it to his fate, lest he be murdered by concubine Wan. The eunuch thought that as the emperor did not have a successor yet, he should keep this baby alive. Therefore, he took it to the deposed empress who hid it and fed it without Wan's knowing of it.
        When the emperor learned it, he wanted to see his son and so the boy of six was brought to his presence. He immediately made this son as the crown prince. Later the emperor had some other sons with other concubines. All the sons were well guarded. Not long afterwards, Wan died.
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