Concubines for the Chinese Emperor
Posted 08 July 2004 - 04:15 PM
So as the internal and foriegn nations stablized the need for a vast concubine system securing peace through marriage was no longer a neccesity.
Posted 10 July 2004 - 10:40 AM
Posted 11 July 2004 - 07:41 AM
Throughout Chinese history, emperors have deposed (fei 废) their empresses because they were not beautiful enough (or were no longer beautiful), because they were jealous of a concubine, or because they offended the emperor in some way (often a combination of these reasons). A deposed empress would not even be demoted to a concubine, but would simply return to her family. Nor would anyone ever dare to marry her. Many emperors have also deposed empresses essentially because they wanted to make their favourite concubine the empress. Their ministers would usually counsel them against this, because it was considered unethical to depose an empress for no good reason.
Posted 13 July 2004 - 11:19 AM
As regarding to the crown prince and empress, there's an old saying: "Mu Yi Zi Gui". The mother ascends a high position through the son, and vice versa. The mother of the crown prince would most likely ascend as empress soon afterwards. We see throughout Chinese history that this is most often the case. Sometimes, a childless empress would recognize that being envious and jealous is not the key, and thus she would propose her maid or other concubines to the emperor to bear his child, and the resulting son would be hers (and not the real mother's). All this to keep the position and title of the empress. Of course, it also requires the consent of the lowly maid or the concubine.
Some lowly maids and concubines are manipulative enough and they eventually became empresses as well. One of the virtuous empress in Chinese history was Deng Sui. She was born in a noble family and was a concubine. She was careful in her dealings in the inner palace and took a great deal of effort befriending the empress. However, the empress was jealous of the attention Deng Sui was getting and hired a witch to curse her. It was found out and the emperor was angry and deposed the emperor and wanted to punish her entire house. Deng Sui told the emperor that getting jealous is natural and that no families should suffer for the crime of one. And thus the emperor was pleased and elevated her to the position of empress. While being empress she managed the inner palace in such a way that the concubines were more cordial with each other. She became empress dowager when her husband died and her son ascended at a young age. Her hair became white when she's 36 due to her unceasing attention to the rulings of China, and eventually she died from overworking.
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Posted 13 July 2004 - 05:25 PM
Posted 14 July 2004 - 08:19 AM
This is a true story. I spent one summer in Beijing with some American college students. They went to work in a farm and experiense the lifestyle of the peasantry. One pf the guys was a body builder. Another was actually a runningback(a position in American football that required speed and fittness) for USC. Both kids cannot survive a single day working with the peasants. The football player quitted after the first day because it was too hard. The body builder lasted for three more days.But didn't eunuchs lose their testosterones prior to their growth without the needed organs?
The problem was, women don't have the strength for some heavy works in palace.
P.S. If I was an emperor, I would stop accepting eunuchs, and convert 99% of those concubines to servants instead!
I was thinking that, the strength of females can't be underestimated. Have you seen some women in China that work in the farms? Stronger than the average man in the metropolis! :D
Posted 14 July 2004 - 10:09 AM
The prefects and magistrates everywhere were competing to find beautiful women for the emperor so as to gain rewards and promotions - 12 officials were enfeoffed as marquises for their achievements in the beauty search. Even married women were forced to leave their husbands - if the husband refused, he would be executed on the spot. The number of husbands who were killed and wives who committed suicide came up to more than 3,000.
When the concubines-to-be were brought to the capital at Ye, Shi Hu would stand on a platform and personally inspect and grade them. But after Shi Hu died in 349, his sons began fighting among themselves, and his concubines came to a tragic end as his empire collapsed. First the general Ran Min seized power and slaughtered the Later Zhao ruling house, but he was then defeated and captured by the Murong Xianbei in 352. Ran Min's son Ran Zhi continued holding out in Ye, upon which the Murong Xianbei besieged the city. A famine broke out in the city, resulting in rampant cannibalism. The concubines whom Shi Hu had collected were nearly all killed, cooked and eaten by the starving soldiers - one of many terrible incidences of cannibalism in Chinese history.
Posted 14 July 2004 - 10:50 AM
Back to the topic.
Han Wu Di's mother was a married woman when she married to emperor Jing Di, and she already had a daughter by that time. I wounder what happened to her husband.
Therefor, its existence is a crime, and the punishment is death - thirdgumi
Posted 14 July 2004 - 11:28 AM
Wang Zhi was assigned as a concubine to the Crown Prince Liu Qi, who was later to reign as Han Jingdi. She became his favourite concubine and bore him several daughters and one son - Liu Che, later to be Han Wudi. She also recomended her younger sister Wang Xiju to Liu Qi. Liu Qi took this sister as another concubine, and she bore him a son named Liu Yue.
In 156 BC, Liu Qi became emperor. In 151 BC, he deposed his empress Bao 薄, whom he did not love and who had been unable to bear any children. At that time, Liu Rong, the eldest of his three sons by Concubine Li 栗, was the crown prince. Concubine Li had been his favourite concubine before Wang Zhi came into the picture, and he had promised her that Liu Rong would be his heir. Concubine Li expected to become empress now that Empress Bao was out of the way. But through devious plotting and the use of her charm, Wang Zhi was able to change the emperor's mind so that in 150 BC, Liu Rong was stripped of his position, the seven-year-old Liu Che was made crown prince instead, and Wang Zhi became empress. Concubine Li was so distraught that she soon fell very sick and died. Liu Rong was also forced to commit suicide soon after.
In 140 BC, Han Jingdi died and Liu Che succeeded to the throne as Han Wudi. Han Wudi was bisexual and had a male lover named Han Yan 韩嫣. One day, Han Yan revealed to Wudi that his mother Wang Zhi had a daughter by her first husband who was still living in the countryside with the Jin family. Han Wudi promptly made a grand procession to the Jin residence and brought his half-sister back to Chang'an, where she was finally reunited with the mother who had abandoned her so many years ago. As for her father, he was clearly not to have the same privilege!
Posted 14 July 2004 - 12:22 PM
Poor guy. Thanks Yun for the infos.
she was married to a man named Jin Wangsun.
Therefor, its existence is a crime, and the punishment is death - thirdgumi
Posted 03 October 2004 - 02:22 AM
The number of concubines in the Imperial Palace are unlimited, though there are differences between "concubines" and "court ladies", most of which are either administrators and menial servents.
Ranked concubines are limited, ranked and the first and second ranks are given their own rooms, and are usually the daughters of nobles chosen for their talent and beauty, or perhaps an unsually beautiful court lady. Concubines can be promoted and demoted in rank, and the number of ranks depend on the dynasty. These concubines are only important if they bear a male heir, though every woman in the Imperial palace is the property of the emperor. The emperor can sleep with unranked court ladies if he wants, but their male children will not be made princes unless the court lady is ranked.
The Empress is an especially important part of the real palace, and is usually chosen for the crown prince before he becomes emperor. The empress is known as the "Head of the 6 palaces and 3 gardens", and theoretically ruled over all the women in the palace. However, her power only depends on the emperor and if she's not in the favour of the emperor, there isn't anything she can do. It's also important she bears a male child, because the crown prince should be the son of the Empress, but if the empress has no son - her position may be threatened especially by favoured concubines of the emperor with sons.
Removing the empress is not easy. There are many incidents of child-less empresses in Chinese history which the emperor proposed removing, but most court officials are against a change of empress, as it's against tradition and also the will of one's parents (former emperor). There is another reason for difficulty in removing empresses: empresses are often well-connected. Even if they weren't well-connected when they married the crown prince, once they become empress their male relatives tend to have astronomical promotions. The empress' position in politics is often to consolidate the power of her family, and empresses also have the ability to meet with court officials in the guise of them being relatives.
However, if an empress is not in favour, that position may be taken over by the favoured concubine. They may not be the empress, but they and their family may enjoy similar privileges. When a concubine becomes so favoured, they will aspire to overthrow the empress. This is most often done by accusing empresses of using black magic, though sometimes empresses resort to black magic themselves to "curse" other concubines. When that happens, and there is evidence, it would be sufficient to strip the rank of the Empress and throw her into the "Cold Palace".
The "Cold Palance" is where unfavoured concubines and deposed empresses go. It's a dark, damp place and you're expected to grow your own crops and chop your own firewood with whatever's there (not much usually). The chances of getting out of the Cold Palace is non-existent, as is leaving the rear palace once you're in there. Most women lived and died in the Rear palace. There are exceptions: they may be given special permission by the emperor, or there is an oversupply of labour and so they are sent packing home, but this only applies to servants rather than concubines.
Ranks of Concubines
Han - Emperor Wu
Han - Emperor Yuan
Same rank: Wuyuan, Gonghe, Yuling, Haoling, Liangshi, Yezhe
Grade 1: Yinfei, Dufei, Shufei, Guifei
NB. There are only 4 grade 1 concubines - they are named after the 4 virtues of women: Yin (virtue), Du (morality), Shu (ladylike), Gui (elegance)
Grade 2: Zhao-yi, Zhao-yong, Zhao-men, Xiu-yi, Xiu-yong, Xiu-men, Zhong-yi, Zhong-yong, Zhong-men
NB. There are 9 in all, in descending order, known collective as the "Nine Concubines" (gu-ban)
Grade 3: Jieyu (9)
Grade 4: Meiren (4)
Grade 5: Cairen (5)
NB. Wu-Chao, the only female emperor in history, started life at this grade. She was promoted to Zhao-yi at the reign of Emperor Guo Zhu, then got rid of the empress and became one herself.
Grade 6: shilin (27)
Grade 7: Yunu (27)
Grade 8: Cainu (27)
Unlimited numbers: Guiren, Changzai, Daying
NB. Concubine selection took place every 3 years, and the chosen ones are automatically given the title guiren or onwards. The rest, which will be servents, become daying and usually stay that way.
Before the Ching dynasty, there are female administrators in the palace that takes care of similar duties as the eunuchs. They are also part of the harem, and are called "Officers of the Interior". The Han dynasty had 14 grades of such positions, the Ming had 6 departments with 1 grade 5 administrator each, and the Tang had 6 departments with 2 grade 5 administrators each. Under each department there were 24 divisions with 2 grade 6 administrators each to oversee the day-to-day runing of the palace.
There is also a disciplinary board, consisting of one grade 5 officer, 2 grade 4 officers and 2 grade 7 officers ti ensure regulations were obeyed and to meet out punishments.
Ranks Offices of the Interior:
In charge of literary books, personal biodata and daily records fo the on-goings of the Rear palace.
In charge of court etiquette, entertainment, musical instruments and protocol for guests.
In charge of attire, accessories, imperial garments and toiletries.
In charge of meals, drinks, liquor, medicine, etc.
In charge of beds, mats, mattresses, blankets, straw fans, candles and imperial sedans. Also tended fruit and vegetable plots in the Real palace garden.
In charge of tailoring of garments and making of accessfories. Also provided pearls, silk, brocade, clothes, meals, drinks, firewood, etc.
Posted 03 October 2004 - 05:35 AM
"夫君子之行：靜以修身，儉以養德；非淡泊無以明志，非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮
One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang
Posted 04 October 2004 - 08:45 AM
a year = 365
3000/365 = 8.22 years
technically, it need 8.22 years to sleep with every concubine once. This is provided the emperor works hard for 365 days a year and no medical leave or holiday. (I would not mind the hard work and i would aim less than 8 yrs ).
But on the sad note, some of the concubines died without ever seeing the emperor before. Politiking (though not nice or cruel) can be seen as a mean of survival, they have no other choice but to fight for emperor's favour. because they cannot have other choices in life (else cold palace or death) and that is the only way to improve their situation.
Posted 04 October 2004 - 06:32 PM
a reason to study history! the past "fascinates" us.
English: "Do as you like. This will be my final performance."
Posted 04 October 2004 - 06:33 PM
English: "Do as you like. This will be my final performance."
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