100 Famous Women in China - Page 7

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Thread: 100 Famous Women in China

  1. #61
    57.Gu Hengbo (one of eight famous contemporary singsong girls)
    GuHengbo (1619—1664 AD) was one of the eight well-known singsonggirls in the Qinhuai river area, i.e., Nanking city and its vicinity.Among all the eight singsong girls, her life experience was simple,but she got the highest social status among them. She was alsotalented in writing and painting. She also had a lot of visitors.Once a man called Gong Dingzi (1615—1673 AD) came to visit her. Hefell in love with her at the first sight. In 1641 AD, she marriedhim, who was a famous scholar. When the Manchurian came andestablished their Qing dynasty, he became a high-rank official. Somany scholars of Han tribe called him traitor. But she got the titleof First-Rank Ladyship because of her husband from Qing dynasty. Shedied of disease in their residence in Peking. She was the only one ofthe eight singsong girls that had an official title.

  2. #62
    58.Bian Yujing (one of eight famous contemporary singsong girls)
    BianYujing (1623—1665 AD) was one of the eight well-known singsonggirls in the Qinhuai river area, i.e., Nanking city and its vicinity.She was born in Nanking city and her father was an official, but diedearly. She had good education, and so she knew music and could playzither. She could also write poems and paint, and could practicecalligraphy. After the death of her father, she had to become asingsong girl for a living. Her charm and ability attracted a lot ofvisitors.
    Onceat the gathering of literary men, she met a man called Wu Meicun(1609—1671 AD), who was a high-rank official. She was fond of himand hinted that she wanted to marry him. But at the time, abrother-in-law of the emperor wanted to take her as his concubine,and so Wu was afraid of getting into trouble and ran away from her.But Bian remained where she was. No one took her away. Two yearsafterwards, she would marry a man, but when she learned that the manwas a good-for-nothing, and therefore, she married her maid to himinstead of herself. She left the place, dressed like a female Taoist.
    In1650 AD, she went to Changshu town, where Liu Rushi lived with herhusband Qian. The couple knew Wu Meicun. When Wu came to see Qian,they told Wu that Bian stayed here now. Qian wanted to let Bian andWu meet again. So he let his wife invited Bian to their house. Biandid come, but she said that she did not feel comfortable right thenand asked Liu to lead her to a guest room upstairs. She came, but shedid not see Wu. Maybe, she was still irritated with Wu for runningaway.
    Nextyear, she intentionally went to where Wu lived to see him. She saidthat she came just to say hello to him. She was dressed in a femaleTaoist costume. She played zither that night for Wu and some friends.In 1653 AD, an old good-hearted doctor let her stay with him as afriend. She began to believe in Buddhism and refused to see anyformer friends. She spent three years to copy a Buddhist sutra andgave it to the doctor in return for his good hospitality. She wroteit with her blood, not in ink. She died peacefully at an old age.When Wu learned her death he came to salute her tomb and wrote a poemin memory of her.

  3. #63
    59.Dong Xiaowan(oneof eight famous contemporary singsong girls)
    DongXiaowan (1623—1651 AD) wasone of the eight well-known singsong girls in the Qinhuai river area,i.e., Nanking city and its vicinity. She was born in an embroideryfamily in Suzhou city. Dong family was famous for its embroidery.They had a workshop to make and sell products of embroidery. Thistrade had lasted for more than two hundred years till her time. Herfather was a scholar and so she had good education. When she wasthirteen, her father died of diarrhea. She and her mother would notcontinue to live in this old house, because there were too manythings to remind them of the diseased. Therefore, they had anotherhouse built at a riverside and moved to live there like a recluse.They entrusted the family business to some old employee to manage.
    Thenchaos arose with the aggression of the Manchurian. When she andmother went to their workshop with the intention to sell it, theyfound that it was already bankrupt. They were penniless now. And hermother was seriously sick. She needed money to pay doctors and buydrugs. So she had to become a singsong girl in the famous Qinhuairiver area. Owing to her great knowledge and ability, she was soonknown to those merry-making young men, who flocked to her like beesto the flower. She could sing for them and accompany them on tours.She liked tours with any visitors that she could appreciate thebeautiful scenes.
    Therewas a famous learned man by name of Mao Pijiang, who, having heard ofher name, came to seek for her several times in her absence as shewent out to accompany visitors on tours. Once he came late in theevening and she was already back from tours. They got acquainted witheach other. As she already knew the name of the young scholar, theyimmediately liked each other. But Mao wanted to go back to his hometown to take government tests. But he failed. After half a year, hecame to seek Dong again.
    Afterthe death of her mother, she wanted to marry Mao. Only Mao mustredeem her from the whorehouse first. However, as she was so renownedin the area, the bawd would not let her go, no matter how much moneyMao would pay. Just at that time, Liu and her husband Qian came tosee Mao. As Qian had been an official, through his mediation, thebawd let her go at last. Then they got married. She began to practicecalligraphy and continued to paint. Her painting of “ColorfulButterflies” is now stored in the museum of Wuxi city. Thispainting was painted when she was only fifteen. Their comfortablelife lasted only for more than a year. Then Manchurian army came andtheir valuables were lost when they escaped south.
    Afterchaos, they went back to their homeland, and found that their housestill stood. They lost all the valuables and had to live in hardship.Then Mao was taken ill and she had to wait on him hand and foot, dayand night. Several months afterwards, Mao was gradually recovered,but she fell sick, severely. There was no curing for her and she diedin peace in the first moon of 1651 AD.

  4. #64
    60.Li Xiangjun(oneof eight famous contemporary singsong girls)
    LiXiangjun (1624—1653 AD) wasalso one of the eight well-known singsong girls in the Qinhuai riverarea, i.e., Nanking city and its vicinity. She was born in Suzhoucity and her father was an officer. She had two elder brothers. Whenher father died, her family turned out destitute. Therefore, when shewas only eight, she was adopted by a bawd. She was trained to sing,to play lute, to write poems and knew music. She had a good voice,but seldom sang, unless the visitor was the one she liked.
    Whenshe reached the age of sixteen, she must have her maidenhood doneaway. She could find a visitor she liked. But the bawd would chargehim highly. Then she met a man called Hou Fangyu (1618—1655 AD), afamous scholar at the time. As he did not have so much money to paythe fee, a friend Yuan Dacheng (1587—1646 AD) loaned him theamount. Yuan was a literary man and a dramatist, but he had a lowcharacter. He was always ambitious while Hou was not. Afterwards,they quarreled and were no longer friends. It was because Yuan madefriends with anyone in hopes that that friend could help him to stepup in his official career. However, Hou could not help him there.After their breach, Yuan wanted Hou to pay back the loan. Hou, withthe help of the girl, repaid all his debt, by selling her jewels andhis borrowing money from other friends and relatives.
    Therewas a little, but important detail I must mention. On the night whenHou did the girl, he gave her a precious gift, which was a round fanof white gauze with an ivory carved frame, which was his familyheirloom.
    Atthat time when Manchurian occupied the capital of Ming dynasty, aMing emperor fled to the south of the Yangtze river and made Ninkingcity as his temporary capital. Yuan then became a high official inthe court of the emperor. As Yuan hated Hou, he wanted to frame Hou,who learned it and escaped to somewhere. And Li Xiangjun shut herselfup and never received any visitors. But Yuan told the emperor aboutthe famous girl. So the emperor ordered the girl to be fetched to hispresence. The girl could not reject the order of the emperordirectly. So she knockedher head against a pillar and her blood splashed on the fan. Anotherfriend of Hou's, who could paint, got the fan and painted, based onthe blood specks, some red peach blossoms. Hence, the fan was calledPeach Fan.
    Yuan, as a dramatist,wrote a drama named Peach Fan. He urged the emperor to send for thegirl by force. She had to enter the palace as a singsong girl. In1644 AD, the Manchurian army approached Nanking city, the emperor ranaway further south. The girl stole out of the palace. She did notknow where she could go and sat down on a small bridge. Just then amaster, who had taught her to sing, came across her by accident onthe bridge. As he knew that the girl had nowhere to go, he took herto Suzhou city, where he lived.
    At this moment when thegirl was on this bridge, Hou, her man, was not far from her. He cameback to look for her. But fate made a joke on them. They missed eachother. In 1645 AD, the girl Li went to see Bian Yujing (one of eightsingsong girls and they knew each other) in her temple and stayedthere for a while. In the autumn this year, Hou found her in thetemple and took to his hometown, where his parents and his wifelived. In introduction, he concealed her singsong status, just sayingthat she was his concubine. As she was nice to everyone in thefamily, she was welcome and treated well. Therefore, from 1645 to1652 AD, she led a peaceful and comfortable life.
    Then her husband took atrip to somewhere. Somehow, unfortunately, her singsong status wasfound out by the family. Especially her father-in-law was furious anddrove her out of the family to live in a bleak village fifteen li(half a kilometer) away. At the time, Li was pregnant. So themother-in-law and the wife were sympathetic with her and with theascent of the father-in-law, sent a maid there to look after her.When the husband returned, he took her back to live in the familyhouse. But she was feeling unhappy for the discrimination. After shegave birth to the baby, she was suffering from TB—Tuberculosis,and died at the age of thirty.

  5. #65
    61.Kou Baimen (oneof eight famous contemporary singsong girls)
    KouBaimen (1624--? AD) wasalso one of the eight well-known singsong girls in the Qinhuai riverarea, i.e., Nanking city and its vicinity. She was born in a strangefamily, who ran the prostitute business. She was demure andbeautiful. In the late spring of 1642 AD, at the age of seventeen,she married the powerful Duke Baoguo of Ming dynasty.
    In1645 AD, the Manchurian army overthrew the Ming dynasty and DukeBaoguo surrendered. Not long after, his family was taken to Peking,which was then the capital of Qing dynasty, founded by the Manchurian(1644—1911 AD). The duke was confined. He wanted to sell all hisdancers and maids and singsong girls, including Kou, who was hisconcubine. But a man could sell his concubine in the feudal China.Kou said to him that if he sold her, he would get at most somehundred taels of silver, but if he could let her go, she would goback to the south and make thousands of taels of silver for him.Therefore, he let her go. She went back to Nanking city. She marrieda scholar in Yangzhou city, but she felt unhappy with the marriage.So she returned to Nanking city again. Then she liked a scholar Han,who liked her at the first sight and supported her. Then she gotsick. One day she still wanted to make love with him, though sick,but he would not allow and leave her room. Later she heard some merrynoise next room. When she entered the next room, she found that Hanwas making love to her maid, who was younger, and beautiful, too,only without fame. She was enraged and her sickness got worse. Shedied soon.

  6. #66
    62.Chen Yuanyuan (one of eight famous contemporary singsong girls)
    ChenYuanyuan (1624—1681 AD) was one of the eight well-known singsonggirls in the Qinhuai river area, i.e., Nanking city and its vicinity,too. Itwas round the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD—1644 AD). EmperorChongzhen was on the throne. When he first became the emperor, he hadthe ambition to make his empire strong, but he was not a man oftalent, and the empire remained weak. In the northeastern China,there was the Mandarin who got stronger and stronger, especially whenthey united the Mongolians in the west. Now they intended to invadeand occupied the territory of the Ming Dynasty. The only blockade tothem was the Great Wall. They must enter through Shanhai Pass at theeastern end of the Great Wall. The Ming Dynasty stationed greatforces to defend it. But the stupid emperor often changed thecommander, which was a disadvantage to the defending army. Supposingwhen a commander just got familiar with the situation and the move ofthe enemy, on which he would make his strategy, then he was removedand a new commander came. The new commander must get familiar witheverything over again.
    First the emperorappointed the famous general Yuan Chonghuan (1584 AD—1630 AD) asthe commander. He defeated Mandarin army a few times. They had toretreat. Then the mandarin sent some spies to the capital of the MingDynasty to spread rumor that Yuan Chonghuan was having a peace talkwith the Mandarin. The desire of the emperor was to drive theMandarin back to where they came. So peace negotiation was againstthe wish of the emperor. Therefore, the emperor summoned YuanChonghuan back and put him to death sentence as betrayal.
    Then he appointedHong Chengchou (1593 AD—1665 AD) as the commander. He was a wisecourtier and was the minister of the Military Ministry. When theMandarin heard the removal of Yuan Chonghuan, they marched their armytowards Shanhai Pass again. Hong Chengchou wanted to show that he wasan able commander, but in the first battle, he was captured by theMandarin army. He was brought to the presence of the Mandarin emperorHuangtaiji (1592 AD—1643 AD), who tried to persuade Hong to turnover to the Mandarin. However, at first, Hong Chengchou refused tobetray his emperor. According to the history record, one night whenHong Chengchou was sleeping and woke up at midnight, he found a womanlying beside him. He sat up in astonishment and asked who she was.The woman said that she was the empress of Huangtaiji. The empresscame to sleep with him. This was a great honor to him. He was movedand surrendered. It was said that he kowtowed only to the empress,not to the emperor, saying that he was the slave to her. The emperordid not care as long as he had surrendered to the Mandarin. HongChengchou offered then quite a few ideas how to conquer Ming Dynasty.After Hong Chengchou was captured, Emperor Chongzhen appointed WuSanGui as the next commander.
    Chen Yuanyuan livedin Kunshan town in Jiangsu province to the south of the Yangtzeriver. She was very beautiful and could sing and dance. She was afamous prostitute in that area. Many patrons came to hear her singand watch her dance.
    There at that timegathered large rebels, all of them were peasants, who were under theoppression of the corrupt officials. Their leader was Li Zicheng(1606 Ad—1645 AD). Li Zicheng led his huge army of rebels marchingtowards the capital Peking. Facing such situation of both threat fromthe Mandarin and from the rebels, the emperor felt so heavyheartedand melancholy that one of his imperial concubines Tian wanted tomake him happy. She asked her father Tian Hong to find some beautifulgirls. People thought at that time that all the beautiful girls werein the southern region to the Yangtze river. Tian Hong therebytraveled to the south. He visited brothel after brothel, and at lastfound Chen Yuanyuan in Kunshan town. He was struck by her beauty andtook her back to the capital. He spent two hundred thousand taels ofsilver to get her. He presented the girl to the emperor, but theemperor was not in the mood to hear her sing and watch her dance.Tian Hong had to take the girl back to his own residence.
    Commander Wu SanGuiwent with his army to Shanhai Pass to resist the invasion of theMandarin. He went through the capital and Tian Hong entertained himwith the intention that Wu would specially protect his family and hisfortune. He let the girl out to dance for Wu SanGui, who, at thefirst sight, loved the girl very much. He said to Tian Hong that hewould try his best to protect him if he gave the girl to him. Ofcourse, Tian Hong complied. Wu SanGui took the girl to his residencein the capital. When he left the capital for the frontier, he had toleave the girl in the capital.
    The rebellious armyled by Li Zicheng approached the capital. The emperor did not haveenough troops to defend the city, and soon the rebels entered it. Theemperor had to hang himself. That was the end of the Ming Dynasty. LiZicheng occupied the palace and declare himself the emperor of theDashun empire. One of his generals Liu Zongming killed all the familymembers of Wu SanGui and took the girl with him.
    When Wu SanGuiheard the news, he was greatly infuriated and vowed to revenge on therebels. He knew that the forces he commanded was still no match tothe great number of the rebellious army. So he wanted to ally withthe Mandarin and used the allied force to fight the rebels. Thus, theMandarin army entered the Shanhai Pass and then occupied theterritory of Ming Dynasty. They founded their Qing Dynasty tilloverthrown by the Republic of China in 1911 AD.
    The rebels escapedfrom the capital Peking. Wu SanGui chased them till he wiped out allthe rebels. In pursuit of the beaten rebels, Wu SanGui came acrossChen Yuanyuan. When Wu got back his girl, he marched into Yunnanprovince, which is in the far southwest corner of China. He made ithis own territory. He was given the title of king and Yunan provinceas his fief by the emperor of Qing Dynasty. He accepted the title.
    As time proceeded,Chen Yuanyuan grew old and Wu SanGui got some girls younger. ChenYuanyuan went to live in a Buddhist nunnery for a quiet life.
    Although We SanGuilet in the Mandarin army, He did that just for his own purpose. Hereally did not like the Mandarin. He wished to be independent. So hedeclared that his fief in Yunnan province was an independent empireand did not obey the Qing Dynasty any more. He set Kunming city ashis capital. The Qing government dispatched troops into Yunnanprovince to attack Wu SanGui and took the Kunming city. Wu SanGui waskilled. Chen Yuanyuan was afraid to be captured by the Qing army andinsulted. She drowned herself in the lotus pond outside the nunnery.She was buried by the side of the pond. In the nunnery theredisplayed two pictures of Chen Yuanyuan.
    IfChen Yuanyuan never lived, or if Wu SanGui never knew her, Wu SanGuiwould not let in the Mandarin and Ming Dynasty might continue forlonger time. Even if the rebels occupied the capital, the deceasedemperor had some sons and one of the sons could gather troops fromprovinces and drove away the rebels from the capital and restore theMing Dynasty. That's why people said that a whore changed the historyof Ming Dynasty.

  7. #67
    63.Concubine Xiang (a girl who had scent on her body)
    ConcubineXiang (09/15/1734—05/24/1788 AD) was a girl belonging to Uighurtribe in the present Xinjiang Autonomous District. In 1757 AD, someminorities in that area rebelled against Qing dynasty (1644—1911AD.) At the time, Emperor Qianlong (09/25/1711—02/07/1799 AD) wason the throne and he sent army to quench the insurrection. Twobrothers of concubine Xiang helped Qing army to subdue all rebels andthe Qing emperor conferred duke titles to them. The brothers wantedto please the emperor and sent their sister to the emperor in return.The sister was twenty-seven at the time. Therefore, the sister becamethe concubine of the emperor. It was said that the body of the girlwould radiate scent by birth. That was why she got the title ofConcubine Xiang (literally meaning scent).
    When she came intothe palace, a litchi tree, transplanted in the palace, produced morethan two hundred litchi fruit. It was deemed as good fortune that thegirl brought. So everyone in the palace liked her, from the empressdowager to the maids in common. Let alone the emperor. EmperorQianlong liked to travel to the south in the region of the YangtzeRiver because the scenery there was very beautiful. Every time hetraveled, he would bring her with him. She was his favoriteconcubine. When the empress died, the emperor never had an empressany more. And Concubine Xiang acted as the first concubine in thepalace. She was then already forty-eight. She died at the age offifty-five.
    A legend had adifferent anecdote for her. She was the wife of a muslin chieftain.When the chieftain rebelled and killed by Qing army, she was capturedand sent to the emperor. But she refused to obey the emperor, and theempress dowager let her die. Her body was sent back to her homelandand was buried there. There is still her tomb in Xinjiang district,named Tomb of Concubine Xiang.

  8. #68
    64.Empress Dowager Cixi(a powerful woman causing Qing dynasty perish)
    Empress Dowager Cixi(11/29/1835—11/15/1908 AD) was the last empress dowager in Qingdynasty, and also the last empress dowager in the Chinese history.After her death, Qing dynasty was soon overthrown by the firstrepublic of China.
    Her father was anofficial. And in 1852, she was selected to be sent to the palace.Young girls, when selected into palace, had two choices. Mostly theywould be palace maids to do all kinds of services and a few, if theemperor liked them, would be appointed concubines. She was lucky andgot the title of Concubine Lan at the age of eighteen. The emperor ofthat time was Emperor Xianfeng (1831—1861 AD). The empress did notbear any children for him. But Lan bore him a son, who was duly thecrown prince. When the emperor died, the crown prince became EmperorTongzhi (04/27/1856—01/12/1875 AD). She became empress dowagerCixi, and as a rule, the empress became the empress dowager, too,though the new emperor was not her son. She was empress dowager CiAn.They were more easily distinguished from each other by their livingquarters. The former empress dwelt in the east, and was therebycalled East Empress dowager. The former concubine dwelt in the west,and was thereby called West empress Dowager. Since the new emperorwas still a small boy and could not manage the state affairs, the twoempress dowagers decided things for him.
    The west empressdowager was ambitious, but she could not make any decisions alone.She was not satisfied. One day she sent some snacks to the eastempress dowager, who ate it and died. It was said that the westempress dowager poisoned her. Then the west empress dowager had allthe power in her hands. Unfortunately, her son, the new emperor, diedyoung from chicken pox. As a rule, she should choose a closerelative's son as her adoptive son and succeeded the throne. Shechose the son of one of her brothers-in-law. This son was still asmall boy and could administrate the government. So the west empressdowager still made decision for him. That was why she did not choosea grown-up son of the brothers-in-law. This new emperor was calledEmperor Guangxu (08/14/1871—11/14/1908 AD).
    Compared withsovereign empress Wu, who made the nation strong and prosperous,empress dowager Cixi ruled the nation badly. At the time Japan in theeast always wanted to invade China. If she was a good ruler, shewould strengthen the navy, but she used the funds for navy to buildher summer palace. So in 1894, China's nave was defeated by that ofJapan. In 1900 when the army of Eight-nation alliance occupied thecapital Peking, she had to escape. Under her reign, Qing dynasty wentto destruction.
    Seeing this,Emperor Guangxu wanted to have reform like Japan. She and some oldcourtiers opposed the reform and coup d'etat took place. The emperorwas confined and reformers were killed. China's hope was strangled inthe cradle. The emperor died one day earlier than the death ofempress dowager Cixi. It was said that the emperor was poisoned lestafter her death, the emperor would refresh the reform.

  9. #69
    65. Hong Xuanjiao(a female general, later escaped to US)
    Hong Xuanjiao (?--?)was a brave female fighter, commanding an army of all femalesoldiers, and was also the sister of Hong Xiuquan (1814—1864 AD),who was the Heavenly King of the Peace Kingdom (1851—1864 AD). Atthat time Qing dynasty was suffering a difficult time as EmpressDowager Cixi did not have the ability to administrate the country,but she held the power tightly in her hands.
    Hong Xiuquan livedin Guangdong province in the southwestern China, far from thecapital, so that Qing dynasty had loose control over that area. In1843 AD, Hong Xiuquan founded a religion called God-WorshipingChurch. The believers developed and in 1851 AD, they held up armsagainst Qing dynasty. They formed Peace Army and took city aftercity. They established Peace Kingdom and then they marched to Nankingcity and occupied it. They made it their capital. The Heavenly Kingwas the head of the kingdom. There were other kings, such as EastKing, West King, South King, North King, Wing King, Loyalty King,etc. They were the other leaders of the Peace Army.
    The sister latermarried the West King. After they set Nanking city as their capital,the kings started to fight among themselves for more power andbenefits. First the sister made a plot to kill the East King. ThenNorth King killed the family of the Wing King, who escaped to Sichuanprovince. The Heavenly King killed the North King. Therefore, thePeace Kingdom grew weaker and was finally conquered by Qing Army andNanking city was taken. The Heavenly King made suicide.
    The sister escapedin disguise of an ordinary woman among the refugees. She then went toShanghai. Finally she followed a priest and went to the UnitedStates. She stayed in San Francisco and lived as a herb doctor inChinatown there.

  10. #70
    66. Fu Caiyun (awhore having been in foreign states and speaking their languages)
    Fu Caiyun (1872—1936AD) was nicknamed Sai Jinhua (literally meaning surpassing goldenflower). When a little girl, she was sold to a whorehouse in Suzhoucity. In 1887 AD, she was taken by a high official Hong Jun(1839—1893 AD) as his concubine at the age of fifteen while Hongwas forty-eight. Next year, Hong Jun was sent to Russia, Austria,Germany and Holland as an envoy of Qing dynasty. She went with him ashis Ladyship because his wife did not like to live in foreigncountries. She lived in Berlin for a few years. She had been to St.Petersburg and Geneva. So she had known some German officers.
    When her husbanddied, the family did not welcome her as she had been a whore. She hadto leave and become a whore again for her living. At first she wentto Shanghai, and later she went to live in Tianjin city, close toPeking. When she was a whore, she was known by her nickname, SaiJinhua.
    In 1900 AD, whenthe allied forces came to Peking, she was living there and had somegood relationship with some German officers. It was said that she wasfamiliar with Alfred Graf von Waldersee, the commander of the Germantroops. She had even tried to dissuade him from burning the YuanmingGarden. In 1903 AD, a young whore was ill-treated to death by her,and so she was arrested. Then she was sent in custody to herhometown, Suzhou city, for the service. When she was released fromjail, she went to live in Shanghai. Afterwards, she moved to Pekingand led a poor life till she died of severe disease there in 1936 AD.


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