Women’s International Day 2020
Wu Zetian was born in Wenshui in 624 in Shanxi province. Wu was born into a family of nobility; this became instrumental in her preparation for her success as Empress. She was educated in politics, music, and history. Her father Wu Shihuo, a chancellor who earned great prominence during the Tang Dynasty, was helpful in honing her skills as a stateswoman. She moved into the palace of Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty, as a low- ranking concubine. While working as a maid to a relatively humble background of the Emperor, she began her slow and steady climb to the top, surpassing 28 of her contemporaries, in order to have access to the ruler.
Here are the five things that helped her rise to the top:
1) She defied tradition by being the main concubine to two successful emperors. Following Taizong’s death, it was expected for her to go with the other concubine’s to a Buddhist Monastery to live out their lives as nuns. She instead, escaped the monastery and returned to the palace where she was favored and received by Gaozong, son of Taizong. Wu and Gaozong had been involved as lovers since before his father died.
2) She got rid of her two top women by killing her own child and placing blame on Empress Wang and her consort Xiao, both who were stripped of titles and thrown into prison. The Emperor promoted her to Empress.
3) She went on to have them both killed in a most gruesome manner.
4) Wu Zetian sacrificed all her sons, so to keep the throne and rule for herself. One by poison, one deposed and exiled, one who abdicated, which gave Wu Zetian the throne, after the death of Emperor Gaozong.
5) Her second son brought her down once he surfaced from his exile after his marriage. She had brought many reforms to the taxation and agricultural systems. She also re-established the Silk Road between China and middle Asia, after a plague shut it down. As her health declined, she was then forced her to give up her throne. She died not long afterwards, and the Tang Dynasty was restored, from her Zhao rule.
When Empress Wu Zetian claimed the throne, she opened the eyes of women that if they worked at it, anything is possible, not only in China, but to women all over the world. She established the new unified empire on a lasting basis and brought about needed social changes that stabilized the dynasty and ushered in one of the most fruitful ages of Chinese civilization. And she created a few new Chinese lettering “zetian” characters. Both cruel and generous, she changed the culture of China from her rule forward.
Upon her death ] In 706, Wu Zetian’s son Emperor Zhongzong had Wu Zetian interred in a joint burial with his father Emperor Gaozong at the Qianling Mausoleum, located near the capital Chang’an on Mount Liang. Emperor Zhongzong also buried at Qianling his brother Li Xián, son Li Chongrun, and daughter Li Xianhui (李仙蕙) the Lady Yongtai (posthumously honored as the Princess Yongtai)—victims of Wu Zetian’s wrath. The large stone slab of her life accomplishments was left blank by the male historians.
When Empress Wu Zetian ascended the throne, she built many temples and Buddha statues, including statues in the Longmen Grottoes in today’s Luoyang in Henan province, that were constructed during her reign. Among them, a large Vairocana Buddha in Fengxian Temple is considered to be a “self-portrait”…
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