Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Empress dowager cixi

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Posts
    278

    Empress dowager cixi

    Chapter 1

    However powerful, you cannot pull back the chariot of Time; however powerful, you cannot refuse the visit of Death; however wealthy, you cannot bribe the king of Hades; however wealthy, you cannot buy immortality.
    She had been beautiful when young. She hated aging. She hated having white hair, but the silver threads stealthily crept onto her head in the due course of time. Li Lianying, whenever he saw a gossamer of snow among her sable silky hair, would bury it under the black ones. If, by any chance, a piece of white hair came off and entwined itself on the comb, he would hide it in his sleeve. He was the one who did the hair of Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908). He knew what Empress Dowager Cixi would feel when she saw some snowy hair on her head. He really knew what she liked and what she did not. He was her favorite eunuch. In a short time, he was promoted to be her head eunuch.
    Sometimes when Empress Dowager Cixi noticed that he put his fingers into his sleeve she would ask what he was doing. ?ust itching. Scratching a bit, my respected Old Buddha.Later in her life everyone in the Forbidden City called Empress Dowager Cixi Old Buddha (The word OLD here does not really mean old in age in Chinese, but instead is a respected epithet.) and she liked it. He had to please her if he wanted to stay in her favor forever. Everyone wanted to please her. No doubt. Even the emperor, though afraid of her, sometimes wanted to please her, too. That is why people wish to seize power and remain in it. As long as possible.
    It was a new hairstyle. Li Lianying, now the head eunuch, but still doing her hair, called it ? Butterfly Among Flowers He always invented new hairstyles and gave them fanciful names. And while combing her hair, he would tell jokes, mostly vulgar jokes, which sent Empress Dowager Cixi into laughter. He knew a lot of such jokes, which he had heard when he had been a small boy. Thanks to his good memory, he remembered all of these vulgar jokes after so many years. Sometimes he made up some when an occasion arose. Eunuchs all came from poor families, or no families at all. Who wanted to be a eunuch if he could live otherwise? The cutting of the genital was no fun, not to mention the pain, and a lot of blood. The genitals, once cut, were dried and kept in a jar, which hung from the beam in his bedroom. It was the custom to bury the genital with the body when a eunuch died, to make the corpse whole with nothing lacking, although something? not in its original and natural place. But it was the best that could be done.
    When her hair was done and breakfast finished, Empress Dowager Cixi changed into formal attire. She put on heavy headgears. The adorned piece on the top looked somewhat like a fan with fringes hanging down from the two ends. On her feet were special shoes that looked something like short stilts in the shape of a small upside-down flowerpot attached on the middle of the sole. Then she went to hold court, sitting behind a pearl screen. Emperor Guangxu, still under age, sat on the huge throne before the pearl screen. Though he said nothing, he heard everything. He knew everything. He was a clever boy, ambitious and anxious to do something to make the weakened empire strong and prosperous again.

    * * *

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Posts
    278
    Empress Dowager Cixi and Emperor Guangxu lived in the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City, also called the Purple Forbidden City, was located in the center of the capital. The Forbidden City was built between 1406 and 1420 during Ming Dynasty. It had been the imperial home to twenty-four emperors of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The magnificent and awe-inspiring Forbidden City also served as the seat of imperial power during Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911). From their throne in the Forbidden City, the emperors governed the country by holding court sessions with their courtiers, secretaries and ministers, issuing imperial edicts and initiating military expeditions.
    The Forbidden City extends seven hundred and fifty meters from east to west and nine hundred and sixty meters from north to south. The city of seven hundred twenty thousand square meters is the largest and best-preserved palatial complex in the world. It is surrounded by a moat, which is fifty-two meters wide and six meters deep, and by a wall, which is three kilometers long and ten meters high. There are four gates with towers above them: Noon Gate in the south, Shenwu Gate in the north, Donghua Gate in the east and Xihua Gate in the west. On the four corners of the city walls stand four turret towers, each with three roofs and seventy-two roof ridges. They are masterpieces of ancient Chinese architecture.
    The Forbidden City is divided into southern and northern parts, the former serving as the work area of the emperors and the latter as their living quarters. The main structures are arranged along a central axis and constructions on both sides of it are symmetrical. The three most imposing structures in the work area of the Forbidden City are the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Medium Harmony, and the Hall of Protective Harmony. The most magnificent of them is the Hall of Supreme Harmony. Here the most important ceremonies of the feudal dynasties were held, including the ascension of the emperors to the throne, their marriage, and their conferring of titles on officials. The Hall of Medium Harmony standing behind it was where the emperors rested before ceremonies and receiving officials. The Hall of Protective Harmony was where the emperors gave banquets and interviewed in person successful candidates of imperial exams for the selection of government officials. In the living quarters are nine separate housing complexes, where the emperors and their families lived. North of the living quarters is a small imperial garden. The Mind Cultivation Hall in the living quarters was where most Qing emperors lived and handled state affairs. It was also here that Empress Dowager Cixi attended to state affairs for as long as 48 years. The Forbidden City is a city within a city and was off limits to the common people.
    The layout of the palatial complex, whose full name should be the Purple Forbidden City, is patterned after the legendary Heavenly Palace. In the ancient Chinese astrology, the heavenly area of Purple Forbidden Enclosure centering on the North Star was seen to be at the center of heaven. The palatial complex, regarded as being at the center of human society on earth was therefore named the Purple Forbidden City.
    The number nine received special emphasis in the city design. The number of houses in the Forbidden City is 9,999, and nails on every door are arranged in lines of nine nails. This is because the ancients regarded nine as the biggest number, which only emperors were entitled to use. Also, since the numeral has the same sound as everlasting in the Chinese language, it best reflected the wish of emperors that their rule would last forever. Names of places in the Forbidden City contain such words as benevolence, harmony and peace, which reflect the essence of Confucianism.
    The predominant color of the Forbidden City is yellow. Nearly all the houses, for example, have roofs of yellow glazed tiles. According to ancient Chinese, the universe was made up of five elements: metal, wood, water, fire and earth, and earth was the most basic of them all. As a result, yellow, the color of earth, was most extensively used for the emperors, who were regarded as the supreme rulers of the world.
    The only house with a roof of black tiles is Wenyuan Pavilion, serving as the royal library. This is because the color black represents water among the five elements and water can overcome fire, a constant threat to the collection of books inside.
    In 1406, Emperor Yongle of Ming Dynasty began building the Forbidden City. Historical records show that it took one million laborers and one hundred thousand craftsmen fifteen years to complete the project. The Forbidden City remains more or less the same in appearance and scale despite repeated renovations and expansions by later emperors. All buildings in the Forbidden City are of a wood and brick structure. A total of 3.1 billion bricks were used for the construction of the Forbidden City. A special glue was used to cement bricks and stone slabs. The glue was made from steamed glutinous rice and egg white. Timber came from mountains in the suburbs of Fangshan Town as well as from remote Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. Tens of thousands of huge stone slabs were transported to the capital from afar. The biggest piece, which lies behind the Hall of Protective Harmony, weighs 250 tons. The slab, 16.57 meters long, 3.07 meters wide and 1.7 meters thick, was hauled over a distance of 50 kilometers from the suburbs of Fangshan Town to the site by 20,000 laborers at a cost of 176,000 taels of silver. The hauling was done in winter on man-made ice and took 28 days.
    The Forbidden City is a national treasure in terms of materials used, architectural style, layout and designed connotation. Besides, it is a storehouse of numerous priceless handicraft articles, rare curios, paintings and calligraphic works by famous artists as well as official documents and historical records. The Wenhua Hall in the Forbidden City stores more than 10 million official documents drawn up over 500 years by central and local governments of the Ming and Qing dynasties. They are the largest and most valuable collection of historical records in the country. Wenyuan Pavilion, or the Imperial Library, keeps a complete collection of all the books published till then like an encyclopedia and a 79,337-volume compendium of historical records and feudal rites compiled over ten years (1772-1781) by the nation's most accomplished scholars.

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Posts
    278
    Chapter 2

    Empress Dowager Cixi was born in a government official's family. Her father was appointed a position as a general, though he had never fought any battles. It was said that when Empress Dowager Cixi was born, there was the scent of the orchid in the room. So her given name was LanEr (meaning the Child of Orchid). She had two brothers and a younger sister, but she was the favorite child of her parents, the apple of their eye. She was beautiful, clever and talented. When she was eleven, her father was transferred to Wuwu, which is a big city situated near the Yangtze River, and later was transferred again, this time, to Canton, a bigger city facing the sea.
    “Your opium is ready, Dad.LanEr called to her father, who stood at the window, looking at the front yard where a **** was bullying some hens.
    He was proud of her. She could load opium for him now. Since China had been defeated in the Opium War in 1840, opium trade became open and many government officials and officers formed the habit of smoking it. Even Empress Dowager Cixi herself smoked it when she was in power. Someone had recommended opium to her when she had a stomachache. And it was said that when she smoked some opium, her stomachache ceased.
    “Hm.” Her father ummed as a reply. In China at that time, parents never said THANK YOU to children. It was taken for granted that children should do things for parents. It was their filial duties.
    Many aristocrats of the Mandarin Clan loved to watch operas. So did her father. And her father often brought her to wherever an opera was performed. Therefore, LanEr loved to watch operas, too. When she stayed in power, she watched a lot of operas, specially performed for her in the Forbidden City.
    LanEr was sixteen now with an oval face, a straight nose, crescent-shaped eyebrows, almond-shaped eyes that were as clear as crystal, peach-colored cheeks with two dimples when she smiled, ebony-black hair in a tress, looking so oily and smooth that if flies had halted on it they would have slid down. Now she sat at the table in the center of the room, sipping tea and looking at her father lying on the bed and smoking opium, and sighing deeply at intervals.
    “What's wrong?” LanEr asked. Her father put down the long-stemmed opium pipe on the lacquer opium tray and looked up from the bed at his daughter. ?he situation in Guangxi Province is getting worse. The rebellion, I mean. They are fighting their way eastward and will soon reach here.The daughter agreed, but didn't look worried. Hers was a worriless age.
    “They will kill us. Everyone of the Mandarin Clan.” Her father could not suppress the anxiety in his voice. That he was appointed a general was because his destiny would have it, not because he was talented as a fighter. He was really no fighter.
    “Then, what should we do?”
    “I don't know. Perhaps waiting to be killed.”
    “Why not ask for a sick leave? We can go back to Peking.”
    “Good idea.” Her father said in approbation.

    * * *

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Posts
    278
    LanEr's family left Canton City in a ship they had rented with the crew on board. Actually, the word rent is not correct. At that time, such ships, or ferryboats, belonged to a family or an individual. The family or the individual was the sole crew on the ship or the ferryboat. The ship they were on belonged to a family, husband and wife with a teenage boy. The husband rowed the ship with the help of the teenager. The wife cooked for the passengers who paid the family who owned the ship. Their relationship was just like lodgers in an inn. Only this was a mobile inn. Their destination was Peking.
    The ship had a cabin in the middle of the deck. The cabin was divided into two sections with a partition. The larger front section was for the passengers, the smaller back section for the owner? family, including a cooking space. There were no railings all round the ship, which was not too big. The ship had a mast. When the wind was favorable, the husband would put up the sails and he only needed to handle the rudder. A lot of energy saved. Every time they reached a village or a town, the husband would get on shore for provisions and the passengers would also step on shore, but for sightseeing.
    Everything was all right so far along the route till one night when the ship was at anchor for the night. It was already deep into the night when some robbers got on board with sharp swords in hand, reflecting the moonlight. Everyone in the cabin woke up in alarm and panic. They begged the intruders to spare their lives. The robbers took all the valuables from the passenger family, but didn't touch anything that belonged to the ship owner. It was the unwritten rule among the outlaws. After these thugs left, no one could go back to sleep. The ship owner's family were hiding in their back cabin while the passenger family were crying bitterly. How could they pay for their lodging and food on the ship since they had been robbed of almost everything. LanEr's father was taken seriously ill after they were left alone.
    Her family had been rich. Rich people generally got their daughters married early lest they should be selected to be the palace maids in the Forbidden City. Life in the Forbidden City as maids was not so desirable as imagined by the people who had never been in there. A slight mistake or offense would bring a severe punishment, or even a beating to death. It all depended on the mood of the emperor or the queen at the time of the offense. Only the emperor or the queen had the right for the infliction of such penalties in the Forbidden City. If her family hadn't undergone the loss of wealth, LanEr would have been married already, at such an age.
    When her father held his position in Canton City, an officer working under him offended a critique official. A critique official was in such a position by law that he could criticize anyone, including the emperor. The ancestors of Qing Dynasty had made such a law in hopes that their descendants, the future emperors, would have some people to look over their behavior and urge them to do things good and suitable as befitting them as emperors.
    The officer detained the ship the critique official was on board and blackmailed him for three thousand taels of silver. The critique official was very angry and as soon as he reached the capital, he wrote a critique report to the emperor, who sent someone down south to investigate. The investigation revealed that her father had taken briberies, which was against law. To make his superiors go easy on him, he scraped all his means to bribe them. As a result, he was removed from his post before he could send in a request for the sick leave. At least, he didn't need to go to jail. He sold some of his estates and bribed the governor of Anhui Province in the hope that he would be appointed another position there. But as a Chinese saying goes, misfortune never comes alone. The governor died from some kind of disease. So his money was like pebbles thrown in water, without even some ripples being seen. Now he was really sick. So he took a ship to go back to the capital with his family, where he still had at least a house and some farms to live on.
    The ship got under way at dawn. When the wife served breakfast, LanEr's mother promised her that they would pay her when they arrived in Peking. The old man was a government official, at the least. At that time, the fare for a trip on board a ship cost some ten taels of silver at most. It was not much money to a government official. The owner of the ship was not worried about that.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Posts
    278
    One day, they arrived at the Town of Qinghe. Their ship anchored at the third berth along the wharf. The ship at the second berth in front was a little bigger than theirs. The passengers on board that ship were escorting a coffin of an old friend of the mayor of this town to be back to their homeland. The mayor, by the name of Wu Tang, was a scholar.
    In late Qing Dynasty, anyone who wanted to serve in the government had two ways to achieve his goal. One was to buy a title and wait for a vacancy corresponding to the title. For instance, if someone bought a title of mayor, he would get a mayoral vacancy. Briberies called donations could speed the process. The other was to take part in tests held by the government. First was the local test. Whoever passed it could participate in the test on the provincial level. After that, the testees who didn't fail the provincial test should go to the capital joining in the final test, which held every three years. This test was very strict, because the winners would be made the government officials. The test system had originally begun in Tang Dynasty and had been adopted by all the subsequent dynasties.
    For this test, several examiners were chosen by the emperor himself from the high officials of the central government, with one of them in charge. They would read and score the test papers. There were many attendants to do all sorts of jobs that needed to be done at the test site.
    The site had been built long ago. There were rows of bungalows, which were partitioned into booths. Every testee was assigned a booth, the door of which was locked. The testee could leave only after he finished all the test papers. He slept inside the booth, for the test would take a couple of days. The testee would bring his own food in a basket, and also the brush, the ink and the blank paper to write on. All these things were examined before the testee entered the booth to prevent from cheating. If he wanted to go to the toilet, an attendant would be with him to and back, and locked him in again.
    The test consisted of two parts. One was to write an article under a given title in a certain fixed style, which was literally translated as Eight-Legged Style A testee, in preparation for this kind of test, must learn how to begin, how to carry on and how to end the article, which should have eight paragraphs, hence the name Eight-Legged. It had strict rules to follow. Anything inconsistent with the rules would fail the testee. In the second part, a testee must express his opinions about certain political ideas or about how to handle political affairs. His opinions carried great weight in his score.
    When the examiners were reading and scoring the papers, the names of the testees on the papers were covered. Ten first best ones were carefully selected. Once the selection was over, the names were uncovered. Then the papers were handed in for the emperor to read and decide the order of the winners. But before he made any decision, the emperor would give an additional test, called the imperial exam, to the ten best testees in his palace. The best one (in the opinion of the emperor) would be conferred the title of Zhuangyuan, the second best Tanhua, the third Bangyan and the fourth Zhuanlu. The rest were called Jinshi. Next day, the first winner, Zhuangyuan, would go round on horseback through the main streets in the capital, a special honor. In the evening, the emperor would give a banquet to all those who had passed the final test. Generally the first three would be given jobs in the Forbidden City, close to the emperor, which would provide good opportunities for fast promotion. Others would be appointed officials, some working in the central government, some sent away to be mayors of small towns if there were vacancies.

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Posts
    278
    Chapter 3

    A scholar should always care for a scholar friend, or his family when he was dead. It was required by old Chinese customs and etiquette. Mayor Wu knew that this late friend of his was not rich. Therefore, he sent a servant to give the friend three hundred taels of silver. The servant was told where the late friend's ship was, at the second berth along the wharf. But before the servant arrived there, the late friend's ship left and the next ship at the third berth moved up one berth. At fate had it, just as LanEr's family was in great need of money, some unknown mayor sent the former friend three hundred taels of silver. The servant didn't know who the friend was. He only did his job by sending the silver to the ship at the second berth. LanEr's family didn't know whether the father had had such a friend before. Who cared since they got the money to pay for things in urgent need. Right then, they needed a coffin badly because the father died last night. Also lucky for Mayor Wu, LanEr remembered to ask the servant the name of his master. LanEr had a long memory. And Mayor Wu had a bright future.

    * * *

    Once back in their old house, they buried the old master's coffin. Now it should be the duties of the sons to shoulder the life's burden for the family. But LanEr's two brothers were lame ducks. They just idled away their time in teahouses, carrying cages of their favorite birds. That was the common life style of the sons of the rich families of the Mandarin Clan, but they were not rich anymore. Now LanEr had to take care of the family chores.
    What could Empress Dowager Cixi still remember about the life of her girlhood living with her parents? Almost everything. She had a distant cousin by the name of Ronglu, a few years younger than she. They were playmates. She liked Ronglu better than she did her brothers and sister. Ronglu was clever and talented, too, while her brothers were a little dumb and her sister just ordinary both in the look and in brains. Does it mean that birds of a feather get together? Normally so.
    ?f you'll be the queen, I'll be your bodyguard.Ronglu often said to LanEr as her family deemed her as someone special since she was born with the scent of the orchid. She loved it that way. She would play the part of the queen and Ronglu the part of bodyguard. He even went so far as down on his knees before her to make it look real, or feel real. All these served to rouse in her the ambition for power.

    * * *

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Posts
    278

    empress dowager cixi

    At three year's intervals, the selection of girls for the emperor would begin. It lasted for several months. First, every family of the Mandarin Clan would report their unmarried daughters between ages 13 and 17 to the Clan Affairs Management. The management would send some officials and eunuchs to check out the girls on the list. That was the first stage of the selection. Many names on the long list would be crossed out. Those still on the list would be sent into the Forbidden City for further sifting. Among those selected, some would be sent to the princes. If lucky, they would become the concubines of the princes. Some of the selected would be the royal waiting maids in the palaces. Only a handful of luckiest girls would be in the presence of the emperor.
    Most girls, however, still longed to be selected and live in the Forbidden City, either as royal maids or as royal concubines. Even as a royal maid, if she took the emperor's fancy and had sex with him, she would become a royal concubine. But as a royal concubine, if the emperor was never interested in her, she would always live alone, till death released her from the solitary confinement. Just try luck when selected. But whether a girl was selected or not depended on the emperor himself or the empress dowager if there was one. The girl could do nothing to that effect.
    As destiny had it, LanEr was selected as a royal concubine and sent to live in the Round-Bright Garden, the Garden of All Gardens, as the foreigners called it. But getting into the palace was only the first step. If the emperor never looked at her, her fate would be miserable. Actually the emperor lived in the Forbidden City, not in the Garden. So LanEr was disappointed. But no worry. The lucky star was shining over her. The rebels in the southern provinces had founded their own regime. It was named The Peaceful Heavenly Kingdom The Qing government armies had been defeated. Reports came in from these provinces, bearing bad news. The emperor felt a headache whenever he read these reports. Therefore, he moved into the Round-bright Garden with the queen, wishing a better environment would assuage his headache when he had to read those reports in dismay. Now LanEr had the chance. She wanted to approach the emperor, but didn't dare to do so, because there were strict rules of etiquette everywhere in the palace. One step amiss, regret the whole life. If she could not go near the emperor, why not let the emperor come to her? Good idea. She always got good ideas. She was so proud of herself.
    Emperor Xianfeng (1831-1861 and succeeded to the throne in 1850) came out from the queen's chamber. The queen was from Nugulu family. Her father was one of the prime ministers. (There was more than one prime ministers in Qing Dynasty, because the decision was made by the emperor himself, not by a prime minister.) The queen was kind, benevolent and demure. She never showed her teeth even when grinning. Okay. She never grinned, only smiled. That's what demureness required from a lady.
    The emperor sauntered in the royal garden towards his study. Suddenly he heard someone singing from behind a cluster of trees. The voice was so sweet that it magnetized him to it, like the song of the sirens. No resistance offered on his part. Indeed, the emperor never thought of resisting it. He was willing to be drawn to it, to so sweet a voice, a female voice. He was a man. How can a man resist a woman? Besides, he could conclude, from the sweet voice, that she must be a beautiful young girl. Never did an ugly woman have such a sweet voice. Is there any woman like that? Ugly but with a sweet voice? He had best explore it and find the answer for himself.
    Behind the grove there was a pavilion, in which a girl sat leaning on the railing. From the attire, he knew she was a royal concubine, but a new one he had never set his eyes on before.
    LanEr sat in the pavilion, singing her heart out. A bait she threw out. She had studied the location. It lay near the everyday route the emperor would take when he went to the queen? chamber from his study and then back. Now she saw the emperor coming. The fish to her hook. The biggest fish she could get.
    She got on her knees to welcome the emperor, who helped her on her feet. The emperor looked attentively at the new concubine. Beautiful. Really beautiful. The most beautiful among all his concubines. The queen was not so beautiful. But an emperor chose a queen for her demureness and decency of behavior, not for her beauty, but chose a concubine for her beauty. The emperor couldn't take his eyes away from the oval face, the straight nose, crescent-shaped eyebrows, almond-shaped eyes, clear as crystal, peach-colored cheeks with two dimples when smiling, ebony-black hair in a tress, a pretty contrast to her fair skin. She was dressed in a red brocade gown of the Mandarin style. The emperor touched her hand, jade-white, with red nails. He felt his heart beating wildly against his rib cage like he were having a palpitation. The emperor was only in his early twenties. His hormones rushed up.
    So that night the emperor slept with LanEr. She became known later as Royal Concubine Yan, the emperor's favorite concubine. Before long, Concubine Yan got pregnant. The queen didn? have any children of her own and Concubine Yan was the only one pregnant among all the concubines at the time. So she got special treatment. Andehai (known later as Little An), the emperor's favorite eunuch, was sent to wait on her and then became her favorite eunuch. Andehai was a young eunuch with a handsome face and fair complexion. And the most important thing was that he knew how to flatter and to please. If he were to open a school to teach the skills of flattering, he would have had a lot of students.
    Emperor Xianfeng was expecting a son, an heir and a successor. If Concubine Yan gave birth to a girl, her side of the scales would tip up and lose the favorite balance, and also her importance in the eye of the emperor. And also her ambition. But as fate would have it, she bore a son to the great expectation of the emperor. Now her side of the scales sank. Her position in the palace was unshakable. Even the queen sometimes would yield to her wishes.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •