Remarkable Women in Ancient China (13)- Huang Chong Xia

Who is she:

  • A real historical figure known to have passed herself as a man for long periods of time. I know most of you would say that Mulan is far more famous but the original reference to Mulan came from a long poem starring her and other than that, there is no evidence that she was a real person (she could be but you don’t know anything about her other than that she joined the army in place of her father) 

Notable Life Events:

  • Lived in the era of Former Shu (907-925 AD) of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, born to a noble family but orphaned and grew up under an elderly maid instead 
  • When she grew up, she wanted to travel instead of staying at home so she dressed up as a man to travel in the Sichuan region. During a fire, she was framed and jailed so she wrote a poem declaring her innocence and sent it to the head official, Zhou Yang, presiding over the Sichuan region, who took over her case and proved her innocence. Appreciating her talent, Zhou Yang recommended her for a position at court. 
  • Yang asked her if ‘he’ would become his son-in-law, at which point she wrote a poem about her gender and then resigned her position at court. 

Why is she remarkable:

  • Mainly for the feat of passing herself as a man for long periods: in ancient China both genders tend to wear clothing that make the adam’s apple less prominent compared to modern clothing but I think she still had to correct her posture and everything. Perhaps her orphan status meant that she did not have the posture of a conventional high-born lady but that is just my personal conjecture. 
  • She was not the first female court official ever but probably the first one after the reign of the Empress Wu Zetian of the Tang Dynasty 

Moonlake’s thoughts on her: 

She sure is an adventurous type and highly intelligent and capable (it was said that the local populace under her governance prospered) but other than that, I’m not seeing any other aspects to her. 

Published by moonlakeku

intermediate Chinese fantasy writer working on her debut series

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