Remarkable Women in Ancient China (15)- Chi Zhao Ping

Who is she:

  • Essentially a female Robin Hood
  • A renowned peasant rebel leader against the Xin dynasty (or New Dynasty, its literal meaning) that separates the Western Han from the Eastern Han (the Western Han precedes the Eastern Han, I think the direction delineation probably signifies a change in the capital as these things go). I believe she might have been the first peasant female rebel leader in Chinese history but not 100% sure. 

Notable Life Events:

  • Actual birth date and date of death both unknown but she started her rebellion in AD 21 autumn and had gathered thousands under her banner. Her rebel army basically opposed taxation, raided local administrative offices, killed rich landlords, robbed nobles and spread the wealth to those in poverty ala Robin Hood. 
  • In the summer of AD 22, she combined her forces with another rebel leader, together gathering 100 thousand under their banners. 
  • In AD 23, the Xin dynasty finally collapsed and rebel leaders like Chi Zhao Ping did contribute a large role to it. 

Why is she remarkable:

  • She is not a household name or anything. I came across her via random Google search in Chinese. As for whether her deeds were remarkable for her period, I would say the answer is 50-50. Firstly, she does predate female suppression which I was led to believe was something started in the Ming dynasty which was formed in 1368 AD. In comparison, the Tang dynasty at around 618 to 907 AD was deemed to be the dynasty in which females were the least suppressed. So Chi Zhao Ping clearly predates both these dynasties and her era is certainly not the foot-binding ‘a virtuous woman is an uneducated woman’ days. On the other hand, there are a lesser number of female rebel leaders known compared to female generals (albeit a bunch of female generals are fictional figures or cannot be definitively tied to a historical figure)  and certainly none known before Chi Zhao Ping. So I think there is something about this to be noted. 

Moonlake’s thoughts on her: 

  • Again not seeing much personality behind the deeds but she must have been a charismatic and capable leader. 

Published by moonlakeku

intermediate Chinese fantasy writer working on her debut series

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