Tang Women- Apotheosis of Women's Power in China 唐代女性

Late Tang women with prominent golden hairpins- 
Below: Early Song dynasty earring.

The Tang dynasty saw 2 self styled Chinese Empresses- one a peasant rebel at the head of an army and another a powerful regent that created her own dynasty. It would see at least 1 warrior princess leading an army and founding the very dynasty, it would also see China's first and only female Prime Minister. Tang women were very politically active, and the daughter of Empress Wu herself served for many years as a kingmaker and master of intrigue within the court. There were also many celebrated female athletes and poets during the Tang.

As such, women of the Tang Dynasty were fortunate to live at a time characterized by open-mindedness and liberal ideas. Tang noble women had the chance to learn history, politics, and even athletic skills. At the founding of this dynasty, Princess Pingyang personally participated in battles, having led a detachment of women to help her father, Emperor Gaozu. Princess Taiping, daughter of Emperor Gaozong, twice suppressed mutinies inside the imperial court at critical times.

Tang noble women had much time of leisure and could freely drink wine to the limit of their capacity, and sing loudly in taverns; gallop through the suburbs on horseback with abandon; or even compete with men on the polo field. Women of the royal family were not subject to marital restrictions or constraints either.

From the reign of Emperor Gaozong to that of Emperor Suzong during the early and middle Tang Dynasty, there were altogether 98 princesses, of which 61 married, among whom 24 remarried, and four married three times.

This trend shook the very foundations of traditional feudal ethics. In the Tang Dynasty, 21 princesses became Daoist nuns, and they were known for their extravagant way of life in the temples, with no abstention from wine, partying, or men.

The imperial clan's last name of Li

Above: Late Tang noble women from the murals of Dunhuang. 

In the Tang Dynasty, women could not only retain property on to themselves but also pass them on at their choosing. They conducted social activities and carried on business independently. Some also cross-dressed and ventured as scholars and students- while others took jobs as Daoist abbesses and practiced martial arts. It is also because of this general bedrock of freedom that many concubines had the freedom to change their lives if the marriage in their master's house deteriorates. 

It is characteristic of the robust and cosmopolitan spirit of the period that one of the favorite pastimes of its aristocratic ladies and gentlemen was polo, a game which originated in Persia. The participation of women in such athletic activities and their fondness for riding are worth emphasizing in the light of the very different ethos that was to prevail in post-Tang times.


Thank you to my Patrons who has contributed $10 and above: 
You helped make this happen!
➢ ☯ José Luis Fernández-Blanco
➢ ☯ Vincent Ho (FerrumFlos1st)
➢ ☯ BurenErdene Altankhuyag
➢ ☯ Stephen D Rynerson
➢ ☯ Michael Lam

Late Tang, Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms era noblewoman, donor portrait
at Dunhuang


kol said…
Dragon's Armory said…
It's a dead link, can you give me a quick run down of it???
kol said…

Total War: THREE KINGDOMS is the next major Total War historical game and is set in the titular period of ancient China. It launches in Spring 2019.

Inspired by Luo Guanzhong’s 14th Century historical novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, this epic strategy game follows the dramatic lives of near-mythical warring lords and their retainers in 2nd to 3rd century China. But true to the series’ legacy, the game will also feature a Classic Mode that offers a much more grounded recreation of the period for players who prefer a historically authentic Total War experience.
Dragon's Armory said…
Mind, blown, thanks man! Just saw the trailer. It's great!
Dragon's Armory said…
Hey pal,

Let me properly thank you for letting me know, just wrote a short article about it

I'm grateful.
kol said…
Glad to help ! : )
Unknown said…
I love your article! Very informative and helpful.
Just to let you know that I linked to your article from my blog post about "History for Drama Lovers: 8 Series set in the Tang Dynasty" The link is below so you can have a look!
Dragon's Armory said…
Hey :)
Thank you for the shout out, good to know there are other folks letting others know about Chinese culture

One quick thing I noticed is that you credited the woman in the orange dress as Cui Qi, I believe the actress' name is
Reyizha Alimjan, she's a Chinese-Khazak actress and is very popular in China.
Unknown said…
You’re right! I got Tan Qi and Cui Qi mixed up. Their names sound similar to me....
Didn’t know that the actress is Chinese-Khazak.
Thanks for letting me know.

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