– By Shivam Pathak
There is this fallacy that women are incompetent to change the course of the future because of this fallacy women’s credentials are always being questioned. This mistaken belief doesn’t emerge recently it took its roots long back in history when women were only considered as an object of sexual pleasure and delight, but just as in today’s gelation there were also some women in history who proved this fallacy a misconception. One among the mighty and intelligent women who made history by exemplifying their remarkable achievements was Wu Zetian, a woman who rose from a lowly concubine to become the emperor of China. The only female emperor in Chinese 2000 years of imperial history who ruled China with an iron fist. Here a question may arise in your mind that how a woman elevates her status from a mere concubine to the emperor of China. It all commenced way back 637 AD when Wu entered the imperial court as a 14-year-old concubine serving emperor Taizong.
Emperor had more than 100 concubines, but somehow one way or the other Wu paved her route to the emperor’s heart and quickly gained favours of the emperor. Her ambition to become the emperor of China was very clear from the beginning. An instance to support this narrative was that when Lady Yang ( Wu Zetian’s mother) wept bitterly at the time of parting from her daughter Wu, Wu responded ‘ How do you know that it is not my fortune to meet the son of heaven ( title given to the monarch of China). Lady Yang as reported then understood her desire and therefore stopped crying. Traditional folklore portrays Wu as a power-hungry woman with no care for who she hurt or what she did. But early excavations discovered something different that determined traditional folklore wrong about Wu’s reign and the reflections of her characteristics. In excavations, archaeologists found a skeleton of a woman with fabled Phoenix crown of ancient china. The name of that was Li Chua, she was a minor descendent of Wu Zetian who wore the opulent crown embedded with carnelian from Uzbekistan, garnet from India, amber from Iran and ivory from Sri Lanka. This shows that how luxurious life was in Wu’s reign as the emperor.
Her period marked a major expansion of the Chinese empire, extending it far beyond from its previous territorial limits. After Taizong’s death she assumed some level of power in her hand and became the second wife of his son emperor Gaozong. But after Gaozong’s death in 660, Wu became the administrator of the court, a position equal to the emperor’s until 70s. Wu Zetian was not only a national leader, but she was also an international leader. Historical pieces of evidence suggests that she shared a good relationship with foreign countries and she also had ambassadors from Mongolia, Korea, Greece and Persia. Daming palace made under her reign was the largest in the world. It is assumed to be five times bigger than the Forbidden city. Jaws of the emissaries were dropped at the first sight of the palace which shows the imperial grandeur of Wu’s capital Chang’an ( today is known as Xi an). She encouraged women to be entrepreneurs and to divorce and marry freely. She even appointed a female prime minister.
As Wu Zetian grew older her mind started turning towards her afterlife, she want forgiveness for her sins she had committed throughout her life. She wrote a confession that had been engraved on a golden tablet and have that tablet taken to a holy place to perform a sacred ritual. She then cast down the tablet from Mount Song in order to attain forgiveness for her doings. Wu Zetian died in 705 and was buried at the east of the phoenix gate within the Qianling Mausoleum. The Mausoleum not only housed the remains of Emperor Wu, but is also served as the epitome of the imperial splendour, high rank and social importance of Wu Zetian. Wu may be regarded by the chronicles as the ruthless in her endeavours to grab power, but there is no doubt that she left her legacy that even in yore times a woman could do everything a man could do. In Wu’s reign, women’s status was higher than ever before. Consequently, Wu Zetian was an extraordinary woman, attractive in appearance, exceptionally gifted political astute and an excellent judge of men.