Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Emperor Huizong of Song -- A Wonderful Art Professor in the History of China and A Humiliated Prisoner

Zhao Ji (1082 -- 1135), also respected as Emperor Hui Zong of the Song Dynasty, could do all things well, except for being an emperor.


He was one of the most influential artists in the history of China, who wrongly born into a royal family.


Great Artistic Achievements of Emperor Huizong of Song

Zhao Ji was an outstanding calligrapher who created his own style and genre (shou jin ti), which is still famous today; many of his masterpieces were widely circulated and highly appreciated.


He was a talented painter and a magnificent artist; he also included painting subject into the Imperial Examination, when he personally assigned topics and served as examiners each time, and taught those artists who were of great talent.


Many outstanding artists were selected and given political positions under his ruling period.


Moreover, he was the creator of the traditional Chinese Realistic Painting, and left more than 2700 art pieces. 

Some Art Works of Emperor Zhao Ji

Zhao Ji, the Emperor Huizong of Song, believed in Taoism and had established many Taoist places in China, which also served as local medical institutions.


He was a professional at Tea Ceremonies of Chinese culture, who wrote an influential book, and always made tea for other people.


Zhao Ji was also good at poetry, riding and archery.


An Incapable Monarch - Emperor Huizong of Song

Zhao Ji lived a luxurious and capricious live both as a prince and an emperor, and he spent most of his time in art and women.


There were lots of documents or gossips about him taking beautiful women to his palace; he even went to brothel several times to meet a stunningly gorgeous and literate woman named Li Shishi.


However, as one of the most exceptional artists in the history of China, he was a horrible monarch.


Emperors of Song before him were not all perfect, but they still were diligent and tried many ways to develop their kingdom.


Therefore, Zhao Ji inherited a wealthy and prosperous empire. Though there were some threatens from nearby nomadic regimes, the Song’s army could protect their country well.


Unfortunately, Emperor Huizong of Song, Zhao Ji, was just a pure artist born into a super rich family, who was nothing like a monarch or a politician at all.


He demoted talented officers and nominated a political speculator as the prime minister, who was an excellent calligrapher and a horrible politician, which caused a huge economic decline and some uprisings under his ruling.


The Rushed Abdication and A Humiliated Prisoner

Then the most shameful event of the Song Dynasty happened.


A nomadic neighboring regime named Jin invaded the Empire Song.


Emperor Huizong of Song was scared. He quickly abdicated the throne to his 25-year-old crown prince Zhao Huan, and let him worry about this life and death crisis. Zhao Ji himself then escaped to another city to keep enjoying lives.


However, Zhao Huan, as a young monarch with such an artistic and irresponsible father, surrounding by so many artistic ministers, he was scary and panicked after seeing those powerful nomadic troops garrisoning outside of his capital city. 

But a brave minister named Li Gang led Song's army sucessfully defended the city and expelled their enemy. Afterwards, Overlord Zhao Ji came back to continue his luxurious life.

Months later, the nomadic Kingdom Jin incaded Song again, after hearing the excellent general Li Gang was banished far away.


This time, after a series of horribly wrong decisions, the Jin's army occupied Song’s capital city, captured Emperors Zhao Ji and Zhao Huan and almost the whole royal family and large numbers of ministers, destroyed countless treasures and slaughtered lots of people, robbed large amount of money and captured countless of skillful civilians from the Empire Song. ​

This outstanding artist, the Emperor Huizong of Song, then suffered countless humiliations during his 9 years captive life. 


From a talented prince to the emperor of a prosperous country, Zhao Ji always lived a wealthy and happy life.


He probably never thought about the dark side of this world, until this shameful incident showed him what a living hell would look like.


Regrets in Zhao Ji's Captive Lives and His Miserable Ending 

Zhao Ji, the former Emperor Huizong of Song, witnessed his beloved women being taken away and insulted and forced to serve his enemy, his children were insulted and tortured to death, his valuable treasures were destroyed and tore into pieces, he himself had to wear prisoner’s clothes and kneels on the ground, let alone the poor living conditions he had to suffer.


He was imprisoned in different places, where he left many poems expressing his extreme sadness, misery and regrets.  


This extraordinary artist and failed emperor, who made outstanding artistic contributions, died as a prisoner, after countless tortures and deep remorse. 


After he passed away, his body was burnt to refine oil by Jin’s monarch, which was extremely indecent and cruel.


Zhao Ji's weakness and irresponsibility failed his country and people, and brought countless losses to the Song Dynasty in the history of China.