Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Queen Dugu Jialuo -- Smart and Monogamous Worshiper

In ancient Chinese history, a man could have a wife and many concubines, as long as they could afford. Therefore, the Polygamy had been quite common in the noble and wealthy family.

 

Most women followed the system in a patriarchal society, except for Queen Dugu Jialuo, who strongly opposed the Polygamy system in her entire life.

 

Dugu Jialuo or Qieluo (544 — 602), a very famous queen in the history of China, was extremely smart and influential on politic.

 

She had been quite helpful in assisting her husband Yang Jian in the establishment of the Sui Dynasty, and was the love of his life.

 

Moreover, as a Monogamous worshiper and Polygamy challenger, Queen Dugu Jialuo was also quite well known for her jealousy. 

Noble Girl in the Unstable Era

 

Dugu Jialuo was born into a noble family in the North and South Dynasties, a separated time when kingdoms kept fighting against each other. 

 

Her father, named Dugu Xin, was a famous handsome man in history. Also, he was an exceptional general, who obtained paramount of power through his series of military successes. 

26 Facets Official Seal of Dugu Jialuo’s Father — Shaanxi History Museum 

Her father found his old friend’s son was quite brave and smart, so he chose this decent young man named Yang Jian, as his beloved little daughter Dugu Jialuo’s husband. 

 

However, her father was forced to commit suicide after he failed in a big political struggle. After this, her clan was largely declined and surpassed by their political enemy. 

 

Beloved Couple Came Through Thick and Thin

 

When Dugu turned 14, the same year that her father failed this political dispute, she and Yang Jian got married.

 

Because of her father’s departure, Dugu and Yang Jian were demoted and suppressed, during when they experienced and survived from many life and death moments together. 

 

But those difficulties brought them closer; they loved, supported each other, and promised to be each other’s only, eternal love. 

 

Fortunately, Yang Jian’s father, the old friend of Dugu’s late father, was an exceptional general who kept winning on the battlefield; Yang Jian’s brothers married to other noble girls from powerful clans. Their power and protection helped Yang Jian and Dugu survived through the difficult times together. 

 

Years later, Yang Jian and Dugu's first daughter’s husband ascended to the throne, after when Yang Jian obtained more power through his talent. This made the new king felt threatened and unhappy, so he commanded his queen Lihua, the daughter of Yang and Dugu, to commit suicide.

 

Then Dugu Jialuo came to the king by herself. After a long conversation, she successfully made the king changed his mind, and saved her daughter Lihua’s life.

 

Lihua then had a lovely daughter and a granddaughter, whom she loved very much. In the year 1957, mausoleum of Queen Dugu’s great granddaughter was discovered, from which unearthed many extremely valuable artifacts.  

 

Unearthed Artifacts of Queen Dugu’s Great Granddaughter — National Museum of China 

(Photo by Dongmaiying) 

Seizing of Opportunity and Establishing of the Sui Dynasty

 

Soon, Lihua’s husband king, also Dugu and Yang Jian’s son-in-law, died out of a sudden, and left for the country a 6 year old new king. 

 

Then Yang Jian obtained support from some powerful officials, and was respected as the regent. But at the same time, many powerful clans still refused to follow his command, and tried their best to attack him. 

 

Encouraged by Dugu, Yang Jian snatched the throne, claimed himself as the new king, and named his new empire as Sui. 

 

Yang Jian then was the Emperor Wen of Sui, Dugu became the Queen Dugu. 

 

Genuine Love of Queen Dugu and Emperor Wen of Sui

 

Afterwards, Dugu assisted and encouraged her husband to expand the Sui Empire and unified the whole of China. Many innovative policies that Emperor Yang Jian published, Dugu played an important role in constituting them. 

 

Dugu was considered as the real soul mate of her emperor husband Yang Jian.

 

Unless her husband was needed at work, they always spent their time together. She would see her husband off to work, welcome him at their own house, assist him will difficult political problems, so on and so forth. 

 

Their closeness and love were clearly documented in the history of China. 

 

Like a normal civilian couple, they also lived a frugal life. Dugu barely asked for fancy clothes or jewelry, so did her husband.

Queen Dugu the Intense Challenger of Polygamy 

 

Yang Jian had promised Dugu to only have children with her. As expected, they did follow this vow, and raised 5 boys and 5 girls together.

 

Her emperor husband trusted her completely, because she was always decent and appropriate when it comes to politics. When her brothers committed crimes, she refused to indulge her clan and pardon them; instead, she asked her husband to execute them in justice. She also saved many innocent people from her husband’s outrageous and suspicious decisions in his late years.

 

Queen Dugu barely abused her power, or crossed the line. 

 

However, she had serious problems with those people with many women. Some contributive generals and officials were demoted or abolished by Queen Dugu, because they kept too many concubines. 

 

Dugu also disliked her first son, also the crown prince, when she saw he didn’t love his wife, while so obsessed with his beautiful concubines. 

 

Changing of The Crown Prince

 

Soon, the wife of the crown prince died at a very young age, and Queen Dugu suspected that her son and his favorite concubine had something to do with this.

 

Meanwhile, her second son Yang Guang was quite talented, polite, and made exceptional contributions in defeating and governing southern kingdoms for the Empire Sui. 

 

Also, Yang Guang only loved his wife, didn’t take any concubines, and lived a very frugal life. 

 

All reasons combined, Queen Dugu favored her second son more. Therefore, she played an important role in changing the crown prince from her first son to the second. 

 

As smart as she was, Queen Dugu probably didn’t expect that her favorite son Yang Guang, in the end, buried the prosperous Sui Dynasty that her husband and she built together.  

Unearthed Glass Bottle of Sui Dynasty — Shaanxi History Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

An Unfaithful Affair of the Emperor 

 

When they were old, Yang Jian saw a beautiful young woman in the royal palace, who was also the granddaughter of one of his biggest enemies. Then he slept with this gorgeous descendant of his former rival. 

 

Queen Dugu was quite furious, and then killed this girl out of jealousy. 

 

In ancient Chinese culture, men could have as many concubines as they could afford, the emperors were even encouraged to have more. 

 

Hence, her jealousy behavior had been criticized frequently.

 

Her husband was upset in the beginning, and run out of the royal palace; but soon, he came back and forgave Dugu for having taken away the innocent girl’s life. 

 

Departure of Queen Dugu and Grand Memorial Ceremonies 

 

A few years after this affair, Queen Dugu departed; her posthumous title was honored as Queen Wen Xian.

 

The most powerful and brilliant prime minister of the Sui Dynasty, also the one that led Sui’s army united the whole of the nation, was sent to manage Dugu's funeral and to construct her cemetery.

 

Emperor Yang Jian, who was quite frugal and barely wear fancy clothes in his entire life, this time, held a series of grand memorial activities, and built a huge and luxurious memorial palace for her (over 600,000 square meters). 

 

About one year after Dugu’s death, her husband passed away as well, and was buried with her together.

 

Besides the influential Sui Dynasty that they built together, and a series of political achievements, beautiful and sincere love story of this splendid couple have been eulogized for more than a thousand years. 

Mausoleum of Queen Dugu and Emperor Wen of Sui in Shaanxi Province — Tai Ling