Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Yang Gui Fei -- Beautiful and Outstanding Musician in History of China with Tragic Ending

Yang Yuhuan (719 -- 756), or Yang Gui Fei, was one of the Four Beauties in the history of China, and her love story with the Emperor Li Longji was very popular and widespread.


She was another stunningly gorgeous and talented woman with mutable experiences, who didn’t do anything wrong, but was forced to sacrifice for political failures. 


Beautiful Highborn Girl and Her Happy Marriage with Prince

Yang was born into a noble family, beautiful, talented and well educated.


On a princess’s wedding, a prince fell in love with her at the first sight; soon the prince married her and they lived happily after. 

Separating with Prince and Becoming Concubine of Emperor

But 3 years later, the current emperor’s favorite concubine passed away and he was very sad.


That emperor Li Longji, who was the prince’s father, fell in love with Yang, when he saw her in a royal family banquet.


Then Emperor Li Longji commanded Yang to practice Taoism at the imperial temple, and then found another wife for his son.


Some time later, he announced Yang as his concubine and they lived together since then. 


Emperor Li Longji treated Yang Gui Fei very well; all her family members became super rich and were promoted to very high status.


He gave almost everything he could to her.


Additionally, he and Yang were all excellent musicians; together they created many masterpieces that were very influential in Chinese musical history. 

Unlike Queen Wei Zifu of the Han Dynasty, whose family made great contributions to their country but remained modest, Yang Gui Fei and her family members only knew how to live a life of luxury and arrogance.


Her emperor still spoiled her and never blamed them, though her brother and sisters did many things that had crossed the line. 


Sacrificing Because Of Other Men's Faults

Then that eight-year long rebel war, the An-Shi Rebellion erupted.


Two powerful warlords led their strong troops initiated the war, in the name of eliminating Yang’s brother, who obtained lots of power but did many horrible things.


Yang and her brother were taken with Emperor Li Longji and escaped from the capital city. 


Many soldiers and civilians were angry with Yang Gui Fei and her brother; they blamed her to be the reason for changing the super prosperous empire into the one filled with wars and chaos. 


Before living with Yang, her husband was a brave and brilliant monarch; he nominated the smartest and most brilliant people to be prime ministers, and led his country reached one of the most prosperous eras in the history of China.


But after having met Yang, he spent much less time on governance, and nominated her greedy, ordinary brother as the powerful prime minister.


Then the country was declining and the war started.


The emperor’s imperial guards killed Yang’s brother, and threatened the emperor to kill her, or else they would stop protecting him.


Then Yang died, and those soldiers continued protecting the emperor to a safe city.


The place and time of her death were clear, but the actual way was still unknown.


Some said she committed suicide, or was strangled, or had swallowed gold, or was murdered by many people out of chaos. 

There was no evidence to show that Yang Gui Fei had ever intervened in political decisions, or participated in any factional political struggles; besides her jealousy sometimes, she was a good person and a sweet concubine.


She was beautiful enough to let a prince and an emperor fall in love with her at the first sight, talented enough to be respected as one of the most excellent musicians and dancers in the history of China, and was proved innocent enough to have clearly stayed away from politics. 


However, she did take the blame of the huge decline and destructions that her husband and brother caused, using her own life.


Afterwards, she was frequently mentioned in literature and poems, but mostly with sympathy.