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Lady Fu Hao
Transcript of Lady Fu Hao
The earliest known woman general in the army of the ancient Shang Dynasty (1250 BCE).
Queen consort of Emperor Wu Ding and mother to some of his children.
One of the few female religious ritual leaders
An example of social mobility that
may have been available to
women in the Shang Dynasty.
Tomb found in 1976 around city of
What was Found There?
Fu Hao Becomes a Military Commander
The warlike Tu Feng tribe began threatening from the north.
The two leading Shang generals were away in the south.
Realizing the graveness of the situation Fu Hao offered her military training and her knowledge of geography from her 3 year tour.
Supported by Fu Yue and her husband, Fu Hao is granted command of the military campaign after passing a divination test.
Fu Hao's Death
Fu Hao returned to Anyang, exhausted from her military campaigns.
Her oldest son Xiao Yi died from a sudden sickness, leaving the already drained Fu Hao dismayed and weak.
She died not long after and was buried with large bronze vessels called
, commemorating her military success.
Fu Hao in Life and Death
Why So Important?
Still the only Shang royal tomb found untouched.
Can be used to determine burial rituals of Shang Elite and women.
Provide insight into Fu Hao's life and potentially the regular lives of Chinese women during the Bronze Age.
Fu Hao's Encounter With the Tu Fang
Created and Presented by
6 Dogs and 16 human servants buried alive
755 Jade objects
564 Bone objects
63 Stone objects
11 Pieces of pottery
468 Bronze objects
5 Ivory objects
6,900 Cowry shells
Human figurines, of the Shang upper class.
Small-ish vertical shaft tomb with multiple levels and suggestions of a memorial building above
What Does it Mean?
Human figurines depict the style and facial features of the Shang elite, and consequently important information about their everyday lives.
Zoomorphic figurines and other pottery and object designs that suggest cultural influences from the Longshan and others.
Bodies of servants represent the usage of human sacrifice.
Great ritualistic effort demonstrates the cultural importance of Fu Hao as well as the respect and influence that she and other women were able to receive during the Shang Dynasty.
Information expanding on the Oracle Bone inscriptions about Fu Hao's life.
The Lives of Women in Ancient China
Following Fu Hao there were over 100 female military commanders throughout the Shang Dynasty.
Women enjoyed a much higher social status during this time than during later periods.
The Zhou Dynasty omitted Fu Hao and other women generals from their records.
Women's social decline is likely due to Confucian doctrine.
The Zhou viewed women as the passive and subordinate "yin" to the male "yang."
Fu Hao's Life Before the Military
Received military training in her youth before marrying Emperor Wu Ding and becoming the first of his 3 wives.
After Wu Ding's father, Di Xiao Yi, died he and Fu Hao toured the country for 3 years in mourning, leaving national affairs in the hands of his courtier, Tian Guan Qin.
On their tour, they met Fu Yue, a slave from a rural village known brilliant strategic skill concerning military defense. Impressed, the king tricked his counsel into accepting Fu Yue, convincing them that he was the wise sage of a prophecy the king had made up.
At the time the Shang Dynasty was dealing with agricultural problems and attacks by "barbarians" from the outer regions.
Marched north, ready for battle and fought at the front line of her troops to boost morale.
Nursed the wounded soldiers off the field.
Harshly defeated the Tu Feng, who never again challenged the Shang.
More Military Success
The Qiang Fang tribe attacks in the northwest, and is headed off by Fu Hao, who routes their cavalry.
Soon after her return to Anyang, she is sent out on yet another successful campaign against the Yi Fang in the south.
Finally, she sets out on a fourth campaign to fight the Ba Fung tribe along side her husband, Emperor Wu Ding.
Wu Ding launches an attack on neighbor allies of the Ba Fung, who go to their neighbor's aid.
The Ba Fung fall into Fu Hao's trap and are defeated, making her the country's most successful military official at the time.
The Significance of Fu Hao and Her Tomb
Illustrates the potential social mobility offered to women in the Late Shang Dynasty, before the rise of Confucian teachings in the later Zhou Dynasty.
Important untouched depictions of Late Shang burial rituals.
Comparison of artifacts to earlier or nearby civilizations shows the cultural influences and interactions between them.
Ebrey, Patricia B. "Shang Tomb of Fu Hao." A Visual
Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization. Education Division of the National Endowment for the Humanities. <http://depts.washington.edu/chinaciv/archae/2fuhmain.htm>.
"Fu Hao (fl. 1040 BCE)." Women in World History: A
Biographical Encyclopedia. Ed. Anne Commire. Vol. 5. Detroit: Yorkin Publications, 2002. 807-809. Gale Virtual Reference Library.
Peterson, Barbara B. Notable Women of China : Shang
Dynasty to the Early Twentieth Century. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2000. Print.
"The Tomb of Lady Fu Hao." Ancient China. The British
Museum. Web. <http://www.ancientchina.co.uk/staff/resources/background/bg7/bg7pdf>.
Wang, Robin R. Images of Women in Chinese Thought and
Culture. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2003. 177-88. eBook.