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The death of Empress Zhen: fiction and historiography in early Medieval China.


LET US BEGIN WITH the curious and anonymous "Ji" ("record," or "note") found prefaced to Cao Zhi's (192-232) "Luo shen fu" |Rhapsody on the Goddess of the Luo~ in Li Shan's (d. 689) Wen xuan |Selections of Refined Literature~ commentary:

At the end of the Han dynasty, the King of Dong'e of Wei |Cao Zhi~ sought the daughter of Zhen Yi.(1) He did not succeed, and when the Grand Progenitor |Cao Cao; 155-220~ returned, he gave her to the General of the Gentlemen-of-the Household for All Purposes |Cao Pi~; 187-226~. Cao Zhi was very upset. He thought of her day and night and stopped sleeping and eating. In the Huangchu reign period |220-26~ he attended court, and the emperor |Cao Pi~ showed him Empress Zhen's pillow of jade inlay and gold filigree. When Cao Zhi saw it, he unconsciously began to weep. At that time, Empress Zhen had already been slandered by Empress Guo and died.(2) The emperor then knew |how Cao Zhi felt~ and consequently had the heir-apparent |Cao Rui; 206-39~ urge Cao Zhi to stay on for a banquet, at which he made Cao Zhi a present of the pillow. When Cao Zhi was returning |to his benefice~, he crossed the Huanyuan range and was going to stop for a short while beside the Luo River. He was thinking of Empress Zhen when all of a sudden he saw a woman coming. She said, "Originally I set my sights on you, my lord, but my wish was not fulfilled. I took that pillow along with me from home when I got married. Formerly, I gave it to the |General of the~ Gentlemen-of-the-Household for All Purposes. Now he has given it to you." Then she slept with him. How can mere words express their blissful union? "Empress Guo stuffed my mouth with chaff,"(3) |she said,~ "and at present my hair is dishevelled. I am embarrassed to see you again, my lord, looking this way." After she spoke, he could no longer see where she was. She sent someone to give him a pearl, and he sent a jade pendant in return. He was overcome with both sorrow and joy, and so he wrote the "Gan Zhen fu" |Rhapsody on Being Moved by Empress Zhen~. Later, Emperor Ming |Cao Rui~ saw it and changed its title to "Luo shen fu."(4)

Few informed people today would lend any credence to this document.(5) There is really no basis for treating "Rhapsody on the Goddess of the Luo" as a poem about Empress Zhen, nor is there reason to assume that Cao Zhi was hopelessly infatuated with her.(6) Rather, this inventive interpretation "seems to be a piece of anecdotal fiction inspired by the rhapsody itself and taking advantage of the possibilities inherent in a triangle involving a beautiful lady, an emperor, and his romanticized brother."(7) Involving as it does an encounter with a ghost, the text is straight out of the zhiguai tradition so prominent in the period between the time of Cao Zhi and the age of Li Shan.(8)

Elements similar to the "Ji" are found elsewhere, however. The first of these elements is precisely this notion that Cao Zhi was in love with Empress Zhen and that there was some sort of competition for her hand. This extremely improbable and largely discredited idea underwent further elaboration in Shishuo xinyu, where we find the following anecdote:

Empress Zhen of Wei was kind and beautiful. She was formerly the wife of Yuan Xi and was greatly favored. When Duke Cao |Cao Cao~ massacred Ye, he gave an order to summon Zhen forthwith. Those in attendance told him, "The |General of~ the Gentlemen-of-the-Household for All Purposes |Cao Pi~ has already taken her away." Duke Cao said, "My smashing of these traitors this year was entirely for her sake."(9)

Here it is Cao Cao who adores Empress Zhen. Widely varying accounts of the same Three States-period persons and incidents sometimes exist, and Cao Cao is particularly susceptible to such contradictory depictions depending on writers' preconceived attitudes towards him.(10) In the passage just quoted, Liu Yiqing (403-44), or whoever may be the author and compiler of Shishuo xinyu, clearly reflects the negative judgment of Cao Cao current in Liu's time. In fact, other entries concerning Cao in Liu's book are, if anything, even more

unflattering.(11) Although the legend that it was Cao Zhi who was in love with Empress Zhen is more common, belief in the tradition from Shishuo xinyu that Cao Cao wanted her for himself is enthusiastically endorsed in an important late commentary to San guo zhi, viz., Liang Zhangju's (1775-1849) San guo zhi pangzheng |Corroborative Annotations to the Records of the Three States~.(12) Fortunately, the anecdote has been succinctly refuted by Zhang Keli.(13)

As a matter of fact, we have a good deal of information on how the lady Zhen became Cao Pi's spouse. Her biography in San guo zhi says:

In the Jian'an period, Yuan Shao obtained her for his middle son Xi. When Xi went out to govern Youzhou, the empress remained behind to care for her mother-in-law. When Jizhou was pacified, Emperor Wen married the empress in Ye.(14)

Thanks to Pei Songzhi's commentary, passages that rehearse the details of the meeting of the future emperor and empress have been preserved. The first comes from the Wei lue:

|Yuan~ Xi went out to run Youzhou, and the empress remained behind to wait on her mother-in-law. When Ye's city-wall was breached, |Yuan~ Shao's wife and the empress sat together in the main hall. Emperor Wen entered Shao's residence and saw Shao's wife and the empress. As the empress, terrified, put her head on her mother-in-law's lap, Shao's wife instinctively held her with her hands. Emperor Wen said, "Lady Liu, what makes her thus? Have your daughter-in-law lift her head." The mother-in-law then supported her and made her look up. Emperor Wen approached and looked at her. Seeing that she was extraordinary, he sang her praises. When Cao Cao learned how he felt, he brought her back as Emperor Wen's wife.(15)

Pei also quotes the |Wei Jin~ Shi yu |Conversations of the Eras (of Wei and Jin)~:

When Cao Cao subjugated Ye, Emperor Wen was first to enter Yuan Shang's compound. There was a woman with dishevelled hair and a dirty face standing behind Shao's wife Liu shedding tears. Emperor Wen asked about her, and Liu replied, "This is Xi's wife." Turning around, she gathered the woman's hair and rubbed her face with a kerchief. Her good looks were matchless. Once it was over, Liu said to the empress, "You don't need to worry about dying now!" She was taken in marriage and was favored.(16)

Despite their differences, the texts just quoted agree on the main points. They are to some extent corroborated by Cao Pi himself. His famous Dian lun |Exemplary Essays~ is mostly lost, but what purports to be one of the surviving sections is found in Qunshu zhiyao |Essentials of Governing from Diverse Books~. In the pertinent passage, Cao Pi tells of staying in Yuan Shao's home:

When the emperor pacified Jizhou and garrisoned Ye, I put up at Shao's mansion. I personally strolled his courtyards, ascended his halls, roamed his pavilions, and lay down in his rooms. The buildings had not yet collapsed and the stairs were intact.(17)


If the traditions represented by the "Ji" in Li Shan's commentary and Shishuo xinyu are unreliable in the matter of Cao Cao's and Cao Zhi's postures vis-a-vis Empress Zhen, the "Ji" at least approximates historical reality in its version of her death. Let us recall that it places the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of Empress Guo, whom it accuses of "slandering her to death." Empress Zhen's biography deals with her death as follows:

In the tenth month of Huangchu 1 |October/November 220~, the emperor ascended the throne as emperor.(18) Afterwards, the Duke of Shangyang presented two daughters in marriage to the Wei ruling house.(19) Empress Guo and the Honorable Ladies Li and Yin were all loved and favored.(20) Empress Zhen was increasingly discouraged and quarrelsome. The emperor became irate, and in the sixth month of the second year, he sent an envoy to order her to commit suicide. She was buried in Ye.(21)

Empress Zhen was the mother of Cao Rui, who in 226 became the sovereign known to posterity as Emperor Ming. He was a teenager at the time of her death and seems to have missed her greatly. For reasons that will become clear, one must be skeptical of the following lament for Empress Guo contained in Wang Chen's (d. 266) Wei shu |Wei History~, as quoted by Pei Songzhi:

In the third month of Qinglong 3, on the renshen day,(22) with the empress dowager |Guo~ in a catalpa coffin, they ended the obsequial period and were going to bury her at Western Tumulus in Shouyang. Her bereaved son Rui, the emperor, personally sacrificed to the road upon the loading of the hearse while holding this lament. Subsequently, he personally performed the sacrifice for sending off the departed.(23) Striking his heart, he beat his breast and stamped his feet; loudly crying, he looked up and appealed:

I am pained at the soul's journeying abroad,

Sad at the hearse's facing the road.

She has turned her back on the Three Luminaries and concealed herself;(24)

Drawing nigh the Yellow Earth, she shall be placed in the crypt.(25)

Alas! Alack!

Of old

The two daughters were consorts to Yu,(26)

And his imperial way was thereby distinguished;

The three mothers married Zhou rulers,(27)

And sage goodness attained full brightness.

Since these rulers received so much good fortune,

They enjoyed the prolongation of their kingdoms.

Alack! Alack! My late loving Mother

Brought transformation to the women's apartments,

Flew dragon-like to the Purple Bourne,(28)

From the start cooperated with the sage sovereign,

And did not expect in middle age

To encounter suddenly catastrophe.

Pity me the little child,

All alone crushed and wounded.

Her soul is forever gone.

How can I hope to pay her morning and evening courtesies?

Alas! Alack!(29)

A measure of Emperor Ming's devotion to his real mother is the fact he bestowed almost unparalleled distinction on the members of her family. Government officials, no doubt taking their clue from the emperor's devotion, made sure to recommend the posthumous honors that were accorded her as well.(30) But Emperor Ming's charity did not extend to Empress Guo, who became Empress Dowager Guo upon his succession. According to the Wei lue:

After Emperor Ming ascended the throne, he was pained by the memory of Empress Zhen's death. As a result, the Empress Dowager |Guo~ died unexpectedly from worry. When Empress Zhen was near death, she had placed the emperor under the care of Lady Li. Once the empress dowager had died, the lady explained the harm done by Empress Zhen's being slandered, that she was not properly coffined, and that her dishevelled hair covered her face.(31) The emperor shed tears in his sorrow and regret and commanded that in the funeral and burial of the empress dowager all be done as in the case of Empress Zhen.(32)

A similar account appears in the Han Jin chunqiu |Han-Jin Spring and Autumn~:

Earlier, Empress Zhen's murder stemmed from the favoritism shown Empress Guo, and when she was buried, they let her dishevelled hair cover her face and stuffed her mouth with chaff. Subsequently Empress Guo was made empress and charged with raising Emperor Ming. The emperor was aware of this, and in his heart always harbored resentment. He often tearfully inquired about the circumstances of Empress Zhen's demise. Empress Guo replied, "The late emperor had her commit suicide. Why interrogate me? Besides, may a man's son turn against his deceased father and kill his step-mother over the wrong done his natural mother?" Emperor Ming was angry and subsequently hounded her to death. In ordering her funeral, he had them do as in the former case of Empress Zhen.(33)

These two accounts obviously have much in common with the anonymous "Ji." Both the "Ji" and the Wei lue indicate that slander had something to do with Empress Zhen's death. Furthermore, the unlovely apparition that materializes before Cao Zhi in the "Ji" says, "Empress Guo stuffed my mouth with chaff and at present my hair is dishevelled." The same sort of language is used in the two accounts to describe the wretched burial afforded the beautiful Empress Zhen. The Wei lue makes reference to her "dishevelled hair" covering her face in the coffin. The Han Jin chunqiu not only mentions her dishevelled hair, but also, in words identical with those of the "Ji," asserts that Empress Guo "stuffed her mouth with chaff." It is tempting, then, to view the "Ji" as a piece of fiction derived directly or indirectly from these other more-or-less historical accounts.


There exists a fourth version of the empress' death, a version that offers insight into the historiography of both Chen Shou and Pei Songzhi. This fourth version of Empress Zhen's death is the treatment of Wang Chen's Wei shu, which says:

The officials concerned memorialized the throne regarding naming a Palace of Prolonged Autumn.(34) The emperor sent a letter bearing his seal, inviting the empress to come to him. The empress sent up a memorial stating:

I have heard that from the beginning of the earliest dynasties, the perpetuation of sacrifices to the state and the handing down of blessings to descendants all were due to empresses and consorts. Therefore, you must carefully select such women in order to make moral education thrive in the palace. Now, when you have just assumed the imperial throne, you really should raise and promote a worthy and good woman to take overall charge of the Six Palaces.(35) I consider myself ignorant and lowly. I cannot handle the offerings of grain-filled vessels and am besides sick in bed, so I dare not maintain the slightest ambition.

The sealed letter came three times and the empress thrice declined, her words being very sincere. At the time it was the height of summer, so the emperor wanted to wait until the coolness of autumn before again inviting the empress. But it happened that her illness became grave, and that summer, on the ding-mao day of the sixth month |August 4, 221~, she died in Ye. The emperor sighed in sorrow and pain and issued a patent bestowing on her the seal and ribbon of empress.(36)

This version is absolutely at odds with all of the other information about Empress Zhen's demise. In it an anguished Cao Pi laments the passing of his devoted spouse and makes her empress soon after she dies. The passage provides a perfect example of a phenomenon mentioned earlier--the existence of widely varying and even contradictory renderings of the same event.

Later historians have been troubled by contradictions within and among the various accounts of Empress Zhen's death. Lu Bi, for instance, found it unlikely that Emperor Ming was as much in the dark about the circumstances of his mother's death and burial as the Wei lue reports. After all, he was born in Jian'an 11 (206) and would have been sixteen or seventeen by Huang-chu 2 (221).(37) Presumably, Lu considered the Han Jin chunqiu account more acceptable, since it says that Emperor Ming resented Empress Guo.

Somewhat more problematic is the matter of Chen Shou's silence regarding Empress Guo's role in Empress Zhen's death. A moment's reflection, however, can help clear up this issue. Chen Shou wrote within certain constraints. We may not be able to read his mind, but we can be pretty sure what sorts of things would have been off-limits, even had he wished to deal with them. Chen's problem in this regard is well known and has often been discussed, with modern historians usually sympathizing with Chen.(38) In doing so they are in part echoing the bibliographical precis for San guo zhi in Siku quanshu zongmu |General Bibliography of the Complete Writings of the Four Treasuries~:

In his history Chen takes Wei to be the legitimate regime. Not until Xi Zuochi wrote the Han Jin chunqiu was a dissenting opinion established. Since the time of Zhu Xi |1130-1200~ most have thought Zuochi right, as opposed to Shou. However, while in principle there may be absolutely no excuse for Shou's error, circumstances made it easy for Zuochi to treat |Shu-~ Han as the imperial line, but impossible for Shou to do likewise. In Zuochi's time the Jin had already crossed to the south. Its situation was similar to that of Shu. . . . But Shou was a minister of Emperor Wu of Jin, and Emperor Wu of Jin succeeded to Wei's line. To impugn Wei was to impugn Jin. How could this have been possible then?(39)

In the case of the death of Empress Zhen, Chen was not faced with questions of legitimacy. But other pressures were probably working on him. He Zhuo (1661-1722), for instance, explains that the reason Chen Shou did not report these events in detail was that Empress Dowager Guo's relatives were still influential at the time.(40)

But let us return to the passage from Wang Chen's Wei shu. The pro-Wei bias of this Wei shu may account for the way Empress Zhen's death and burial are depicted there.(41) Pei Songzhi's reason for including it is clear, for one of the goals he set for himself in compiling his commentary to San guo zhi was precisely that of providing any and all variant accounts of a given event so that the reader could take them into consideration.(42) The presence of such material in Pei's commentary certainly does not imply any endorsement of it. In fact, Pei sometimes criticizes the information he includes from other sources.(43) In the case of the account of Empress Zhen's death in Wang's Wei shu, he adds a fairly lengthy remark:

I understand the meaning of the Spring and Autumn Annals to be that great evils within the palace are concealed, while lesser evils are not written of at all.(44) We have clear knowledge of the fact that Emperor Wen did not make Madame Zhen empress and went so far as to kill her. If the Wei historians(45) considered it to be a great evil, they should have hidden it and not spoken of it. If they considered it a lesser evil, then they should not have lied about it. For exalting embellished and untrue texts to come to this is alien to what we learn from the old historians. If we were to judge from this, then whenever they praise the goodness of the words and deeds of the empresses Bian and Zhen, they would be difficult to find credible. Chen Shou's abridgements and deletions truly have some basis.

It is clear that Pei Songzhi was positive that Empress Zhen had been driven to her death by Cao Pi and Empress Guo and that she had never been named empress by Cao Pi. His condemnation of the historiography of the Wei shu is equally clear. Pei much prefers the understandable reticence of Chen Shou, for while time and place may have led Chen to avoid telling the full story, he refrained from creating a bogus account. The story of Empress Zhen's death, then, is a tiny gap in the curtain of time. Through it we can glimpse two early medieval historians working as conscientiously as historical circumstances would allow to provide later generations with as much accurate information as they could.

1 The commentary to Shishuo xinyu |A New Account of Tales of the World~ quotes the Wei lue |Wei Epitome~, which calls him Zhen Hui. See Xu Zhen'e, ed., Shishuo xinyu jiao jian |A New Account of Tales of the World, Annotated and Collated~ (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1984), 35.489; Richard B. Mather, trans., Shih-shuo Hsin-yu: A New Account of Tales of the World (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1976), 484. However, the sentence in which Zhen Yi's name is given as Zhen Hui is missing from the Wei lue as it is preserved in Pei Songzhi's (372-451) commentary to San guo zhi |Records of the Three States~. According to Lu Bi (1876-1967), ed., San guo zhi jijie |Records of the Three States with Collected Commentaries~ (1936; rpt., Taipei: Hanjing wenhua shiye youxian gongsi, 1981), 5.11a, the Wei lue text has probably been garbled in the commentary to Shishuo xinyu.

2 Titles are often used anachronistically by the authors of traditional texts quoted in this article. Neither woman would have held the title "empress" at the time this incident purportedly took place.

3 This was probably done to prevent the soul known as the po from escaping. In a more orthodox aristocratic burial, a jade stopper might have served this purpose. See, for instance, Michael Loewe, Ways to Paradise: The Chinese Quest for Immortality (London: Allen & Unwin, 1979), 9.

4 Xiao Tong (501-31), comp., Wen xuan, comm. Li Shan (Taibei: Zhengzhong, 1971), 19.11b-12a.

5 It is extremely doubtful that the "Ji" was part of Li's original commentary. It was probably added by You Mao (1127-94) to his 1181 edition of Wen xuan. See Hu Kejia |1757-1816~, Wen xuan kaoyi |Variorum to Selections of Refined Literature~, 4.4b, in Xiao, Wen xuan.

6 Paul W. Kroll, "Seven Rhapsodies of Ts'ao Chih," in Festschrift J. I. Crump (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, forthcoming); Robert Joe Cutter, "Cao Zhi (192-232) and His Poetry" (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Washington, 1983), 287-89.

7 Cutter, "Cao Zhi (192-232) and His Poetry," 287.

8 On ghosts in zhiguai tales, see Anthony C. Yu, "'Rest, Rest, Perturbed Spirit!' Ghosts in Traditional Chinese Prose Fiction," HJAS 47 (1987): 397-434, and Robert F. Campany, "Ghosts Matter: The Culture of Ghosts in Six Dynasties Zhiguai," CLEAR 13 (December 1991): 15-34. As a ghost story, the "Ji" combines more than one of the types mentioned by Yu and Campany. Empress Zhen's ghost materializes not only due to wrongs done her in life, but also because of her unsatisfactory burial. In addition, she is an example of the amorous ghost, returning to enjoy the love and sexual union denied her in life. Note also that centuries later a ghostly Empress Zhen is the eponymous heroine of a tale by Pu Songling (1640-1715). This tale, however, does not focus on the issue of Empress Zhen's death. See Pu Songling, Liao zhai zhi yi |Strange Tales from the Studio of Delight~ (Hong Kong: Shangwu, 1963), 2:437-38.

9 Xu, Shishuo xinyu jiao jian, 35.489. Cf. Mather, A New Account of Tales of the World, 484. Mather translates as though nu refers to Cao Pi, but it must refer to the future empress Zhen. See Zhang Keli, San Cao nianpu |Chronological Biography of the Three Caos~ (Ji'nan: Qi Lu shushe, 1983), 87.

10 See Paul W. Kroll, "Portraits of Ts'ao Ts'ao: Literary Studies on the Man and the Myth" (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Michigan, 1976), 118-38.

11 Kroll, "Portraits of Ts'ao Ts'ao," 129-31.

12 Liang Zhangju, San guo zhi pangzheng (Taibei: Yiwen, 1955), 7.3a.

13 See Zhang, San Cao nianpu, 87.

14 Chen Shou (233-97), San guo zhi (1959; Beijing: Zhonghua, 1973), 5.160. Ye was the seat of Jizhou and was the base of power of Yuan Shao (d. 202) and his son Yuan Shang (d. 207). Cao Cao captured the city in 204. It was located in modern Hebei in the vicinity of Yezhen and Santai cun southwest of Linzhang xian.

15 Chen, San guo zhi, 5.160. This passage is also translated in Achilles Fang, trans., The Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms (220-265): Chapters 69-78 from the Tzu chih t'ung chien of Ssu-ma Kuang (1019-1086), ed. Glen W. Baxter, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1965), 1:69, and Mather, Shih-shuo Hsin-yu, 484. Note that, as mentioned in n. 1 above, the Wei lue passage in Liu Jun's (462-521) commentary to Shishuo xinyu differs slightly from that quoted by Pei.

16 Chen, San guo zhi, 5.160. This passage is also translated in Fang, The Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, 69-70, and Mather, Shih-shuo Hsin-yu, 484-85.

17 Wei Zheng (580-643) et al., Qunshu zhiyao, 46.30b (Sbck). See also Zhang, San Cao nianpu, 86. On Qunshu zhiyao, see Howard J. Wechsler, Mirror to the Son of Heaven: Wei Cheng at the Court of T ang T ai-tsung (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1974), 113.

18 This was actually the beginning of the Huangchu reign period, but the name was applied retroactively to the whole calendar year.

19 Duke of Shangyang is the title that was given to Emperor Xian (reg. 190-220), the last Han emperor, after he abdicated.

20 Honorable Lady Li would eventually give birth to Cao Pi's son Cao Xie, king

of Zan'ai, who died at a relatively young age. See Chen, San guo zhi, 20.590.

21 Chen, San guo zhi, 5.160.

22 The day renshen seems actually to have fallen in the second lunar month of Qinglong 3, not the third, making the date March 29, 235. See also Lu, San guo zhi jijie, 5.21b.

23 See J. J. M. de Groot, The Religious System of China, its Ancient Forms, Evolution, History and Present Aspect: Manners, Custom and Social Institutions Connected Therewith (1892-1910; rpt., Taibei: Literature House, 1964), 1:151-52.

24 The Three Luminaries (san guang) are the sun, moon, and stars.

25 Yellow Earth (huang lu) refers to a subterranean abode of the dead located below the more famous Yellow Springs (huang quan).

26 Yu is Yu Shun, the culture hero Shun of Yu, to whom Yao gave his two daughters as wives. See Bernhard Karlgren, trans., "The Book of Documents," BMFEA 22 (1950): 4; Bernhard Karlgren, "Glosses on the Book of Documents," BMFEA 20 (1948): 69-71. For more on the lore surrounding Yao's daughters, see Sima Qian (145-86? B.C.), Shi ji |Records of the Astrologer~ (Beijing: Zhong-hua, 1959), 6.248; David Hawkes, "The Quest of the Goddess," in Studies in Chinese Literary Genres, ed. Cyril Birch (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1974), 56; Bernhard Karlgren, "Legends and Cults in Ancient China," BMFEA 18 (1946): 296; and Yuan Ke, comp., Zhongguo shenhua chuanshuo cidian |Dictionary of Chinese Myths and Legends~ (Shanghai: Shangai cishu, 1980), 149.

27 The three mothers (san mu) are the women referred to as Tai Jiang, Tai Ren, and Tai Si; that is, the mothers of the Zhou ancestor Hou Ji (Lord Millet) and kings Wen and, respectively.

28 The Purple Bourne (zi ji) refers to imperial status.

29 Chen, San guo zhi, 5.167.

30 Ibid., 5.161-63.

31 This refers to her having been buried hastily and without proper ceremony. Neither was her body properly clothed and coffined for burial nor was her hair appropriately coiffed. On burial preparations in general, see volume 1 of de Groot, The Religious System of China. Da lian refers to the coffining of the deceased, including the final stage in the dressing of the corpse. See de Groot, The Religious System of China, 1:36, 331-42.

32 Chen, San guo zhi, 5.166-67.

33 Ibid., 5.167.

34 Palace of Prolonged Autumn (Changqiu gong) is a title borne by some empresses. See Lu, San guo zhi jijie, 5.12b; Fan Ye (398-445), Hou Han shu |Later Han History~ (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1963), 10A.409, commentary. Prolonged Autumn was the title of an official responsible for matters pertaining to the empresses during the Former Han. See Ban Gu (32-92), Han shu |History of the Former Han~ (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1962), 19A.734. The Palace of Prolonged Autumn was established during Later Han times and was the residence of the empress. See Xu Tian-lin (d. 1226), comp., Dong Han huiyao |Essential Documents on the Eastern Han~ (Taibei: Shijie, 1971), 38.405. There are at least two explanations of the name. The one in the Hou Han shu commentary cited above holds that autumn was adopted because it refers to the season when everything begins to ripen. Another says that autumn was used because an empress is yin, and autumn is when yin begins to wax. See Yang Chen, comp., San guo huiyao |Essential Documents on the Three States~ (Taibei: Shijie, 1975), 9.163.

35 The term Six Palaces (liu gong) generally refers to the quarters of the empress and lesser consorts of the emperor.

36 Chen, San guo zhi, 5.161.

37 Lu, San guo zhi jijie, 5.21a.

38 See, for instance, Miao Yue, San guo zhi daodu |A Guide to Reading the Record of the Three States~ (Chengdu: Ba Shu shushe, 1988), 5-11; Miao Yue, "Chen Shou yu San guo zhi" |Chen Shou and the Record of the Three States~, in Zhongguo shixueshi lunji |Essays on Chinese Historiography~, ed. Wu Ze and Yuan Yingguang (Shanghai: Renmin, 1980), 316-20; Rafe de Crespigny, The Records of the Three Kingdoms, Centre of Oriental Studies Occasional Paper no. 9 (Canberra: Australian National Univ. Centre of Oriental Studies, 1970), 7-14; Carl Leban, "Ts'ao Ts'ao and the Rise of Wei: The Early Years" (Ph.D. diss., Columbia Univ., 1971), 19-29.

39 Heyin Siku quanshu zongmu tiyao ji Siku weishou shumu Jinhui shumu |Combined Printing of the General Bibliography and Precis of the Complete Writings of the Four Treasuries, Books Not Included in the Four Treasuries, and Banned Books~, 5 vols. (Taibei: Shangwu, 1985), 10.17; cf. Leban, "Ts'ao Ts'ao and the Rise of Wei," 24.

40 Quoted in Lu, San guo zhi jijie, 5.21a.

41 The Wei shu has not been regarded by most scholars as a reliable source. See Shen Jiaben (1840-1913), San guo zhi zhu suoyin shumu |A Bibliography of Works Quoted in the Commentary to Record of the Three States~, 1.16b, in Gu shumu sanzhong |Three Bibliographical Studies of Early Works~ (Beijing: Zhonghua, 1964); Miao, San guo zhi dao du, 3; Leban, "Ts'ao Ts'ao and the Rise of Wei," 11; Kroll, "Portraits of Ts'ao Ts'ao," 120-21.

42 See his "Shang San guo zhi zhu biao" |Memorial Presenting the Commentary to Records of the Three States~ in San guo zhi, 1471-72. See also Leban, "Ts'ao Ts'ao and the Rise of Wei," 30-32; de Crispigny, Records of the Three Kingdoms, 18; Miao, San guo zhi daodu, 22.

43 See Miao, San guo zhi daodu, 22-23.

44 The Spring and Autumn Annals, one of the canonical texts of Confucianism, is said to be by Confucius himself. It is an extremely terse chronicle, but due to the importance that Confucius and others, such as Mencius, placed upon it, it has traditionally been held to be made up of carefully nuanced judgments on events of the time. In recent times, however, the existence of such "praise and blame" messages in the text has been called into question. See Stephen Durrant, "Ching," in The Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature, ed. William H. Nienhauser, Jr., et al., 2nd rev. ed. (Taibei: Southern Materials Center, 1986), 313.

45 Wei shi the term translated here as "Wei historians," could be taken as Wei History, as in Miao, San guo zhi daodu, 22. In any case, it means the Wei shu or those who wrote it.
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Author:Cutter, Robert Joe
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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