Xiang Fei




[more on Xiang Fei]

*coughcough* paging rejectedprincesses *coughcough*


It’s a legend, you ignorant fucks. No one knows whether there is any historical basis whatsoever. And it’s not nearly as glorious a legend as you’d think from looking at that one picture.

Oh, she was a real person. If you read the link (and the links at the link like so-(Mungello p 68, 69), you’ll notice I get into the documentation and how her story has been used and told from diverse perspectives. Just because there are legends about Napoleon Bonaparte or Genghis Khan, doesn’t make them nothing but legends.

I think your response says a lot about the point I’m trying to make here, though. Are we ready as a culture for Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter…but not Xiang Fei?

Oh dang. Ohhhh dang. Thank you, she’s going on the list.

One Response to “Xiang Fei”

  1. Jeanette Wu

    Eh, I think this one is gonna need some careful handling. Probably split the legend and history, since it’s gonna end up a sensitive subject. Historically, the Rong Consort had a fairly harmonious relationship with Emperor Qianlong and rocked Western duds. However, after Qianlong, the Qing dynasty mismanaged its policies, leading to widespread discontent, and at the same time, Han and Uighur nationalism started cropping up. Therefore, the historical Rong Consort was appropriated and reshaped to fit an anti-Manchu narrative. The traditional Confucian Chinese view of strong, admirable women had two traits: virginal and dead (not that there aren’t actually strong admirable literary ladies). And this sadly affected the Fragrant Concubine, who was recast a female assassin trying taking revenge for her husband and finally ordered to kill herself by the Empress Dowager, all the while swearing her loyalty to her people and her refusal to submit to an oppressor who stole her from her husband. Of course, this more action-packed story lacks her badass armor, since they were going hard for the “pure virgin victimized by oppressors” angle. Of course, normal people like their histories simplified and romanticized, so the kitschy legend is what most Han and Uighur people today remember. As for the “records of a daughter” brought up in the blog, I haven’t found any mention of it in official Chinese sources yet, but things to keep in mind is that she was the daughter of a local leader who made a political marriage, and that Uighur relations with the Chinese government, as well as their religion and customs in different parts in their history is really complex. Sometimes the relationship was very tense, at other points, the Uighur people took advantage of alliances with the government to oppose other Turkic-speaking peoples in the area. While the Fragrant Concubine was the only case of intermarriage between the Manchu Imperial family and Uighur leaders, the idea of her keeping knives on her person to protect her virginity still reeks a little too hard of modern nationalist sentiments.

    So in summary

    Rong Fei: Imperial Consort who was pretty cool with being married to Qianlong, Probably served as some sort of link between Uighurs and the central government. Wore Western clothes including armor. Had her own Muslim enclave inside the Imperial City. Died naturally.
    Xiang Fei: Nationalistic virgin who fought oppression. A delicate, fragrant flower who gave her life for her cause.