(5.0) Empresses and Consorts 后妃傳

The [jīng] says: “The correct place of men is outside. The correct place of female is inside. Male and Female correctly placed is the proper conduct of Heaven and Earth.”

易稱「男正位乎外,女正位乎內;男女正,天地之大義也」。

Among the ancient wise kings, there were none who did not understand the proper system of empresses and consorts, and so obeyed the ethics of heaven and earth. So with his two consorts, Yú [Shùn] rose to great majesty. Rèn and Sì were wed to the Jī family, and so the Zhōu House prospered. Success or failure is always dependent [on women].

古先哲王,莫不明后妃之制,順天地之德,故二妃嬪媯,虞道克隆,任、姒配姬,周室用熙,廢興存亡,恆此之由。

The Chūnqiū says that Heaven’s Son has twelve women, feudal lords have nine women. Certainly this system was not arbitrarily created. But the previous age was extravagant and wasteful, unrestrained in indulgence, until it caused men and women to become neglectful, act without care, esteem only lust, and not distinguish the virtuous [from the sinful], so that the entire system was degraded and destroyed. What a pity! Alas, those managing the state or managing the family must always reflect on this example!

春秋說云天子十二女,諸侯九女,考之情理,不易之典也。而末世奢縱,肆其侈欲,至使男女怨曠,感動和氣,惟色是崇,不本淑懿,故風教陵遲而大綱毀泯,豈不惜哉!嗚呼,有國有家者,其可以永鑒矣!


In the Hàn system, the Emperor’s paternal grandmother is called Grand-Dowager-Empress, the Emperor’s mother is called Dowager-Empress, the Emperor’s principal wife is called Empress. The remaining inner [female] officials had fourteen ranks. Wèi inherited Hàn’s method. The titles of mothers and empresses were all as in the old system. From the rank Lady down, more ranks were added.

漢制,帝祖母曰太皇太后,帝母曰皇太后,帝妃曰皇后,其餘內官十有四等。魏因漢法,母后之號,皆如舊制,自夫人以下,世有增損。

When Tàizǔ founded the state, first there was a Queen, and below that five ranks: Lady, Illustrious, Handsome, Magnificent, Beauty.

太祖建國,始命王后,其下五等:有夫人,有昭儀,有婕妤,有容華,有美人。

Wén-dì added Grandeur, Virtuous, Cultivated, Obedient, Respected.

文帝增貴嬪、淑媛、脩容、順成、良人。

Míng-dì added Warm, Manifest, Studious, and removed Obedient. During Tàihé [227-233], Ladies began to receive conferment [of fiefs]. Those above Warm were promoted. From Ladies down there were twelve noble titles: Grandeur, Ladies were after the Empress and had no equivalent [male] rank. Warm was equal to the State Chancellor and the feudal Kings. Virtuous were equal to the Censorate Secretary and the county Dukes. Illustrious were equal to county Marquis. Majestic were equal to village Marquis. Cultivated were equal to Marquis within the Passes, Handsome were equal to [officials salaried] Middle 2000, Magnificent were equal to [officials salaried] True 2000, Beauty were equal to [officials salaried] 2000, Respected were equal to [officials salaried] 1000.

明帝增淑妃、昭華、脩儀;除順成官。太和中始復命夫人,登其位於淑妃之上。自夫人以下爵凡十二等:貴嬪、夫人,位次皇后,爵無所視;淑妃位視相國,爵比諸侯王;淑媛位視御史大夫,爵比縣公;昭儀比縣侯;昭華比鄉侯;脩容比亭侯;脩儀比關內侯;婕妤視中二千石;容華視真二千石;美人視比二千石;良人視千石。

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s