Zhao Feiyan

Zhao Feiyan
Empress Zhao Feiyan.jpg
Empress of Western Han Dynasty
Reign 16–7 BC
Born 32 BC
Died 1 BC (aged 31)
Spouse Emperor Cheng of Han
Posthumous name
Empress Xiaocheng 孝成皇后

Zhao Feiyan ( Chinese: 趙飛燕, c. 32 – 1 BC), [1] formally Empress Xiaocheng (孝成皇后), was an empress during the Han Dynasty. Her husband was Emperor Cheng. [2] She was known in the Chinese popular mindset more for her beauty than for the palace intrigue that she and her sister, the also beautiful Consort Zhao Hede engaged in, but unlike most of the famous beauties in Chinese history (such as the Four Beauties), she was often vilified by her own sisters. She was often compared and contrasted with Yang Guifei, the beautiful concubine of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang, because she was known for her slender build while Yang was known for her full build. This led to the Chinese idiom huanfei yanshou (環肥燕瘦, literally "plump Huan, slender Fei"), which describes the range of the types of beauties, later also used as a figurative expression on literary styles that can be either verbose or sparse but both equally effective. [3]

Early life

The actual birth date of Zhao Feiyan is not known but it is assumed to be 32 BC. According to historical accounts, she was a daughter of two hereditary servants of imperial princes or princesses. Those accounts also say that when she was born, her parents were so poor that they abandoned her, but they saw that she was still alive after three days, so they took her back in and raised her. [1] After her father died she and her sister were adopted by a housekeeper to a rich family. [4] Their adoptive father's name was Zhao Lin (趙臨) and they took his surname.

When she grew up, she was assigned to the household of Princess Yang'a (陽阿公主), the sister of Emperor Cheng. She became a dancing girl there, and she received the name that she would become known for—Feiyan (literally, flying swallow) because she was so slender and so agile in dance that she was like a flying swallow. [1]

Other Languages
français: Zhao Feiyan
한국어: 효성황후
日本語: 趙飛燕
polski: Zhao Feiyan
Simple English: Empress Zhao Feiyan
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Carica Zhao Feiyan
svenska: Zhao Feiyan
Tiếng Việt: Triệu Phi Yến
中文: 赵飞燕